E-Preferred Book Acquisitions Policy

Yale University Library (YUL) seeks to acquire resources that support the university’s teaching, research, and public missions, in alignment with the library’s Collection Development Philosophy.

In spring 2020, when the campus closed and classes moved online, the university community lost access to the library’s extensive physical collections, along with print books through BorrowDirect and interlibrary loan. Under those circumstances, the library instituted an e-preferred book acquisition policy to enable teaching and research to continue. Although access to print collections is mostly now restored, many students, faculty, and staff continue to study and work remotely. The library is therefore keeping the e-preferred book acquisition policy in place for spring semester 2021. We will revisit and revise this policy as needed, but no later than June 2021.

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).

• Yale Library will mail books to your home or residence hall.

• To request that the library purchase a book in any format, please use the Purchase Request Form.


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, LOCKSS, or CLOCKSS) including the ability to locally host content.
  • 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.[1]  


  • An institutional license is unavailable for an electronic format.
  • There is a delay between the print publication and the electronic edition.

Access model:

  • E-book is only available to lease, i.e. no perpetual access. 



  • The print has better quality images, graphs, charts or other important visual content.
  • The library has the consortial responsibility to acquire a print copy. 
  • Yale faculty-authored books are not subject to this policy.

Approved: Library Executive Committee, July 8, 2020

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


[1] Duplication in print is dependent on available funding.
Last modified: 
Wednesday, January 27, 2021 - 9:18am