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Harvard University Library

Harvard Libraries

Acquiring Resources for the
Harvard Libraries Portal

Back to Resource Sponsorship

This document provides guidance to Harvard librarians wishing to propose commercially-available electronic resources for the Harvard Libraries portal. This includes resources being proposed for initial trial and evaluation before a purchase commitment has been made, and resources whose acquisition has been approved either in whole or in part with local library funds.

Procedures for electronic journals are not treated in this document. Online journals are most often acquired as part of a publisher package or available for registration as a concomitant to a print subscription ("free with print.") A separate document describing electronic journal procedures is under development.

All other restricted resources intended for the portal - i.e. those resources governed by a license agreement, for which a fee is paid, and/or whose access must be restricted to members of the Harvard community - are vetted according to the policies and procedures outlined below.


Individuals and Groups Involved in Resource Acquisition and Implementation

Interim Coordinator for Electronic Resource Licensing (Kristin Stoklosa) coordinates the acquisition and implementation of new Harvard Libraries portal resources, negotiates licenses for shared acquisitions, assists individual libraries in cost-sharing arrangements and license negotiation, and manages the Harvard Libraries portal release process. The Librarian also handles invoicing and prepares annual budgets for resources that are funded by more than one faculty.

The Digital Acquisitions and Collections Committee (DACC) establishes policies and procedures for shared acquisition of licensed resources and reviews and approves resource proposals requiring joint funding.

The Committee on Electronic Resources and Services (COERS) coordinates the evaluation of prospective shared resources and oversees the resource stewardship program.

Stewarding Libraries provide ongoing curatorial management of individual resources and participate in renewal and retention decisions.

The Office for Information Systems provides ongoing development and technical support for the Harvard Libraries portal.

Who Can Initiate a Proposal?

Any Harvard librarian may initiate a resource proposal, but resources must be formally sponsored by a Harvard library in order to be included in the Harvard Libraries portal. Resources can be proposed for trial before an acquisition decision is made, and/or can be proposed for cost-sharing with other libraries if the sponsoring library so chooses. Libraries proposing a resource should be prepared to provide some level of financial and curatorial sponsorship if acquisition is recommended.

End users may suggest resources through the Harvard Libraries comment facility. Suggestions are forwarded by Kristin Stoklosa to an appropriate Harvard library for consideration. A formal acknowledgement is sent to the requestor.

Resource Sponsorship

Every new Harvard Libraries portal resource must be sponsored by a Harvard library. Responsibilities of the sponsoring unit include:

  • Providing financial support for the resource, either in whole or in part
  • Providing ongoing curatorial responsibility for the resource by assigning a librarian to serve as resource "steward"

Kristin Stoklosa will identify a potential sponsor if the library submitting the proposal is not able to arrange for the necessary support. Resources proposed for trial or cost-sharing will be reviewed by the Digital Acquisitions and Collections Committee.

Factors to Consider When Sponsoring Resources for the Harvard Libraries Portal

Before resources can be added to the Harvard Libraries portal, compatibility with Harvard Libraries licensing and access management requirements must be determined. These factors should be evaluated in the request phase, before a license agreement is signed.

  • Licensing - If use of the resource is governed by a license agreement, the license must permit site-wide access by the entire Harvard community. Remote access from off-campus locations should also be permitted. License agreements should follow the Guidelines for Licensing Electronic Resources at Harvard University. A version of these guidelines has been specifically prepared for vendors and is available on the vendor information page of the Digital Acquisitions website. Vendors should be asked to review the Harvard guidelines and to incorporate relevant provisions in the license agreements that they prepare for Harvard. Kristin Stoklosa is available to assist libraries in reviewing and negotiating license agreements upon request.

    A copy of the signed license agreement must be deposited with OIS when the resource is made available in the Harvard Libraries portal. In general, licenses should not be signed before the following compatibility issues have also been investigated with vendors and tested by OIS:
  • Access Management
    • Access control - Vendors must be able to authenticate access by ip address (sometimes called ip authentication or ip filtering). The use of passwords to control access is not supported on the Harvard Libraries portal.
    • Proxy compatibility - All resources must be tested for compatibility with the Harvard Libraries portal software used for proxying and user authentication before they can be added to the portal. This testing is routinely performed when a trial is initiated through OIS. If a trial has not been requested, testing must be performed prior to implementation. If a given resource is not compatible with the Harvard Libraries proxy, access can usually be provided by restricting access to workstations located on the Harvard network.
  • Special Technical Requirements - An increasing number of electronic resources require specialized technologies such as plug-ins for viewing images or full-text, special client or helper applications (e.g. for GIS support), or non-roman font support in order to be used effectively. Any special requirements must be analyzed and reviewed by other affected Harvard libraries before deployment in the portal can proceed. The procedure for this is described more fully in a separate paper.

Individual Harvard libraries may have additional procedures by which prospective acquisitions must be authorized. For example, within HCL, electronic resource expenditures over $500 must be approved by the Associate University Librarian for Collections. For a fuller description of HCL electronic resource acquisition procedures, click here. Consult your local library for further information.

Making a Request

Libraries wishing to propose or formally sponsor a resource should complete the Harvard Libraries Resource Acquisition Request available on the Digital Acquisitions website and return it via email (preferred) or fax to Kristin Stoklosa, Interim Coordinator for Electronic Resource Licensing. Nomination forms from College librarians can be submitted to Kristin Stoklosa, E-Resource Coordinator for the Sciences in the Harvard College Library; Laureen Esser, E-Resource Implementation Coordinator for the Humanities in the Harvard College Library; or Meghan Dolan, E-Resource Coordinator for the Social Sciences in the Harvard College Library. Proposals submitted to OIS are logged in OIS and queued for further action.

Requests will normally fall into one of the following categories:

  • Request for Trial - requesting library would like a formal trial period before committing to financial support
  • Request for cost-sharing partners - requesting library has authorized partial financial support but would like to share the costs with other Harvard libraries
  • Request to make resource available on the Harvard Libraries portal - acquisition and funding will be subsidized in full by the requesting library (subject to technical and license review).

What happens next depends on the category into which the request falls.

Resources Requested for Evaluation and/or Trial

Although trials may be undertaken on behalf of a library intending to provide sole sponsorship for a resource, more commonly some level of joint funding is envisioned. Such proposals are reviewed by the Digital Acquisitions and Collections Committee and evaluated by the Committee on Electronic Resources and Services (COERS) or by another appropriate group. Evaluations may be formal or informal at the discretion of DACC. Informal evaluations are generally those in which the resource's desirability and collection appropriateness are considered givens, subject to manifest deficits in performance, usability, license terms, or technical compatibility. In the case of formal evaluations, a written recommendation is prepared at the end of the evaluation period. The evaluation process is described more fully on the Digital Acquisitions website.

Resources Proposed for Cost-Sharing

Resources for which joint funding is sought are reviewed by the Digital Acquisitions and Collections Committee or by a targeted group of funding libraries. If joint funding cannot be secured, the sponsoring library is notified. The library may withdraw consideration or sponsor the acquisition on its own.

Sole-Sponsored Resources

Sole-sponsored resources are generally first implemented as trials in order to facilitate the technical review process. Exceptions can be made when urgent access is needed. In all cases, resources must meet the Harvard Libraries portal technical compatibility requirements and site-wide licensing guidelines described above.


This section will cover more fully the procedures for:

Approval and signoff
Signing and depositing the license
Placing the order
Providing ip addresses to vendors
Administrative information required by HUL
Assigning a resource steward
Completing the Harvard Libraries Resource Description Form
Creating a provisional cataloging record in HOLLIS
Completing HOLLIS cataloging and enabling public display

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