Electronic Resources VS Printed Resources

Difference Between Electronic Resources and Printed Resources

Many resources are available in electronic format (on CD ROM or online via web or dial-up access) as well as in print (hard copy). The same resource in multiple formats should be purchased only if they satisfy needs of different user groups and have an advantage in searching the data base as cost is a constraint. A decision to purchase a particular format or considering a change over from print to electronic format, or changing from CD ROM to online must be based on the following considerations:

(i) Availability of Technical Infrastructure: Technical infrastructure comprises existing networks, intranets, internet, telephone communication, capacity of computers, etc, which affects the quality of electronic delivery of information, In the absence of good infrastructure, interests of information of uses will suffer. In some countries, telephone communication and computer networks are of poor quality, and due to shortage of electricity and power failures, there are frequent breakdowns in the computer systems which require backup services in the form of electricity generators. In this regard the use of Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) is of paramount significance which ensures that the unsaved data are not wiped out due to sudden power cuts.

(ii) Content: Different versions may have varying contents regarding scope, updating, indexing, referencing, illustrations, etc. which may be significant or insignificant.

(iii) Cost: Cost of material purchased varies depending on the time of the year when purchases are made. Comparatively, CD ROM’s are cheaper.

(iv) Budget: Size of the library budget often becomes a constraint. A library may prefer a particular resource due to a large price difference between two or more available resources.

(v) User Behavior: The ability to use information technology varies from user to user. Some may lack such abilities while others may have adequate expertise.

(vi) Package Deal: Sometimes, a vendor may offer a package deal. While purchasing one serial title in electronic format, one may be required to purchase a package consisting of a group of serials including the one needed by the library. There are vendors who want the library to purchase both print and electronic versions. A library may then have no alternative.

(vii) Access and Distribution: One should find out

(a) what are the conditions of licensing regarding access, copying and distribution?

(b) What technical infrastructure is required?

(c) Is the access for electronic serials subscribed and paid for all time, even though the library may stop subscribing to in future at some stage?

(d) What is the retrospective coverage for the serials?

(e) How long the vendor will provide access to electronic books?

(viii) Work Flows and Procedures: Change from printed resources to electronic resources involves changes in workflows and procedures which may be easy to learn and adapt for the younger members of the staff but other may stiffly oppose it.


Reference Article:

  • Khan, A. M. (2009). Collection development, organization and services of central universities libraries in U P.

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