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Practical approaches to compliance for entrepreneurial uses of licensed databases in libraries

Posie Aagaard (University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, USA)
Natasha Z Arguello (University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 10 August 2015




The purpose of this paper is to provide practical guidance to business librarians in academic and public libraries for applying essential concepts of licensing electronic resources in entrepreneurial contexts.


The paper is an outcome of a preconference presentation on licensing business resources, based on the practical experience of the authors in licensing and vendor negotiations. It also presents results of the preconference presurvey, gauging awareness among business librarians about licensing concepts and concerns about the usage of licensed databases by entrepreneurs.


For-profit goals of entrepreneurs using library e-resources lead to concerns among business librarians about compliance with non-commercial clauses of library license agreements and potentially to unnecessary restrictions on patrons’ database use. License agreements of business e-resources are likely to have more restrictive terms of use because of perceived value of their intellectual property by vendors, a wider range of content types and clauses carried over from commercial license agreements. Business librarians generally have only basic awareness of licensing concepts. Because of organizational silos, special terms of use sometimes are not clearly conveyed from the licensing staff to librarians who work directly with entrepreneurs.

Practical implications

The paper proposes a definition of entrepreneurial uses of licensed e-resources and practical approaches to manage compliance risk.


The paper provides a practical framework for business librarians to assess compliance with license agreements in the context of entrepreneurial uses.



The authors are very grateful to Georgia Harper, J.D., from the University of Texas at Austin, for her insights on commercial use.


Aagaard, P. and Arguello, N.Z. (2015), "Practical approaches to compliance for entrepreneurial uses of licensed databases in libraries", Reference Services Review, Vol. 43 No. 3, pp. 419-438.



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