Collection Development Program, Policies, and Guidelines

Collection Development Policy (revised May 9, 2023)


  1. Introduction
  2. Scope of the Collection
  3. Access versus Ownership
  4. Cooperative Collection Sharing and Stewardship
  5. Licensing Online Resources
  6. Collections Budget
  7. Responsibility for Collection Development
  8. General Criteria for Collection Development
  9. Material Type and Format
  10. Donations
  11. Collection Maintenance:
    1. Deselection
    2. Reconsideration of Materials
  12. Archives & Special Collections
  13. Law Library
  14. Dates
    1. Introduction: The UConn Library develops, maintains, and makes discoverable robust and unique collections that support the research and learning needs of the UConn community and beyond. The UConn Library serves all of the undergraduate and graduate programs on the main campus, the four regional campuses, and the UConn Health campus. While the UConn Law Library is administratively separate from the UConn Library, the UConn Library and the Law Library maintain a strong affiliation. With 3.9 million print volumes and well over 110,000 electronic and print journals, the libraries of the University of Connecticut form the most comprehensive public research collection in the state.

      The UConn Library, which includes the Health Sciences Library, is comprised of nine physical locations: four on the Storrs campus, one at each of the four regional campuses, and one at the UConn Health campus. The Homer Babbidge Library, the flagship location of the UConn Library, is in the center of the Storrs campus and serves both undergraduate and graduate programs. The Storrs campus is also home to the Music & Dramatic Arts Library in the Fine Arts complex, the Pharmacy Library in the Pharmacy/Biology building, and the University Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. Each of the University’s four regional campuses — Avery Point, Hartford, Stamford, and Waterbury — maintains a library dedicated to serving the programs at those sites. Regional campus libraries hold undergraduate-focused core collections as well as specialized research collections tailored to the needs of graduate programs: marine sciences at Avery Point; business, public policy, education, and social work at Hartford; business at Stamford; and education, nursing, and engineering at Waterbury. The Storrs and regional campus locations of the UConn Library share a single catalog and each of these libraries serve as a gateway to the collection as a whole. The UConn Health Sciences Library location of the UConn Library maintains a separate catalog reflecting the specialized needs of the UConn Health community.

      This document applies specifically to the UConn Library (also referred to throughout as “the Library”) and outlines the principles and guidelines used to develop the collections at these locations.

    2. Scope of the Collection: The UConn Library develops and maintains collections that inspire discovery and the creation of new knowledge by providing resources that support and enhance research and scholarship, undergraduate and graduate education, and emerging areas of interdisciplinary interest at the University of Connecticut. The depth of collection development varies by discipline and is driven by the scholarship and teaching priorities of the University’s academic programs.

      The Library recognizes that free access to ideas and freedom of expression are fundamental to research and education in a democratic society. The collection will not exclude any materials on the basis of their creators’ and/or publishers’ race, color, ethnicity, religious creed, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, or physical or mental abilities. The UConn Library serves a diverse constituency with varied experiences, backgrounds, abilities, and needs. We endeavor to attain a diversity of voices in the research materials provided to users of the UConn collections. We affirm our alignment with the Association of College & Research Libraries’ Diversity Standard #4: ‘Librarians and library staff shall develop collections and provide programs and services that are inclusive of the needs of all persons in the community the library serves.’

    3. Access versus Ownership: The Library is responsible for acquiring, curating, and preserving enduring research collections and ensuring their availability for current and future scholarship. Decisions about which materials to purchase for permanent retention are balanced against the need to provide access to a broad array of information resources with immediate scholarly and research value. Research strengths, academic priorities, and the information needs of students inform decisions about when to collect for permanent retention, when to lease or borrow materials, and when to rely on openly available repositories.

    4. Cooperative Collection Sharing and Stewardship: The Library’s collection is developed for the right library for UConn, to meet the needs of the UConn community while also functioning as a node in networks of collective collections developed by libraries partnering at regional, national, and international levels. The Library recognizes the vital importance of these collective collections in ensuring for the long-term retention of the scholarly record and the ongoing ability of researchers to access this record. To this end, the Library is committed to participating in partnerships with other libraries that facilitate collection sharing and stewardship. Among the partnerships in which the Library participates is the Eastern Academic Scholars Trust (EAST), a print retention partnership of over 100 college and university libraries from Maine to Florida. The mission of EAST is to preserve and provide access to the collective scholarly record of print monographs, journals, and serials held by the participating libraries.

    5. Licensing Online Resources: The UConn Library negotiates licenses as “One UConn,” which encompasses the Storrs campus libraries, regional campus libraries, the Health Sciences library, and the Law library. When negotiating license agreements for online resources, the Library refrains from purchasing resources where restrictions would impede research or intellectual freedom, or be impossible to enforce. The Library strives to ensure access is granted to the fullest extent possible and that the UConn Board of Trustees’ approval, signature authority, and contract requirements are all met. In furtherance thereof, licenses negotiated by the Library generally reference and incorporate terms and conditions set forth in the LIBLICENSE Model and in other standards widely adopted by research institutions.

      Additionally, the Library negotiates licenses to be in compliance with the State of Connecticut’s contract requirements. Licensed resources must include the State of Connecticut’s required contract provisions.

    6. Collections Budget: The Library’s collection allocations are used to acquire ownership of or access to monographs, media, journals, databases, and data and datasets; support interlibrary borrowing and lending; enable the discovery of print and online materials worldwide; steward the University’s scholarly output; secure participation in collaborative repositories that safeguard the long term preservation of both print and digital resources; and participate in relevant professional memberships. The Library also collaborates with schools and departments to co-finance and co-sponsor specialized resources that benefit our research community.

    7. Responsibility for Collection Development: The UConn Library’s Senior Leadership Team, with efforts led by the Associate University Librarian for Collections & Discovery, has administrative oversight for the collections. It sets collection development policies, makes broad collection budget allocations, and regularly reviews these allocations for strategic adjustment. Selection/retention decisions for high-cost resources also fall within the purview of the Senior Leadership Team.

      The UConn Library’s professionals with curatorial and subject responsibilities, along with colleagues in Acquisitions, coordinate the assessment and development of collections and discovery tools of a cross-disciplinary nature, while individual subject librarians have responsibility for assessing and developing collections and information sources relating to their assigned academic disciplines. Fund allocations are divided among academic disciplines based on the size of the program, department, school or area; the nature of material needed; the record of expenditures in relation to previous years; and the existence or presence of new initiatives and/or faculty. 

    8. General Criteria for Collection Development: The Library works with the UConn community and consortia to determine which resources should be acquired or retained and employs the following general criteria when evaluating resources to be added to the general collections:

      1. Relevance to education and research programs: Applicability to faculty and graduate students’ research interests, current curricular needs, and research trends in academic disciplines.
      2. Scope and depth of the existing collection: Breadth and historic retention of the Library’s collection in the subject area.
      3. Quality: Level of scholarship and creativity; long term relevance of content and format; reputation of the author, publisher, contributors, and editorial board; and availability and importance of illustrations and bibliographies.
      4. Currency and timeliness: Rapidity with which new information significantly advances or supersedes earlier scholarship in the subject area.
      5. Discoverability, usability, and accessibility: Ability of users to locate materials in scholarly databases and free search engines, intuitiveness of the interface design, and accessibility of online materials for users with disabilities.
      6. Cost: Expense of acquiring, processing, cataloging, shelving, and preserving materials, both commercially sold and free.
      7. Renewal rates: Subscribed resources with renewal rates of four percent or more are subject to review. The review will assess the basis for the significant cost increase and may result in cancellation.
      8. Language and country of origin: Optimal language and perspective for specific programmatic research and education needs.
      9. Contribution to open scholarly communication: The resource positively impacts open access to research and scholarship; the information is or will soon become readily accessible to the world community.
    9. Material Type and Format: The Library prefers obtaining materials in electronic formats but selects the format best suited for the content at hand and the funding available. When selecting e-resources, the Library favors those that allow unlimited simultaneous use and are DRM-free, accessible to all members of the UConn community, functionally reliable, and user-friendly. As a general rule, the Library does not acquire the following:

      • Textbooks: With the exception of materials held by the Health Sciences Library location and Open Textbooks, the Library does not acquire resources that have been published as textbooks. The Health Sciences Library will purchase books that are used for multiple semesters and place them on reserve.
      • Course Reserve Materials: With the exception of materials held by the Health Sciences Library location, the Library does not acquire materials for course reserves. Instructors are encouraged to draw course materials from the Library’s physical or online collections or from the many Open Educational Resources now readily available. While the Library does not purchase or acquire materials that have been published as textbooks or other curricular materials (aside from Open Textbooks and Open Educational Resources) to meet the needs of a particular course, instructors may supply such materials to the course reserve program from their own collections. The Health Sciences Library will hold core books on reserve. These books are reviewed yearly for relevance to the UConn Health schools and currency.
      • Outdated Formats: The Library does not acquire materials in formats requiring specialized equipment or facilities, or utilizing playing devices no longer manufactured or serviced.
      • Streaming or Physical Media that:
        • Is readily available from a mass market retailer;
        • Lack enduring value in support of the research and learning needs of the UConn community; and/or
        • Does not include rights for access in perpetuity.
      • Multiple Copies and Replacements: The Library does not acquire multiple copies of items for a single location, except for instances in which the item is in very high demand. Titles in the collection reported missing are replaced as promptly as possible if needed for teaching or research. Replacements for other lost or damaged materials will be considered on the basis of past use, currency of information, relevance to collecting goals, consortial retention commitments, and cost.
      • Single Issues or Incomplete Runs of Journals
      • Note on new material types: The Library may, at its discretion, undertake pilot projects to assess the capacity and value of supporting new types of materials.
    10. Donations Anyone wishing to donate books or other materials to a Storrs or Regional campus library is asked first to submit an inquiry. Anyone wishing to donate materials to UConn’s Health Sciences Library, Law Library, or Archives & Special Collections should contact them directly.

      The Library welcomes donations of books and other scholarly materials that are unique, in excellent physical condition, and significantly relevant to the UConn community’s research and learning needs. Prior to acceptance, donors will be asked to provide a list of materials they wish to donate. Lists must include information such as authors, titles, ISBNs if applicable, and publication dates. Upon acceptance, materials irrevocably become the property of the University of Connecticut. Disposition of materials is at the Library’s sole discretion, and donors cannot be informed of disposition decisions. Commitments regarding disposition of donated materials are reserved for the Dean of Libraries or designees. Donated materials not added to the collections are regifted, sold, recycled, or discarded; they cannot be returned to donors. The Library does not accept walk-in donations or unapproved drop-offs at any of our facilities. In accordance with federal tax laws, the Library cannot provide monetary appraisals of donated materials. 

      The UConn Library gratefully welcomes gifts of financial support at any time.

    11. Collection Maintenance:

      1. Deselection To maintain a vibrant and relevant collection, the Library employs deselection, also known as collection weeding. Periodic evaluation of the relevance of resources is an essential element of collection development that ensures the Library’s materials remain useful and accessible. The following criteria are used when evaluating items for deselection in the general collections:

        • Research, teaching, and learning value
        • Retention commitments in shared stewardship initiatives
        • Physical condition
        • Discoverability and usability
        • Circulation rate
        • Currency of information
        • Relevance to curriculum
        • Availability of newer editions
        • Duplication
        • Increase in cost
        • Redundancy of the item under consideration amongst the holdings of other libraries regionally, nationally, and internationally

        The disposition of all deselected materials is at the sole discretion of the Library. 

      2. Reconsideration of Materials: The UConn Library is committed to the principles of intellectual freedom as outlined in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. Challenges to collection development decisions are governed by the reconsideration review process. Any person requesting reconsideration of any materials must complete and sign a Reconsideration of Library Materials Form. The completed and signed form will be reviewed by the Associate University Librarian for Collections & Discovery in consultation with appropriate subject and curatorial experts and the Library’s Senior Leadership Team as applicable. The Associate University Librarian will draft a recommendation concerning disposition of the challenged material to the complainant within four weeks of receipt and forward to the Dean of the Library along with the original Reconsideration of Library Materials Form for review. The Associate University Librarian has the responsibility of notifying the complainant as to the decision regarding the materials. The complainant shall be notified within three months from the date of receipt of the signed form, except under unusual circumstances (i.e., overlapping annual leave, transition of personnel, etc.). All decisions are final. Once validated by the process, materials shall not be eligible for further reevaluation, as each challenged item has been through a rigorous review. An updated file listing the title, date challenged, date resolved, and disposition will be kept by the Associate University Librarian and provided to anyone who requests the list. The Library may choose to document (in the catalog record and possibly also in or on the item itself) the perceived problem that generated the request for return or withdrawal to inform potential users.
    12. Archives & Special Collections Archives & Special Collections is a unit within the UConn Library which includes rare materials, spanning manuscripts, rare books, photographs, maps, drawings, illustrations, newspapers, periodicals, sound recordings, film, and born-digital materials. In setting collecting priorities, Archives & Special Collections seeks materials that build regionally, nationally, and internationally recognized collections, add depth or rare and unique materials to its holdings, and support academic programs. Archives & Special Collections also preserves the official records and the institutional memory of the University of Connecticut.

      Collections are acquired primarily by donation, in accordance with Archives & Special Collections’ acquisition policy, University of Connecticut Records Retention policies, and terms outlined in its Deed of Gift document. Collection materials that are regularly purchased, either with library monies or endowment funds, include special collections specimens in fine or near fine condition, reference materials and tools, and, selectively, manuscripts, according to collecting priorities and as they become available by accredited vendors in the marketplace.

    13. Law Library The Thomas J. Meskill Law Library in Hartford provides comprehensive, current, and relevant print and digital collections that support the School’s students, faculty, and staff in the advancement of legal scholarship, legal education, and legal research. The Law Library maintains a separate policy regarding its collection development program.

    14. Dates: 
      Approved: January 20, 2016.
      Last revised: May 9, 2023 (aside from minor textual corrections).
      Review: The Associate University Librarian for Collections & Discovery, in consultation with the Library’s Senior Leadership Team, will consult as appropriate with additional stakeholders to review and update this policy at least once per year, and revise it to reflect current trends in selection, format, and other areas as needed.