Library Collection Development Policy


This collection development policy is a statement of the principles and guidelines used by the University of Delaware Library in the selection, acquisition, evaluation and maintenance of library materials. It is intended to ensure consistency of practice among those responsible for developing the collections and to communicate the Library’s policies to faculty, students, staff and other interested persons. A Collection Development Policy is, of necessity, subject to change as the programs and information needs of the University evolve.

The details of our collection development policy are below:

University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press Mission Statement

“The Library inspires the intellectual, scholarly and creative achievement of University and global communities with expert staff, excellent service, dynamic learning spaces and access to diverse collections and information resources.”

University Profile

The University of Delaware is a land-grant, sea-grant and space-grant university and one of the oldest universities in the United States. Its Carnegie Classification is R1, Doctoral: Very High Research Activity. The University offers extensive graduate programs and is dedicated to outstanding undergraduate and professional education. Hundreds of programs of study are available from eight colleges:  Agriculture and Natural Resources, Arts and Sciences, Business and Economics, Earth, Ocean, and Environment, Education and Human Development, Engineering, Health Sciences and the Graduate College. Demographic information for the University is available at University of Delaware Facts and Figures.

Library Profile

The University of Delaware Library is comprised of Morris Library (the main library), three branch libraries: Chemistry, Physics and Marine Studies; as well as the Education Resource Center. In addition, a Library Annex is used for the remote storage of materials. All are located on the Newark campus with the exception of the Marine Studies Library, located on the Lewes, Delaware campus.

In 2020/2021 (FY21), the Library’s collections included more than 8.6 million items, including  physical volumes (monographs and periodicals), microform units, e-journals, databases, e-books, e-videos, films and videos, government publications, maps and 10,000 linear feet of archives and manuscripts.

The Library is a member of a number of national professional organizations and consortia, including the American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, Center for Research Libraries, Coalition for Networked Information, Council on Library and Information Resources, Digital Library Federation, LYRASIS, NERL, Greater Western Library Alliance, OCLC Research Library Partnership, SPARC, HathiTrust, National Digital Stewardship Alliance, National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) and ACRL Diversity Alliance.  These memberships provide opportunities for collaboration and partnerships which strengthen the Library’s collections.

In 2016 University Museums merged with Library Special Collections to create a new division, Special Collections and Museums. The combined collections are broadly based. Within Special Collections these encompass books, manuscripts, broadsides, periodicals, pamphlets, maps and ephemera from the fifteenth to the twenty-first century. Museum collections include a renowned mineralogical collection and an art collection with strengths in 20th-century American art (especially prints, photographs and work by African American artists), European prints, Inuit art and Pre-Columbian art.

A separate Special Collections and Museums Collection Management Policy has been developed. For information related to this policy please contact Special Collections at or Museums at

Purposes and Goals of Collection Development

One of the Library’s strategic directions is to increase the value and impact of research, scholarship and discovery through excellent collections, interdisciplinary activity and innovative methods of information management. Development and maintenance of the Library’s tangible and digital collections are fundamental methods of achieving that strategic goal.

The primary goal of the Library’s collection development efforts is to provide access to a balanced and diverse collection that meets the educational, teaching and research needs of the University community. In keeping with UD’s commitment to continual growth, inspiring entrepreneurialism among students and faculty and supporting innovative solutions to world problems, consideration is also given to anticipated needs. Recognizing that no academic library can supply materials that will satisfy all of the needs of its users, the Library also actively participates in resource sharing with libraries throughout the world.

The development and management of the Library’s collection is highly collaborative. It has been and continues to be developed by subject librarians in collaboration with the faculty, staff, and students of the University of Delaware. Subject librarians select materials, raise awareness of  Library resources and interact with scholars within their specific disciplines. The Collections and Resource Sharing Department coordinates many aspects of this work and collaborates with other Library departments, units and personnel in the activities that result in the acquisition of information resources, including the formulation of policies and procedures that guide the selection process, the evaluation of the existing collection, the allocation of funds for acquisition and the withdrawal of materials from the collection.

American Library Association Bill of Rights

The Library recognizes that free access to ideas and full freedom of expression are fundamental to the educational process. Accordingly, we purchase and subscribe to materials that represent a wide variety of viewpoints. In so doing, the Library subscribes to and complies with the American Library Association Library Bill of Rights and its accompanying statements of interpretation, including, but not limited to, statements on:

The Library complies with all of the provisions of the U.S. Copyright Law (17 U.S.C.) and its amendments. The Library strongly supports the Fair Use section of the Copyright Law (17 U.S.C. §107), which provides guidelines intended to protect citizens’ rights to reproduce and make other uses of copyrighted works for the purposes of teaching, scholarship and research. We support authors’ rights to make their publications available through a variety of methods, including open access, in compliance with publisher regulations, and provide space in our institutional repository for hosting UD authors’ publications.

Collection Development Diversity Statement

Research library collections reflect their respective institutional missions over time.  We recognize and acknowledge that UD Library collections were conventionally founded on, influenced by and biased toward embedded cultural, societal, institutional and educational norms.

Today, UD Library collections are dynamic and responsive, while recognizing the historical value of maintaining and sometimes developing collections that may reflect outdated mores and prejudicial beliefs. At the same time, our collections are being shaped and enriched in ways that increase access to heritage materials representing varied fields of knowledge, diversity of content and diverse identities and abilities of creators and researchers.

Collections are developed, maintained and evaluated in keeping with the University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press Values Statement.  We also seek to uphold the guiding principles embodied in the University of Delaware Diversity Statement:

“The University of Delaware’s educational mission is to prepare students to live in an increasingly interconnected and diverse world. We are committed to fostering a robust educational environment that supports critical thinking, free inquiry, and an understanding of diverse views and values. We see diversity as a core value and guiding principle for our educational mission and thus must work to make diversity an integral part of everyday life on campus.

We take diversity to mean both the recognition and the appreciation of the different backgrounds, values, and ideas of those who comprise our campus, and to ensuring that all people on our campus are treated according to principles of fairness, civility, dignity, and equity.

We are committed to building an educational community that embraces people from different backgrounds and economic circumstances, with different needs, and from diverse personal and philosophical beliefs. We want to make all people who are part of the University feel welcome and valued in campus life.”

The UD Library embraces collection strategies that reflect the Association of College & Research Libraries'(ACRL) Diversity Standards: Cultural Competencies for Academic Libraries, including 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.” The  Library collection development practices are informed by the ACRL definition of cultural competence “individuals and systems respond respectfully and effectively to people of all cultures, languages, classes, races, ethnic backgrounds, religions, and other diversity factors in a manner that recognizes, affirms, and values the worth of individuals, families, and communities, and protects and preserves the dignity of each.”

We develop collections that support an equitable and inclusive approach to the UD curriculum and that reflect the entirety of the UD community. We value diversity within the collections and the variety that is found among those collections. We value a range of coverage in perspectives, authorship, audience and subject matter. We recognize that a diverse campus community needs inclusive collections, which are the foundation for learning and creating new knowledge.

Selection Policies and Criteria

The Library supports the Principles and Performance Indicators for Collections included in Standards for Libraries in Higher Education (2018 revision). Selection of library resources is a process affected by changing curricula as well as the availability of sought after materials and formats. UD Library staff utilize professional judgment and expertise in making collection development decisions, including decisions about choosing titles, identifying quantities for purchase and selecting locations for materials.  Anticipated demand, strengths and weaknesses of the existing collection, physical space limitations, acquisitions procedures and available funds are all factors taken into consideration. The Library participates in several consortia and actively pursues new collaborations with external organizations to share resources cooperatively.

Collections decisions (acquisition, location, retention, preservation, conservation, digitization, investment in open access) are evaluated against criteria that reflect the varied, evolving and increasingly interdisciplinary curricula and research at the University of Delaware. Decisions balance quantitative measures for assessment (cost per use, publication date, circulation and other usage data) with qualitative measures that integrate ethical and values-based considerations in order to promote preservation of and access to the widest range of cultural, scientific and historical resources possible.

Connected reading: Guidelines for Collection Development and Management