Collection practices for nontraditional online resources among academic health sciences libraries




Collection Development, Nontraditional Resources


Objective: In recent years, individuals and small organizations have developed new online learning and information resources that are often marketed directly to students. In this study, these nontraditional online resources are defined as apps or other online resources that are not available through large and well-known publishers. The purposes of this study are to determine if academic health sciences libraries are licensing nontraditional online resources and to provide a snapshot of current collections practices in this area.

Methods: An online survey was designed and distributed to the email lists of the Collection Development Section of the Medical Library Association and Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries directors. Follow-up phone interviews were conducted with survey participants who volunteered to be contacted.

Results: Of the 58 survey respondents, 21 (36.2%) reported that their libraries currently licensed at least 1 nontraditional online resource, and 45 (77.6%) reported receiving requests for these types of resources. The resources listed by respondents included 50 unique titles. Of the 37 (63.8%) respondents whose library did not license nontraditional online resources, major barriers that were noted included a lack of Internet protocol (IP) authentication, licenses that charge per user, and affordable institutional pricing.

Conclusions: Evaluation criteria for nontraditional online resources should be developed and refined, and these resources should be examined over time to determine their potential and actual use by students. There is a growing demand for many of these resources among students, but the lack of financial and access models that serve libraries’ needs is an obstacle to institutional licensing.


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Original Investigation