Electronic Collection Guidelines


Where both electronic and print formats of journals are available, electronic access will be preferred, contingent upon discipline-specific requirements and acceptable licence and conditions which would ensure long-term access and preservation.

Archival Journal Collections

Archival collections (backfiles) 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


Where monographs are offered in electronic as well as print format, the Library will acquire e-books in preference to print, dependent on suitable purchasing or leasing models and with the same consideration for discipline specific requirements.

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.

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 undertakes demand (patron) driven acquisition of ebooks across a wide selection of subject areas and publishers to facilitate “just in time” availability of wanted materials. The same provisos apply to this material as to all other ebook acquisitions.

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.

Text books

The Library will purchase and make available electronic text books that meet the general criteria applied to the acquisition of electronic books and serials (above) and where access can be provided to all users on a “whole of university” basis. The Library is unable to subscribe to electronic text books offered to academics and students on the basis of individual licensing and purchase prices per student. In these circumstances academics are encouraged to consult with discipline and liaison librarians to consider alternative resources.


Print copies of both journals and books will continue to be acquired when requested by academics or Library staff and may remain the preferred option if:

  • There is no electronic version available
  • The electronic journal archive is not owned by the University for use in perpetuity
  • 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.

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

Audio Visual

The Library purchases CDs for listening lists, and the use of online audio streaming is encouraged for delivery of audio tracks on Library owned CDs.

The Library encourages the purchase of online streaming video for viewing lists.

Minerva Access

Minerva Access is the University’s institutional repository. It aims to collect, preserve, and showcase the intellectual output of staff and students of the University of Melbourne for a global audience. Material available from Minerva Access includes journal articles, conference papers, books and book chapters, theses, creative works and research datasets.


The Library has strengthened its commitment to the long-term preservation of and access to electronic resources 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 will provide ongoing access should the University cancel a subscription or publisher go out of business.