Collection Development Policy

This policy describes how the Library develops collections that are relevant to research, learning and teaching. Its scope does not extend to Library Special Collections, which will be covered by a separate policy. It will be reviewed and updated every 2 years.

Tab Content: Introduction

The mission of the Library is to provide high quality services in support of the University's research, teaching, learning and engagement activities. The mission is underpinned by the following principles.

  • Information - To satisfy the information needs of all staff and students of the University, whether in the Library building, elsewhere on campus, or beyond; and to play a key role in developing and supporting information literacy across the institution.
  • Delivery - To acquire, manage, preserve and deliver information resources in the most appropriate format and by the most effective means.
  • Collaboration - To collaborate within the institution and beyond in researching and developing information services, resources and technologies.
  • Outside Services - To provide, where license arrangements permit, access to information resources for the wider community of researchers, including alumni, retired members of staff who remain active scholars, and the public.

Tab Content: Information

Selecting new materials

The selection of material is undertaken in partnership with academic departments to ensure that the collection is relevant to current teaching and research needs. Departmental Library Representatives play a key role in helping to co-ordinate this activity.

Where there is no significant cost variance or other relevant factors, electronic will be the preferred format for all resources to maximise access to resources both on and off-campus.

The Library support the principle of intellectual freedom and do not exclude material on the grounds of authors’ diverse viewpoints.

Material to support taught courses

The Library provides appropriate access to all items required to support taught courses for all user groups. To ensure the timely provision of resources, departmental staff are requested to provide the Library with lists of items for teaching via their Faculty Librarian well in advance of the start of the course.

Faculty Librarians should be involved at the planning stage of new courses in order to ensure that new material is available for the start of the course. An effective means of doing this is via the online reading list system, badged as Resource Lists, which enables students to access their course reading quickly and efficiently. Resource Lists are actively monitored to ensure that materials are purchased as soon as requested via the list.

The Library aims to acquire eBooks that allow multi-user access across the institution. Single user licences, or other purchasing models, will be considered to facilitate equitable access for all users, and Faculty Librarians will work with academics to identify alternative titles where possible.

Material to support research

The Library is responsive to the dynamic nature of research and emerging research interests across the University and welcomes suggestions from staff and students for additions to stock which meet research or other academic objectives.


Proposals for new subscriptions should be discussed with the Library in conjunction with the Departmental Library Representative to ensure that the proposal has the full support of the academic department and the additional long-term commitments can be met within the available allocation.

Tab Content: Delivery

The information resources budget

The budget for information resources is part of the overall library budget and is allocated by the University as part of the annual planning cycle. A single fund is used to buy books and make other one-off purchases as well as to pay for annual subscriptions, for example journal collections. The Library will always aim to provide information resources in the most appropriate format and by the most effective means to increase access.

New courses, modules or research interests do not automatically receive any additional funding for Library resources.

Where the cost of new subscriptions or one-off electronic collections prohibits purchase from the existing information resources budget, the Library, in conjunction with the Department, will make a case for additional University funding.


The Library follows an ‘electronic first’ policy as this is the best way to ensure both equitable and timely access for all of our students.

For users with Disabilities or Specific Learning Difficulties, material is provided in accessible formats, in collaboration with the publisher or though Library provision. Support is available to access the Library collection.

Accessible teaching resources are provided through the library digitization service, offering scanned material which, with Optical Character recognition (OCR), makes it suitable for use with screen readers.

Open Access

The Library is committed to Open Access, ensuring that University research has greater visibility and is readily available to anyone who would benefit from it, supporting our institutional priority to produce world-class research that changes practice and thinking. The Library supports the Lancaster University Open Access Policy, curating the University’s research outputs and managing the University Repository, which makes them accessible.

Theses and Dissertations

Lancaster University regulations require that a print copy of all research theses is available in the Library for consultation. Theses by students registered from October 2011 are also available in electronic format within the institutional repository.

Dissertations completed as part of taught undergraduate and masters programmes are not held in the Library as a matter of course.

Donations of books and other materials

The Library does not generally accept unsolicited gifts or donations of books for space and administrative reasons. In exceptional circumstances, donations that support current learning, teaching or research will be considered, and, if accepted, the Library will determine their location and retention within the collection.

Management of the collection

The Library regularly review the collections for currency, particularly in disciplines where information dates rapidly, for academic value and relevance to present teaching and research. A variety of metrics are used, including quantitative and qualitative data such as usage data and consideration of academic impact.

The Faculty Librarian will work with individual academic departments to maximise use of existing resources, ensure the effective management of collections, and provide formal and informal training in their use.


The Library actively manages subscriptions as part of collection development to ensure that it continues to meet the research and teaching needs of the University and offers value for money.

The Library reviews the subscriptions portfolio on an annual basis looking at usage and cost per download statistics for individual resources where possible. This information is used as the basis for discussion with academic departments about effective provision of resources.

Subscriptions may be cancelled where there is little evidence of use and/or alternative approaches to provisioning resources are available.

Outcomes from the annual review of subscriptions together with details of new subscriptions or cancellations will be presented in a summary to Library Policy Committee. The Committee will have oversight for the process by which subscriptions are reviewed and managed.

Books and other resources

The Library uses a data-driven approach to analyse usage of books and other resources. Criteria for low usage will vary depending on each subject area and the Library will share data on low use print materials with departments to identify any concerns in advance of disposal.

The Library routinely withdraws unused library material, e.g. superseded editions replaced by new editions.

A systematic programme of withdrawal ensures that the space in the Library is managed effectively, providing space for new material and allowing the Library to respond to changing user needs. Electronic content is withdrawn periodically to ensure the Library provides an up-to-date collection supporting current research, learning and teaching.

Withdrawn items are disposed of responsibly and the Library seeks, where appropriate, to benefit from any residual value in University assets.

Tab Content: Collaboration

Consortium agreements

The Library seeks to purchase electronic resources within nationally negotiated agreements e.g. JISC Collections, CHEST, if terms are more favourable as part of a purchasing consortium. Electronic and print books, and related materials, are purchased via a national consortia agreement that drives technological innovation from suppliers.

For materials not in the Library collection access via regional or national collaborative schemes, for example SCONUL Access or interlending agreements, will be facilitated by the Library.


The Library, in collaboration with ISS, provides assistive technology to access library material, and participates in national initiatives to support an inclusive approach by seeking to introduce a benchmark for accessibility in e-book platforms.

Open Access

The Library supports a number of national and international initiatives encouraging the publication of open access e-books.

Access to electronic resources

The Library is committed to ensuring that all collections are fully discoverable and work with suppliers to improve discovery tools and drive innovation. The user experience is a key element of electronic content selection to ensure delivery of a simple and effective discovery system with content that is accessible, searchable and easy to use.

Tab Content: Outside Services

The Library offers an External Borrower Scheme for alumni, retired members of staff, and the public. Access is available to a small number of electronic resources on a dedicated PC in the Library during staffed service hours.

Open Access material is freely available online to all library users and members of the public.