Collection development policy

For the purposes of this document, collection is defined as the material, regardless of format that is acquired by the UNSW Library.

The scope of this policy excludes UNSW Canberra.


The UNSW Library's collection development goals are to:

  • support the teaching, learning, creative and research functions of the University by acquiring and organising a relevant and well balanced collection
  • respond to changes in teaching and research programs
  • maintain the physical condition of the collection
  • participate in resource sharing and networking at a regional, national and international level
  • participate in efficient and cost effective storage programs to create long-term access to research material

The collection development policy has been created as a planning tool to give direction and focus to the selection and collection practice of the UNSW Library.

Guiding principles

  • UNSW Library is a steady state library, which means the intake of new print material will be offset by the relocation, disposal or replacement by electronic access of a corresponding quantity of existing print items
  • UNSW Library is responsible for the condition and content of its collections
  • UNSW Library will maintain a strong journals collection
  • UNSW Library cannot meet every need from its own collection. Specialist research needs may be met through interlibrary loans (ILL)
  • UNSW Library will purchase electronic versions of material in preference to print/hardcopy. UNSW Library will take the suitability of format for particular discipline areas into consideration
  • UNSW Library will collect limited copies of textbooks and recommended materials
  • Collection resources are provided to UNSW teaching hospital libraries to support the learning needs of UNSW medical students located off campus
  • UNSW Library aims to purchase material that will be available to the University as a whole and so may not purchase classroom resources or research datasets which provide restricted access
  • UNSW Library aims for a comprehensive coverage of material by the University's authors

Selection practices

(a) General
University staff and students may make recommendations for the purchase of library materials. For more information, see Purchase recommendations.

Final decisions for the purchase of all Library materials rest with the University Librarian.

(b) Language
Priority is given to publications in the English language. Exceptions to this will be made where non-English resources are required to support the teaching of languages other than English, or where the content is pictorial in nature and its acquisition is made based on this content.

(c) Duplication
As a general principle, UNSW Library does not purchase duplicate copies of material. Where duplication is requested it must be related to use.

(d) Price
The value of material cannot be measured simply considering its price. The price however, in addition to the other listed selection practices, will be considered when evaluating a potential purchase.

(e) Licence terms
Materials will not be purchased where licence terms of the resource cannot be adhered to by UNSW Library or where acceptable licence terms cannot be negotiated.

(f) Donations
The Library will accept gifts of material provided they fall within current collection priorities. Acceptance of major donations must be approved by the University Librarian. Materials are accepted on the clear understanding that the Library has control over what is kept and what is discarded, and where items will be located. Only items which will enhance the collection are added.

The Library is also pleased to receive financial donations for collection development.

(g) Government publications
UNSW is not a deposit library for government publications and therefore does not automatically acquire them.

(h) Budget allocation
The materials budget is divided into four distinct categories:

  • Learning and teaching material which includes textbooks and recommended reading material
  • Research material which includes both print and electronic purchases for academics and higher degree research students
  • Document services which includes interlibrary loan requests
  • Collection services which includes allocations for binding and repairs

Material types

(a) Textbooks & recommended reading
UNSW purchases textbooks and titles on recommended reading lists as supplied to UNSW Bookshop by faculties and schools.

Textbooks are purchased from UNSW Bookshop through the Textbook and Recommended (T&R) Scheme. Duplicate copies are ordered based on the following algorithm:

  • Up to 50 students 2 copies of text, 2 copies recommended readings
  • Up to 100 students 4 copies of text, 3 copies recommended readings
  • Up to 300+ students 8 copies of text, 4 copies recommended readings

(b) High Use Collection (HUC)
UNSW Library will work with course coordinators to provide access to high demand course materials for students. Copies of material will be acquired by the Library rather than borrowed from course coordinators. All copying must comply with the educational copying provisions of the Copyright Act 1968.

Where print resources are also being made available, they will be located in the High Use Collection and will be available for loan.

(c) Journals
Journals are a major element of any library collection and UNSW Library is committed to providing access to a broad range of journals which meets the learning, teaching and research needs of the University.

An increasing number of journals previously acquired in print are now being licensed or purchased in electronic format. UNSW Library prefers to purchase journals and reference resources in electronic form to maximise staff and student access both on-site and off-site.

(d) Multimedia
UNSW Library collects and provides access to a wide range of multimedia, for both teaching and research purposes. The general principles of selection apply also to multimedia. The availability of suitable equipment, both within the Library and by the Library's clients is an additional consideration.

The ability to play videos has reduced due to a change in technology. DVDs and the use of streaming technology are now the preferred method of delivery.

(e) Newspapers
Newspapers are available for:

  • current awareness / general knowledge
  • primary research
  • supporting the teaching of languages
  • providing popular media perspective of an academic discipline

In most cases where there are print subscriptions to newspapers, the print copy is discarded within a week.

Where an archival full image is required, microform will only be purchased where full image online access is not available.

(f) UNSW publications
The Library endeavours to collect UNSW Publications in print or online. The Library will retrospectively digitise significant items. Where only a print format is available, the received publication will be digitised (subject to copyright) or placed in the main collection. Where copies are not supplied to the Library, the material is not added to the collection.

(g) UNSW Press
UNSW Library adds UNSW Press titles to the collection as they are donated to the Library by UNSW Press.

(h) UNSW authors
Publications published by UNSW Authors are added to the collection once they have been identified.

(i) UNSWorks
UNSWorks is an online institutional repository of UNSW research output. UNSW staff and HDR students can deposit their publications and other research material into UNSWorks.

(j) Theses
Two electronic copies of every PhD or Masters by research thesis submitted to the Registrar are deposited in the Library. Access to the electronic version of a thesis is available via UNSWorks.

(k) Document services (ILL)
The Library does not and cannot hold every item requested by clients. Access to items may be provided through the interlibrary loan service. Materials asked for via interlibrary loan are usually supplied free of charge to individual clients. Costs for fast-track and other non-core services are passed on to the client. The Library is a major contributor to document supply to other institutions nationally and internationally.

(l) Open Access (OA) publications
The Library recognises publishers’ business models in providing access to scholarly communication. The Library’s information resources budget supports the acquisition of material and resources available to the whole university community. These funds may be adopted in support of OA programs that complement our collections and the needs of our partnerships’, however they cannot be used to subsidise article processing charges for OA publications.

(m) Digitisation
The Library selects, develops, manages, implements and promotes a broad range of Digitised Collections to be made available by UNSW Library and partners. The purpose of the program is to support learning, teaching and research and to facilitate access, engagement, preservation and archiving. Although some digital collections will liberate library physical space, space is not usually the primary consideration.


March 2017

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