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Collection Development Policies

Policies for the General and Special Collections maintained by Gumberg Library

Selection Criteria

Criteria differs from one subject area to another, but in general the following factors should be considered in the decision to purchase a library resource:

  • Cost of the resource, including the possibility of maintenance fees and inflation.
  • Degree of specialization; e.g. is the resource likely to serve multiple disciplines or a more narrow range of users.
  • Intended audience (scholarly vs. popular; graduate vs. undergraduate, etc.).
  • Projected need based on use patterns of similar material already in the collection.
  • Relevance to curriculum.
  • Reputation and authority of publisher and/or author.

Audio Visual and Media Materials

The library currently purchases the following media formats:

  • DVDs (popular and classic films, documentary and educational subjects, and musical performances)
  • Audio CDs (music and audiobooks)
  • VHS videotapes (only for titles not available on DVD)

DVD Collection

The main purpose of the library’s DVD collection is to support the teaching, learning, and research needs of our students, faculty and staff through a diverse film collection. The films in this collection may be used to entertain, enlighten, and promote academic discourse. Additionally, the collection contains some materials for leisure viewing for the university community. DVD gifts are accepted as long as no restriction is placed upon their use. Some television shows are ordered when requested by faculty. DVD titles in all languages are collected.

VHS Collection

Our policy is to acquire all video collection materials on DVD; however, exceptions may be made for documentary subjects and foreign films that have been requested by faculty and are only available in VHS format.


This section is under construction.


The library primarily orders newspaper subscriptions in online format. The library still maintains some current, print newspaper subscriptions, as well as an extensive collection of newspaper backfiles on microfilm. Whenever possible, these print subscriptions and/or backfiles are transferred to electronic-only format. New print newspaper subscriptions are considered on a case by case basis or only under special circumstances.  Electronic subscriptions have the advantages of not occupying physical space and do not require as much handling by library staff.

The following factors are considered when adding new newspaper subscriptions:

  • Electronic-only availability, including backfiles
  • Full-text availability
  • Inclusion in major indexing and abstracting tools
  • Cost/available funds

Ideally, new subscriptions would be ordered at the time of need, however, budget limitations require that current subscriptions of equivalent cost be cancelled before a new subscription can be added. 


Although the predominant language of the library’s collection is English, followed by the major European languages, subject selectors may acquire material in any language appropriate to a given subject area. The frequency of acquisition of materials in languages other than English necessarily varies from discipline to discipline and depends to some extent, as well on specific research needs.

Faculty Publications

Given that faculty-authored works are frequently used for teaching and research, such publications are regularly acquired. However, the library does not make a systematic effort to collect every publication produced by Duquesne University faculty. 


As a general policy, the library does not purchase copies of all textbooks required by the faculty for use in their courses. Library funds are limited, and thus, the library’s priority is acquiring books and other materials that supplement and enhance coursework and research. However, in some instances a textbook provides the only or best coverage of a subject, therefore, exceptions can be made.

This policy does not apply to supplemental reading materials, which can be purchased through standard collection building activities. Faculty may request that supplemental materials be purchased by the library and either placed on course reserve or in the general collection.


  • A faculty member may place his/her personal copy of a textbook on reserve.
  • A faculty member may request a textbook which s/he has written be purchased by the library.
  • The text significantly supports the university’s teaching/research interests or is a significant or historical study of the subject.
  • Gifts of textbooks will be evaluated on a case by case basis to determine their long term value for the library’s overall collection.

Popular Works

The library’s primary collection development commitment is to the acquisition of scholarly materials supporting the university’s teaching and research needs; however, in an effort to encourage and support leisure reading across the university community, some popular reading materials are acquired. A separate “Popular” reading collection is made up of best sellers and recently published fiction and non-fiction titles of interest to the university community. Individuals may request specific titles. Since these books are leased, titles remain in the collection until either their popularity diminishes or their physical condition deteriorates beyond repair. 

Multiple Copies

Greater emphasis is placed on the acquisition of unique material rather than multiple copies of the same title. However, multiple copies may be ordered at the discretion of collection management staff or the subject liaison based on demonstrated or predicted demand. In addition to the general collection there may also be a need for copies in other locations such as special collections.


Evaluating the continued need for material worn or damaged beyond repair or lost by users is a fundamental part of collection management. Standard works, classics, and studies on topics of current interest are usually the most heavily used material in the library, and as such, the material most susceptible to damage or loss. Collection management staff make every effort to replace material that is still of value to current or future users, but they may also determine that a lost or damaged item does not need to be replaced if other copies or editions are available in the collection or if the title was of marginal significance to the collection.


Generally the library attempts to honor commitments to ongoing publications such as, print and electronic journals, newspapers and databases, but in some instances it is necessary and even desirable to cancel orders and/or subscriptions.

Publications and products requiring an ongoing commitment should be evaluated not only when first considered for purchase, but also in subsequent years to make sure they are still appropriate for the collection and worth the cost of continuing. The following circumstances may prompt cancellation:

  • The resource no longer offers valuable, reliable, or current information.
  • Another resource offers superior coverage.
  • Use statistics reveal unacceptably low use or high cost per use.
  • Price increases are unsustainable.
  • Budget shortfalls force the library to cut back on subscriptions. 


The library’s goal is to maintain diverse collections of scholarly and scientific materials. Planned and periodic weeding of materials helps to ensure that the collections are relevant and up to date. It also makes newer, active materials more visible and accessible, as well as, making better use of limited space. Weeding makes it possible for library staff to maintain and improve collections more efficiently while allowing easier identification of gaps to guide new purchases.

The intent of this document is to provide guidelines to locate possible candidates for weeding from library collections. The criteria listed below are not meant to be exhaustive but to allow for individual judgment when necessary.

Materials/Books of Poor Appearance:

  • Worn out, ragged items: dirty, shabby, warped, bug infested, or otherwise marked up, mutilated, or ‘edited’ by patrons.
  • Poorly bound or poorly printed editions.
  • Yellow, brittle pages.
  • Missing pages and illustrations.

*Some of these items could also be identified for repair, bindery, replacement or need for a newer edition.

Poor Content:

  • Outdated and obsolete information (especially on subjects that change quickly or require absolute currency, such as computers, law, science, space, health and medicine, technology, travel).
  • Trivial Subject matter, including topics that are no longer of interest or that were dealt with superficially due to their popularity at a specific point in time, as well as titles related to outdated popular culture.
  • Mediocre writing style, especially material that was written quickly to meet popular interest that has passed.
  • Inaccurate or false information, including outdated information and sources that have been superseded by new titles or editions.
  • Superseded editions (in general, it is unnecessary to keep more than one previous edition, discarding as new editions are added).
  • Unneeded duplicates, especially if they are worn or tattered.
  • Inappropriate, items in subject areas that are completely irrelevant for our library.

Internal considerations that must be further reviewed:

  • Duquesne Authors
  • Duquesne Publications
  • Spiritan Authors
  • African Institute - Items designated as African Institute materials cannot be withdrawn (these items are designated with yellow dots on the spine and/or African Institute/Collection written inside the book).
  • Items with gift plates will need reviewed on a case by case basis.