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Collection management policies and guidelines

Content providers of our electronic journals, ebooks, and other materials can detect when an individual downloads a large amount of their content. A typical vendor will cut off access for an entire campus when systematic downloading (by the vendor's definition) is detected. In order to prevent campus-wide blocks to databases, the Library's authentication system will preemptively block any user who transfers data more than 5,000 times in 24 hours. (The average Off Campus Sign In user transfers under 100 times in 24 hours). The automatic block will expire after a 1 hour cool down period. At 9,000 transfers, users are blocked automatically for 24 hours.  

Users may unintentionally trigger a blocking event. One article or book chapter can have as many as 20 transfers because each type of content being returned through the authentication system (images, articles, javascript, etc.) can count as a separate transfer. Therefore as few as 200 article downloads could trigger the 5,000 data transfer block.

The Library does not assume malicious intent on the part of the user; this system is in place to ensure everyone can access our resources. If you find your account is still blocked after the 1 hour cool down period, please contact

Please see our FAQ and the Acceptable Use of Information Systems at Virginia Tech policy for more information.