Electronic collection policy

Increasingly a wide range of journal subscriptions are only available in electronic form. Since 1999, the University has had a policy that, where both electronic and print formats of journals are available, electronic access will be preferred, contingent upon acceptable licence and conditions which would ensure long-term access and preservation for the University.

Electronic journals, reference materials and, increasingly, electronic books (e-books) provide substantial advantages in terms of access, availability and their ability to be searched.The Library therefore makes a conscious effort to replace print serials with their electronic equivalents. As a result, print serials subscriptions are reducing in number as more serials become available in electronic format. Increasingly, electronic journals are available in large interdisciplinary electronic journal packages.

A similar trend is apparent with monographs which are increasingly offered in electronic as well as print format.. Where they are available the Library acquires e-books in preference to print.This preference for e-books is dependent on suitable purchasing or leasing models and print copies will continue to be acquired when requested by academics or Library staff. The preference for e-books is particularly important in those circumstances where the Library needs to provide access to texts that are in high demand and where the alternative would be to acquire large numbers of print copies.

At times, print materials may remain the preferred option, for example if:

  • There is no electronic version available.
  • The electronic journal archive is not owned by the University for use in perpetuity. (Cancellation of print subscriptions is contingent upon satisfactory archiving and ongoing access to purchased electronic information, including publisher commitment to technological migration.)
  • The electronic journal back file is not equivalent in coverage or content to the print back issues, either because issues are missing, or content is selective rather than complete.
  • The image quality of illustrative materials (tables, graphs, photos, illustrations, musical notation, scripts other than English, etc.) in books or journals is inferior and is not adequate for teaching, learning or research, or printing gives unacceptable results. In the case of journals, such instances are reviewed on an annual basis prior to renewal of the print subscription.
  • The book is acquired as a preservation copy, for a special collection, or is significant in its own right in print format.
  • A print copy of a book is needed to meet equity and accessibility requirements.

Archival Electronic Journal Collections

Increasingly, publishers are digitising back runs (archives) of print journals. These archival collections of journals are evaluated for completeness, quality, and publisher commitment to digital preservation and perpetual access before purchase. Examples of journals available in secure archival back sets include major publishers such as Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Nature Publishing Group, Springer and Taylor and Francis

The library has strengthened its commitment to the long-term preservation and access for resources such as these by participating in the Portico and CLOCKSS initiatives. These are services which provide long-term preservation for a wide range of the publishers whose content we acquire and provide access for us were we, for example, to cancel a subscription or were the publisher to go out of business.


Whenever possible, the Library will seek to purchase or license access to electronic copies of all texts deemed to be in high demand, including course-related material. It also acquires collections of mostly older out-of-print books which have been digitised, to support research by adding depth to the collection. When we are asked to acquire theses from other universities, PDF files can be purchased and placed on a local server for access through the catalogue.

Preference is given to purchase of perpetual access rather than to subscription to ebooks, except when the subscription model provides for the continuing updating of texts.

The Library catalogues and links to free ebooks on the web when their content is relevant to learning, teaching or research at the University of Melbourne.

The library favours ebook access models which overcome the limitations of print books and ebook platforms which are not overly restrictive in allowing printing or downloading. Preference is given to acquisition models which minimise the workload for library staff in placing orders and acquiring catalogue records.

Digital Collection Policy

This policy relates to content that is submitted in a digital format to the University's Digital Repository, and includes full text research outputs of University staff (Minerva Access),content for the Library's electronic reserve collection (Readings Online), past exam papers as well as material that is digitised. Our aim is to make as much of this material openly accessible for the purposes of research, learning and teaching.

Requests for new collections to be set up in the Library's Digital Repository must be approved by the Electronic Content Manager.

Minerva Access (University of Melbourne institutional repository)

The University of Melbourne's institutional repository, Minerva Access, accepts deposits of research outputs by academic staff, postgraduate students and professional staff of the University of Melbourne.

All research output types are accepted, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • pre-prints
  • working papers
  • published articles
  • books
  • book chapters
  • journal articles
  • research reports
  • inaugural lectures
  • conference papers
  • theses
  • any other form of research output that can be technically loaded to the repository

Minerva Access is the University’s platform that supports the Principles for Open Access to Research Outputs at Melbourne.

For information on how to deposit research outputs into Minerva Access, see Make your research publications open through Minerva Access.

Readings Online

The Library makes available copies of journal articles and chapters of textbooks cited on reading lists through Readings Online which can also be linked through from the LMS. Access is limited to University of Melbourne staff and students.

The following guidelines apply:

  • preference will be given to linking to existing licensed information resources rather than making a new electronic copy and storing locally
  • all copying must comply with the educational copying provisions of the Australian Copyright Act and University policy.

Examination Papers

The Library makes available end of semester examination papers, provided a department has given permission for the exam paper to be deposited in the Library's Digital repository.

Access is limited to University of Melbourne staff and students.

Digitised collections

The Library holds many important, rare and fragile items in its collections. These items require careful treatment, storage and handling to ensure they are preserved for future generations. Access to many of these items is restricted, and their existence is not always known. The aim in digitising these items is to enable increased access as well as conserving the original artefacts.

Through its strategic digitisation program, the Library is converting many original and heritage items into digital objects to support research, learning and teaching that can be accessed by users at the Digital Collections website.

All digitising activities are undertaken in accordance with the Library's Digitisation Policy (PDF – 57.87KB)