Collection Development and Management

The University of Virginia Library Collection Development and Management Strategy

About Our Strategy

The University of Virginia Library collects, organizes, preserves, and provides access to rich and varied resources in support of the research and teaching missions of the University. Its collection is not static but rather adaptable in response to past, current, and future needs of the University. The Library aligns its approach to collecting with the University’s Cornerstone Plan in its objective of excellence in leadership, scholarship, and global engagement.

The collection development and management strategy expressed here guides the work of the Collections Management Team, operating in collegial collaboration with Library subject liaisons and University faculty to provide access to information, images, data, music, etc. It is designed to provide a framework for collection development and management while remaining flexible and responsive to changing University and Library priorities.

Through its collections, the Library affirms the University’s commitment to the advancement, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge in a facilitative and impartial environment. Accordingly, the Library’s collection management strategy:

  • advocates intellectual freedom in support of diverse points of view and confidential, equitable access to information;
  • respects intellectual property and author rights in current and emerging methods of scholarly output;
  • endorses open access and digital initiatives in scholarly publication and communication;
  • seeks to promote discoverability and accessibility, enrich useful Library spaces, protect physical materials, and provide scholars with thoughtfully curated collections.

What We Collect

In brief, the Library collects:

  • resources that support the research and teaching initiatives of the University;
  • resources in new, developing, and interdisciplinary areas for delivery at the point of need;
  • internationally produced resources to support the global mission of the University;
  • resources produced by University of Virginia faculty, researchers, and students;
  • University- and Virginia-related data and materials.

Our Approach to Collection Development

The Library’s collection development involves:

  • analyzing prospective and existing resources with an understanding of University departmental needs;
  • balancing support of both expansive and targeted University programs and initiatives;
  • obtaining resources to maximize access and minimize user wait;
  • leveraging appropriate emerging formats and modes of access in anticipation of user needs;
  • capitalizing on high quality metadata, whether created in-house or purchased;
  • maximizing consortia relationships to enhance resource accessibility through interlibrary loan;
  • collaborating with peer institutions in consortia to retain materials and build shared collections;
  • engaging new methods of scholarly communication;
  • identifying and protecting rare and unique materials, as well as anticipating and safeguarding potentially rare materials;
  • accepting gifts when appropriate for inclusion in the collection;
  • protecting gift collections (book-plated) when appropriate;
  • striving for dynamic equilibrium between immediate on-the-shelf access and rapid response delivery from closed stack areas.

Disposition of Materials

In general, the Library does not discard its resources. However, there are circumstances that call for tough decisions regarding the disposition of materials, such as:

  • recognizing the lifecycle of resources and information and removing materials beyond repair or unadaptable to University programs;
  • reducing duplicate resources when appropriate and timely.

The Library distributes withdrawn materials to charitable organizations when possible.


The Library also excludes particular uncollected resources such as textbooks, test preparation workbooks, language instruction audiovisual materials, travel guides, lab notebooks, and datasets and electronic resources that are restricted to a single user.


The University of Virginia Library Collections Management Team recognizes that we work in a highly connected environment and seeks input from subject experts in the Library, University, library profession, and scholarly societies. The team is fiscally responsible and thoughtful in budgeting and funding collection purchases with Commonwealth and endowment dollars so that collections range from basic instructional support to comprehensive research engagement, depending on University audience and departmental strengths and initiatives. The team understands that the collection is ever-evolving and must be responsive to user needs and changing University priorities.

Last updated: 5/10/16