DePaul University Libraries > About > Policies > Collection Development

Collection Development

​The purpose of these policies is to provide the DePaul community with information about how the collection of the DePaul University Library is built and maintained.

Policies pertaining to a specific material format are listed first, followed by a section on policies that apply across formats.

Suggest A Purchase Form

Library Donation Form

Temporary E-Preferred Policy

From July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021, the DePaul University Library collection development policies for books, video, duplicate items, and course reserves will be temporarily changed to better match the university and library’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Summer classes will remain online only, and the majority of autumn quarter classes will remain online or in a hybrid on-campus/online model.

To provide the best possible access to the library’s resources, the Library will temporarily adopt an e-preferred policy. Collections Steering and library administration will revisit the e-preferred policy towards the end of autumn quarter to determine if the e-preferred policy will be lifted or remain in place for winter quarter.

E-preferred does not mean e-only. Under an e-preferred model, liaisons will be encouraged to select e-books over print books if an e-book version is available. Examples of exceptions include but are not limited to, print books specifically requested by faculty, when an e-book version does not exist or is not available to academic libraries, has limited print runs, etc.

Reasons for temporarily enacting an e-preferred policy include:

  • Greater accessibility for students who are unable to travel to the library, students/faculty who meet the CDC’s People Who Need to Take Extra Precaution or others who feel uncomfortable entering a public building, etc.
  • Technical Services staff will have greatly reduced on-campus hours to ensure the health and safety of staff. As a result of reduced in-person hours, extended shipping times, backlogs, material quarantine periods, and new library systems and workflows, Technical Services cannot provide timeframes for the purchase, receipt, processing, and availability of new physical materials to patrons. 
  • Handling of fewer physical items, especially reserve items with short loan periods and multiple course users, means minimizing staff and patron risk of exposure.
  • Books cannot be sanitized without potentially damaging them, so returned items must be quarantined for 72 hours before another patron can check them out. This further reduces the time that patrons can access print materials. 


  • Print books: When possible, the Library acquires monographs in hardcover format. If hardcover format is not available or is cost prohibitive, the paperback version will be acquired. Used version of books will only be purchased if new versions are not available and if a copy in very good condition can be acquired.
    • Temporary Policy: Under an e-preferred model, the Library will select e-books over print books if an e-book version is available. Examples of exceptions include but are not limited to print books specifically requested by faculty, when an e-book version does not exist or is not available to academic libraries, or has limited print runs, etc. Print books are not recommended for course reserves due to significant processing delays.

  • E-books: The Library can only purchase e-books that are available for academic institutions to license. This currently rules out most popular reading materials and items that are considered to be textbooks, as well as many older texts. However, the Library does purchase e-books for the collection and faculty are welcome to indicate that they would like a requested text to be purchased in e-book format, if available. Licenses for e-books often come with use restrictions, including limits on simultaneous users.

    • Temporary Policy: The e-book format will temporarily be preferred over the print book format. E-books provide greater accessibility to patrons off-campus without the need for them to travel to the library. There are some limitations to e-books because some print books do not have an electronic equivalent, some publishers do not have e-book versions available for academic institutions, and some e-books have DRM restrictions (limited printing options, limits on how long an e-book can be checked out, limited accessibility for readers with disabilities, etc.). Liaisons will use their expertise to decide which format to purchase.


  • Preference for Online: The Library’s preference is to move to online versions of journal subscriptions where this is not cost prohibitive. However, Liaison Librarians do have some discretion in this area and can request to keep a subscription in print if this is a better fit for the content.
  • Criteria for Online Access: The Library does not subscribe to online journals that only offer username/password access rather than providing IP based access and, when possible, avoids models that provide a limited number of seats for the content.
  • Offsite Shelving: All print journals that the Library does not have active subscriptions to are shelved offsite. For active print subscriptions, the last ten years are kept on-site. Volumes shelved offsite can be requested through the Library’s online catalog.


  • Criteria for Online Access: Whenever possible, the Library avoids subscribing to databases that require users to create their own personal logins to access the content rather than allowing IP based access. While unlimited simultaneous access to database content is the Library’s preferred model, subscriptions to resources with limited numbers of seats will be considered where doing so is necessary either to access important content or due to budget constraints.


  • Physical Copies: DVD is the Library’s standard format for video content and materials in VHS format will no longer be purchased. The library does not purchase video discs in Blu-ray format, and lacks the equipment necessary to play them. DVDs with public performance rights will only be purchased when it is the only purchase option available—with the understanding that public performances of a video/DVD in a face-to-face classroom is an exception to the public performance right §110 (1) and therefore lawful.
    • Temporary Policy: Physical Copies: DVDs will only be purchased in the event that online streaming video options are not available for academic libraries or are cost-prohibitive. Due to significant receipt, processing, and digitization delays, DVD digitization requests for course reserves must be placed significantly in advance of date needed.

  • Streaming Video: For online and hybrid classes, streaming licenses can be pursued if the Library has an existing contract set up with the streaming vendor. The Library will purchase a single year license when that option is available. For in person classes, streaming licenses for individual titles will only be pursued in exceptional circumstances, although all classes are welcome to use streaming video content in the Library’s existing collections.
    • Temporary Policy Streaming videos are the preferred format for all classes, regardless of if they are online, hybrid, or in-person classes.  Preferred streaming media platforms include Swank, Kanopy, Academic Video Online (AVON), and Infobase/Films on Demand. If a streaming video option is not available or is cost prohibitive, the Library will purchase a DVD copy, if available. Due to significant receipt, processing, and digitization delays, DVD digitization requests for course reserves must be placed significantly in advance of the date needed.


  • The Library purchases content in microfilm or microfiche format on a limited and selective basis, where this allows continuation of existing sets and series. However, because such materials require the use of specialized equipment, this is not the preferred format for the acquisition of new content.

Music Scores

  • The Library collects both scholarly and performance editions of music scores in support of the School of Music's programs and curriculum. General exceptions include: conductor's scores; orchestral, band or choral parts; and sheet music of current popular music. The library does not currently purchase electronic editions of music scores.

Sound Recordings

  • The Library uses CDs as its standard for purchasing physical copies of music recordings. Legacy collections (including audio tapes and LPs), along with appropriate playback equipment, will be maintained by the Library, but new or donated items will not be added to these collections.

Policies Pertaining to all Material Formats

  • Alumni Publications: Alumni publications are not actively purchased. If donated, these will be reviewed using the same criteria as other donated titles.

  • Binding: Materials acquired in paperback format will be processed and added to the collection without commercial binding. However, exceptions are routinely made for oversize titles, music scores, art titles and reference titles.

  • Damaged Materials: Materials that are repairable and which meet set criteria for age and usage will be automatically sent out for offsite repair, then re-shelved upon their return. Materials not meeting these criteria, or which would require replacement, will be subject to review by Liaison Librarians

  • Dissertations & Theses: For older dissertations and theses of DePaul students that the Library received in print format, the Library maintains one copy in Special Collections. The Library acquires microfilm of DePaul dissertations and theses when submitted to ProQuest and the Library also supports the uploading of electronic versions of dissertations and theses to Via Sapientiae, DePaul's institutional repository. For questions concerning dissertations and theses posted to Via Sapientiae, please consult the responsible School, College or Department.

  • Donations/Gifts: The full details of these are available in the University Library Gift Policy.To make a donation, you will first need to fill out the Library Donation Form. If you would like to discuss your donation prior to filling out the form, please contact the Collection Development Department at

  • Duplicates: The Library avoids purchasing physical duplicates of a title. Exceptions include titles needed at multiple campuses, placed on reserves for multiple sections of a course, university-sponsored reading programs, purchased for the Chicago Collection and faculty publications. If a title is requested in a different format (print or online) than the one that currently exists in our collection, these may be purchased pending Liaison Librarian review and availability of funds.

    • Temporary Policy: The Library will purchase an e-book duplicate of a print book already in the collection if needed for course reserves.

  • Faculty Publications: The Library purchases works published by full-time tenure track and tenured DePaul faculty if they are listed as the primary author, editor, or creator. For these works, typically two copies are purchased:  one for the circulating collection and the other for Special Collections.  Such works are mostly identified and obtained automatically through the Library’s monograph vendor. However, works are occasionally missed in this process.  If this occurs, faculty can notify their Library liaison. For works in which a faculty member’s authorship is limited to a single chapter or entry, purchase is at the discretion of the relevant Library liaison. The Library also collects faculty works of all formats, including working papers, e-books, conference and journal articles on Via Sapientiae.

    Works by non-tenure track DePaul faculty (e.g. adjunct faculty, visiting faculty) are not automatically purchased. Non-tenure track faculty may contact their Library liaison to request that the Library purchase their publication. Purchases are at the discretion of the Library liaison. For works published by non-tenure track faculty, the Library will only purchase one copy for the circulating collection.

  • Languages: Most of the materials that the Library acquires are in English. In some subject areas, foreign language materials are actively collected though typically only in languages that are taught at DePaul.

  • Materials Rarely Collected: The following types of materials are rarely collected by the Library: Textbooks, self-published materials, review copies, study guides, curriculum kits, paper-based maps, psychometric instruments, and business case studies.

  • Reserves: Each academic quarter, there is an upper limit of $500 for purchases of reserves materials for a course. Materials that exceed this amount will be forwarded to the relevant Liaison Librarian for consideration. All requests for course reserves materials, including those already owned by DePaul, should be placed through DePaul’s Course Reserves System. The Library will default to purchasing a requested title as an e-book if a version offering access to an unlimited number of users is available unless the requester indicates that only a print version is acceptable. The Library will not purchase e-books for reserves that do not provide access to an unlimited number of simultaneous users.

    • Temporary Policy: The suggested upper limit for individual course reserves items during July 1, 2020 – June 30​, 2021​​ remains at $500 so that there are funds available for every course in need of course reserves items. Materials that exceed this amount will be forwarded to the Coordinator of Collections & Scholarly Resources for consideration. All requests for course reserves materials, including those already owned by DePaul, should be placed through DePaul’s Course Reserves System. The Library will default to purchasing a requested title as an e-book, if available. E-books offering access to DRM-free and unlimited concurrent users are preferred. However, e-books with 1 or 3 concurrent users may be purchased if there is not an unlimited user option available to academic libraries. The Coordinator of Collections & Scholarly Resources will regularly monitor e-books with 1 or 3 concurrent users and will purchase additional copies if needed.
  • Weeding: Due to space constraints and the need to keep the Library’s collection useful, relevant and accessible for the DePaul community, the Library periodically engages in weeding activities. Common reasons for a title being weeded include: older editions of new title, duplicate copy of infrequently used work, obsolete content, poor condition. When appropriate, weeded items will be sent to Better World Books.

Subscription Cancellations

Publishers have continued to raise prices for journals, databases and other e-resources at unsustainable rates for many years. In order to efficiently manage its budget and support growth areas, the Library must identify a significant number of subscription resources for cancellation. This review has become a consistent requirement among all academic libraries. Subject librarians use specific criteria and usage data to make these determinations. Our frequently asked questions are addressed below.

If you have further questions, please contact one of the Library’s subject specialists, or Kelli Getz, Coordinator of Collections and Scholarly Resources, at

Publishers of scholarly journals and databases levy annual price increases of 4% to 15% while our budget for these materials remains unchanged. In order to balance our budget, the Library must identify a significant number of subscription resources for cancellation. This review has become a consistent requirement among all academic libraries as publishers' continue to raise their prices at unsustainable rates.

The Library collects and analyzes robust data about usage, pricing and cost per use of our serials subscriptions. Subject librarians used this data and other information to make decisions about possible cancellations. In addition to these data, subject specialists also evaluate each journal based on other criteria, including its relative importance to an academic discipline, whether its content is available from another source such as one of the Libraries’ research databases, and if the Library can obtain the title through interlibrary loan.

Most print subscriptions are based on a calendar year period that straddles our fiscal year. Database renewal dates occur at various times during the year.

We have a robust interlibrary loan program through which faculty and students can gain access to materials beyond our collections. This can mitigate some of the effects of journal cancellations. Learn more about interlibrary loan and other resources for accessing content beyond DePaul.

Typically, after cancelling a current journal subscription the Library will maintain electronic access to previous years if the right to do so was part of the subscription license. Otherwise, we will no longer have access to the archive.

Commitments such as we have had with Elsevier, Wiley, SAGE and Springer are known as "Big Deals" and they have driven much of DePaul’s and the academic library community's purchasing decisions for over two decades.

Big Deals describe multiyear contracts in which a library purchases access to all or nearly all of a publisher's journals at a price based on the library's current subscription costs, and agrees to annual price increases fixed at the outset of the contract.

At the time they were developed, Big Deals were useful to libraries, allowing them to offer more content for a set cost, as opposed to a more limited content offering and no control over annual cost increases.

DePaul provides access to numerous full-text databases such as Academic Search Complete and Business Source Complete. Such databases offer access to the full-text of many diverse journals, magazines and newspapers.

It should be noted that, in some cases, these full-text databases are not an exact substitute for a full subscription to a journal. Coverage may not include every article, letter to the editor, or book review and it may exclude illustrations, charts, maps, and other graphics. Additionally, many of the journals included in these types of databases have embargo periods. This means that the publisher of an embargoed title does not allow the database to release the full-text content for a predetermined length of time (typically 6, 12, or 18 months). After the embargo period is over, the full-text will become available as it does for earlier issues of a journal.

Yes, funds allocated for book purchases have also been reduced in order to meet budget reduction goals. Some high cost/low use databases are also not being renewed.

Library collections are only one of our costs. The Library has already made significant cuts in other areas. We have lost personnel positions, postponed or canceled facilities renovations, and reduced other costs as much as possible. The best library collection is of little value without expert personnel to acquire, describe, maintain, and make accessible our collections. These services require a highly trained professional staff as well as the technology and facilities necessary to offer our services.

We understand how central the library collection is to teaching and learning at the University. We are doing everything we can to mitigate the need for cancellations.

  • Support efforts by professional associations and other groups to identify sustainable and affordable ways to distribute scholarly information.
  • Consider a publisher’s pricing model and copyright policy before either submitting for publication or agreeing to serve on an editorial board.
  • Be sure to read a publisher’s copyright release before you sign it; you may find that you cannot offer online or print access to your own articles without prior permission. Most publishers will allow you to place a pre-published article in your institutional repository—DePaul’s is Via Sapientiae—discoverable by researchers via search engines like Google Scholar.

For more information about the serials review please contact one of the Libraries’ subject specialists, or to Kelli Getz, Coordinator of Collections and Scholarly Resources, at

Ask a Librarian

Make an Appointment

You can also contact us by: