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Subject Area: Library and Information Studies
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Article citation: Kay Ann Cassell, (2008) "Editorial", Collection Building, Vol. 27 Iss: 1, pp. -
Libraries are developing large collections of electronic resources. As a result more guidelines are needed to focus the decision making, to inform staff about priorities and needs, and to communicate with users and administrators. When it comes to content, the decision making is not so different from buying print resources. Resources that are of good quality, accurate and up-to-date are needed. Full-text is a priority. However, because of the cost of electronic resources, duplication is usually not possible. So e-resources must fill in gaps rather than duplicating content already in the library’s collection. There remains the decision as to whether the content should be purchased in electronic format or whether print is sufficient. Guidelines about institutional priorities will help selectors to make the best choices. If cost is an issue, the guidelines might discuss evaluating whether the electronic version provides value-added enhancements such as more extensive content, more up-to-date content and multiple search indexes.
Many other issues should be addressed in e-resource guidelines. The issue of technical compatibility is of great importance. The e-resource under consideration must be compatible with the other software and hardware used by the library. Compatibility with open URL link resolvers and federated searching programs may be needed.
Vendor reliability and services should be evaluated as a new resource is being considered. The vendor’s track record is, of course, of great interest. It is important that the vendor have a good reputation for helping to solve any technical issues that arise. The vendor should also provide training on the e-resource for the staff as well as good written documentation.
Other issues to be addressed include being able to use the e-resource for ILL, e-reserves and virtual reference. External access is usually needed as well. Libraries need to be informed of changes in the database. The issue of archives or backfiles continues to be a complex issue. Libraries may want to buy backfiles if they are not included in the package. There is also the issue of whether libraries can keep the content they have “paid for” if they cancel a subscription.
It is useful to make a checklist to use when looking at new e-resource additions. It is helpful to be reminded of the need to be consistent and to make the best choices possible.