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Collection Development Policies

Policies for the General and Special Collections maintained by Gumberg Library

Electronic Resources

The scope of this policy includes electronic resource subscriptions, one-time purchases of databases, single e-journal titles and e-journal packages, individual e-book titles and collections, and electronic reference works (e.g. encyclopedias, dictionaries, directories, and handbooks).

In the spirit of the mission of the University, the library subscribes to electronic resources in support of the educational needs of Duquesne’s students, faculty, and staff.

When the library purchases electronic resources, these resources are made available to the entire university community—regardless of school or department—including distance students and those accessing electronic resources remotely. A major consideration when acquiring electronic resources is the provision of IP access both on and off campus. Whenever possible, the library prefers to purchase electronic resources that are made available on its website using the library’s standard access methods.

Purchasing and access to electronic resources is centralized through the library, but when the library cannot purchase an electronic resource, it is willing to work with schools or departments that are able to purchase the resource using their own funds, as described in the Electronic Resources Purchased by Schools or Departments Policy.

Ownership over access is preferred, but the library will consider access-only for budgetary reasons. When feasible and appropriate, the library strives to maintain perpetual access to electronic content.

The library builds its electronic collections based on recommendations from faculty, librarians, students, and other stakeholders. The library will review all recommendations based on its established collection guidelines and procedures.

Due to the high cost of electronic resources subscriptions, the Electronic Resources Review Committee (ERRC)—in consultation with appropriate library faculty and administrators—is charged with making cost-effective and balanced purchase decisions based on institutional needs. The ERRC is chaired by the Electronic Resources & Discovery Librarian, and meets periodically to review usage statistics and access data, and to provide a forum for discussion on the renewal and cancellation of certain electronic resources.

Online Journals

Gumberg Library recognizes the changing trends in access to serialized content and remains committed to providing access for the university community by the most appropriate means. The library will collect or retain print journals under special circumstances as described in the Journals Collection Policy.

Online Journals include individually subscribed titles, aggregated collections from a single publisher, aggregated collections from multiple publishers, journals included in indexing and abstracting tools, and open access journals. The library prefers ownership over access-only agreements with electronic journal content providers when possible. The library may provide multiple access points to online journals. Under certain circumstances, the library may purchase individual subscriptions to journals available in aggregated databases.

Research Databases

The library defines research databases as abstracting and indexing services with or without aggregated full-text, aggregated journal collections, open access services, directories, aggregated collections of books.

The library’s research databases support both the teaching and research missions of Duquesne University. The collection includes both multi-disciplinary, general purpose, and highly specialized research databases.


This section is under construction.  

Free Resources

The library may selectively provide access points to free resources such as, government supported abstracting and indexing services, publications of scholarly societies, etc.

Digital Archiving

This section is under construction.

Consortia Purchasing

The library participates in a number of library consortia, such as Access PA, Lyrasis and PALCI in order to take advantage of aggregated purchasing agreements and resource sharing for library resources. It seeks other consortial licensing opportunities whenever they serve the best interests of Duquesne University

Selection and Renewal Criteria

In general, the selection of electronic resources reflects the library’s collection development practices.

The potential purchase of each digital library resource will be weighed against specific criteria, including but not limited to:

  • need for content and/or format
  • lag time and/or embargo
  • ease of use, ease of navigation
  • timeliness of updates
  • years of coverage
  • license terms
  • overlap with existing collections
  • interoperability with other products 
  • access must be available via IP range
  • must be available to all Duquesne users
  • cost structure
  • availability of funds
  • cost must be in relation to the value
  • costs of updates, upgrades or maintenance fees
  • technical considerations
  • potential need for staff support and end user assistance


The library primarily orders new journal subscriptions in online format. The library still maintains some current, print journal subscriptions, as well as an extensive collection of closed, print journal backfiles. Whenever possible, these print subscriptions and/or backfiles are transferred to electronic-only format. New print journal subscriptions are considered on a case by case basis or only under special circumstances.  Electronic subscriptions have the advantages of not occupying physical space and do not require as much handling by library staff, as back issues for specific print journals are still sent to the bindery to be bound.

The following factors are considered when adding new journal subscriptions:

  • Electronic-only availability, including backfiles
  • Full-text availability
  • Inclusion in major indexing and abstracting tools
  • Cost/available funds

While it is desirable to have subscriptions to journals for which Duquesne faculty serve as editors or editorial board members, budget limitations prevent the Library from systematically or comprehensively collecting such journals.

Ideally, new subscriptions would be ordered at the time of need, however, budget limitations require that current subscriptions of equivalent cost be cancelled before a new subscription can be added. 

Trial Policy

The library selectively conducts trials of electronic resources. Students, faculty members and/or liaisons may recommend an electronic resource trial to the ERRC. The library reserves the right to decide the feasibility, timing, and scope of a trial. Trials will be initiated for only those electronic resources that meet the library’s technological and service requirements. The library will consider the purchase of electronic resources based on trial feedback and other factors.

Electronic Resources Purchased by Schools or Departments

As stated in the Digital Collections Policies, the Library maintains that when it purchases electronic resources, these resources should be made available to the entire university community.  Ideally, purchasing and access should be centralized through the library in order to provide the University with increased buying power and efficient utilization.  Whenever possible the library prefers to purchase electronic resources that are made available on its website using the library’s standard access methods.

When departments or schools decide to purchase electronic resources using their own funds, the library will work with them to license the resources and to provide university wide access.  Working with the library provides several advantages to the department as well as to the entire university:  

  • Access — Library provides simplified access to electronic resources on or off campus, and creates links to related resources.
  • Licensing — Library negotiates licenses and contracts, and manages copyright issues through standardized procedures in cooperation with the University Counsel.
  • Vendors — Library leverages existing vendor contacts and relationships, eliminates duplication of effort.
  • Costs — Library pursues the best price possible through knowledge of market place, pricing models and special deals.
  • Troubleshooting — Library works with vendors and technology to ensure uninterrupted access.
  • Support — Library provides reference assistance, teaching/instruction, and user support.