Collection Development

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Collection Development

Electronic Resources Collection Development Policy


Table of Contents



The goal of the Libraries is to provide an effective combination of print, non-print and electronic resources, and the integration of the use of these resources in support of teaching, learning and research at the University. Electronic resources, however, pose challenges not encountered with the acquisitions of traditional library materials, such as access, interface, technical support and licensing. The Libraries therefore need to formulate a separate Electronic Resources Collection Development Policy to address these issues. The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines in choosing appropriate electronic resources and to establish consistency and priorities in managing this important part of the Libraries' collection.



“Electronic resources” refer to those materials that require computer access, whether through microcomputer, mainframe, or other types of computers, and that may either be locally mounted or accessed remotely via the Internet. This policy covers both free Internet resources and electronic resources purchased or licensed by the Libraries from a commercial source, a non-profit organization, a professional organization or any external institution.

Except for those formats excluded in the Collection Development Policy, any type of electronic resources may be considered for inclusion. Some of the common types are:

  • Indexing and abstracting databases
  • Full-text (aggregated) databases
  • E-journals
  • E-books
  • Reference databases (directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc.)
  • Numeric and statistical databases


A detailed but non-exhaustive list of the different types of electronic resources is found in Appendix.



This section provides guidelines for the selection and acquisition of electronic resources. All policies and guidelines in the Collection Development Policy, including the General Selection Criteria and Duplication Policy, will also apply to electronic resources.

For guidelines on license negotiation, please refer to Guidelines for e-Resource Subscription and New Letter for IP Mounted EJs DBs (Intranet).



  • The electronic resource must support the curricular and research needs of the University. There should be a target audience and an expected level of use.
  • The resource will add depth or breadth to the existing collection.
  • Collectively, a balance should be sought among the various disciplines and intellectual levels (undergraduate, graduate, and faculty) to meet the different needs.
  • Except for archival materials, information must be current and updated regularly. Preferably, resources with print equivalents should not lag behind their print counterpart.
  • The content should come from an authoritative author and/or publisher on the subject. Other indicators of quality include positive peer and professional reviews.
  • Accuracy and completeness as compared with print format, if available. This means that the electronic resource should have all the articles, illustrations, graphs and tables as they appear in the print counterpart.

Functionality and System Reliability

  • The electronic resource will provide sufficient added value over the print equivalent or other formats.
  • The interface should be user-friendly. Some common user friendliness features are introductory screens, online tutorials, context-sensitive help, and pop-ups and menus.
  • The search and retrieval software must be powerful and flexible. Some features that should be available include command search, index and title browsing, truncation, auto-stem, thesaurus, history and alert/SDI.
  • Preferably, the user interface should be consistent with other interfaces currently in use.
  • The system should support multiple export options (email, printing, and downloading.)
  • The system should provide access to other electronic resources and support resource integration via reference and full-text linking.
  • The system capacity and network infrastructure should be technologically up-to-date and provide for optimum response time.

Access-Related Technical Considerations

  • Preferably, the electronic resource should be available for remote access. Standalone CD-ROMs and dedicated workstations that require in-library use are generally discouraged.
  • The Libraries prefer access to remote hosts via Web to other formats and methods of access, such as CD-ROM, local Web mount, etc., because it offers optimum access , faster updating, cost savings in storage, and presents fewer problems in maintenance and preservation. Acquisition in other formats is discouraged, unless there is no alternative or the cost difference between the formats is significant.
  • The Libraries prefer IP filtering to other methods of authentication, such as login and password authentication. Unless there is no alternative or the cost difference between the methods is significant, other methods of authentication are in general discouraged.
  • The electronic resource should be compatible across different platforms (PC, Mac, etc.)
  • Though local installation and maintenance are not preferred, if chosen, the electronic resource must be compatible with the existing hardware and software. Obsolete formats and platforms are not supported. The Systems Librarian and staff should be consulted in case of doubt. For CD-ROM installation, refer to Criteria for Installing CD ROMs (Intranet) and CD ROM Installation Request Form (Intranet).
  • If the electronic resource requires any special hardware, software, audio and/or video capabilities, the Systems Librarian and staff should be consulted.
  • Duplication of resources for PDA and resources for PDA use only are not encouraged unless they are free of content and/or access fees. The preferred PDA platform is Palm.
  • PDA content on PDA expansion cards or memory chips are not considered unless there is significant technological improvement in the storage protection of PDA contents.
  • PDA with licensing only for limited number of downloads will generally not be considered. For guidelines on processing, please refer to PDA Policy Guidelines (Intranet)

Vendor Support

  • The vendor of the electronic resource should be established and reliable.
  • The electronic resource should be available for trial. Preferably, the vendor will provide product demonstrations if needed.
  • If needed, the vendor should provide initial and, preferably, ongoing product training.
  • Customer and technical support should be timely, accurate and professional.
  • The vendor should provide quality statistical reporting. Preferably, the reports should follow ICOLC (International Coalition of Library Consortia)'s Guidelines For Statistical Measures Of Usage Of Web-Based Information Resources and/or COUNTER (Counting Online Usage of Networked Electronic Resources)'s Code of Practice .
  • The vendor should be prepared to respond to the Libraries' requests for customization, branding and provision of MARC records and URLs.
  • The vendor should provide advance notifications for content and platform changes, as well as system down time.

Pricing Consideration

  • The vendor should offer a choice of pricing models from which the Libraries may select. These models could be based on various criteria, including the number of simultaneous users and user population.
  • Pricing models that are based on FTE should only take into account the size of the actual user community. A specialized electronic resource should not be charged based on the total user population of the University.
  • The cost of providing access and the cost of content should be separate. Preferably, the subscription fee for a licensed electronic resource should include permanent rights to use the information that has been paid for in the event that the electronic resource is subsequently cancelled. Alternatively, the vendor should offer either a purchase option (e.g. netLibrary PrePaid model) or a combined model with a one-off archive fee and a cost-recover annual access fee (e.g. JSTOR model.)
  • The Libraries should not be required to purchase both the print and electronic versions of a resource.
  • The cost of the electronic resource should not exceed that of the print counterpart. An increase in price from print to electronic format, and from CD-ROM to Web, should be reflected in the increase in functionality and accessibility.
  • In general, the Libraries support ICOLC's Statement of Current Perspective and Preferred Practices for the Selection and Purchase of Electronic Information .
  • The Libraries participate in JULAC's CDC (Joint University Librarians Advisory Committee's Collaborative Development Committee) and other consortia in order to take advantage of aggregated purchasing agreements. It actively seeks consortial purchasing opportunities and the vendor should be prepared to offer consortia pricing.

Licensing Consideration

  • ‘Authorized Users' should be defined as broadly as possible. Bona fide faculty members, students, researchers, any employees and contractors engaged by the University as well as on-site users of the University should be included as authorized users.
  • “Authorized Sites' should be defined as broadly as possible. Authorized users should be permitted to access the electronic resource from anywhere via the University's secure network.
  • The license should permit fair use of all information for non-commercial, educational, instructional, and research purposes by the Libraries and authorized users. These include viewing, downloading, and printing. Other uses permitted under fair use are ILL, e-reserves and course packs.
  • The license should reflect realistic expectations concerning the Libraries' ability to monitor use and discover abuse.
  • In general, the vendor should employ a standard agreement that describes the rights of the Libraries in easy-to-understand and explicit language.
  • The Libraries adhere to the JULAC CDC's General Guidelines for License Negotiation, CLIR/DLF (Council on Library and Information Resources/ Digital Library Federation)'s Model License, and NERL (NorthEast Research Libraries Consortium)'s NERL Licensing Guidelines & NERL Generic License.



The Collection Development Team

The Collection Development Librarian coordinates the Collection Development Team in collection building activities. The Assistant Collection Development Librarian (Electronic Information Acquisitions) assists in the identification and negotiation of large database s as well as consortial purchase with other JULAC libraries. Faculty Librarians, CJK Bibliographer, Audiovisual Librarian, Reference Librarian, Special Collections Librarian, and Branch Librarians, with support from the Assistant Collection Development Librarian, are responsible for building electronic resources in their assigned areas. The Team works closely with Acquisitions Services Librarian and Systems Librarian and in consultation with the Deputies in the purchase of electronic materials.

Librarians responsible for the selection of electronic resources have the same duties as those stated in the section, Roles and Responsibilities of Collection Management Team, in the Collection Development Policy.


Shared Electronic Resources Fund Advisory Committee

The Shared Electronic Resources Fund Advisory Committee (SERFAC) members are Library Representatives of different disciplinary interests and the Collection Development Librarian. The Committee will meet twice annually or as needed. It will serve in an advisory capacity to the Collection Development Team and Libraries Administration in the expenditure of the Shared Electronic Resources Fund used for the development of the Libraries' digital collections to reflect the priorities and needs of the University community.

The Committee will take into account:

  • Expenditure of the Fund for ongoing and emerging needs in the full range of subject areas.
  • Continuing assessment of usage statistics.
  • New product offerings.
  • Collaboration or consortial agreements, when available.


The Committee will identify future funding needs concerning the development of the Libraries' digital collections.




Selection Aids for Electronic Resources

In addition to the selection aids mentioned in the Collection Development Policy, a number of other sources are also consulted to identify electronic resources of potential use:

  • Database listings of other university libraries
  • Minutes, trial pages and reviews of other libraries' collection development committees
  • Consortia's reviews and listings
  • Mailing lists


A listing of the most consulted sources is posted on the Collection Development Web page (under development).


Acquisition Procedures

Generally, electronic resources that require on-going subscriptions and/or that provide packaged or aggregated contents, are processed following the Electronic Resources Collection Building Workflow (Intranet) and evaluated with reference to the Selection Guidelines using the Evaluation Checklist for Electronic Publication (Intranet). Recommendations for electronic resources should be submitted using the Electronic Resources Recommendation Online. In accordance with the decision made at the SERFAC meeting held 6 February 2003 , completed forms are routed directly to the Collection Development Department unless the requester's faculty prefers other arrangements and instructs accordingly. The form allows the Collection Development Department to gather important information regarding the resource recommended, such as method of access, expected audience, quality of content, subject coverage, and user interface. It also allows the requester to provide ranking on the resource, which is used to prioritize recommendations.

Recommendations are received from librarians and faculty members throughout the year. Resources that are considered urgently needed will be treated first. Non-urgent items will be prioritized and processed subject to availability of funds. A prioritized list of non-urgent items is submitted to the SERFAC for approval every six months.


Electronic Journals

Recommendations for individual journal titles, whether electronic-only or print plus electronic, follow the same procedure as those for print-only titles. Recommendations should be submitted using the Journal Recommednation Online ( Completed forms are routed to the appropriate Faculty Library Committee Secretary to be forwarded to the Faculty Library Committee for final approval. When approved, the recommendations will be directed to the Acquisitions Services Department for processing. Recommendations for e-journal packages may be submitted directly to the Collection Development Department using Electronic Resources Recommendation Online (

In general, electronic-only journals and license fees for journal packages are covered by the Shared Electronic Resources Fund. Individual print plus electronic journals are charged to the department’s serials fund.


Monographic CD-ROMs, VCDs and DVDs

In general, CD-ROMs, VCDs and DVDs that are monographic in nature are not covered by the Shared Electronic Resources Fund. Recommendations for these items should be submitted using the Book Recommendation Form. These are charged to the department's books fund.


Shared Electronic Resources Fund

At the Senate Library Committee meeting held on May 30, 2002, it was agreed that all serials funds spent by the different faculties on electronic materials be merged with the existing Shared Electronic Resources Fund (the name of which has changed over time.) The purpose is to allow greater flexibility in the purchase of interdisciplinary journal packages, databases and reference tools. It also aims to introduce a greater degree of equity in how our Shared Electronic Resources Fund is expended on the various subjects and disciplines.

In line with the practice of ARL (Association of Research Libraries) member libraries, it was agreed at the same meeting that the Libraries would annually increase by two percent the proportion of the total Library Resource Fund spent on electronic resources for the next five years (2002-2006) . Should there be insufficient funds to meet a faculty's request for an electronic title, the Collection Development Librarian, together with the appropriate Faculty Librarians will meet with the appropriate faculty and departmental representatives to find a solution. For example, transfer money from book or serials funds.





This section applies to electronic resources that are in standalone floppy diskette/CD-ROM/DVD-ROM and other media formats. These include monographic titles purchased by the faculty for general circulation, networked/standalone/dedicated CD-ROMs weeded as per the Criteria for Installing CD ROMs (Intranet), and other items transferred to the AV & Reserve collection over time.


Guidelines for De-selection

Periodic examination of materials in the collection for de-selection will be conducted. In addition to the Duplication Policy and Weeding Policy in the Collection Development Policy, the following guidelines will also apply.

  • Materials non-circulated for discretionary number of years.
  • Materials not compatible with existing hardware and software and/or not supported by the vendors. Obsolete formats and platforms are not supported. A detailed but non-exhaustive list of obsolete formats and platforms is found in Appendix II.
  • Outdated or inacurrate materials.
  • Content is duplicated in available preferred formats.
  • Materials damaged beyond repair.


Librarians responsible for the selection of the materials below may need to be consulted in case of doubt. Effort will be made to obtain a preferred format if available.

  • Expensive titles.
  • Archival CDs, DVDs, tapes and other media formats of electronic journals, standards and disserations.


Formats which are becoming obsolete should no longer be selected for purchase. Replacemnt/substitutes in a desirable format should be sought if contents are unique and deemed invaluable to research.



Free Internet resources may come in a variety of formats and document types, such as Web pages, listservs, Usenet news, FTP sites, full-text online versions of books, journals, and government documents. To supplement the breadth and depth of the Libraries' collections, free Internet resources which are deemed of value to the research and teaching of the University will be identified and cataloged. While selection criteria from the general and subject policies prevail, the following specific selection guidelines should be met also. Links to these websites will be provided in the Libraries' OPAC.


Selection Guidelines Specific to Internet Resources

  • Information provided or created by an authority or a reputable or reliable source on the subject.
  • Website is favorably reviewed by a reputable source.
  • Site is accessible freely with browser/software and compatible with existing networked environment.
  • Site is stable with infrequent down times.
  • Policy of periodic review and update of content, with a date of revision statement for websites. E-books, journals, and other documents should have dates of publication or posting.
  • Good design with visual appeal and easy navigation of contents within the site, e.g. site index or search engine.


  • Commercial sites which are mainly advertisement or promotion of services or products.
  • Web sites or web pages of institutions, corporations, government agencies, and/or professional societies which contain largely promotional or newsletter type materials about the activities of the organization. Institutional web sites/ pages should only be included if there is a substantial amount of full text documents useful for the University's research and learning purposes.
  • Sites that require a user fee, or access to the contents within requires fee.
  • Portals which are merely links to hosts of other links but lack organization and /or substantial annotations, as opposed to an organized and annotated series of links which may be deemed useful as a subject bibliography.
  • Other University Electronic-Resource pages.
  • Websites deemed out of scope to our curriculum or level.

De-selection Guidelines

  • The resource is no longer available or maintained.
  • No longer current, reliable or relevant.
  • Overlaps another resource which offers more comprehensive coverage or treatment of subject.


Internet resource which duplicates an existing print resource is deemed acceptable if no fee is incurred and its inclusion provides greater access and convenience than the single point of access which a print resource provides.

The Web format is preferred generally, and print duplication is usually discouraged due to space and processing costs. The Libraries will duplicate print resource with existing free Internet resource when:

  • One format is unstable and retention is expected or required.
  • Multiple formats meet the needs of different users.
  • The print format is needed for archival purpose due to its significant historical value.

Copyright for Internet Resources

In order to protect the Libraries and its users from copyright infringement in establishing hyperlinks to Internet Resources, the following policy should be observed:

  • Effort will be made to identify and acknowledge the owner/creator of the Internet resource.
  • Hyperlinks to the material content will not be set up in such a way that the remote webpage or resource be brought within a frame under, thus implying that HKUL has created the resource.
  • A disclaimer is placed on the Electronic Resources webpage, announcing who may link to our information, and to remove any of the hyperlinks made to remote webpage/resource if the copyright owner requests.



Mixed / Composite Resource Types



Information organized as or stored in a database, e.g., with structured cross-document search and retrieval, relational data structures, efficient query mechanisms.


Digital collection

A set of electronic documents or other resources presented as a purposeful assemblage, e.g., organized and presented according to library or archival principles; or representing the digital "holdings" of an institution.


Individual Document Resource Types


A. Text Based Document Types
  • Biography
  • Conference proceedings
  • Dictionary
  • Directory
  • Electronic Journal
  • Electronic Newspaper
  • Electronic Newswire
  • Electronic Book
  • Electronic Text
  • Encyclopedia
  • Exhibition
  • Numerical data
  • Statistical data
  • Etc.
B. Non-Text-Based Document Types
  • Animation
  • Audio file
  • Digital image
    • Title pages
    • Book illustrations
    • Periodical illustrations
    • Architectural drawings
    • Architectural models
    • Blueprints
    • Maps
    • Paintings
    • Drawings
    • Sketches
    • Sculpture
    • Photographs
    • Panoramic photographs
    • Panoramic views
    • Computer graphics
    • Space photographs
    • Etc.
  • Video file
  • Multimedia
  • Etc.
C. Meta Resource Types
  • Abstracts
  • Archival finding aid
  • Bibliography
  • Catalog
  • Index
  • Etc.

Appendix II. Obsolete Formats and Platforms*


Obsolete Formats


A. Obsolete
  • 12" record
  • 16mm
  • 5.25" floppy
  • Beta
  • Filmloop
  • Filmstrip
  • Magnetic tape
  • Open reel tape
  • S8mm
  • Umatic
B. Becoming Obsolete
  • 3.5" floppy
  • Cassette
  • CDROM*
  • LD
  • VCD
  • VHS
Obsolete Platforms
  • DOS
  • Mac OS 7
  • Window 95
  • Window 98
  • Windows 2000

*As per recommendation from Dr KM Ku as of January 2008. About 4,000 CD-ROM/DVD-ROM items cannot be used in the current supported Windows environment.