Purpose of the Policy

The purpose of this collection development policy is (1) to communicate to the campus community the library's collection development principles and practice; and (2)  to provide guidelines that ensure responsible stewardship of the collections and maximum effectiveness of the funds entrusted to us to meet campus needs for access to scholarly resources.  The general principles and practices summarized here are applied as appropriate in separate collection development policies for specific subject areas. This general policy, and the policies for the subject areas, are regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that they continue to align with changing campus research and curricular programs.

Purpose of the Collections

The collections of the UCSB Library support an academic community of 25,000 undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, researchers, and faculty engaged in an educational mission of research, learning, and service.  The collections serve over 60 academic departments and programs and over 100 campus interdisciplinary research institutes and centers.  They support graduate students pursuing master's and doctoral degrees in more than 50 fields offered through the College of Letters and Science, the College of Engineering, the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, and the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management.  On the undergraduate level, the collections support students enrolled in over 130 baccalaureate programs and in the College of Creative Studies.

Goal of Collection Development

The goal of collection development at the UCSB Library is to provide and enhance access to scholarly and cultural information resources that support research and curricular programs across all disciplines of the UCSB academic community.  The library invests in information resources that support specific needs on our campus, and also participates with the other libraries of the UC system in collectively funding journals, ebook, databases, and other resources that are licensed by the California Digital Library (CDL) and shared by the UC campuses.  Through its membership in the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), the library provides access to millions of print and digital archival documents and other materials from around the world that are otherwise difficult to obtain and preserve.  Resource sharing through Interlibrary loan further extends access for UCSB faculty and students to the universe of scholarly information resources held by other libraries both within UC and worldwide, enabling the UCSB Library to channel limited collection funding to acquisition of materials in the areas of greatest need on our campus.  The library also participates in UC consortial investment in sustainable models of open access to scholarly information that have the potential to transform the traditional system of scholarly communication.

Selection Guidelines

The library builds its collections through a variety of strategies.  We participate with other UC campuses in collective funding of journals, ebooks, and other online resources licensed by the California Digital Library (CDL).  We also select books, audiovisual materials, journals, newspapers, and other materials locally (non-CDL).  We acquire government documents through participation in federal and state depository library programs.  We also selectively accept in-kind donations of books and other materials.  Regardless of the method of acquisition, when evaluating materials for the collection, we primarily consider whether they provide essential content that aligns with current campus research and curricular emphases, and also their lasting value for research, teaching, and learning.  Other selection factors vary depending on the type of resource and the disciplinary area, but typically include quality of scholarship, reputation of author(s) and publisher, level of creativity, and quality of visual materials.  For research databases, evaluation factors include depth of indexing, scope of coverage, quality of metadata, and functionality of the interface.  For the library's online resources, a core principle is that licensing terms support the values of the academic community and the needs of faculty and students, including perpetual access, scholarly sharing, and fair use.  Some licensing guidelines are prescribed by the UC Office of the President and may restrict the library's ability to provide the campus community with access to a resource.

Content Duplication

The UCSB Library is committed to building collections and providing access to the greatest possible diversity and breadth of intellectual content.  To support this goal, and also to manage finite available space for housing physical collections, in general the library will not purchase the same title in duplicate copies, whether in the same or different formats.  As an exception to this policy, digitized material that duplicates a physical format may be acquired if it aids in preserving unique content; enhances discoverability, value, or use; or enables the withdrawal of content in physical format.

For books not already owned that are needed for course reserve, the library will purchase an ebook version with multiple-user license, if available; otherwise, a print copy will be purchased.  If an ebook in the collection that has a single-user license is to be placed on reserve, the library will upgrade the license to multiple-user, if available.  Faculty are encouraged to place personal copies on reserve.  If an additional copy is needed, faculty should consult with their librarian subject specialist.

Donation of Gifts-in-Kind

The collections of the UCSB Library have been greatly enhanced over the years through donations of books and other in-kind materials. Potential donations for the general collections are evaluated by librarian subject specialists to determine their suitability for acceptance. Gifts of rare books, manuscripts, and other special or unique materials are referred to the head of Special Research Collections.  The library will normally decline to accept materials that:

  • are not within the scope of its collections
  • duplicate existing holdings
  • do not support research or instructional programs of the campus
  • require extensive repair or conservation treatment
  • include donor restrictions that the library cannot honor
  • are outdated, especially textbooks and other books in rapidly changing fields

For more information, see the complete Gift Acceptance Policy.

Faculty Publications

The library is committed to promoting discovery and visibility of the research and creative output of UCSB faculty. Librarian subject specialists systematically seek out faculty monographic publications (books, videos, recordings, musical compositions, etc.) for addition to the library's collections.


The library acquires scholarly materials in the most appropriate formats for meeting the research and curricular needs of the campus.  In general, electronic formats are preferred over print and other physical formats, but acquisition of e-resources may be contingent on platform usability, acceptable license terms, cost relative to the equivalent print, quality of visual materials, and other factors.  For books not simultaneously published in electronic and print formats, paperback is preferred over cloth binding because of cost.

Access and Storage

Although the library is acquiring information resources in electronic formats at an increasing rate, its physical collections continue to grow and to require shelving within finite space. The library is committed to enabling efficient access to its collections in ways that best serve the research and teaching needs of faculty and students. The most-used materials are located on site in the library. Books, journals and other materials that are less in demand are available from UC’s regional storage facilities. Newly acquired print materials are a priority for location onsite. Selection criteria for alternative storage vary by subject, but typical factors for older print books include imprint date and circulation history. Print journals for which access and preservation are secure in a permanent online archive such as JSTOR may be relocated offsite or withdrawn. Print books may be withdrawn if the equivalent online versions have been purchased by the library and licensed with perpetual access.

For alternative storage of low-use UCSB Library collection materials, the library relies on the Southern Regional Library Facility (SRLF), UC's shared high-density storage building in Los Angeles.  Both SRLF and the UC’s Northern Regional Library Facility (NRLF, in Richmond) provide a secure, climate-controlled environment that is designed to preserve physical collections.  The shared regional storage infrastructure enables the UC libraries to store, manage, preserve, and provide expedited access to low-use collection materials economically, and thus devote a greater portion of limited onsite shelving space to newer and high-demand items.  Materials deposited at the two UC shared facilities are persistent, meaning they cannot be withdrawn from the collections. Most are available to UCSB faculty and students on request within 1-2 working days, and may be checked out for a 1-year, renewable loan. 

Along with the other UC libraries, the UCSB Library also participates in WEST (Western Regional Storage Trust), a collaborative program to archive, share, preserve, and provide access to retrospective print journals of member academic libraries throughout the western US.

Life Cycle of Collections

Providing sustainable long-term access to its collections throughout their life cycle is a central part of the mission of the UCSB Library.  A book or other collection item that has been lost or damaged beyond repair, or whose format is outdated and unusable, will be replaced if possible, provided that the content is (1) of continued relevance to campus research and curricular needs; and (2) is not otherwise available, such as in another physical copy or superseding edition owned by the library.  Responsible stewardship of collections also includes careful evaluation of materials in all formats to determine whether they have reached the end of their usefulness for the campus and should be withdrawn, even if not available online.  Withdrawal decisions may be based on multiple factors, including faculty consultation and data about usage.  In general, materials that are withdrawn have been deemed outdated or no longer relevant to teaching and research at UCSB, particularly in rapidly changing fields.