Selection Policy

Selection of free, Web-based resources should follow the general guidelines developed for all electronic resources, and parallel the standard criteria applied to print resources. However, recognizing that Web-based, free resources of potential value abound, suggested criteria for selection of these materials are provided here. Free, Web-based resources often lack print counterparts or established track records and thus require the exercise of careful judgement by collection managers.


Free, Web-based resources selected for the general reference pages or for subject-specific pages should meet the same selection criteria as resources that are purchased. Selection should be based on the site’s ability to support and enhance the research, teaching, and outreach activities of The University of Alabama. They should be of a scholarly nature or likely to assist in advancing scholarly research or university programs. Relevance to campus teaching, research, and outreach needs should be the primary selection criterion.


The quality of the free, Web-based resource should be evident throughout the site. Quality indicators can include: peer review of the site, review of the site by other librarians, citations/links to resources it uses, an authoritative author, sponsor, or producer, professional tone, and evidence of ongoing support (creation of archives, mirror sites, etc.).


The content should fulfill the site’s stated scope and purpose. In subject areas where similar sites exist, emphasis should be placed on creating a selective collection that highlights key resources rather than a comprehensive listing of all known resources.


Ease of use is a selection factor for electronic resources. Selected resources should be self-explanatory with regard to their use and should offer support for users. Reliability and stability of the site can also influence selection. Resources known to be frequently unavailable should not be selected.

Registration and Fees

Registration and/or licensing should be referred to the Electronic Resources Librarian. Fee-based resources that are available on a free-trial basis for a limited period of time are not appropriate for selection.
  • drafted: 7/23/99
  • adopted: 6/15/00
  • revised 12/22/08