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E-Resources Selection Criteria

General Selection Criteria for E-Resources

The following are selection criteria that are often employed by the Library when choosing databases, journals, e-books and other electronic resources for purchase or subscription. Not all of these criteria are used for every e-resource acquisition.


  • Quality and uniqueness of content
  • Relevancy and currency of content
  • Authoritativeness
  • If overlap with other e-resources, is it warranted?
  • Relationship with Library’s print holdings
  • Frequency of updating
  • Target audience

License Conditions

  • License must allow
    • appropriate fair use by authorized users for educational, teaching, research and non-commercial purposes
    • appropriate use in ILL, course reserves, course packs, document delivery, etc.
    • unlimited viewing, printing, and downloading
  • License must provide perpetual rights to information that has been paid for in case the contract is discontinued
  • License must specify limit, if any, on number of simultaneous users

Resource Capabilities:

  • Response time
  • User-friendliness of the resource
  • Speed
  • Quality of graphic materials
  • Saving, downloading, printing, e-mailing
  • Help screens that are clearly written and easily navigated
  • Exportable capability to such bibliographic management systems.


  • The Library prefers web versions of e-resources
  • Accessibility through IP address and EZ-proxy preferred to usernames and passwords
  • Preference for resource to work with all browsers
  • Vendor/Publisher considerations
  • Ability and ease of linking libraries' holdings to the e-resource

Customer Support:

  • Online, toll-free telephone, etc.
  • Track record of support
  • Response time
  • Is support free or are fees charged?
  • Vendor/publisher reputation
  • Are usage statistics provided? COUNTER compliant preferable


Special Selection Criteria for E-Journals

In addition to some of the criteria listed in the left-hand column journals, magazines, and newspapers in the electronic format must:

  • be available on the web
  • provide access via IP range
  • contain all the content available in print versions
  • meet acceptable visual standards if offering images, scientific and mathematical symbols, and formulae
  • be published in a timely manner

Special Selection Criteria for E-Books

Selection of electronic books carries all of the same considerations of print books, as well as virtually all of those found in selection of electronic journals.  Additional issues at play in this new and still volatile area of publishing include:

  • Digital Rights Management
    While print books are, clearly, owned outright by the library following purchase, e-book titles often carry new limitations on what we think of as "ownership".  These may include page limits on printing or copying, non-transfer of interlibrary loan rights, and, sometimes, even restrictions on the number of uses before re-purchase is required.

  • Business Models
    Some publishers sell their e-books in collections only, requiring libraries to purchase titles that they don't want or need in order to acquire other titles that are critical to the collection.  E-books may be priced higher than their print counterparts.

  • Preservation
    Technology providing long-term preservation of e-journals is only now being extended to e-book content, and only in cases where the publisher chooses to make the committment to participate in these community-based preservation initiatives.