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Collection Development Policy Statement: Electronic Resources


Electronic resources are of increasing importance to faculty and students. With the rapidly growing body of electronic information, what is universally available must be considered in relation to what should be available on the University of Maryland campus. It is therefore clear that successful collection development, regardless of media, will reflect academic priorities already established at the campus level. The Libraries are committed to taking a leadership role in collaborating with academic departments in providing electronic resources to support instruction and research.

The University of Maryland Libraries are also part of the University System of Maryland (USM) library consortium. As part of USM, the Libraries cooperate in the provision of electronic resources to the USM community. As the Libraries and USM continue to explore collaborative efforts, selection criteria should continue to reflect the academic priorities for the campus. Electronic resources cooperatively provided to the USM user community are currently selected by the USM Council of Library Directors and the USM Electronic Resources Committee.

This document provides guidelines for selection and deselection, review and approval, acquisition, cataloging, and preservation of electronic resources. The selection, review and approval process addresses issues concerned with licensing, access vs. ownership, developing industry standards, and physical location of resources. Currently known material types are: CD-ROM, interactive multi-media, machine readable bibliographic, non-bibliographic and full text databases, software, E-journals, and other materials accessible on the Internet and elsewhere.

General Selection Criteria

Selection criteria need to be consistent with the UM Libraries' plans for establishing an electronic information environment.

  1. Electronic resources considered for acquisition should fall within current collecting guidelines as described in the subject collection development policies and other appropriate guidelines.
  2. All electronic materials should be relevant and appropriate to a significant segment of the Libraries' user community and reflect current academic needs and the University's mission. Special attention should be given to electronic resources that provide coverage of underrepresented or high-priority subject areas.
  3. In the selection of electronic materials, the availability of appropriate hardware and software should be considered. For CD-ROM products, consideration also needs to be given as to whether the product is networkable. If additional software needs to be acquired to run the product, this factor should be noted.
  4. If the electronic resource duplicates another resource already available in the Libraries, the proposed electronic resource should offer some value-added enhancement; for example, wider access or greater flexibility in searching. If a product changes format, it should be reevaluated and a selection/retention decision made in the appropriate manner.
  5. In addition to the cost of the product, if any, the following hidden costs need to be considered: licensing fees, hardware, software, staff training and continuing education, cataloging, duplicating support materials, updates, maintenance, and any other costs.
  6. The product should be user-friendly, that is, provide ease of use and guidance for the user via appropriate menus, help screens, or tutorials.
  7. The product should reflect the quality expected of similar materials in other formats.
  8. Additional selection guidelines are available for free web-based resources and electronic publications.


Primary responsibility for the selection of all electronic materials (including trial offers) for public use rests with the assigned subject selector using the above selection criteria. For electronic resources that are intended primarily for reference use, i.e., indexes, directories, the subject selector will coordinate selection with the Service Plus Coordinator. Requests from other librarians, library staff, faculty or other users should be directed to the relevant subject selector. The subject selector will work in close cooperation with the designated Electronic Information Services staff. If needed the selector will consult as well with the Technical Services division, Information Technology division, Academic Information Technology Services, and with relevant faculty. Issues affecting broader disciplines will be coordinated by the appropriate subject team or teams.

The selector will contact EIS to ask the vendor to determine minimum software and hardware specifications and to arrange for testing of the product (unless the product is under $100). The selector will work with the EIS manager to arrange testing of the product using the electronic resources guidelines for guidance and involving others with relevant subject responsibilities. In addition, EIS will check licensing requirements and estimated costs with the vendor. In any discussions with vendors, selectors need to communicate that they are only requesting information and that final purchase authority rests with Acquisitions. Once an order has been placed, any questions about the status of the order should be directed to Acquisitions.

When the forms have been completed, the selector will send requests to their Team Manager. If the forms are incomplete, they will be returned to the selector.

The Electronic Resources Committee (ERC) develops and reviews policies related to the development of electronic resources. The Committee reviews requests as needed. The Electronic Information Services Manager will determine when ERC review is necessary. The ERC reviews all networked products and is responsible for reviewing products for transfer to other locations (i.e, the Electronic Information Center).

Selectors are responsible for reviewing ongoing products (before renewal) to re-assess for relevance to the collections, currency, ease of use, and cost. When a product no longer has value as part of the collections, it should be reviewed by the selector for deselection. Deselection for serial titles (most databases are treated as serials) must be made on the Serials Cancellation Form or for single-purchase items, the Monograph Transfer/Withdrawal Form. If a selector initiates deselection, notification, including relevant paperwork, must be made to the Electronic Information Services Manager. Any deselection decisions must consider collaborative acquisition and provision of electronic resources. In most instances, the costs of providing the resources are shared among institutions on a usage basis. A deselection decision by the USM Libraries which involves a resource provided in cooperation with USM or other institutions must include substantial justification and sufficient notification to collaborating institutions.

Once a new electronic resource has been cataloged and is available to the public, the selector will assist in promoting the resource to relevant faculty, students, and library staff. If staff training is needed, the subject selector will coordinate the training with the Electronic Information Services Manager. The Electronic Information Services Manager will coordinate overall publicity and training for new electronic resources. As needed announcements are submitted to FYI for campus distribution.

A copy of the Electronic Resources Selection Form and the Guidelines for Using the Electronic Resources Selection Form are included in Appendix A.