Home / Start Your Research / Collections & Archives / Collection Management / Collection Management Principles and Strategies

Collection Management Principles and Strategies

The UW Libraries develops and maintains collections guided by the vision to accelerate inquiry, creativity, and learning for global impact and the public good, balanced with our values of sustainability and our commitment to being outstanding stewards of our human, environmental, physical, digital and financial resources. This focus on sustainability requires us to make difficult choices when we do not have the resources  to acquire everything that we wish, or the space to properly shelve our ever-growing collection. The UW Libraries and the individual Subject Librarians rely on a set of principles and strategies when making decisions on acquisitions, maintenance, or removal of items from the collections. The principles articulated in the Collection Development Guiding Principles, and the values and strategies in the UW Libraries Strategic Plan provide a framework for evaluation and decision making in collection management.


One Library: Three Campuses

The University of Washington Libraries operates as one library serving three campuses.
UW Libraries is committed to provide a comparable experience for all UW students, faculty, and staff. The University Libraries operates on a principle of One Library: Three Campuses that involves collaborative planning, centralized work functions, and shared outcomes that balance priorities in common with unique, local needs across the Bothell, Seattle, and Tacoma campuses.


Collection Development Guiding Principles

Collects or acquires materials in all formats to support the University's teaching and research missions and priorities.

Considerations for Collection Management

    • Support for current research and teaching needs, demonstrated by
      • existing collection strengths;
      • established and emerging curricular programs;
      • needs communicated by faculty and graduate students;
      • anticipated research or curricular use.
    • Authoritativeness or reputation of the author, editor, publisher, producer, etc.

Considers the ability to borrow or access materials for UW users from trusted consortial partners and vendors when making collection decisions.

Considerations for Collection Management
      • The UW Libraries aspires to accelerate inquiry, creativity, and learning for global impact and the public good by collecting broadly and deeply across many subject areas, and from throughout the world. With limited facilities and financial resources the UW Libraries does not have the means to achieve these goals alone. The Libraries actively participates in multi-institutional partnerships to maximize both collections budgets and consortial resource sharing networks;
      • Some key consortial partnerships for collections management include: Orbis Cascade Alliance, Greater Western Library Alliance, WEST: Western Regional Storage Trust, HathiTrust, and CRL (Center for Research Libraries);
      • The UW Libraries maintains a network of cooperative collection development agreements, such as the National Resource Centers, to provide access to and ensure preservation of international materials.

    Avoids duplicating materials, except to meet compelling UW user needs, in order to maximize scarce economic and physical resources.

    Considerations for Collection Management

      • Given the limited facilities and financial resources available, the Libraries acquires single copies of resources, except in limited cases when sufficient demand for multiple copies is known, can be reasonably projected, or where the item possesses particular artifactual value.
      • To maximize available space for physical collections, the Libraries actively limits or avoids duplication in our collection, including duplication across formats (i.e. print and e-journals), and will enable selective deaccessioning of low-use print journals that are held by trusted consortial partners’ shared print programs (e.g., WEST) and to which the Libraries has an electronic surrogate with perpetual access.
      • The Libraries will consider multiple copies in limited cases and factors such as, specific requests from faculty and researchers demonstrating need for multiple copies, the total cost of acquisition, storage options or constraints, number of holdings across libraries generally, and availability through interlibrary loan.

    Prefers online access when it best meets the needs of users, but recognizes that the availability of digital content varies across disciplines and geographically and that there are cases where other formats are more effective.

    Considerations for Collection Management

      • The Libraries recognizes that the availability of and preference for electronic publication formats differs across subject areas within and across the fine and performing arts, humanities, social sciences, sciences, and other communities of practice. For example, in some disciplines, print publications remain primary and critical to supporting the work of students and faculty; and in many areas of the world, print may be the most reliable and potentially the only available format.
        • The Libraries monitors change with the intention of being responsive to evolving needs and preferences by users.
        • E-only access may be considered when the acquisition is sustainable, affordable, accessible, and persistent by preservation standards.
        • The Libraries may consider maintaining print format when
          • there are demonstrable and substantive differences in content,
          • canceling the print would negatively impact scholarship and/or stewardship, or
          • faculty have expressed important reasons for the Libraries to continue to support acquisition and/or retention of the print (or other tangible, physical formats, including microfilm) in certain disciplines.
      • Constraints of facilities and financial resources will also be important factors in determining which formats to acquire and/or retain from existing collections over time.

    Recognizes that unique local collections and areas of strength add value to both institutional and collaborative collections.

    Considerations for Collection Management

      • Unique or rarely-held by other libraries or cultural/scientific organizations;
      • Artifactual interest, such that the item in its original published format, or marks of former use/ownership it carries, enables distinct opportunities for scholarship and teaching;
      • Quality of the physical condition of the item by UW Libraries Preservation Services.

    UW Libraries Strategic Plan - Strategies and Goals

    Enhance Equitable Environments for Research, Learning, and Working

    Considerations for Collection Management

        • Accessibility
          • UW Libraries is committed to providing equal access to library collections, services, and facilities for all library users. We strive to select and acquire, whenever possible, resources and technologies that are accessible and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Libraries conducts testing to ensure e-resources procured for use at the Libraries are accessible to individuals with disabilities, see Library E-Resource Accessibility Testing and Accessibility Progress at the Libraries.
        • Diverse Collections
          • UW Libraries values aligning our services and programs with the needs of our communities and strive to create shared ownership of the Libraries, in sustaining diversity, and confronting institutional bias and structural racism. It is our intention to develop strategies that go beyond normative structures, collections types, and established canons.
          • Collection management decisions are evaluated against criteria that reflect the varied, evolving, and increasingly interdisciplinary curricula and research.
          • Decisions balance quantitative and qualitative measures by librarians in order to promote preservation of and access to the widest range of cultural, scientific, and historical resources possible
        • Support for intellectual freedom
          • UW Libraries supports the free exchange of ideas with collections that provide access to a selection of material on all subjects that support the university’s mission. We have a historical and ethical obligation to support intellectual freedom and encourage debate and discourse. The Libraries strives to balance access to, and ownership of, information resources that offer the widest possible range of viewpoints. Material will not be excluded because of frankness of language or controversial approach, because of the political, moral or religious, sexual, social, economic, or scientific views expressed or because of the race or national origin, politics, or religion of the author or source of content.

      Accelerate Scholarship and Learning through Responsive Collections

      Develop scalable, strategic and sustainable models of collection development, preservation and stewardship.

      Considerations for Collection Management

      Our most limited resource in the UW Libraries is space. Like academic libraries across the country must continually relocate or remove items from the collection to make space for new material and to maintain a healthy browsable collection in our most valuable publicly accessible spaces on campus. These relocation and withdrawal decision are a collaborative effort among UW Libraries staff to consider access, use, and preservation considerations.

      Subject librarians rely on their understanding of the discipline and patterns of use of the literature, knowledge of the corpus of works in the Libraries collection, and consultation with faculty when making these collection management decisions.

        • Location of physical collections
          • As of February 2021 - Currently, existing shelving capacity for Libraries collections at the Seattle campus are approaching or have reached their operational capacity and many are more than 100% full, see Libraries Strategic Space Plan Update.
          • The Libraries recognizes that preferences for physical formats differ across subject areas and communities of practices. Location decisions involve a variety of criteria, and careful balance between space management and fulfilling the needs of research and teaching. Some common considerations:
              • for locating items on campus include:
                • high use;
                • newly-acquired / newly published;
                • used in current research or teaching;
                • canonical/core titles;
                • critical editions;
                • major authors;
                • current (or high use) reference materials.
              • for locating items off-campus include:
                • the condition or nature of the item requires it be housed in a secure, long-term preservation environment;
                • low use (as defined in each subject area);
                • specific languages in a given subject area;
                • highly specialized subjects;
                • not actively used in current research or teaching;
                • older imprints where variation in edition is not of scholarly interest;
                • print books and print journal runs that are available online;
                • minor presses;
                • minor authors.
          • Deselection/Deaccessioning from the collection
            • Similar to acquiring new titles for the collection, decisions to deselect/ deaccession items from the Libraries collections, are made within the context of the Collection Development guiding principles. All decisions are made with care, and placed in the context of practices in the field. Some factors that influence decisions to remove items are also factors that may, inversely, influence a decision to instead retain or replace them, and may include:
              • Prioritize unique and regionally important works, and items with evidence of use or demand in the discipline/subject area for retention in the collection;
              • Consider low-use and high availability in Summit and across our network of ILL partners when identifying items to withdraw;
              • Consider preservation commitments in shared print programs (e.g.,  WEST) when identifying items to withdraw.
          • Replacement of physical item
            • We will consider purchasing a similar or exact copy or preservation replacement when physical materials that are declared lost or missing, or in poor/unusable condition, at the discretion of the appropriate Subject Librarian, in accordance with the Collection Development guiding principles.
            • We may consider to de-select or withdraw items from the collection due to factors described previously.