KU Libraries Collections Philosophy

About collection development

Collection development cultivates functional, balanced library collections within the limitations of a budget. University of Kansas Libraries faculty and staff develop collections by deciding what to purchase or license as well as what to store remotely, cancel, or remove from the collection. These decisions are informed by multiple data points and informed expertise in collections and acquisitions.

Purpose of the collection development philosophy

The purpose of this philosophy is to establish guidelines for the continued growth and maintenance of KU Libraries’ collections. The philosophy is intended to evolve in response to changing scholarly needs and to inform the KU community about the principles of KU Libraries’ collection development.

Applies to:

KU Libraries collections, excluding Kenneth Research Spencer Library Collections

Purpose and goals of the collection

KU Libraries’ aims to develop, maintain, and make available comprehensive collections to support KU’s missions in research, teaching, and learning and KU’s commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. Collection development also is aligned with KU Libraries’ vision:

· A place of welcome, amplifying the diverse voices of our community

· A leader in the dissemination of knowledge, advancing innovative and sustainable ways to collect, create and steward resources

· A partner in connecting and engaging communities, fostering student success and transformative research

Finally, KU Libraries’ collection development supports values related to intellectual freedom as reflected in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, the Association of College & Research Libraries’ Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries, and the Association of American Colleges & Universities.


The collections budget is sourced primarily with state funds but supplemented by several endowments. The cost of resources has risen exponentially over the last decade, while KU Libraries’ base collections budget has largely been flat. The overall costs of providing library materials increase annually due to inflation, currency fluctuation, and changes in publisher pricing models. While monetary donations to KU Libraries have increased, these funds often place restrictions on the range of materials that can be acquired.

Selection and acquisition of materials

Librarians primarily in two departments, Collections Strategy and Development and International Collections, select materials, including individual titles and requests from members of the KU community. Resources are collected in a multitude of formats. Approval plans account for a significant percentage of monograph titles acquired. KU Libraries collection is comprised of materials in a variety of formats, which includes scores, sound recordings, video recordings, catalogues raisonnés, microforms, and more. Electronic resources, including databases, journal packages and electronic journals, account for a large portion of KU Libraries’ budget and are carefully monitored. See the KU Libraries Collection Management FAQ for additional information. Acquisitions and Resource Sharing strives to obtain items as quickly as possible in balance with operational and collection development budgets and policies.

KU Librarians intend to develop a collection that reflects not only the University’s academic programs and research needs but also variety of viewpoints. In addition, KU Libraries endeavors to collect materials written, published, and sold by traditionally underrepresented groups.

Collection accessibility

KU Libraries aims to provide equitable access to our collections in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Where certain materials are inaccessible, library personnel work with KU community members to provide reasonable accommodation. KU Libraries evaluate electronic resources for compliance with accessibility standards during the acquisition process and when resources are renewed.

Open Access

KU Libraries strongly supports and advocates for open access and open educational resources (OER), such as open textbooks. KU Libraries’ Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright supports faculty, staff, and students with the licensing and dissemination of their open access research and teaching materials, including OERs.


Adopted Fall 2021

Updated Spring 2023