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UCL Library Services E-resources Strategy


1. To support the commitment articulated in the Library strategy to move to electronic delivery where this is the best way of providing resources in support of research, teaching and learning at UCL

Aims / Purpose

2. To underpin the Library strategy by:

  • Identifying and seeking to provide resources in electronic format that support research, teaching and learning at UCL
  • Researching and making recommendations on the move from reliance on print / print-and-electronic to e-only delivery to meet the need for access to both current and archive content


3. The e-resources within the scope of this strategy are those provided by external suppliers and comprise: e-journals (including titles where some or all of the content is freely available on open access); e-books; databases


4. The E-resources Strategy operates within the framework of the UCL Library Services e-strategy (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/e-strategy.shtml) and should be considered alongside other UCL Library Services strategies, including:

5. The UCL E-learning Strategic Statement 2005-2010 (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/teaching-learning/secure/elearning_strategic-statement.doc) provides further context.

Economic/market context

6. The majority of journal titles to which UCL subscribes are available in electronic format. However, other than reference works, there is not yet a critical mass of e-books directly relevant to UCL's research, learning and teaching, with many of the textbooks currently available aimed at the US college market.

7. The cost of resources in electronic format may be substantially greater than that of the print equivalent, due to factors such as: the imposition of VAT on e-resources; inflationary increases that are higher than the headline rate of inflation in the UK; purchasing models based on recurrent subscription costs rather than one-off purchases.

8. The move towards open-access publishing of e-journals may ultimately lead to a reduction in the amount that the Library pays in subscriptions.  However, article-processing fees that are not met by research funding bodies are levied on UCL.

Social context

9. There is a substantial and growing preference at UCL for electronic delivery to the desktop of resources that support research, teaching and learning.  Staff and students increasingly expect these resources to be available 24 hours a day, offsite as well as onsite.

Key components

10. The E-resources Strategy has six principal components:

  1. Support for research, teaching and learning at UCL
  2. Collection management issues
  3. Resource discovery and access
  4. Delivery and access management
  5. Relationships and partnerships
  6. Internal business processes

Support for research, teaching and learning at UCL

11. The Library will endeavour, within the constraints imposed by the marketplace, to meet the requirements for e-resources in support of research, teaching and learning at UCL.  In order to do this, it will:

  • Consult with academic departments to identify their requirements for e-resources
  • Participate in pilot projects and free trials of resources likely to be of interest to UCL users, where there is a reasonable expectation of continuing access

Collection management issues

12. There are strong drivers for the need to replace a substantial amount of material currently taken and stored in print with the same content in e-format.  These are:

  • The growing preference for the delivery to the desktop of resources in support of research, teaching and learning
  • The geographical spread of UCL, which prevents quick and easy access to print material not held locally
  • The lack of additional storage space for print once the Wickford store is full

13. The Library will identify where it is both feasible and appropriate to rely on e-only delivery for both current content and archive material, taking into account factors such as the existence of trusted third parties to provide continuing access to e-content.

Resource discovery and access

14. In order to help staff and students locate the content that they require, the Library will provide comprehensive, up-to-date information about the e-resources available to UCL staff and students and how to access them.  This information, including links to the resources concerned, will be provided via the Library’s web pages. 

15. Details of e-books and e-journals, including links to individual titles, will also be added to the eUCLid online catalogue.

16. Links to digital content will be added to the relevant reading lists on the Reading Lists service.

17. Additional support will be provided by means of training sessions and further development of the WISE modules.

Delivery and access management

18. Delivery and access management will be in accordance with the Library’s e-strategy.  In particular:

  • E-resources will generally only be provided for use at UCL if they are available via the Web and do not restrict access geographically or to a small number of IP addresses – only under exceptional circumstances will consideration be given to subscribing to resources that do not meet these conditions
  • Where possible, user authentication will be via UCL computing userid and password
  • Where permitted under the terms of the licence, “walk-in” access will be provided at all sites for visitors and members of the Library who are not also members of UCL

Relationships and partnerships

19. The Library will work closely with external suppliers to press for terms and conditions that are as favourable as possible for UCL, in particular as these affect financial commitments, licensing conditions, and the provision of management information

20. The Library will enter into partnerships with academic departments at UCL, external suppliers, and other organisations in order to participate in projects where the expected outcome will be of significant benefit to staff and students at UCL

21. The E-resources Steering Group will meet regularly to consider and advise on operational and policy issues relating to the provision of e-resources

22. Staff with responsibility for the provision of e-resources UCL-wide, will liaise regularly with colleagues throughout UCL Library Services:

  • Academic Support, to keep them informed of developments / re user requirements
  • IT Services re technical issues
  • Reader Services re training issues

Business processes

23. Internal business processes will be kept under regular review to ensure that they remain as effective as possible within the evolving economic/market context.

24. The Library is in the process of implementing the Verde Electronic Resource Management system.  This will allow exchange of data with other Ex Libris products (Aleph, MetaLib and SFX) and will facilitate the complex workflows involved in the administration of subscriptions and licences for e-resources 

25. The Library will compile and keep up to date:

  • Details of deals on offer, so as to ensure that purchasing decisions are based on the best possible information
  • Details of e-resources suggested for purchase and will use these in order to compile bids both for Priority Funding and for funding from other sources in order to support research, teaching and learning at UCL

This document will be reviewed annually.

Last modified 19 December 2008

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