Purpose. There are a large number of free electronic resources available on the web, from various sources, including the outputs of funded research projects. As yet, there are not well‐established procedures for the evaluation of the quality and usefulness of these electronic resources. This article examines two preliminary approaches to the problem. Approach. An investigation into free e‐books was carried out for the JISC to examine the potential for the use of free e‐books in teaching and learning in further and higher education in the UK. Questionnaires, a dissemination workshop and focus groups were used to obtain the research results. Three possible approaches to evaluation are discussed, involving the collection of high‐quality resources in a trusted repository, large‐scale evaluation of available resources, and evaluation by end‐users. The practical problems of each approach are discussed. The prospect of future large‐scale digitisation projects and their possible impact in this field is also considered. In a separate section, the question of evaluation of electronic resources is briefly considered in the context of collections development in the Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS). Findings. The conclusion is drawn that it is more cost‐effective to intervene early in the lifecycle of a digital resource and to help ensure good practice in the creation of the resource than to attempt to evaluate and enhance a resource at the end of the creation process. Originality. This paper draws on the unique experience of the AHDS as a central, national service for researchers in the arts and humanities creating and using electronic resources.
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