View Current

Library Collection Selection Guidelines

This is not a current document. It has been repealed and is no longer in force.

Section 1 - Introduction

(1) In supporting the learning, teaching and research functions of the University, the Library seeks to select high quality, accessible resources which contribute to a relevant, contemporary, well-balanced collection.

Top of Page

Section 2 - Intent

(2) The purpose of this document is to provide a set of guidelines for the selection of appropriate resources for the Library collection.

Top of Page

Section 3 - Instructions

Part A - General Selection Guidelines

(3) University staff and students are encouraged to make recommendations for the collection via the College Librarians, Library Liaison Officers, and the Library's website.

(4) Monographs in some subject areas may be acquired through the development and maintenance of profiles for automatic supply.

(5) New eresources, subscriptions, and monograph purchases (over $1000) must be referred to the Library's Collection Development Group for decision and are guided by the principles outlined in Section 4 of the Library and Art Collection Development Policy.

(6) Recommendations for purchase for the Rare Books and General Collections will be made to the Collection Development Group for consideration and approval. The Library will normally purchase items through reputable antiquarian dealers. Purchases will not normally be made through private sellers, except in exceptional circumstances and at the discretion of the University Librarian. In such cases, the Library will seek independent valuation advice from appropriate and accredited experts.

(7) Items for the Staff Collection will be purchased if a donated copy is not forthcoming.

(8) Where digital resources of significant regional and historical interest are held by other institutions, requests may be made for a digital copy to be provided to the Library's Cultural Collections.

Part B - Selection Criteria

(9) Since the Library's resources do not allow acquisition of everything published in areas of relevance to the University's programs, library selectors take into consideration set criteria when making evaluations concerning materials to be added to or withdrawn from the collection.

(10) The importance of these criteria fluctuates according to funding, subject matter, and availability of alternative formats.


(11) The quality of each resource must be evaluated in terms of scholarship, creativity, lasting value, authority, and contribution to the collection.


(12) The authority of each resource must be considered to ensure the Library's collection provides a balanced, unbiased and comprehensive view across the subject content.

Expected Use

(13) The level of expected use must be considered, particularly in determining the number and location of print copies.


(14) Although price is relative in terms of quality, demand, and usefulness, 'hidden' costs (e.g. processing, maintenance, etc.) must be considered. Any ongoing commitment, for example subscriptions, should also be considered.

Licence Terms

(15) Reasonable and acceptable licence terms must be evident before purchase.


(16) Material in certain disciplines (i.e. sciences) must be up-to-date, and preference will be given to titles which provide current information.


(17) Electronic resources are preferred. Print and other formats may be collected in the absence of any suitable electronic version or if the print version is determined to be more suitable. Paperback is the preferred format for printed materials.


(18) Access is a major factor in choice and format of resources, particularly considering flexible delivery across all campuses, and people with disabilities.

Other Criteria

(19) Relevance of content.

(20) Value/return on investment (ROI).

(21) Suitability for balance and depth of collection.

(22) Suitability for the defined client group.

(23) Demand/expected use.

(24) Replication of content already held.

(25) Source of funding including donation.

(26) Language – English language publications are given priority. Non-English resources may be purchased if specifically required for foreign language studies, research purposes or in exceptional circumstances.

(27) Space, location and storage issues.

Part C - Collection Material Types

Course Materials

Prescribed Set Textbooks and Recommended Readings

(28) Copies of prescribed set textbooks and recommended readings will be made available, either electronically or alternatively in print in the library of each campus where a course is offered. Students are expected to purchase personal copies of prescribed set textbooks and/or other prescribed course materials.

(29) The Library will purchase print copies of prescribed set textbooks and recommended readings, following a formula, established in collaboration with colleges. At least 1 copy of a prescribed set textbook will be located in the Library's Course reserves Collection.

Purchasing Formulae

(30) Prescribed set textbooks – 3 copies per 100 students are purchased, up to a maximum of 5 copies:

Number of Students Number of Copies
1-30 1
31 - 60 2
61 – 100 3
101 – 130 4
131 – 160+ 5

(31) Recommended readings: one copy of each recommended reading title is purchased.

(32) In response to client feedback and demand, the College Librarians/Senior Librarian, Collection Management Services may amend the number of copies ordered, as and when necessary.

Part D - High-demand collections (Course Reserves)

(33) The Library works with Course Co-ordinators to provide access to high-demand materials for students and to determine the appropriate mix of electronic and physical material. Copies of material will be made available by the Library under copyright guidelines and relevant licence agreements.

Part E - Journals

(34) Journals form a major element of the Library's collection, and the Library is committed to provide access to a wide range of peer-reviewed world-class materials to meet the learning, teaching and research needs of the University.

  1. The Library will conduct an ongoing review and evaluation of journals, in collaboration with colleges, to ensure value, currency and relevance.
  2. Electronic titles are preferred, and where they are available, print titles will be cancelled and replaced by electronic versions, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
  3. The Library will ultimately discard unneeded print copies provided that perpetual access is secure (e.g. via publisher/library archive initiatives such as PORTICO/CLOCKSS).
  4. Requests for new titles/cancellations of existing titles will be systematically considered by the Collection Development Group on an annual basis, according to the following guidelines:
    1. Priority is given to titles directly relevant to the curriculum, the research needs of staff and students, and to the appropriate level of study required.
    2. Titles are evaluated according to existing resources in the discipline, and projected purchases of other resources for that discipline and for inter-disciplinary needs.
    3. Titles are evaluated in terms of the overall collection and usage statistics.
    4. Preference is given to titles which are indexed in sources available through the library and provide value through high quality, peer review content.

(35) Several issues must be considered in the purchase of electronic access to journals:

  1. Completeness of content;
  2. Ownership versus access (if the subscription is cancelled, is there guaranteed access to back issues?);
  3. Relative price, including infrastructure costs;
  4. Access and costs (e.g. via a gateway, via a publisher site only, use of IP address, or password, etc);
  5. Licence costs and conditions of use (use by non-library members, document delivery access, etc.)

(36) The Library may consider duplication of print resources with fee-based electronic resources where:-

  1. An archive for the electronic format is not guaranteed;
  2. The electronic content is variable;
  3. Print is more appropriate for requirements of discipline/subject content.

Part F - Electronic Books

(37) To maximize availability and accessibility, ebook format is preferred, provided the platform, content, cost and licensing conditions are acceptable. Access must be available across all campuses and remotely. Print and other formats will still be collected in the absence of any suitable electronic version.

(38) The Library acquires and provides access to electronic books through a number of mechanisms including demand/patron driven models, subscription, individual title and collection purchase.

(39) Preference will be given to the subscription and/or purchase of ebooks (individual titles and collections) which have:

  1. User friendly functionality including processes required to access the ebook and any limitations on searching, printing and downloading;
  2. Platform stability and robustness;
  3. Perpetual access;
  4. Satisfactory Digital Rights Management (DRM) including copyright and licensing conditions;
  5. Suitable quality MARC records;
  6. Usage statistics functionality;
  7. Satisfactory pricing models;
  8. Appropriate licence agreements.

(40) Electronic books will not normally be purchased where they:

  1. Require specialised software and/or special readers;
  2. Are installed on a single workstation or other device for single/individual one time use.

Part G - Multimedia

(41) The Library collects and provides access to a range of multimedia for learning, teaching and research needs, in accordance with the general principles of selection in Section 4 of the Library and Art Collection Development Policy. Formats include sound and video recordings, manuscripts, music, kits, graphic materials, and realia. These resources will be considered in terms of any special storage requirements, currency of format and the requirements of specialised equipment for use.

Part H - Newspapers

(42) The Library subscribes to a number of print newspapers for purposes of current awareness, support of research, and linguistic and recreational interests. Access to other Australian and international newspapers is provided through electronic subscription datasets. Print copies are discarded after 3 months. When an archival full image is required, microform may be purchased only where full image online access is not available.

Part I - University of Newcastle Publications

(43) The Library aims for a comprehensive coverage of scholarly material by the University's authors including staff, students and researchers:

(44) The Library encourages academic staff, students, schools and research centres to deposit two copies of their print publications to the Library's collection; one copy will be located in the appropriate campus collection and one copy will be located in the Library's Staff Collection housed in the Cultural Collections area.

(45) In 2008, the University introduced a requirement (see Rules Governing Higher Degrees by Research) for all research higher degree candidates to submit an electronic copy of their thesis. The Library is the official repository for this electronic copy. After processing by Library staff and after any embargo period has passed, the thesis is made available online in NOVA, the institutional repository (

(46)  The requirement to lodge a hard-bound archive copy to the Library became optional from 2012.

(47) A thesis will be made available within the Library and/or online, unless the candidate makes an application to the Dean of Graduate Research. The Dean of Graduate Research may determine that the thesis will not be made available without the written consent of the author for a specified period.

(48) Theses from other universities are subject to consideration for inclusion into the Library's collection.

Part J - Donations

(49) Donations of items, works of art, or collections will be accepted only if they are relevant to the learning, teaching and research needs of the University community, and/or their acceptance provides a demonstrated benefit to the Library's  collections.

(50) Donations should have a recent publication date, or content considered to be current. The exception would be when the item is considered to have an historical or research value.

(51) Donors are required to complete a Books and Materials Donation form and provide an accompanying title list to assist the Library's evaluation of suitability of acceptance. The form is available from the Library's website.

(52) Journal donations, including backsets, may be accepted only if they complete existing library holdings and where the title is not held in electronic format.

(53) Donations for Cultural Collections will be accepted where they are of particular historic, cultural or tangible significance to the University and its regional context. In such cases, items, collections, and other implications will be evaluated individually for acceptance, at the discretion and final decision of the University Librarian, in consultation with appropriate staff. Consideration will be given to other repositories which may be more appropriate, space and other ongoing environmental requirements, and the availability of staff to process the acquisition.

(54) Donations which may not be accepted include:

  1. Duplicates of titles already held in the collection;
  2. Titles which don't directly contribute to the support of learning & teaching and research within the University
  3. Items in poor physical condition;
  4. Superseded editions of textbooks or reference works;
  5. Out of date content;
  6. Incomplete sets;
  7. Obsolete format.
Top of Page

Section 4 - Roles and Responsibilities

(55) Ultimate responsibility for selection of the collection rests with the University Librarian.

(56) Final decisions regarding acceptance of donations of large and/or special collections rests with the University Librarian.

(57) Final decisions regarding the purchase of all Library materials lie with the Library's Collection Development Group. Membership of the group comprises the University Librarian, Associate Librarian (Research & Information Services), Senior Librarian, Collection Management Services, College Librarians and senior Library staff.

(58) Library Liaison Officers are nominated by schools within colleges to collaborate with the College Librarian on library-related responsibilities including:

  1. Forwarding College requests to the appropriate College Librarian and/or Collection Management Services staff;
  2. Disseminating information on new titles to the College;
  3. Prioritising and authorising orders;
  4. Collaborating with the College Librarian in evaluation and review of the subject collection, including subscriptions to print and electronic resources.