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E-resource licensing and collaborative virtual reference?

Following is the text of a note I sent out to various lists last fall.

I'm interested in getting an update on what you all think about this
topic, and to ask if anyone has worked with an e-resource vendor to
include provisions in your license for the use of "your" licensed data to
help other libraries' users in the collaborative virtual reference

And if you are an e-resource vendor I'd be interested to hear your take on


Bernie Sloan

Originally posted 9/27/02:

I've given presentations at two conferences within the past week
(International Coalition of Library Consortia, and Illinois Library
Association) where a main topic of discussion involved the use of licensed
e-resources to serve a user from another library, during a virtual reference
session. Generally, the discussion involved collaborative virtual reference
projects (i.e., where two or more libraries band together to provide virtual
reference services to their collective group of users).

Basically, the scenario is this: you are working the virtual reference desk,
and a user connects from an institution other than your own. Can you use
your licensed e-resources to help this user? For example, can you search a
full text journal article database and e-mail articles to this user? Can you
help the user by providing them with information from a licensed database?

The consensus was that this should be no different than serving a walk-in
patron who asks for help at the physical reference desk. With most vendor
licenses, it is OK for a walk-in user to make use of licensed e-resources.
But when it comes to providing virtual service (e.g., via a virtual
reference service) the licensing terms and conditions are less clear.

What do you all think?

Bernie Sloan
Senior Library Information Systems Consultant, ILCSO
University of Illinois Office for Planning and Budgeting
616 E. Green Street, Suite 213
Champaign, IL  61820

Phone: (217) 333-4895
Fax:   (217) 265-0454
E-mail: bernies@uillinois.edu