DePaul University Libraries > About > Policies > Collection Development

Collection Development

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This page provides the DePaul community with information about how the collection of the DePaul University Library is built and maintained. The Collection Development Department believes it is essential for libraries to be transparent about the policies that guide the acquisition of new materials. 

By sharing our policies with the community we hope to better inform our patrons about the materials in their library and the guidelines we follow in order to serve all of our patrons to the best of our ability.

Temporary Policies Enacted Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic:


In July 2020, the DePaul University Library collection development policy was changed temporarily to “e-preferred” for books, video, duplicate items, and course reserves to synchronize with the University and Library’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. An increased emphasis on access to online content over physical materials was decided upon because of limited on-site staffing, limited hours of operation, and hygiene protocols required for the handling of items.

Whereas, current safety concerns are mitigated by an improving public health situation, a continued reduction in the number of scheduled in-person courses is expected during the Summer and Fall 2021 academic quarters along with an increase in the number of hybrid and online courses. The following e-preferred collection policy will continue through the end of calendar year 2021 at which time it will be reassessed.

E-preferred does not mean e-only. Under an e-preferred model, library liaisons to academic departments are encouraged to select an online version whenever available. Some examples of exceptions include print format books specifically requested by faculty, titles for which an online version does not exist, or when purchase of an online version is not offered to institutions.

Under an e-preferred model, the Library will purchase e-books instead of print books when an online version is available. Some examples of exceptions include print format books specifically requested by faculty, titles for which an online version does not exist, or when purchase of an online version is not offered to institutions. E-books are temporarily preferred especially for course reserves because print books take longer to receive (if not already owned), take longer to process, and offer only limited access, i.e., building use only.

The e-book format is temporarily preferred over print primarily because of the greater accessibility offered to those patrons off-campus. However, not all print titles have an online equivalent. Not all e-book publishers sell to academic institutions. Some e-books have digital rights management (DRM) restrictions that limit options for printing, checking out, or accessing content for those users with disabilities. In such cases, library liaisons will apply their expert judgement in selecting the more appropriate format.

Streaming video is the preferred format for all courses regardless of teaching mode (online, hybrid, or in-person). 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 or Blu-ray copy, if available. Digitization requests for course reserves must be placed well in advance of the date needed due to delivery and processing time required.

DVDs and Blu-ray will only be purchased when online streaming video options are not available to academic libraries or are cost-prohibitive. Digitization requests for course reserves must be placed well in advance of the date needed due to delivery and processing time required.

When needed for electronic course reserves, the Library will purchase a duplicate e-book copy of a print format book already in the collection.

All requests for course reserves materials—including those titles already owned by DePaul—should be placed through the Library’s Course Reserves System. The reserves spending cap for individual courses is $500. Requests for materials that cost cumulatively in excess of this amount will be forwarded to the Coordinator of Collections & Scholarly Resources for consideration.

The Library will default to purchasing a requested title as an e-book with unlimited concurrent users when that option is available. However, e-books are often available with only a single-user option or limited to 3 concurrent users at most. The Coordinator of Collections & Scholarly Resources will monitor reserve requests for e-books limited to 1 or 3 concurrent users and approve the purchase of additional copies if needed.

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