Collection Development Policy & Guidelines

Updated: October 2023

General Purpose 

Back to top

In support of the mission of Florida State University and the FSU Libraries, the Libraries strive to develop diverse and comprehensive collections that meet the teaching, learning, and research needs of the FSU community. The Libraries acquire and maintain electronic and physical collections, and foster partnerships with other research libraries and consortia to provide quick and efficient access to resources not owned by the Libraries. The FSU Libraries Collection Development Policy & Guidelines provides the framework used by the Libraries to select and acquire library materials.  Furthermore, the policy provides consistency among the persons responsible for collection development and communicates collection development principles to the faculty, staff, students, and community served by our libraries. This policy is subject to periodic review and revision in order to meet the changing needs of university curricula, research interests, instructional methods, and information technology.   

FSU Libraries are a member of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), Center for Research Libraries (CRL), Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL), Florida Virtual Campus (FLVC), and Eastern Academic Scholars’ Trust (EAST).  The libraries covered by this policy include: Robert Manning Strozier Library, Paul A.M. Dirac Library, Engineering Library, and Panama City (FL) Branch Library.  

Intellectual Freedom  

The FSU Libraries believe strongly in the principle of intellectual freedom: that it is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction.  Intellectual freedom is essential for developing academic library collections and services that meet a university community's education and research needs. Collection development transcends the personal values of individual selectors and library patrons, providing library collections curated to help provide access to information for all in the academic community with no discrimination as aligned with FSU’s Equal Opportunity & Non-Discrimination Statement. The FSU Libraries acquire materials that represent differing opinions without censorship, and the university’s collections contain materials representing a variety of perspectives and subjects some of which may be considered controversial.  

Brief Overview of FSU Collection Development

Back to top

Selection Responsibility  

Primary responsibility for selecting materials and implementing collection guidelines for the University Libraries rests with subject liaison librarians, who collaborate with academic departments and faculty to acquire materials to support the research and curricular needs of the university.  The Associate Dean for Resource Development & Discovery Services assists in balancing collection needs for interdisciplinary areas, general materials, or identified collection gaps as needed. 

The FSU Libraries contract with selected domestic and foreign vendors to receive print and electronic books and serials utilizing approval plans, patron-driven acquisitions (PDA) and evidence-based acquisition (EBA), and subscription access products.  Such plans and subscriptions are reviewed regularly by librarians to ensure the resources received continue to meet the evolving curricular and research needs of university community.

General Selection Guidelines 

In selecting materials for acquisition, subject librarians consider the relevance of the materials to the actual or potential needs of FSU’s research and instructional programs.   Subject librarians determine the scope of coverage desired for particular areas commensurate with the level of degrees available within the department and the research priorities of the faculty. Considerations in determining the relevance and scope of new purchases may include: depth of the existing collection in the subject areas, currency and timeliness, quality of the publication, regional availability, price, and usability. The FSU Libraries are not able to acquire all relevant resources for any given discipline due to finite resources. Materials selected for library acquisitions will become part of the library collection and made available to FSU-affiliated persons upon request as it becomes available.   


The main language of collected materials is English.  Additional non-English language materials are collected based on their relevance to University programs with a foreign language component or appropriate support of curricular needs. Non-English languages generally considered for the collection currently include Arabic, Aramaic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian, Sanskrit, Spanish, and Tibetan. 

Country and Origin of Press 

The majority of monographs collected are published by academic presses in the United States, with some monographs from countries in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion  

The FSU Libraries collections include materials that represent diverse voices and viewpoints.  Please see our Collection Development Values Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for additional information.  


The FSU Libraries collect materials in a wide variety of formats to support the University’s teaching and research mission.  

Formats may include:  

  • Print materials (books, journals, serials, reference materials) 

  • Electronic materials (books, journals, serials, indexes, databases, reference materials) 

  • Video (DVD, Blu-ray, streaming media) 

  • Data Sets 

  • Additional formats, such as microforms, may be selectively acquired in consultation with appropriate Resource Management & Discovery Services personnel. 

The FSU Libraries are increasingly acquiring materials in electronic formats as a preferred medium due to the ease of both on-campus and remote access but do recognize that for some content physical mediums may be preferred as more effective for research and instruction, more economical, or of higher quality. Outdated formats with limited equipment available for viewing or retrieving information, such as VHS tapes or floppy disks, may reside in the collection but are no longer acquired as new purchases. 

Electronic Resources 

The FSU Libraries endeavor to license electronic resources which can be made available for use by all current FSU faculty, staff, and students, regardless of physical location, whenever financially feasible. The FSU Libraries prefer to license content that provides online web-based delivery, using OpenAthens and/or IP-mapped services for authentication.  Locally mounted or client-server based products are generally not preferred, but when considered must be evaluated for maintenance costs and interface usability before a product is approved for purchase. 

The FSU Libraries generally follow the guidelines of the licensing principles set forth by the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) when negotiating  electronic product terms. Perpetual ownership rights to content is highly desired to assure ongoing access to needed research materials. 

Specific Acquisition Considerations

Back to top

Curriculum Collection 

The FSU Libraries maintain a children’s book collection to support the Education and Information Science curriculum and research.  Items in this collection are purchased through select Award Book approval plans and firm order requests by appropriate subject librarians and faculty.   

Data Sets 

Due to the unique technological and software needs of most data sets, requests for such materials are evaluated on a case-by-case basis by members of the Resource Management & Discovery Services division and the Technology & Digital Scholarship division to determine whether the FSU Libraries can adhere to licensing terms and properly provide access and support. 

Donated Materials 

The FSU Libraries may selectively accept gifts of books and other information resources that enhance the collections and support the University's instruction and research programs. Please see our Materials Donation Policy for additional guidelines. 

Duplication of Materials 

The FSU Libraries seek to minimize duplication of print titles due to space constraints and fiscal responsibility.  Duplication of materials in varying formats is not generally supported, but there may be cases where duplication is necessary due to advantages offered by a specific format.  In such cases, the subject librarian may evaluate the need for duplication of materials in various formats. 

FSU Affiliated Authors 

The FSU Libraries regularly collect scholarly monographs published by current FSU faculty and researchers. Additional research endeavors, such as theses and dissertations, published works and reports, data, and creative works may be eligible to be deposited in Diginole, the FSU Libraries’ institutional repository.  

Alumni publications may be considered for addition to the collection by the appropriate subject librarian if they meet the collection selection criteria, most notably the current research and curricular needs of the academic programs. 

Government Documents 

Update in Progress 

Individual (Personal) Use Items 

The FSU Libraries seek to provide broad access to library resources and, as a result, do not use collection funds to purchase resources intended for personal use by a specific individual, such as consumable print items (e.g., workbooks), electronic resources with a single-user license, or resources linked to an individual’s account/credentials which typically cannot be shared per vendor terms and conditions.  

Open Access and Self-Publishing   

The FSU Libraries acknowledge the benefits of open access publishing models and selectively support open access projects as part of the research and scholarly communication cycle.  Please see our Open Access Collection Development Policy for additional information. 

The FSU Libraries do not generally purchase self-published materials. Exceptions may be made for notable works which meet specific curricular or research needs. 

Popular Literature 

The FSU Libraries maintain a small popular literature collection, primarily funded through the Student Government Association (SGA) and the FSU President’s Diversity & Inclusion Mini-Grant Program.  Additional details for the Popular Literature Collection can be found here.   

Special Collections & University Archives 

Back to top

Special Collections and Archives (SCA) serves as the repository for rare materials in Florida State University Libraries. Special Collections and Archives makes a full stewardship commitment to materials acquired with the expectation that materials will be discoverable and available for research in perpetuity. Stewardship includes sustaining preservation activities, description and organization of materials, and inclusive access protocols for in person and online interactions. The collections support the research and instruction needs of scholars whose work relies on primary resource materials, including undergraduates, graduates, and faculty within FSU, researchers from other institutions, community partners, and members of the general public. 

Textbook Acquisitions 

The FSU Libraries do not systematically purchase copies of required textbooks and course readings.  Subject librarians may individually determine whether an item classified as a textbook has relevant value to the university’s general research and curricular needs and may choose to add such items to the library collection.  In addition, a faculty member may place their personal copy of a textbook on Course Reserves or request that a textbook that they have written be purchased by the FSU Libraries. 

The FSU Libraries periodically receive special funding through grants or donations to selectively purchase eBook titles which are assigned as textbooks and course materials to assist students with affordable education. These selections tend to target eBooks for high enrollment or general education courses, when available.  Such purchases are indexed in the eTextbook Search portal.  

Generally, commercial textbook publishers do not provide electronic purchasing options for libraries, rendering such materials unavailable to libraries regardless of budget. Faculty members seeking textbook alternatives are encouraged to consult with their subject librarian and/or review the FSU Libraries' Open Educational Research & Textbook Affordability project information

Videos & Streaming Media 

FSU Libraries may license or purchase video content in physical or streaming format in support of the research and instructional needs of the university. Format is selected based on need, availability, and price. Access to streaming media titles or services must be available to the university community for academic use. Many commercially available services and pricing models are not available for library licensing, and therefore films available for personal subscription or purchase may not be able to be acquired. Public Performance Rights, required for screening a film for an audience, are generally not acquired unless it is included in the academic use license.  

Cooperative Collections & Resource Sharing  

Back to top

Cooperative Collection Development  

The FSU Libraries frequently participate in the purchase of and/or subscription to electronic resources in areas of research and curricular need, such as databases, journals, and monographs, through library cooperative arrangements. Such resources may be made available in collaboration with the Florida Virtual Campus (FLVC), other Florida State University System Libraries, LYRASIS, the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), HathiTrust, the Association for Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL), or other consortial entities. 

Shared Collections and Retention Agreements  

The FSU Libraries participate in shared print initiatives designed to retain unique, scarcely held, and frequently used scholarly monographs and serials supporting continued scholarship, research, and teaching through collaborative storage and sharing agreements. Participating libraries commit to retaining agreed-upon titles in their local collections, provide reciprocal priority for Interlibrary Loan services, and allow others to consider deselecting against the retention commitments of others. 

Resource Sharing/Interlibrary Loan 

For titles not held within the FSU Libraries, the Libraries have a robust interlibrary loan program. The Libraries are a member of  several resource-sharing networks, including RAPID ILL, Florida Virtual Campus (FLVC ) Libraries, Center for Research Libraries (CRL), LYRASIS, and the Eastern Academic Scholars Trust (EAST). The 40 member libraries supported by the Florida Virtual Campus (FLVC) have a patron-initiated service, UBorrow, which allows patrons from FSU to borrow books from other FLVC member libraries without mediation by library staff.  

Collection Maintenance 

Back to top

Deselection of Materials 

The deaccession and withdrawal process is an important part of collection management at the FSU Libraries. The regular withdrawal of damaged, outdated, out-of-scope, or duplicate materials helps the libraries maintain relevant and easily accessible collections. Please see Deaccessioning and Withdrawal of the General Collection for additional guidelines. 


Materials that are missing, lost, damaged, or withdrawn are not automatically replaced. Potential replacements are evaluated using the same criteria for selection as regularly purchased items. Replacements may or may not be in the same format as the original item.