News & Events
Penn Libraries Adopt E-Preferred Journal Policy

To help control subscription costs while providing wide access to high-quality content, Penn Libraries are moving to an "electronic preferred" journal policy. Effective July 2009, wherever possible, Penn's journal subscriptions will transition to digital only unless the title has specific limitations pertaining to its functionality, content, timeliness and reliability or does not meet an acceptable standard for perpetual access and electronic archiving. This transition to e-only journals follows the Libraries' successful pilot launched in October 2007 to move all Oxford University Press journal titles to e-only. Penn's new policy is based on similar guidelines adopted by Cornell University and Duke University libraries in 2007.

If you have questions about the rationale for or impact of this E-Only Journal Exceptions Policy, please contact the appropriate Subject Librarian, or the Director of Collection Development & Management.

E-Only Journal Exceptions Policy

Adapted from the Cornell University Library and Duke University Library policies, Penn's policy will guide the acquisition of new and existing journal titles from July 2009 forward. In sum, all journal subscriptions will transition to digital only unless one or more of the following exceptions are met.


  1. If the title is especially high profile (e.g., Daedalus, Nature, Lancet, Diacritics).
  2. If the print journal functions better as a browsing journal or current awareness source (e.g., due to poor interface design in the electronic version).
  3. If the quality of images or graphics is demonstrably inferior in the electronic journal.
  4. If the print has significant artifactual or aesthetic value.

Electronic Archival Availability

  1. If there is no guarantee that the publisher will continue to provide access to the electronic volumes to which Penn Libraries subscribed in case of future cancellation.
  2. If there is no evidence of an institutional commitment to the journal's long-term preservation (e.g., through membership in LOCKSS, Portico or another systematic e-archiving agency at the local, national or international level.)

Print Retention Responsibility

  1. If Penn Libraries have either a consortial responsibility to retain a paper copy or another strong commitment to retain a print archive of this journal title or the subject area to which it belongs.

Timeliness & Reliability

  1. If there is any delay between publication of print and availability of online content.
  2. If the provider of the electronic journal is unreliable (e.g., an aggregator which has swapped journal titles in and out of coverage in the past).


  1. If the content of the print differs from that of the electronic (e.g., the print version contains significantly more material than the electronic version).

Use Restrictions

  1. If license restrictions require the university community to use the electronic version in a way that differs materially from use of the print version.

Adapted from Cornell University Library. E-Only Journal Exceptions Policy and Duke University's Perkins Library System E-Only Journal Exception Policy, retrieved June 25, 2009.

For more information:
Martha Brogan, Director of Collection Development & Management