Electronic Resources Collection Plan
The Kellenberger Library at Northwest Christian University houses the University's collection of scholarly books, periodicals and audiovisual materials. The library is also the online home of a small set of electronic databases from various vendors. These databases are available to students both on and off-campus.
The goal of providing any resources, whether electronic, traditional print or multimedia, is to meet the information needs of the students and faculty of Northwest Christian University (NCU). Resources and services that support the mission and curriculum of the university are given priority.
Northwest Christian University is choosing to emphasize non-traditional programs for distance learners, adult learners and hybrid (online and off-campus) models. As a result, Kellenberger Library's collection strategy needs to emphasize new resources that support these new and growing programs.
The strategy will require the library to invest in electronic resources that can be used remotely by students who may have Macintosh, Windows or Linux personal computers available to them. User authentication must be handled on campus using our existing platforms. The resources selected must allow users to read, print and email the information they find. Ideally, the databases would be set up so that federated searching and other advanced techniques would be practical.
After our remote and adult learners, our traditional on-campus undergraduate and graduate students need to be served with information. Library resources tuned to these students can include electronic resources but do not need to rely so heavily on remotely-accessible information. Databases selected for these students can be more general, because the students in this category may be taking any of the classes offered by the university, rather than only those classes delivered in the non-traditional formats.
Where possible and useful, the collection should be enhanced by adding free electronic resources.
Electronic resources in this document refers to resources that are available, via computer network, to NCU students and faculty. This policy explicitly does not discuss resources available only from standalone computer workstations.
Within the realm of networked resources, priority will be given to providing access to broad collections of resources rather than focused collections, to support the greatest number of students possible. Where desirable, consideration can be given to more narrowly focused collections.
The initial focus of collection development will be on the distance and graduate student learners as outlined above. The curricula supported will include Graduate Business and Graduate Education and Counseling. Distance education programs for undergraduate students are still in the formative stages, and it is not clear yet what classes will be offered. Future revisions of this plan will discuss the needs of those programs when they are established.
Types of Electronic Resources
Types of electronic resources to be collected include:
- Electronic journals: open-access, free e-journals exist and can be added to the collection with a minimal cost. Subscription journals will go through the annual budget process for journals.
- Electronic books: open-access, free e-books exist and can be added to the collection with a minimal cost. E-books may be acquired through the usual review and acquisition process. Unless a specific exception is made for a title, e-book selections must include the full, unaltered text of the print version of the work if one is available. Note that e-books are seldom standalone products, and to purchase one from a vendor also creates an ongoing financial responsibility for access to the purchases. As the number of vendors multiplies, so may the ongoing financial burden of e-books.
- Web sites: Subject-specific websites may be evaluated for inclusion as if they were electronic books. Site-specific annotations must be generated and evaluated on a regular basis, along with the website itself.
- Electronic databases: the library shall acquire databases on the basis of utility and price. Database offerings should be evaluated for included information, classes the database will support, completeness, what proportion of the database is full-text, indexing, abstracting, subject heading application, and other searchability issues, and ease of use.
In keeping with other NCU collection development policies, electronic resources must meet these criteria:
- The resource should be of contemporary and/or permanent value.
- The resource should fall within the scope of the collection and provide for curriculum and recreational needs of the university community.
- The scarcity of material on the subject should be considered.
- The reputation of the publisher for producing high quality materials in the subject area and the authority of the author to address the subject should be considered.
Additional criteria that are unique to electronic resources should also be considered, including ease of use for patrons and staff, off-campus access method and maintenance requirements, hardware and software requirements, training issues for staff and students, and ease of use and searching.
As with print or other materials, the full collection development policy should be consulted as materials are considered for addition or weeding.
Collection Organization Plan
Initially, electronic resources will be organized by subject. As time and platforms permit, it would be useful to expand the organizational offerings to reflect student and faculty needs. Additional organizing principles could include: by course, especially for electronic books; by user-generated tag cloud, so that students could help guide each other to useful information; by discipline served; coordinated with other searches; by usage statistics; or by pathfinders specifically constructed to guide students to the available resources.
The Instruction / Reference librarian will be the project lead for electronic resources. This person will be responsible for routine maintenance of the website, product evaluations, collection development and annotations. This librarian is also responsible for marketing electronic resources as they become available.
Routine tasks include:
- Evaluation - Time should be set aside for evaluating existing electronic resources to make sure that each resource has not changed its subject matter or emphasis, and that the quality of the resource has not decreased. Where necessary, annotations should be revised during the evaluation process.
- User response forms should be made available on the website to help provide feedback about the resources available.
- Weeding - when the evaluation process shows a resource to have changed substantially and no longer be useful, the librarian should move the resource to a "weeding list," where interested faculty and students have an opportunity to appeal for the resource's continued presence on the library's website. If no appeal is forthcoming, the resource should be removed from the website and an annotation left in its place explaining the reason for its removal. After a suitable period of time - one semester, perhaps, the annotation could be removed as well.
- Website monitoring - periodically, the website should be "link-checked" to make sure that all linked resources are still available at the given address. A suggested interval would be weekly, especially if the process could be largely automated. Other monitoring would include making sure that resources are under the correct subject headings, and that any automated procedures such as federated searching are working correctly. A checklist of services to test, and of data to use for each test, shall be developed and used for monitoring the website.
- Review - once a year, the entire electronic collection and this document should undergo a review process with the librarian and other interested parties from on and off campus. The purpose of the review is to evaluate the resources and the website itself from a standpoint of usability and utility.
- Collection development - collection development is a continuous process at NCU, and electronic resources should fall into the pattern. The cost requirements of electronic resources, especially those with subscription costs, need to be carefully weighed against the utility of the item under consideration. Purchase of new items should happen after consultation with relevant faculty and the library director.