Collection Development Policy

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The Sonoma State University Library supports the University’s commitment to educational access and excellence by providing a broad range of materials to support a dynamic, multi-disciplinary, and diverse curriculum. The Library’s physical and electronic collections, including open access and special collections, are engaging and accessible and showcase diverse voices and perspectives, providing opportunities for transformative learning. The purpose of this document is to establish and communicate guidelines and procedures for the continued growth and maintenance of the SSU Library’s collections. This policy will evolve as SSU’s information needs and the nature of our collections change.

In all collections decisions, the Library supports freedom of inquiry and adheres to the American Library Association Library Bill of Rights and its interpretation in the ACRL Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries.

Responsibility for Collection Development

Selection and assessment of library materials is the responsibility of faculty librarians, with input from library staff, instructional faculty,  and students, and is an essential component of the library’s curriculum. The Library faculty, with leadership from the Collection Development Librarian, is responsible for developing and managing collection policies, budgetary allocations, continuing resource subscriptions, collection maintenance, and issues impacting the collection. Subject librarians identify, evaluate, select, and deselect materials for the collection in specific areas in consultation with instructional faculty when appropriate. Instructional faculty and students are welcome to make purchase suggestions by contacting their subject librarian. Selection decisions reflect a balance between data-driven findings from usage patterns, professional judgment, curricular needs, and limited budgets for acquiring and managing resources.

We recognize that libraries as institutions are not neutral and that collections and subject coverage are shaped by the identities of our selectors, our communities, and the vendors with whom we work. 

The Library participates in departmental and university reviews of library resources and makes recommendations for the funding needed to support materials for new programs and accreditation reviews.

Collections Budget and Sustainability

The budget for collections is set by the Dean of the Library and is dependent on the University budgeting process. Collections funds are divided between ongoing subscriptions (primarily journals and databases) and one-time purchases (primarily monographs, media, and journal backfiles). Funds are allocated at the school level based on the size of the school and the average cost of materials in the disciplines.

As the cost of collections, specifically journals, continues to rise, the long-term sustainability of providing access to critical collections presents significant challenges for academic libraries. Ongoing subscriptions increase in price by an average of 5% annually; because the Library collections budget does not increase at a parallel rate, price increases are accommodated by reducing one-time purchase allocations and/or ongoing subscriptions.

The Library strives to be thoughtful in our stewardship of funding and considers the sustainability and equitability of purchasing and subscription models when evaluating resources. As outlined in CSU policy ICSUAM 5303.00, Commodities with Special Purchasing Requirements, “[e]ducational materials and information access resources related to campus library services may be purchased without advertising for (or soliciting) bids. Such materials and resources include books, periodicals, computerized information for library use, educational films, audiovisual materials, test materials, workbooks and instructional computer software. Campuses are encouraged to solicit competitive bids on such materials and resources whenever practical so that opportunities are realized to optimize potential cost savings and benefits to the University.”

Consortia and Collaboration

The Library continues to explore new models for expanding access to and preserving information sources by working cooperatively by collaborating with other libraries. Through various partnerships and memberships, we participate in cooperative purchases, collection access and sharing, and scholarly communication and publishing efforts. Participation in these efforts impacts our local collection development decisions; librarians consider the availability of materials through our partnerships when making selection and deselection decisions. Major affiliations are the CSU Libraries Systemwide Digital Library Content division (SDLC) and the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC).

The Library actively supplements its collection through the use of a comprehensive and expeditious Interlibrary Loan service.

General Selection Guidelines

As the Library builds its collections, it will seek to maximize access to information. We prioritize basic materials that support the undergraduate and graduate curricula and the disciplines and programs represented; interdisciplinary liberal arts and science materials that add strength and depth to the collection and/or support campus and system initiatives; and materials that reflect the diverse populations of the region. As funds allow, we purchase faculty research materials that support curricular needs and materials for recreational use.

Supporting the curriculum requires managing a complex array of information resources in a variety of formats; the Library balances the need to purchase resources in the format that will be most useful to our students and faculty against a variety of other considerations. These considerations include discipline; cost; licensing and access models; perpetual access; sustainability of the format; classroom technology; vendor; and user accessibility and experience. Additionally, the Library is increasingly cognizant of the effects of campus disruptions on patrons’ ability to access collections and take these considerations into account when possible.  In an evolving information landscape, the Library considers new types of information and formats as they develop.

Factors that are also considered in the selection of materials include equity across Schools; compliance with 508 accessibility requirements; current and/or permanent value; clarity, organization, and accuracy of information and data; diverse viewpoints; cost; potential or known use by patrons; availability of the material through resource-sharing partners; staffing implications; and space and equipment needs.

For the purpose of this policy, textbooks and course materials may be described as books, articles, or media specifically assigned or intended for the use of students who are enrolled in a course of study. Due to the high cost and problematic publishing and licensing models for these materials, the Library selectively collects textbooks and course materials as they align with the general selection guidelines, and otherwise prioritizes materials that supplement classroom instruction.

Additionally, the Library generally does not acquire laboratory manuals, tests, kits, games, materials in formats that are not supported (e.g., PAL DVDs), materials in foreign languages except as needed to support the curriculum and educational mission, inspirational/devotional literature, and highly technical and/or specialized material beyond the requirements of the curriculum.

Assessment and Maintenance of Collections

The Library collection will be reviewed on a consistent basis for accuracy, suitability, currency, usage, diversity, and subject area gaps. Deselection of materials maximizes the usefulness of the Library collection by providing the space for new materials through the removal of outdated materials or items in poor condition. 

Reviews of the collection will be conducted by the Collection Development Librarian in consultation with the appropriate subject librarian. Material de-selected may include superseded editions, duplicate copies no longer needed, alternative formats, out-of-date works, and items in poor condition.

Open Access

Open access intends to make access to research more affordable and accessible, particularly to those outside the traditional academy. The Library supports the principles of open access, as outlined in the IFLA Statement on Open Access to Scholarly Literature and Research Documentation. In a strategic plan approved by the CSU Council of Library Deans in 2017, open access was one of four strategic priorities: “In support of open access and the economic justice inherent in supporting faculty and students’ unfettered access to research and course materials, the CSU Libraries work collaboratively to redefine existing models of scholarly communication, create shared infrastructure for hosting open information, and educate our communities about these and related issues.” Access to publicly funded research was expanded in California by AB 2192, signed by Governor Brown in 2018. The law names the CSU’s ScholarWorks system as a mechanism for making state-funded research findings available to the public. Current efforts in the SSU Library include enabling discovery of open access articles, journals, and books in OneSearch; encouraging institutional deposits in ScholarWorks; and educating faculty, staff, students, and the community about scholarly publishing models; and assisting faculty with discovery of open education and affordable learning materials. 

Open access articles, journals, and books are subject to the same selection and assessment criteria outlined above.

Specialized Policies and Collections

The Library collects and preserves several additional collections that have their own policies and guidelines.

Special Collections

Special Collections is home to the Library's rare books, archives, and manuscript collections and supports major research and instructional activities for campus and worldwide scholars. The department acquires, preserves, arranges, describes, and makes accessible archival material on the history, people, and culture of the North Bay region of California, including adjacent coastal and bay areas, and is home to a number of environmental history collections, collections related to a world-famous regional author, the research collection of a regional newspaper columnist, and a congressional collection. We strive to develop and maintain collections that include voices, knowledge, and memory-making practices historically excluded from the archival record. 

Special Collections commits to making acquisition decisions appropriate to any current space and labor constraints and makes every effort to provide full access to all of the department’s materials, including any rare or fragile items that require special handling. The department encourages donation queries regarding materials within the areas of our collection emphasis. Please see the Special Collections Acquisitions policy for more information.

Regional Collection

This collection of books and maps focuses on the North Bay counties of Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma, the collection’s primary acquisitions area. The collection includes regional histories and memoirs, planning documents, environmental impact reports, and various government reports, from the late 19th century to the present. These materials are typically purchased from small vendors and historical societies.

University Archives 

University Archives receives, processes, preserves, and makes accessible print and digital materials produced by SSU and its constituent parts that are of enduring value and that contribute to the historical record of the University. The campus University Archives policy mandates that the Archives collects representative examples of SSU history from campus entities, including examples of general campus publications; faculty and staff reports; pictorial, visual, and audiovisual materials; and graduate theses. Since 2015, most theses are made publicly accessible online via ScholarWorks, the CSU-wide digital repository. University Archives does not seek to collect or store official campus records, which are the official purview of the California State University records management program. 

Digital Special Collections

Through grants and resources from the campus and the North Bay community, Special Collections has developed a digitization program that focuses its priorities on curriculum support. These curated materials can be found in our North Bay Digital Collections and are digital surrogates of some of our Special Collections and University Archives materials.

Juvenile Collection

The mission of the SSU Juvenile Collection is to support the undergraduate and graduate curricula, focusing on the needs of students in the School of Education. To a lesser extent, the collection supports The Children’s School, SSU employees, and the general public.

Our collection development and management take into account the ecosystem of library systems with juvenile book collections in Sonoma County, including the Sonoma County Library system, the Sonoma County Office of Education, and local primary and secondary school libraries.


While we greatly appreciate the generosity of people wishing to donate materials to the University Library’s general collection, we have a limited ability to accept unsolicited gifts of books, periodicals, films, manuscripts, and other materials for the general collection. On occasion, exceptions may be made if the potential donation strongly supports the University curriculum, enhances the Library's mission, and augments the Library's collections in needed ways. More information about the Gift Policy.

Further information about Special Collections gifts can be found under Specialized Policies and Collections.


The SSU Library gratefully acknowledges the following collection development policies that were influential in the revisions to this policy.

Approved by Library Faculty, May 2020