Book Format Collection Development Policy


Yale University Library’s Collection Development Philosophy affirms that we “collect in appropriate and available formats by adapting strategies that provide for the anticipated needs of patrons.”

In keeping with the demonstrated use of print and electronic books over the past several years, the library is adopting a policy of preferring electronic format for a growing portion of its book acquisitions.

E-books will be the preferred format for English-language materials in science, social science, medicine, arts, drama, and music. In the humanities, English-language books from major academic publishers will be acquired selectively in electronic format only. The library continues robust collecting of print materials in the English language in the humanities. Additionally, print remains our dominant acquisitions format for non-English language books in all subjects.

In many subject areas, books are not available as e-books at all or do not meet our selection principles and criteria; in these cases, we continue to acquire print books as described in our subject-level collection development statements.

We generally do not duplicate e-book and print book purchases. However, current members of the Yale community may request a specific format via the Purchase Request Form, either to add a new title or to add an additional format to a title already held in the collection.

The library will review this policy regularly to ensure alignment with user needs.

Please note:

• BorrowDirect is typically the quickest way to borrow print books that are either checked out from Yale Library or not in Yale Library’s collections (but held by another Ivy Plus library).


E-book selection principles and criteria

The e-book marketplace continues to evolve and present an increasing number of publishers, platforms, pricing, content, and access models. 

The following principles and criteria guide the library's acquisition of e-books:

Access and discoverability

  • E-book provides simultaneous access by unlimited number of users.
  • E-book is accessible to Yale authorized users, walk-in users, and via scholarly and resource sharing.
  • E-book is indexed in major databases and discovery tools.
  • Vendor is able to provide the library with quality catalog records in a timely and accurate manner to facilitate discoverability of content.

Function and accessibility

  • E-book platform supports IP authentication (including the right to provide remote access to authorized users) or single sign-on via CAS authentication.
  • E-book platform does not have digital rights management (DRM) restrictions. Users are able to copy, forward, download, print or otherwise manipulate content. 
  • E-book platform supports screen-readers and other assistive technologies so that the library can comply with legal standards and university policies. 
  • Content is accessible across a variety of devices (mobile-responsive).
  • Users are able to navigate cleanly among chapters and easily move between endnotes/footnotes/bibliography and main text.

Ownership and cost

  • E-books should be purchased in perpetuity and not leased.  
  • E-books should not be duplicated across multiple online platforms.
  • Provider allows for perpetual access rights (e.g., Portico) including the ability to locally host archival copies of e-books.
  • E-book cost is aligned with the average print monograph cost within that discipline.
  • Provider can provide usage statistics on a regular basis. 

​​Exceptions to the e-preferred policy


  • Print is specifically requested by a member of the Yale community for curricular or research purposes. Duplication in print is dependent on available funding. 

Availability and access model:

  • Unable to license an e-book for academic use
  • There is a delay between the print publication and the electronic edition.
  • E-book is only available to lease, i.e. no perpetual access. 

Course reserves:

  • When an e-book requested for course reserves is available only with a limited-user access model (i.e., not unlimited simultaneous users), the library will acquire one e-book and one print copy of the same title to be placed on course reserves. Duplicates may be purchased, to increase access for larger courses.


  • The platform does not meet the library’s selection principles and criteria as noted in this document. 


  • The print has better quality images, graphs, charts or other important visual content.
  • The library has the consortial responsibility to acquire a print copy.
  • The library will continue to acquire print books by current Yale faculty and published by Yale University Press.

 Questions and feedback may be directed to Julie Linden, Director of Collection Development

Approved by Collection Steering Committee, July 2021


Last modified: 
Wednesday, October 26, 2022 - 9:53am