Electronic Resources Collections

Licensed & Purchased Electronic Collections

Electronic resources consist of content that is stored and displayed digitally and accessed via computers and other electronic devices. These resources are often referred to as databases, or as online or digital content, resources or media.

The Library collects a variety of electronic resources that may include some or all of the following: full-text magazines, newspapers, journals and other periodicals, reference sources, indexes, abstracts, images, electronic books and electronic media. With the electronic collection the Library aims to extend access to library information, regardless of location. Patrons can access these collections within or beyond the actual, physical facilities of the Library. The electronic format enables increased usability of library resources, allowing expanded searching and interactivity. This format also increases depth and breadth of the collection system-wide, alleviating the need to purchase multiple copies of some print resources.

These collections are used by library staff and patrons in the Main Library and the branches, as well as outside the Library. Some electronic resources are shared with other California library systems. When selecting electronic resources, librarians must consider the following in addition to the selection criteria for the collection at large:

  • Content output options
  • Coverage
  • Ease of use
  • Feedback on database trials
  • Number of simultaneous users
  • Ownership of content
  • Possible impermanence of the technology
  • Relationship of the resource to the print collection
  • Remote access
  • Technical supportability
  • Usage statistics

Because electronic resources are an ever-changing medium, they must be evaluated on an ongoing basis.

Outside Websites

In some cases, the Library may link to outside websites.  SFPL applies comparable standards for linking to outside websites as it does when selecting electronic resources for purchase.  The Library has the right to take down any link at any time without notifying the source.

In addition to the above selection criteria, there are added considerations for outside web sites:

  • Additional charges to patron to use all or parts of the site
  • Availability of content on another selected web site or electronic resource
  • Clear identification of information providers
  • Reliability of information providers
  • Means of contacting author/owner plus method of customer service
  • Accuracy and appropriateness of content
  • Use of pop-up ads
  • Level of commerciality
  • Necessity of extra registration

Collections Digitized from San Francisco Public Library Holdings

In addition to electronic content licensed or purchased from vendors, the San Francisco Public Library digital collection includes materials selected from our collections in order to provide both online access and long-term preservation. The Library digitizes materials in all formats, including books, newspapers, periodicals, photographs, archival and manuscript materials, microforms, and audiovisual media such as tapes and discs. These materials are digitized by either Library staff or vendors and include corresponding cataloging (or metadata) in order to provide public access to them.  Although the Library uses a number of digital formats, the selection and retention process for all of these should be similar.

Selection: Materials are selected for digitizing based on their unique character, relevance to local history and government, popularity with patrons, and copyright restrictions. Preservation of fragile, non-circulating materials is also a concern; digitizing can provide wider access to them while saving the originals from further deterioration.

Retention and weeding: All digitized materials should be viewed as long-term digital assets and preserved in a manner that will ensure their long-term viability and ability to migrate to new formats.

Sharing: The Library should strive to adhere to established metadata standards that will allow for sharing with other institutions in the future, particularly the California Digital Library, where the current California Local History Digital Resources Project sets standards to integrate with their system and all California libraries.

Take our survey