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Policy on Electronic textbooks

This policy has been approved to enable the Library to address and investigate the issues critical to the adoption and use of electronic textbooks within the University of Sydney Library collection. This policy contributes to the Library's strategic goal of providing networked electronic resources to support and extend University research and teaching, and complements the Policy on Networked Electronic Access, preference over print. While that policy addresses issues around electronic journals, many of the principles outlined in the policy - such as equivalence, archiving and continuity - also apply in some form to electronic textbooks.

The focus of the policy is the provision of electronic textbooks and encyclopedias, and, initially, will be funded, managed and evaluated by the Library's Electronic Resources Group (ERG).

As an emerging area of resource provision many issues - and indeed many of the resources and suppliers/publishers - are volatile and grappling with them does involve an element of experimentation and risk. Through the implementation and evaluation of this policy the Library will be able to consider and refine the budget, selection, access and technical support procedures and facilities required to extend this form of resource provision.


Many of these resources are recurrent costs based on site subscription or some other form of ongoing commitment. The Library has provided a flexible budget facility to allow for these varying requirements through the allocation of a new budget line for electronic textbooks.


The criteria for selection is similar to any other collection item : relevance to current teaching and research programs.

Preference for purchase is web-based resources. Subject librarians should evaluate the reliability of non-academic publishers/aggregators offering electronic textbooks before recommending purchasing from them

Archiving and continued access to electronic monographs is important, and should be considered essential for research material. This may not be as necessary for some textbooks, which are regularly updated and dynamic. Depending on the title and circumstances a print copy of a text may also be purchased. These requirements will be monitored by ERG.

As an interim measure selected free electronic textbooks and e-collections could be included in the catalogue upon the recommendation of the subject librarian after discussion with the appropriate Resource Team.


Electronic textbooks are catalogued in the same fashion as print books on the Library catalogue and include the URL link on the record. If these texts are only accessible within the University of Sydney Library because of license specifications, records will be kept on the library's catalogue only and will not appear on the Libraries Australia entry for the University of Sydney.


Technical considerations (e.g. IP address access, WAM/WAN access, password access, licensing restrictions to remote access/multi-campus access) need to be investigated by subject librarians prior to purchase and should be presented to ERG as part of the recommendation to purchase.

Electronic textbooks requiring proprietary software, or machine or device dependent titles should not be purchased unless there is an overwhelming need which should be detailed in the recommendation to ERG. Electronic textbooks should be available via the web and include remote access availability unless there is a compelling reason not to have this access, in which case should be presented to ERG when the item is recommended for purchase.

Electronic Resources Group. 23 April 2002