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Electronic Collection Development Policy

The purpose of the Los Rios Community College District Electronic Collection Development Policy is to provide guidance for the selection and management of electronic resources that will be shared by all libraries in the district. While collection development primarily resides at the college level, all libraries recognize that cooperative district selection and purchase of electronic databases, eBooks, and other Internet-based resources will provide access to a broader array of resources than could be acquired by individual colleges.

This policy is reviewed and revised periodically. Last revised: March 2018.

Policy Sections

Guiding Principles for Acquisition of Electronic Content

The Los Rios libraries are committed to providing equitable access to high-quality electronic resources, regardless of a student’s “home” library. Los Rios students often attend more than one college in the district throughout their community college career, making consistency in a user interface and content access a priority.

To this end, the Los Rios libraries will seek out and show preference to vendors who acknowledge this close working relationship and are willing to negotiate a fair price so that all Los Rios students have equal access to electronic content.

Types and Formats of Electronic Resources Collected

The Los Rios libraries collect the following types of electronic resources:

  • eBooks (digital monographs)
  • Non-monographic resources, including:
    • Subscription databases (handled separately by database coordinators)
    • Individual academic journal titles not available through subscription databases (for example, JAMA)
    • Internet periodicals (for example, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science)

Responsibility for Selection

Librarians at each college are responsible for reviewing and suggesting electronic materials in assigned subject areas in the same manner they select print materials (in other words, assuming responsibility for one or more subject areas, using a variety of selection tools, and encouraging faculty, staff, and students to make suggestions).

Suggestions for a joint-purchase/acquisition of electronic materials will be submitted to the most relevant district committee: district eBook committee or database coordinators (composed of librarians from each college). Each respective committee will gather and review suggestions and facilitate the final decision whether to make additions or changes to the collection.

Criteria for Selection

The same general guidelines used for selecting print material will be used for initiating joint purchases of electronic resources. Other considerations may include:

  • Ease of access (for example, user-friendly interface and navigation tools, remote access, mobile options, accessibility for users with disabilities, and so on) 
  • Relevance to curriculum or current demand 
  • Content (in other words, accurate, balanced, well-written, current, credible author, or sponsor) 
  • Style and reading level appropriate for undergraduate, occupational or selected remedial audience 
  • Favorable reviews (or other quality indicators) of content and format 
  • Need for content (in other words, availability and currency of existing similar holdings) 
  • Added-value over existing subject coverage and balance in collections 
  • Electronic resource stability and technical support from vendor 
  • Options for multi-user access 
  • Perpetual access
  • Cost relative to available funds

Criteria for Electronic Resource Vendors

The ebook committee and database coordinators are responsible for coordinating selection and acquisition of new electronic resources. Both committees will consider the following criteria when selecting vendors:

  • Available content from relevant and reputable sources
  • Access to electronic materials for all Los Rios colleges
  • Remote (off-campus) access to all content
  • ADA compliance ensuring accessibility
  • Options for access from various devices (desktop and laptop at minimum)
  • Compatibility with various mobile and/or portable devices
  • Vendor does not restrict access to content beyond copyright law
  • Cost relative to other vendors with similar content and platform
  • Technical support
  • Options for downloading content
  • Options for sharing content between devices
  • Availability of MARC records for ebooks or other material to be included in shared ILS
  • Access to user statistics
  • Cost of maintenance fees for perpetual access

Duplication of Resources

Electronic resources may duplicate print resources to provide an additional point of access. Duplication might also occur when:

  • Resources are purchased through the Community College Library Consortium (CCLC) or other consortia precludes the selection of individual titles
  • There is a cost/benefit for purchasing multiple formats (for example, one college has a print copy of a book, but the electronic copy will be easily accessible by all students)
  • Different formats meet the needs of off-site users, including distance education students, students with disabilities, and other user groups

Funding for Electronic Resources


Because library databases are shared among all colleges, the district office currently funds some of these resources on an annual basis. District-purchased databases are supplemented by a package of databases currently purchased by the California Community College Chancellor's Office.

Electronic Books (eBooks)

Until all libraries in the district are funded uniformly on a per student basis, the amount of funding each library can commit to eBook purchasing will vary. Each college is asked to commit funding as its budget allows.

A periodic review of eBook usefulness and per-title cost of eBooks relative to the cost and value of print books will help determine whether eBooks are more cost-effective or utilized. This analysis could also support recommending increased funding allocations for eBooks.

Shared vs. Individual E-Reference Purchases

The e-reference collection is shared among the Los Rios colleges, so all purchased titles should appear in the shared catalog. Librarians should make every effort to follow the procedures outlined in this policy when considering purchases. To encourage multi-college agreements and to accommodate costs, each college will internally reserve available funds to be used for the collaborative purchase of e-reference. Reserved funds not used by May 1 each year, may be used to purchase general materials at each college.

There might also be times when one college feels strongly about an e-reference bundle or individual e-reference purchase and is willing to use its own funds to make the purchase. The ebook committee is encouraged to support these new acquisitions. The initiating college will contact the vendor to negotiate the cost for the individual purchase of title(s) that will become part of the shared collection. It is recommended that single titles be purchased from already established vendors whenever possible. Any cataloging of an e-reference title purchased outside the joint collection development process will be the responsibility of the purchasing college.

Single College Initiated Purchases of Non-Reference eBooks

Because Los Rios has only one tax ID number shared with all colleges, the Los Rios libraries have been successful in negotiating pricing with some vendors that allow for a single college to purchase eBooks that are accessible to all students in the district. The Los Rios libraries should continue to leverage this buying power whenever possible.

Licensing Criteria for eBook Purchases

When purchasing non-reference ebooks, use the following criteria for licensing options:

  • If an unlimited user license is available and its price is not vastly different ($40 or less) than the 3-user license, then choose the unlimited user license.
  • The default is a 3-user license. If this is not available, then a 1-user license is acceptable.

Selection Guidelines

The following are meant to guide selectors when deciding whether to purchase an ebook over a physical book. Some titles work better as ebooks than others. What follows are guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules. Any selector at any college may judge whether an ebook or physical book is more appropriate for students. Selectors might consider an ebook if:

  • Chapter headings are more descriptive in nature (matching commonly researched topics)
  • Students might use only a small section of the book (possibly even less than a chapter) such as found in surveys, collections of research, anthologies, topic overview books, etc.
  • The book is presented in encyclopedia and/or dictionary format (when relatively inexpensive compared to traditional reference-type physical books or ebooks - more expensive reference-type ebooks are traditionally acquired through a district-wide joint purchase).
  • Books that are required for a course, and the ebook is available in a multi-user or, preferably, unlimited license
  • The ebook is a good value from a financial perspective (consider college-wide and district-wide access)
  • An ebook version of a highly circulated print title is available

Electronic Reserve Textbooks

Links to eBooks currently owned or licensed by the Los Rios libraries can be provided in a library e-reserves list or placed within the learning management system (or other course web page). In these cases, any relevant access limitations should be communicated to classroom faculty (for example, all current students – even those not enrolled in the requesting faculty's class – will have access to the eBook and many eBooks do not allow concurrent access).

Electronic text books can be purchased by an individual college if an instructor requests it as a supplement for an existing print copy or if the title is not available in print. The eBook must be purchased with the understanding that it will reside on a shared catalog and must be accessible by all currently enrolled students. Funding for these purchases is outlined in the Shared vs. Individual E-Reference Purchases section of this policy.

Open Access (Free) Ebooks

Open access eBooks may consist of out-of-copyright classic fiction and nonfiction, government or organization publications, or eBooks that have been made available for free by authors or publishers. Open access eBooks will be considered for inclusion in the catalog using the same selection criteria established in the "Criteria for Selection" section of this policy. Suggestions for inclusion should go to the district eBook Committee for review and final approval. Open-access titles that are currently assigned for Los Rios courses may be cataloged without prior committee approval. Other considerations for open access eBooks:

  • They may duplicate existing print sources providing wider access to the title
  • They should be periodically monitored to ensure hyperlinks are accurate
  • They should be periodically evaluated for weeding using the same criteria outlined in the Guidelines for Weeding Electronic Resources section of this policy.

Perpetual Access vs. Subscription for eBooks

Perpetual access to eBooks is preferred, but not required. Subscription access may be preferred when considering the following:

  • Students in two-year programs need up-to-date information relevant to curriculum
  • Some subject areas are updated frequently; older material may no longer be relevant
  • Content may be updated by other resources (including databases or print sources)
  • Subscription access may be more cost-effective

Patron-Driven Acquisitions

Patron-driven acquisitions (PDA) is a model in which a collection of eBooks is made available to students and faculty at no initial cost to the district. Purchases are triggered after certain criteria are met (e.g. three downloads or five views). PDA vendors allow libraries to keep money on deposit that is used for triggered purchases, usually on a monthly basis. The eBook committee has piloted a PDA program and is planning an analysis of the triggered purchases after titles have been in the collection for at least one year. PDA might be considered again in the future and will be guided by the following:

  • Funding for PDA will be most equitable if each college can contribute based on its FTES.
  • The eBook committee, with input from its constituents, will make the final decisions on what PDA collections will be made available to students.
  • The size of the PDA collection will determine its points of access. Larger collections will not be loaded into the library's catalog to alleviate increased work-load for cataloging librarians.
  • The eBook committee will periodically review the PDA collection (at least yearly) to determine what low or no-use titles should be switched out for newer titles.

Downloadable eBooks

As the district purchases additional eBooks, an effort will be made to select books that are available for download to a computer or portable e-reader device. Vendor policies regarding loan periods, downloading, printing, and other terms of use will be considered when purchasing eBooks. An effort will be made to ensure consistency and ease of access of all downloadable material.

Cataloging eBooks

Joint E-Reference Purchases

The eBook Committee chair and cataloger responsible for coordinating the cataloging of joint e-reference purchases will be located at the same campus. These roles will rotate together. The eBook cataloger will communicate with the catalogers at the other three colleges to distribute joint e-reference cataloging tasks.

When there are database maintenance projects relating to eBook cataloging, the eBook lead cataloger will coordinate this workload among the four colleges.

Individual eBook Purchases

Each college will catalog their own college eBook acquisitions. In all cases, MARC records being added to Sierra will follow the districtwide policy on cataloging eBooks.

Cataloging eBooks Held in Subscription Databases

Occasionally, it is discovered that titles available in eBook subscription databases are required material for individual classes. In these cases, it is desirable to add the eBook to the ILS so that the MARC record can include the course reserve note (59x). It is the responsibility of individual colleges to track, catalog, and add/remove these titles.

Library-Owned E-Readers

There have been several legal cases regarding library e-reader programs and their compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Because there is no single e-reader that is fully ADA-compliant, it is recommended that the Los Rios libraries postpone any plans to enact an e-reader borrowing program. The ebook committee will continue to monitor the situation and provide suggested guidelines when the technology becomes fully compliant.

Guidelines for Weeding Electronic Resources

  • Librarians use weeding criteria derived from selection guidelines, including relevance, demand, cost, accuracy, currency, access, format, and ease of use.
  • Weeding of jointly-purchased electronic materials will be coordinated by the eBook committee. eBook committee members are encouraged to consult with the subject selectors at each college for weeding recommendations.
  • Weeding of individually purchased electronic materials is the responsibility of the purchasing college.
  • Suggestions for removal of jointly-purchased electronic materials should be submitted to the appropriate committee (eBook or database coordinators) for review.
  • Titles selected for weeding will be communicated to the eBook cataloging coordinator to facilitate removal from the LIS, and to the eBook coordinator for any additional maintenance.
  • Note that consortially-owned EBSCO (formerly netLibrary) titles are weeded by a statewide committee coordinated by the Council of Chief Librarians.


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