Digital Collections Policies
The Howard-Tilton Memorial Library at Tulane University is committed to providing its users with access to up-to-date digital resources. Preference in the selection of digital resources is given to arrangements with the widest access, e.g., those accessible via the campus network. Purchase arrangements for access-only versus ownership are considered. However, ownership is preferred when online access would replace print subscriptions currently held in the Library; this is considered important to retaining the fundamental value of libraries in the digital age.
Purchase of subject-specific digital resources such as online journals, e-books, and specialized databases may be made by individual librarians when affordable from the subject-specific funds they manage, and using the established selection criteria listed here.
Librarians may make recommendations for more expensive or multi-disciplinary subscription purchases from the general digital serials allocation to the Library's Selection Committee on Electronic Databases. License agreements should meet the Library's licensing criteria adopted from the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Principles for Licensing Electronic Resources. (For more purchase options see the section below labeled Decision to Purchase.)
Online Journals: It is the general practice of the Library to routinely seek internet access to its journal subscriptions, whenever such access is offered at no extra cost, and to provide links to them in the Local Catalog. Exceptions would include free trials with eventual added costs. The Library will selectively consider the purchase of online access to its journal subscriptions when added costs are required. Online access will not be substituted for print issues unless ownership and adequate archival provisions can be assured.
Digital Archiving: The Howard-Tilton Memorial Library shares with other research and educational institutions the responsibility to determine the most effective methods for the long-term preservation of the digital materials accessed by the Library but not stored locally. Resources lacking fixed responsibility for long-term preservation are considered only selectively and under special circumstances. The Library has a special preservation responsibility for digital resources it may develop that are unique to its collections.
Consortial Purchasing: The Library participates in a number of library corsortia--including the LOUIS/LALINC, LAICU, SOLINET, and the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries--in order to take advantage of aggregated purchasing agreements for digital library resources. It seeks other censorial licensing opportunities whenever they serve the best interests of Tulane University.
The potential purchase of each digital library resource should be considered using the criteria listed in the following sections.
Overall, the selection of digital formats should reflect the Library's other practices for collection development and acquisitions. More specifically, potential purchases should be assessed with regard to the following:
- Consortia availability, through which purchase is preferred.
- Licensing or other limitations on the use of the database.
- User and academic program needs and demands. Special attention should be given to resources that provide coverage of high-priority or under-represented areas.
- Reputation of the producer and vendor.
- Comprehensiveness, scope, and indexing accuracy.
- Timeliness of updates or culminations.
- The relative difficulty of using the print version versus the digital version.
- Cost in relation to value (see Cost Criteria below)
Overall, the selection of a digital resource should conform with Tulane University's general plans for establishing a computerized information environment. Staffing and training levels should be considered. Specifically, potential purchases should also be assessed with regard to:
- The potential effect that the product would have on the demand for interlibrary loan.
- The potential impact the product would have on the demand for user assistance from librarians at the research help desk.
- The potential impact the product would have on the need for additional user education or printed literature guides.
- The potential impact the product would have on the need for set-up or maintenance.
- Any need for restrictions on access to the database as required by licensing, sales agreements, or the requirements of Tulane students, faculty, or staff.
- The availability of built-in user education features such as tutorials and help screens.
Overall, the selection of electronic databases should reflect the Library's current or planned level of technical resources, as well as its current or planned level of in house technical support. More specifically, potential purchases should also be assessed with regard to the following criteria that apply mostly to non-internet formats such as CDs or computer software:
- The necessity of technical support and maintenance for the product.
- Software issues that include: menu-driven versus command-driven features; database complexity for end users; security features that protect against tampering, viruses, or theft; and, flexibility for networking.
- Hardware issues including: reliability, maintenance, compatibility with peripherals, flexibility for networking, and security from tampering or theft.
- Compatibility with existing systems in the Library and with systems currently or planned at Tulane University.
- Environmental and space requirements for equipment and work stations.
Costs are an important concern and potential purchases should also be assessed with regard to the following:
- The relative value of the format considered versus access through some alternative means.
- Availability of options or price differences relative to consortial, lease, or specified number of users.
- The likelihood of additional costs for updates or upgrades.
- The possibility of unseen startup or maintenance costs.
- The shelf life of the product and its replacement costs.
- Availability of packages, credits for canceled print, or other special deals.
- A license agreement should state clearly what access rights are being acquired by the Library--permanent use of the content or access rights only for a defined period of time.
- A license agreement should recognize and not restrict or abrogate the rights of the Library or its user community permitted under copyright law. The Library should make clear to the licensor those uses critical to its particular users including, but not limited to, printing, downloading, and copying.
- A license agreement should recognize the intellectual property rights of both the Library and the licensor.
- A license agreement should not hold the Library liable for unauthorized uses of the licensed resource by its users, as long as the Library has implemented reasonable and appropriate methods to notify its user community of use restrictions.
- The Library should be willing to undertake reasonable and appropriate methods to enforce the terms of access to a licensed resource.
- A license agreement should fairly recognize those access enforcement obligations which the Library is able to implement without unreasonable burden. Enforcement must not violate the privacy and confidentiality of authorized users.
- The Library should be responsible for establishing policies that create an environment in which authorized users make appropriate use of licensed resources and for carrying out due process when it appears that a use may violate the agreement.
- A license agreement should require the licensor to give the Library notice of any suspected or alleged license violations that come to the attention of the licensor and allow a reasonable time for the Library to investigate and take corrective action, if appropriate.
- A license agreement should not require the use of an authentication system that is a barrier to access by authorized users.
- When permanent use of a resource has been licensed, a license agreement should allow the licensee to copy data for the purposes of preservation including the creation of a usable archival copy. Uses would include interlibrary loan. If a license agreement does not permit the Library to make a usable preservation copy, a license agreement should specify who has permanent archival responsibility for the resource and under what conditions the Library may access or refer users to the archival copy.
- The terms of a license should be considered fixed at the time the license is signed by both parties. If the terms are subject to change (for example, scope of coverage or method of access), the agreement should require the licensor or Library to notify the other party in a timely and reasonable fashion of any such changes before they are implemented, and permit either party to terminate the agreement if the changes are not acceptable.
- A license agreement should require the licensor to defend, indemnify, and hold the Library harmless from any action based on a claim that use of the resource in accordance with the license infringes any patent, copyright, trade-mark, or trade secret of any third party.
- The routine collection of use data by either party to a license agreement should be predicated upon disclosure of such collection activities to the other party and must respect laws and institutional policies regarding confidentiality and privacy.
- A license agreement should not require the Library to adhere to unspecified terms in a separate agreement between the licensor and a third party unless the terms are fully reiterated in the current license or fully disclosed and agreed to by the Library.
- A license agreement should provide termination rights that are appropriate to each party.
- A license agreement should define clearly the terms used and should use those terms consistently throughout.
Decision to Purchase
Digital resources are purchased under a variety of scenarios that include selections of relatively low cost discipline-specific resources by individual librarians and higher cost or cross-disciplinary resources requiring broader review.
- Lower cost discipline-specific resources: Generally available through serial subscriptions, librarians may select these resources individually for purchase from their own assigned funds using the established selection criteria listed on this page, submitting orders with license and access information to the Library's Associate Dean. Once approved, these are forwarded to the Acquisitions Department and handled as permanent transfers from book funds to digital serials.
- Higher cost or cross-disciplinary resources: Requests for higher cost (generally more than $500) digital serials are reviewed by the Selection Committee for Electronic Databases, which oversees the distribution of budget increases for these types of resources. Requests for higher-cost "monographic" digital resources, i.e., those available with one-time payments for ownership of content are reviewed along with other one-time big expense items by the library's Chief Bibliographers as a group.