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Susan Macicak,
Collection Development Officer

Merry Burlingham,
Chief Bibliographer

Carolyn Cunningham,
Collection Administration Librarian

Mary Rader,
Global Studies Coordinator

Dale Correa,
Middle Eastern Studies Librarian

Bonnie Brown Real,
Collection and Consortia Assessment Coordinator

Lexie Thompson Young,
UT System Licensing Coordinator

Emilie Algenio,
Consortia Resources Coordinator

Lisa Aguilar,
Library Specialist

Digital Library Collection Development Policy


Digital library materials are collected to support the mission of The University of Texas at Austin


Digital library materials currently collected by The University of Texas Libraries consist of three broad categories:
1. Purchased or licensed material such as electronic journals or databases.  These are generally acquired from a commercial source, a government entity, a non-profit organization, a professional society, or an institution engaged in furthering scholarly research.  In many cases this material is not "physically owned" by the library in the same sense that a printed book or journal may be owned, but instead the library has acquired specific rights to the material on behalf of the library's clientele.

2. Material that has been reformatted (digitized) by The University of Texas Libraries or the University from non-copyrighted print or analog sources, or has been reformatted from copyrighted sources with appropriate permission.  In some cases the library may also serve as a repository for material digitized by other libraries, universities, institutions, or individuals.  Typically, this material consists of resources from special collections that have been selected for digitization in order to make them more widely available, or deteriorating materials that have been reformatted for preservation reasons.  As the use of digital material expands in higher education, the library will increasingly digitize materials on a programmatic basis in order to support the mission of the University and The University of Texas Libraries.

3. Links and pointers to Internet resources of significant scholarly value which are added to the library's catalogs, databases, and networked resources as appropriate.

Selection Considerations

Selection criteria for digital library resources comprises four levels of review: is the content appropriate to the library mission; are the format and information delivery medium appropriate to the content and commensurate with the library rationale for acquiring the resource;  is the acquistion practical within existing budgetary, technical, legal and other constraints; and is the resource compatible with the library's overall strategic digital library vision and current infrastructure.
1. Content.  Is the content intellectually significant?  Is the content relevant to the University of Texas at Austin?  Measures of intellectual significance include authority, uniqueness, timeliness, breadth or depth, and demand.

2. Is the format appropriate for the content?  Is the format appropriate to achieve the underlying rationale for the acquisition of the resource?  Print may be the appropriate format for a unique item with a low rate of expected usage; while high-use general undergraduate-level information resources, distance education resources,  or frequently used reference material, may be more appropriately acquired in a networkable digital format.  In a similar vein, special collection material with wide potential interest might benefit from re-selection for  digitization to increase its utility and to make it available to a wider audience. An analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of a particular format, along with considerations of audience, intended use of the material, archival and access issues, and overall cost -- are all factors to be used in determining which format would be most appropriate for the library collection.

3. Practical issues. Does the library have the necessary overhead resources (equipment, staff, space, etc.) necessary to support the resource?  Do library users have the necessary resources to utilize the content (computers, players, plug-ins, etc.)? Does the license or contract for the resource meet the library, university, and state requirements?  Is the vendor reliable, is the format stable, and can we utilize the resource (linking, archiving, etc.) in the ways our users need? Does the digital product adhere to the best prudent practices of current library collection management (including, but not limited to, appropriate retrieval software, a well-designed interface, appropriate format and linking options, a properly reliable delivery mechanism, authentication and security designs that meet library needs, a library-friendly approach to fair use and copyright, quality statistical reporting, appropriate technical support, assurances of rights to permanent access, and appropriate licensing terms).

4. Strategic Considerations.  Is the resource compatible with the library/university/state information technology plans?  Is the product compatible with the library's overall digital library vision and the library's current infrastructure in terms of its discovery, access, organization, and technical components?  Does the product comply with the digital guidelines established by the International Coalition of Library Consortia?  Is the product design and delivery consistent with the best practices of digital libraries?


Within this framework, it is the objective of the library to collect scholarly digital materials in order to provide broad access to relevant scholarly information at every level of granularity including articles, monographs, and large databases.  As with all formats, digital material should meet the same subject, chronological, geographical, language and other guidelines as outlined in the library's subject collection policies; and possess the same standards of excellence, comprehensiveness, and authority that the library expects from all of its acquisitions. The library recognizes that different disciplines utilize different formats and different types of information in different ways, and that no one solution is appropriate for every subject or area of study.  The ultimate goal of The University of Texas Libraries digital library collection development planning -- is to provide seamless cross-linkages between all elements of the digital library whether commercially licensed or locally created, and whether the resources are locally or remotely mounted and serviced.


Priorities should be given to those digital materials that offer significant added value in supporting teaching and research over similiar materials in traditional formats, that offer significant opportunities for cost containment, and whose license terms are reflective of the University's academic values.  Measures of added value might include: additional content, greater functionality, greater accessibility, improved resource sharing ability, improved linkages with other information tools, ease of archiving, and the enabling of more efficient uses of limited faculty and student time and resources.  Licenses should allow the library the flexibility to develop collections that match the University's needs without contractually forcing entangling ties to unwanted products, and without restricting the rights of fair use or the values of academic inquiry.  License terms should also be financially sustainable and address achival rights to the resources in question.  Materials that meet these and other selection needs, will be given priority over digital material of a more problematic nature.

Observations and Qualifications:

Electronic Journals:
Goals: To license access to a critical mass of high quality electronic journals throughout all subject areas.
Observations: Because the acquisition of any particular electronic journal is staff-intensive and involves the work of many people over a period of months -- initial collecting efforts will focus on acquiring a solid core of proven e-journals from respected publishers.
Qualifications: E-journal publishers vary greatly in their familiarity with electronic publishing issues, and in their familiarity with needs of the scholarly and library community.   In some cases e-journal publishers have unrealistic expectations as to the prices libraries can afford, and in the technical and format barriers they expect libraries to scale in order to access their journals. The library has limited funds and staff time that can be devoted to problematic publishers.  In those cases where the content is desirable, but the price and practical barriers are too formidable, we will not pursue the electronic versions of the journal, but will provide access through other formats or delivery mechanisms.

Indexing and Abstracting Databases:
Goals: To acquire the primary database in each subject area, and secondary and tertiary databases as needed by local programs.
Observations: Indexing and Abstracting databases provide valuable discovery tools both for material owned and licensed by The University of Texas Libraries and for other material which may be obtained through Inter-Library Loan or Document Delivery.  In some instances these services also provide valuable links and online access to actual data and full-text resources.
Qualifications: The number of databases relevant to UT-Austin programs is multiplying faster than the library's ability to fund them.  Selection of secondary and speciality databases will continue to be limited by available funds for the forseeable future.  The usefulness of a particular database to a discipline or audience group will be measured database by database, particularly against other types of resources that might be purchased with the available funds, and against how it fits in with the library's overall mix of resources and technical platforms, and the database's prospects for long-term utility.

Full-Text Databases:
Goals: To acquire a complete range of full-text databases that serve the university's general and specialized scholarly interests.
Observations:  Full-text databases are notable for their ease of use and cost-effectiveness.  They typically receive high use and are the least expensive means of providing access to information covered by the database.
Qualifications: These databases must be constantly monitored as the specific resources covered by each database change as publishers renegotiate contracts with the vendor.  By their very nature, full-text databases directed at different audiences and designed for different purposes may also have significant overlap in coverage.

Primary Resources:
Goals: Identify selected content that has value for teaching and research at the university, that would benefit from being more widely available in digital form.
Observations:  The nature of primary resources used in different disciples varies significantly.  The original primary resources may be manuscripts, pamphlets, books, official records, photos, paintings, audio clips, data sets, lab reports, digital files, etc.  With all of recorded human history to draw upon, the reformatting of primary resources into digital form presents a wealth of potential material.
Qualifications:  This material is available in a number of ways including licensing via commercial vendors, free via the Internet, or via resource sharing agreements with other institutions. The potential use and value of the material must be weighed against its cost and the amount of resources its provision requires.  Consultation with faculty, and consideration of the experiences of other institutions with the material is especially valuable in considering selection.  When possible, outright purchase of the digital primary resource material should be considered as an option, instead of paying ongoing subscription and maintenance fees.  In many cases this primary resource material is being republished from another easily available published format such as microfilm; in these cases the cost of digital primary research materials must be carefully weighed against the potential usage and convenience of digital access.

Digitization of Local Materials:
Goals: Identify local materials whose wider availability would aid university teaching and research, promote scholarship, enrich the arts and sciences, deepen our understanding of human culture, and benefit the citizens of Texas
Observations: Local materials are digitized both to provide wider access, and to preserve them for future generations.
Qualifications: Digitization projects require a significant investment of local resources and are not undertaken lightly.  Long-term value to the academic community, congruency with the library and university mission and areas of interest, and significance to worldwide users of the Internet are all important considerations.  Digitization projects are planned in consultation with the Electronic Information Programs Division and the Research Services Division.

Online Books:
Goals: To contract with vendors for permanent online digital rights to selected current academic and trade books.
Observations: These services are new but growing in number.  Initially The University of Texas Libraries will purchase rights to reserve items, high circulating popular scholarly items, and convenience books such as reference items or items that are frequently consulted but not pondered at length nor read in depth.
Qualifications: Until these services become reliable, The University of Texas Libraries will continue its general policy of fiscally conservative experimentation.

Alerting and Profiling Services:
Goals: To subscribe to services and databases that can supply e-mail alerts to new articles, publications, and digital resources in a library user's area of interests.
Observations:  These types of automated notification services are a way of extending the library's collection development activities outward to encompass newly published material that the library does not yet own, and to more fully involve faculty and students in the dialogue that is the library's collection building effort.
Qualifications:  The amount of faculty and student interest in well-developed alerting and profiling services is not known. Current e-mail alerting services are little used.

Electronic Document Delivery and Pay Per View services:
Goals: To contract with vendors for the seamless delivery of material on a cost-per-use basis, that the library does not own and has not previously licensed.
Observations: For the immediate future these electronic services will be mediated through Inter-library Services in order to insure efficiency and to control costs.  In the future, unmediated delivery of electronic information directly to the user is a realistic possibility, though access would be controlled via computerized rationing or accounts
Qualifications: The lines between services such as these, and full-text databases, and electronic journals and books, is likely to continue to blur.

Archiving of non-University of Texas web sites
Goals: To undertake archival responsibilities for non-University of Texas web-based information carefully and with proper consideration for all the issues involved.
Observations:  There are considerable intellectual property, copyright, technical, and resource issues involved with archiving a web site.  The issues pertaining to serving data that was created on another hardware/software platform are legion, and any archival consideration needs to begin with a finding of whether or not archiving the site in question is technically possible. Consideration for local archiving of a web site also includes obtaining signed legal permission for The University of Texas Libraries to archive and serve the data, and a consideration of whether the library has the resources (staff/hardware/software/etc.) to undertake the project.
Qualifications: Other archival options, such as printing out screens from the web site, cataloging them, and making them available in the library;  or relying on national web archival options such as the Alexa project or Library of Congress should also be explored.

Integration of Print and Electronic Resources:
Goals: To promote the integration of print and digital items through bibliographer subject pages, conversion of finding aids into digital form, and through the licensing of resources that intermix citations to multiple formats.
Observations: Integration of formats can be achieved technically through improved discovery and access mechanisms, as well as through the efforts of individual librarians via the creation of bibliographer subject pages,  the addition of digital resources to the online catalog, and similar activities.
Qualifications:  For the foreseeable future, print and digital resources will both be essential in a successful research library.  Collection planning needs to consider both formats.

Overall Multiple User Profiling andAlerting Capability:
Goals: To insure that the various digital library products are capable of responding to profiling and alerting services that the library may create or contract with, so that users may be automatically notified of new information of personal interest.
Observations:  Integration of the variety of vendor based products of this nature is currently problematical
Qualifications: Campus usage of these services is low, and whether or not library users would find these services truly useful is unclear.

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