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Library Services

Online Resource Policy

1. Purpose

The purpose for developing an online resource policy is to ensure a clear relationship between Library Services' provision of online resources and City's Vision and Strategy 2030.

By providing clarification around licence agreement requirements, user access rights and the acceptable use of licensed online resources, the policy aims to ensure all library users comply with our licence agreements.

2. Scope

This policy covers all library online resources for which City, University of London holds a licence agreement. This includes databases, e-journals and e-books. The policy does not cover resources which are freely available via the internet, these are covered by Copyright Law.

3. Background and guiding principles

Library Services subscribes to a significant number of online resources. Each online resource subscription involves a licence agreement between City and an external supplier. These licences state who is authorised to use the service and provide terms and conditions for acceptable use. In line with its Collection Development Policy Library Services will, wherever possible, opt for consortium agreements [1]. There are a significant number of suppliers who do not provide a consortium option and City therefore also has a number of individual online resource licence agreements.

Greater diversity in the type of user requesting access to library resources continues whilst concurrently some online resource suppliers are moving towards the inclusion of more restrictive definitions of 'authorised users'. As City strategically continues to leverage partnerships and develop relationships with external parties, Library Services are likely to experience an increased demand for access to online resources by a wider range of users. It is therefore essential to ensure a clear alignment between the requirements of online resource licences and the access and usage made of these resources by users associated with City. It is also important to ensure that information pertaining to access rights and acceptable use is clear and accessible to all library users.

4. Acqusition of online resources

The Library Services Collection Development Policy outlines the processes behind the acqusition of online resources.

5. Access to online resources

Online resources to which Library Services subscribes are listed in the Databases A-Z and Journals A-Z lists, and are accessible via CityLibrary Search. Login to these resources is normally via a City IT account. Some resources require a separate username and password or individual user registration. Any queries about the authorised use of resources not listed in these sources should be submitted to one of the contacts given at the end of this document in the first instance.

6. Licences and copyright law

Library Services subscribes to online resources to support the educational and research needs of City students and staff. In some cases, these resources are educational versions of commercial products. Any use of online resources must be for educational and non-commercial purposes [2] only, such as research, teaching or study.

Use of all online library resources is subject to licence agreements and copyright law. All users are responsible for ensuring they comply with resource licences and copyright law. Any infringement of the library's licences with suppliers is against the Library Services Code of Conduct and may lead to suppliers withdrawing a service. Any misconduct or breach relating to this policy by City staff or students may lead to disciplinary action under appropriate university procedures [3].

All users of library resources should familiarise themselves with the Library Services Code of Conduct and the IT User Regulations.

7. Authorised users

Access rights to online resources for different categories of user are detailed in the Library Services Online Resources Library Guide. If in doubt, please consult a member of library staff using the contact details at the end of this document.

Unless otherwise stated, library online resources are licensed only for the educational use of current staff and students of City, University of London. This does not include:

  • alumni [4]
  • collaborating authors
  • commercial partners
  • consultants
  • guest lecturers
  • SCONUL Access and M25 members
  • validated and some partnership staff and students [5]
  • visiting scholars [6]
  • short course students
  • summer school students
  • library reference subscribers
  • external university members or external university visitors
  • City staff acting in a commercial capacity (for example, private consultancy or fundraising).

A walk-in access facility [7] is provided for some categories of library user and this is outlined in the Online Resources Library Guide.

Students on exchange programmes should use online resources only for supporting their studies at City and not for any other purpose.

8. Authorised use of online resources

Authorised users of online resources may:

  • access, browse and search online resources, and display contents on the screen
  • download or print [8] a limited number of records for academic purposes
  • download, copy or print up to a supplier-specified percentage [9] of the whole of an e-book
  • download single copies of electronic journal articles or email them to their email addresses for personal research purposes
  • reproduce or quote limited portions of the database contents for reports, essays, projects, and similar materials created for academic purposes, with appropriate acknowledgement of the source
  • any users wishing to bring any licensed material (normally e-journals or e-books) to the attention of students, must link to it via Reading Lists Online. Material should not be emailed or directly added to a network such as Moodle.

Authorised users of online resources may not:

  • share or disclose login details for online resources to other parties. This includes password(s) for online resources or IT account details
  • share any material with unauthorised users (for example, non-members of City, University of London)
  • carry out systematic, bulk or automatic downloading [10]
  • make multiple copies of any material
  • download, copy or print out more than the supplier specified percentage of the whole of an e-book. Exceeding this specified limit can result in the blocking of access for individuals or for the University
  • save retrieved data in a shared drive where other individuals who are not authorised users have access
  • systematically make copies of a whole issue of a journal
  • use online resources for commercial purposes [11]
  • modify the text of any copyright material or any related copyright statement
  • make licensed material available to others over any kind of network or by e-mail without checking the terms of the licence concerned.

Contact details

For all schools (excluding Bayes Business School) contact Tamsin Thomas, [email protected] E-Access Coordinator

For Bayes Business School contact Jacqui Gaul [email protected] (Head of Business Library Services).


[1] Licenses negotiated by national organisations such as Jisc on behalf of the UK higher education sector.

[2] Commercial use is broadly defined as activities which result in profit/monetary reward or commercially funded research which is not shared in the public domain.

[3] City, University of London (2022) Senate Regulation 13: Student Disciplinary. Available at: https://www.city.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/691303/Senate_Regulation_13_Student_Discipline_Senate_20180718-20220713.pdf (Accessed 3rd November 2022).

[4] A small number of databases are available to City alumni via separately negotiated licences. Access to these databases are via the alumni webpages using individual alumni accounts.

[5] Remote access to specified online resources is by arrangement only.

[6] Remote access to specified online resources is by arrangement only.

[7] Dedicated PCs at Northampton Square Library and the Business Library provide access to some licensed online resources for students and staff who are associated with City but are not full members of the University.

[8] Some resources have download and printing limits. Any systematic or significant levels of downloading may trigger a high usage alert and be investigated by Library Services. Some resources also have restrictions on the period of time for which data can be stored. If in doubt about the allowance of any particular licence, please refer to the 'Contact details' section of this policy.

[9] For further information refer to the E-books Library Guide.

[10] Further information regarding downloading restrictions for specific resources can be obtained from the contacts listed at the end of this document.

[11] Commercial use is broadly defined as activities which result in profit/monetary reward or commercially funded research which is not shared in the public domain.

Jacqui Gaul, Head of Business Library Services, reviewed November 2022