Collection Development

How does the Library decide what to collect, given the array of material available and diverse needs of the University's teaching and research activities?

The principles and guidelines below inform and shape the Library's collection development decision making.

  • Collection development principles

    The Library will:

    1. Manage a single integrated collection of electronic and physical resources including learning objects and digitised materials, across all sites.
    2. Acquire resources that meet the learning, teaching and research needs of the University.
    3. Apply just-in-time acquisition processes wherever possible.
    4. Evaluate the collection regularly for relegation and disposal.
    5. Employ usage and return on investment measures to evaluate subscribed resources.
    6. Prioritise availability of undergraduate learning and teaching requirements.
    7. Preference electronic formats to enhance access to the collection independent of time and location.
    8. Actively consult with the University’s teaching and research communities to determine collection priorities for each discipline area.
    9. Avoid unnecessary duplication of resources.
    10. Supplement collections by providing access to Interlibrary Loan and document delivery services for academic purposes.
    11. Acquire material for the Rare Books Collection according to the Principles set out in the Rare Books Collecting Plan 2022-2024.
  • Selection process

    Collections diagram, cost per use, usage and availability in other sources.

    The University Library will be conducting an ongoing, rigorous, analysis of subscriptions holdings, particularly electronic databases, to identify titles for potential cancellation. 

    The process we will follow is outlined below:


    • Databases with high percentage of duplicated titles identified
    • Usage in the last two years analysed
    • Availability and coverage of duplicated titles in other databases analysed


    • New cancellations and purchases will be advertised via your Liaison Librarian and the library's social media channel

    Please email if you require more detailed information.

  • ePreference guidelines

    The Library preferences electronic formats to enhance access to the collection independent of time and location.

    Availability, price, demand, platform options, user numbers and licencing restrictions will be considered in relation to the e-preferred principle.

    While every effort will be made to purchase electronic materials in preference to print materials, there will be exceptions. 

    Examples of possible exceptions:

    • Prescribed textbooks may require one print copy to be purchased for the High Use Collection.
    • Books with significant visual images may be best displayed in print format (e.g. art and architecture books).
    • Special Collections and Archives may require an archival print copy in addition to an eBook.
    • Those ebooks only available as part of a collection which the Library does not acquire.
    • Those ebooks only available by subscription or through suppliers which do not sell to institutions.
  • Donations

    The Library accepts donations of books and other items which meet the learning, teaching and research needs of the University, including rare and unusual material not generally available.

    The Library does not accept:

    • Items in poor physical condition;
    • Duplicate holdings;
    • Superseded editions of textbooks or reference works;
    • Issues of journals or magazines;
    • Material outside the current parameters of the collection development guidelines.

    Offers to donate library materials should be submitted in writing (via the web, email or letter) using the Library Materials Offer of Donation Form. Acceptance of the conditions of donation is required.

    Please do not deliver any items to the Library prior to submitting your offer. You will be contacted to notify the outcome of your offer within 15 working days.

    Conditions of acceptance

    • Unless determined to be Special Collections materials, donated material will be integrated into the existing collections, and is subject to the same conditions of use and disposal as those collections. The Library does not accept general donations which have limitations or restrictions on their use or disposal.
    • Donations which are accepted will become the property of the University Library, and may not be claimed back at a later date.
    • The Library does not cover costs of transport, freight or delivery without prior approval.
    • Significant donations will normally be acknowledged by letter on receipt and, where appropriate, considered for a bookplate with the donor’s name.

    For more information on what the Library accepts, and to make an offer to donate visit the collection offers page.

  • Recommending items for purchase

    • Recommendations for new purchases are welcomed from University of Adelaide staff and students.
    • Recommendations should be submitted via this form.
    • Recommendations will be progressed for purchase if they meet the collection development principles outlined on this page and there are sufficient funds available.


  • Any questions?

    Contact the University Librarian regarding:

    • University Collections Policy.
    • Overall strategy and direction of the Library's collection management and development.

    Contact the Associate University Librarian, Library Experience regarding: 

    • Adherence to Collection Policy and escalation of implementation issues.
    • Oversight of collection projects.
    • Implementation of collection strategy.
    • Digitised collections processed for the course readings system and the institutional repository.
    • Access and discovery of all collection resources.
    • Physical collections at all libraries, including High Use, and off-site storage.
    • Identity management and authentication.

    Contact the Senior Manager, Collections & Access Services regarding:

    • Collection funds management including endowment and bequests.
    • Collection analysis.
    • Vendor liaison and negotiation.
    • Management of licenced and owned digital resources.
    • Management of processes and staff associated with acquisition and access.
    • Management of donations to Main print collections.

    Contact the University Archivist and SpARK team regarding: 

    • Special Collections and Archives management.
    • Records management.
    • Management of donations to Special Collections.

    Contact the Liaison Librarians regarding:

    • Discipline specific collection related consultation and communication with faculties and students.
    • Enquiries about individual database and journal titles.