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Electronic Resources Collections & Management

Learning Objectives
• Define electronic resource.
• Define e-book and e-book reader and provide examples.
• Define audiobook and provide examples in library settings.
• Identify digital audio and video storage formats.
• Define online subscription services for libraries.
• Discuss the pros and cons of free versus fee-based access.
• Define usage rights and licensing.
• Define primary source, secondary source, digital reproduction, digital transcription and related terminology.
• Define digital conversion and provide examples.
• Define digital collection and provide examples.
• Define digital library and provide examples.
• Discuss primary source searching.
• Define electronic resource management.

An electronic resource is information stored in an electronic format. This increasingly includes digital data. Libraries provide access to a wide range of electronic resources.

Although a computer may be used to play or display the resource, other devices such as DVD players, mp3 players, game stations and other devices may also be used. Electronic databases may include full-text journals, newspapers, encyclopedia, image collections, and other types of data.

According to AACR2 Rule 9.0A1, “electronic materials consist of data (information representing numbers, text, graphics, images, maps, moving images, music, sounds, etc.), programs (instructions, etc., that process the data for use), or combinations of data and programs.”

They may be direct (local) or remote (networked). Direct access would involve a physical storage device such as a DVD or cartridge. Remote access would involve access through a network to a web server, hard drive, or other storage device.

E-book and E-book Readers

An electronic book or e-book is a book-length publication in a digital form.

Consisting of text, graphics, and sometimes audio, video, animation, or other enhanced elements, these books are readable on an e-book reader, computer, or other electronic device such as a smartphone, tablet, or other hand-held device.


An e-book reader is a device (e.g., Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook) used to display an e-book.

In addition to displaying the book, e-book readers often have special features such as bookmarking, note-taking, and read-aloud function.

E-Book Downloads

Electronic books are generally accessed by library users through digital downloads.

E-books can be purchased individually, however many libraries work with digital distributors like Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360, Follett eBooks, or Overdrive that provide subscription services.

Many ebooks are also available through database content providers such as Gale, EBSCOhost, and ProQuest.

Public domain and open source books are increasingly available online through sources such as,, Google Books, and Project Gutenberg. These books play on most ebook readers, computers, and mobile devices.

Book Previews

Book preview sites can be useful when selecting books.

Google Books is an example. A book like What to Expect When You’re Expecting Larvae by Bridget Heos is an example of a book that can be previewed.

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, others also provide previews.



divergentAn audiobook is a recording of a text. While audiobooks are generally spoken word, they may also include background music and sounds effects. When the complete text is read, it’s labelled as unabridged. A reduced or condensed version is called abridged.

Audiobooks are available in different formats including audiobooks on CD, digital downloads, and self-contained mp3 players such as PlayAway audio.

Audiobooks are increasingly accessed by library users through digital downloads. Audiobooks are popular with many audiences, however they have specific applications for youth and those with disabilities.

Audiobooks are often used to teach children to read. They can be effective in increasing reading comprehension. Many visually impaired individuals rely on audiobook for both work and leisure activities.

In legal and technical areas such as the health and law professions, audio is useful because it allows users to hear technical terms pronounced aloud.


Many public domain and free books are available online through websites such as

Another great open source location is

moby dick

Digital Audio and Video Storage

freegalA CD or compact disc is a common storage medium for audio recording including spoken word, music, and sounds. Although digital downloads are increasing in popularity, most libraries continue to support this physical storage medium.

DVD is a digital optical storage disc for video recording including documentaries, instructional materials, and feature films. Blue-ray Disc (BD) is also a digital optical storage disc. It’s primarily used for feature length films and has higher definition than DVD. A special player is needed to play Blue-ray Discs.

Both music and video are increasingly accessed by library users through digital downloads. For instance, Freegal Music is a subscription service offered by many libraries. United Streaming from Discovery Education is an example of a digital video service offered through school libraries.

Subscription Services

mangoIncreasingly, libraries are providing access to digital content through online subscription services. Libraries pay for the rights to access a product for a specific period of time.

A license details how many downloads or users are allowed.

Many states provide access to subscription services through the state library system such as Indiana’s INSPIRE.

Individual libraries evaluate and select subscription services to meet the needs of their library users.

For instance, Mango Languages is an online language learning system that teaches through conversation.


Free vs Fee-based Electronic Resources

2 girlsFree and fee-based electronic materials and information access have both pros and cons.

When examining free services, consider the motives. In some cases, free services are nonprofit or educational organizations. However in others, the free services are supported through corporate sponsors or advertising that may impact the quality of the data or user experience.

When examining fee-based services, match the needs and possible users with the cost of the service. Consider whether free or less expensive services could provide the same or at least an adequate level of support. Weight the costs with other approaches to gaining access to similar types of information or services.

Usage Rights and Licensing

Many publishers of electronic resources use a standard license model.

Librarians are concerned with licensing issues related to interlibrary loan rights, archival rights, remote access, and walk-in patron access. In other words, librarians need to know when, where, and how authorized users can legally access the e-content.

Librarians may be liable for unauthorized use of e-content, so it’s important to know the laws associated with the license agreement.

When examining licenses, librarians need to determine whether there is a “fair use” provision, the length of the agreement, and what happens to the e-content at the termination of the contract.

Primary Sources

A primary source is a piece of information created from direct experience and often used to understand history. These materials provide direct, first-hand evidence about a person, place, object, or event. They are contemporary to the people, places, and events described.

These sources include actual records and artifacts that have survived from the past such as diaries, letters, legal documents, photographs, drawings, clothing, or coins.

A secondary source is not a primary resource. Instead, the materials include interpretations, analysis, and comments to a person, place, object, or event. Encyclopedia, textbooks, and book reviews are examples.

primary sources

Digital Reproduction

voiceA digital reproduction is an electronic version of an artifact such as a diary, letter, newspaper clipping, object, or original photograph.

Digital reproduction allows the original to be stored, protected, and preserved, while making the resource widely available for study. In the past, materials were made available to the public through photocopies and microfilm. However these techniques provided low quality reproduction and access was limited to a specific location.

Today, these documents are reproduced using a digital camera, scanner, or other techniques that produce easy data storage and sharing over networks and the Internet.

Digital Reproduction Issues

A number of issues and potential problems arise in creating digital reproductions. In some cases, the goal is to reproduce the item exactly including matching colors, shading, and flaws. In other circumstances, the intention is to maximize the legibility of the item.

Questions arise regarding whether the item should be returned to its original condition or reproduced to match the current condition of the artifact. For example, should tape be removed? What about glare from a previous reproduction? Similar issues arise in preserving the item itself. The difference is that a digital reproduction doesn't impact the original item.


Digital Transcription

A digital transcription is the conversion of one form of language into another such as hand-written letters into typewritten documents. It can also be the process of matching spoken word to the text format.

Many historical primary resources are transcribed into a digital form to make them easier to access and search. Traditionally, text transcriptions were created by working with the original documents. However with increasing concerns about preservation, many transcribers are now working from digital reproductions of the originals to reduce the impact on the original.


Digital Conversion

Digital conversion is the process of changing paper, photographic, analog electronic media such as audiotapes and videotapes, and other resources into a digital format.


Digital Collections

digitizationA digital collection is a collection of digital documents stored locally or accessed remotely through networks.

They may be born-digital meaning that they were created in a digital format or converted from a physical medium such as paper.

Digitization is the process of converting documents (e.g., photographs, books, papers) into a digital form.

Digital collections may all be stored in a single location. Or, may include materials from many different locations.

For instance, while some materials at are housed on their server, others are located on affiliate servers such as and

Digital Libraries

A digital library is a library in which the collection is stored in electronic formats. The collection is accessed through a computer or other device.

The Digital Public Library of America is an example. Over 5 million items can be accessed from libraries, archives, and museums. Digital libraries such as Hathitrust are gaining in popularity. These services organize ebooks and other resources from many different locations.

Primary Source Searching

douglassMany OPACs allow searching by primary material types.

Examples include case studies, correspondence, diaries, exhibitions, interviews, maps, photography, public opinion, sheet music, sketchbooks, and speeches.

Consider using a primary materials type in a search such as

Douglass Frederick AND speeches
abolitionist AND pamphlets
jazz musicians AND interviews


Electronic Resource Management

Electronic resource management involves the software systems and practices used by librarians to select, acquire, describe, organize, and track electronic information resources.

Electronic resources include the wide range of electronic materials available to libraries both locally and remotely.


An electronic resource is information stored in an electronic format. This increasingly includes digital data.

Libraries provide access to a wide range of electronic resources including e-books, audiobooks, and digital audio and video. Many electronic resources are available through subscription services. When considering services think about the pros and cons of free versus fee-based access. Also, consider usage rights and licensing.

Many libraries are involved with digitization and digital conversion projects. These projects often involve primary source documents such as diaries, photographs, and other documents.

Electronic Resource Management is an increasingly important area of library work.

| eduscapes | IUPUI Online Courses | Contact Us | 2014 Annette Lamb (Adapted from earlier s401 materials)

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