Collection Management Guidelines

These collection development guidelines are intended to be flexible enough to reflect trends in the University of South Florida’s academic programs and research and take into consideration the continuing changes surrounding collection access and ownership, irrespective of format.


The University of South Florida’s libraries consist of the main research library located at the Tampa campus, the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library at the St. Petersburg campus, and the Information Commons at the Sarasota-Manatee campus.  USF Health Libraries include the Hinks and Elaine Shimberg Health Sciences Library on USF’s Tampa campus and the Florida Blue Health Knowledge Exchange in the USF Morsani College of Medicine in downtown Tampa.

USF Tampa Library, Tampa campus

Nelson Poynter Memorial Library, St. Petersburg campus

Sarasota-Manatee Information Commons, Sarasota-Manatee campus

Health Sciences Libraries

Together, the USF Libraries provide access to more than 2 million volumes and an extensive collection of electronic resources including e-journal subscriptions and aggregator databases, ebooks, and digital images. Patrons have access to audiovisual materials including videos, CDs, DVDs, and online media. In addition, the libraries offer access to unique primary research materials, which include Florida history and politics, American literature, medieval manuscripts, juvenile literature, rare books, and sheet music.

Local collection management is maintained by the collections departments at each library of the University of South Florida and monitored by the liaison librarians.

Liaison Librarians by Subject



In support of the university’s strategic goals, the University of South Florida Libraries’ mission is to “inspire research, creativity, and learning by connecting the USF community to relevant and high-quality information”.

The primary responsibilities of a university library are to support the curriculum and to maintain appropriate resources for faculty research, publication, and development. We strive to provide a well-balanced collection which will serve as a resource for the academic needs of present and future generations; and to make available materials for the general information of the university community as the budget allows. It is also appropriate for the library to effectively incorporate resources that support the diversity of the university’s populations.


Memberships in academic library organizations such as Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL), LYRASIS, (with member libraries from the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Southeast, and West regions of the U.S), HathiTrust, Florida Academic Library Services Cooperative (FALSC) and Tampa Bay Library Consortium (TBLC) provide opportunities to develop collections, share costs for resources and access extensive and unique collections. A list of USF Libraries memberships may be found on the Libraries website.

Expenditure of Funds

According to the Governance Document of the USF Libraries Faculty, Article VI, Section A: Fiscal Resources, the procedure for expending funds is defined as follows:

The Dean exercises control over the USF Tampa Library budget and consults with the Regional Chancellors (or their designees) and the USF Libraries Campus Deans on the allocation of budgetary resources to branch campus libraries. The Regional Chancellors (or their designee) are responsible for implementation of the branch campus library budgets. Assistant and Associate Deans and Directors make recommendations on annual budget allocations relative to their assigned campus and areas of responsibility. Library administration will share information about the budget with the library faculty at least twice annually.

General Collecting Principles

Collection development at the USF Libraries are guided by the principles of the American Library Association which includes the Library Bill of Rights, The Freedom to Read Statement, Freedom to View Statement, and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Intellectual Freedom Principles.

A review of the Principles of Membership for the Association of Research Libraries, Procedures for Membership in the Association of Research Libraries, current University of South Florida Strategic Plan, and the USF Libraries Strategic Directions has provided general guidelines for the development of more specific collection management statements:

  • Providing broad interdisciplinary collections in all formats in support of research and graduate education in order to contribute to the effective interchange of information among research institutions.
  • Proactively identifying and supporting new academic programs, research grants/projects.
  • Developing distinctive research-oriented collections and resources of national significance in a variety of formats in order to successfully contribute to the shared collection of research resources in North America.

In support of the University’s teaching and research mission, the University of South Florida Libraries collect materials in a variety of formats, including print, multimedia, and microform.  Online access to scholarly materials is preferred. The Library uses the most effective and economical methods possible for its collection acquisitions, licensing, and contracting procedures following the ARL Principles for Licensing Electronic Resources.

The scope of these acquisition guidelines does not include special collections, digital collections, government documents, or health and medical sciences as these are documented separately.  The libraries do not collect audiobooks, leisure reading, or other unspecified types of material.  The libraries do not license content made available for individual license only.

When scholarly materials are published in multiple formats, the Library will usually acquire materials in one format only in order to efficiently manage the University’s financial resources.

Active participation and collaboration with faculty is central to our approach to building collections, however the final selection responsibility lies with the library.


The University of South Florida Libraries work with faculty to acquire new materials for research and teaching. New items considered for inclusion in the collection are reviewed in accordance with the general collecting principles. Non-recurring items such as individual monographs are processed via request or demand-driven acquisition as funds allow and balanced across disciplines as needed.  Requests for new subscriptions requiring recurring annual payments must be carefully evaluated against existing content., Funding typically comes from cancellations in years that the library budget is flat or declining. Electronic resources are typically available for all USF faculty and students across all campuses.

New Subscription Resource Evaluation Criteria

Potential subscription resources are reviewed similarly to current resources but without the experience component.  Factors in each review category are analyzed and weighed to determine if the quality and scope of the resource fulfills a program, curricular, or research need and whether it will enhance the collection level of a collecting area or the general collection.  Resources should also meet the guidelines for budgetary control, funding, engagement, and perpetual access. New funding must be available for new acquisitions.

Content and Scope

New resources should fill a specific unmet need or replace an existing resource that is no longer useful or effective.  The following aspects shall be investigated:

  • Content and scope of resource
  • Relevance to research and program needs
  • Collection level for discipline(s) to be met
  • Overlap with existing content
  • Currency of data
  • Library liaison input
  • Faculty requestor comments
Quality and Usability

Observed behavior, actual usage statistics, product satisfaction and usability factors are all unknown.  Trials may be conducted before purchase to supply some of this data.  External data such as vendor literature and demonstrations, other university experience, rankings and reviews can help determine quality and usefulness. Data to review:

  • Quality, rankings and reviews
  • Usability
  • Accessibility
  • Trial results
Access and Pricing

Technical methods of access including authentication and discovery, pricing, licensing model, and contract terms are considerations.  Determine:

  • Distribution, discovery, and access method
  • Perpetual or leased licensing model
  • Contract terms
  • Pricing and cost
Are funds available to support this resource?
  • Availability of funds
  • Recurring or one-time cost


Library Resource Evaluation Criteria

The USF Libraries regularly evaluate the collection and subscribed resources to maintain balanced support of the ongoing curricular and research needs of the university within budgetary allowances.  Materials that are no longer relevant may be deselected and subscriptions that are no longer cost effective or of significant value may be not be retained.

Electronic resource subscriptions will be evaluated for renewal under the following guidelines:

  • Supports faculty resource needs
  • Maximizes control of the library collection budget
  • Fiscal support from recurring funding sources
  • Faculty engagement in the decision-making process
  • Focuses collection expenditures on perpetual rather than leased access

The renewal process for library resources includes the review and assessment of resources within a decision matrix comprised of key elements focused on four perspectives:  contribution toward the University’s values and goals for teaching and research; the content, scope, and quality of the resource;  the usage and utility of the resource as experienced by faculty, students, and librarians;  and trends in pricing, cost per use, and licensing models, with consideration for alternate methods of access to content.

Supports University Goals, Teaching, and Research

Library resources must continue to support the academic needs of the University. Resources that neither meet the information requirements of a current program or research initiative, nor have broad multidisciplinary value will be discontinued.  Resources will be evaluated as to the level to which they:

  • Are of value and importance to university goals
  • Meet college/department/program information needs
  • Contribute to research or grant work
  • Contribute to faculty success
  • Contribute to student success
  • Serve specific audience levels: undergraduate, graduate, faculty
  • Contribute to textbook affordability
Content and Scope

Library resources are evaluated as to their continuing quality, scope of coverage, and level of academic utility.  Consideration will be given to resources with unique content or features.  Recency of content and timeliness of updates are factors where currency is needed.  External indicators such as impact factors, rankings, and reviews will be taken into account.  The level of overlap with currently held or potential new resources will be analyzed.

  • Suitability to academic requirements
  • Quality, impact rankings, reviews
  • Unique features
  • Currency
  • Overlaps with existing content
  • New resource available that would better fit current needs
Experience with Resource

Reports as to the efficacy, usability, demand for, and value of a resource are of the utmost importance.  Recommendations from library liaisons and feedback from faculty are strong indicators in the renewal decision.  Current usage and usage trends will be evaluated with respect to the application and audience of the resource.  Resources with low or sustained decrease in usage will be assessed for cancellation.

  • Liaison librarian input
  • Faculty input
  • Usability
  • Current usage and usage trends
Cost and Licensing

Resources with unsustainable cost increases, excessive bundling of content, licensing models that result in too high a cost or too little access, unreasonably high or increasing cost per use, or unacceptable renewal terms may not be continued.  The availability and cost of alternate methods of access to the content will be reviewed and considered as replacements for the current resource.

  • Cost and pricing trends
  • Cost per use
  • Licensing model
  • Renewal terms
  • Alternate access

Factsheets with relevant information will be developed during the review process summarizing the overall value, quality, contribution, and cost effectiveness of the resource.  Discipline specific resources that become candidates for cancellation due to a combination of these factors may be referred to the appropriate library liaison and/or academic department for further information.


Electronic Databases and Resources

Library databases are searchable electronic collections of bibliographic indexes and abstracts.  A full-text database contains the content of the articles, aggregated journal articles, and even full runs of journals. These resources assist researchers in locating relevant content.  Other electronic resources provide web-based access to information such as business data and reports, reference resources, newspapers, primary source material, images, maps, videos, music and audio, and other digital libraries.  Database content is typically subscription, but some resources may be purchased for perpetual access often with a content update or annual hosting fee.

Serials (Journals, Magazines, Newspapers)

Journals in electronic format, ejournals, are often purchased in bundled packages from major publishers, providing a broad range of titles on an online platform hosted by the publisher.  Smaller society or subject specific packages are selected to address the needs of program areas.  Titles may also be subscribed at the individual level upon request as budget allows.  Directly subscribed titles may allow perpetual access.  JSTOR collections are purchased as perpetual archives of both online and print journals, embargoing more recent content with a moving paywall.  As journal prices continue to increase, the sustainability of large packages decrease and purchase model trends are moving towards subscribing to most used or most needed titles only.  Interlibrary loan and document delivery service provides timely access to articles in unsubscribed journals.  Magazines and newspapers may also be subscribed online, either individually or as part of a database of collected titles.

Monographs (ebooks)

Ebook acquisitions may be selected via evidence-based programs, through faculty requests, either direct or from course reserves, through the Textbook Affordability Project’s Ebooks for the Classroom+ program, or through ebook collection purchases. Ebooks are accessed through the publisher’s online library or on an aggregator site such as ProQuest Ebook Central or EBSCOhost ebooks.  Additionally, Project Muse, JSTOR and others host university press titles.  A comprehensive aggregator-based demand-driven acquisition program presenting a selection of ebooks generated from a librarian curated profile allows faculty and students immediate use of titles from a broad range of publishers encompassing a variety of disciplines.  In addition, publisher specific evidence-based acquisitions programs representing a range of disciplines allow just-in-time access to needed content.  Titles most used are purchased and permanently added to the collection.  Further, direct purchasing based on reviewing trends in the data gained by these evidence-based programs allows informed supplemental purchase of content most required for research and learning.  Ebooks, as the preferred format provide convenient access to content, often for multiple concurrent users. Purchasing perpetual access is preferred to subscription access.

Data Sources

The USF Libraries maintains access to business and finance, economic, geographical, demographic, citation, and scientific datasets and data resources that are available for academic library license.  The WRDS platform and selected datasets are licensed for business data research.


The USF Libraries provides access to image collections, music and audio, online videos, and streaming media.  Requests are currently accepted for temporary licensing of streaming media for course use on established streaming media platforms where individual titles may be selected and licensed annually by requesting through Course Reserves.  Content includes performances, education and practicum training, and documentaries, short films, and feature films on a wide range of topics supporting many disciplines.  Purchase of perpetual access video collections is preferred; however, these resources often do not address the variety of titles needed.

Open Access

Quality open access content is increasingly available from reputable publishers and content providers and can supplement collections and reduce paid publication expenditures.  Types of information include journal articles, monographs, and datasets.  Links to stable open access content will be included in catalog metadata, the libraries’ discovery system, the Database A-Z list, and the journal article link resolver metadata.


Monographs, Print Continuations/Standing Orders

Print monographs may be purchased on faculty request if available and within budgetary allowance.  They may be initially required for faculty or graduate student research or coursework support and are added to the collection.  The library maintains a limited number of standing orders for continuations and print reference works.  Print textbooks may be purchased through the USF Textbook Affordability Program (TAP) and held on reserve for courses.  These may also be cataloged for increased discoverability.  Print juvenile books may be purchased to support children’s and young adult literature and education courses.  Lost, missing, or damaged books will only be replaced if demonstrated need exists or are important to the collection.

Print Periodicals

Print journals are only considered for subscription if current issues are not available in an affordable electronic format, to provide perpetual access otherwise not obtainable, or if preferred form for artwork or illustrations.  Use and continued need determined through faculty and library liaison input.  These serials are non-circulating and some may need to be paged from the Library Services Desk.

Dissertations & Theses

USF theses and dissertations are collected and held in portable document format in the USF Libraries’ institutional repository, Scholar Commons. Metadata with direct links are provided in the Libraries’ catalog.  In addition, these documents are indexed with full text access if available in the subscription resource, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.  Older USF dissertations and theses are held in the print collection.


The USF Libraries subscribe to a limited number of print magazines or local and national newspapers, which are not permanently retained.


When streaming access is not available for course requests, DVDs with performance rights may be purchased for classroom use, or single user DVDs for individual checkout.  The USF Libraries do not have the capacity to convert DVDs to streaming media.


Microform subscriptions are being converted to perpetual electronic format where available and cost effective and are not being selected for current requests.


Physical items may be weeded and withdrawn according to the following general criteria:

  • Materials are available in a “good enough” electronic format for which we have purchased perpetual access and have secured the means of providing that access to our students and faculty.
  • Materials for which a programmatic commitment is not present (i.e. no degree or certificate granted, no focus enumerated) and for which we have secured online access to relevant content, whether recurring or perpetual.
  • Materials that are clearly superseded, obsolete, or otherwise represent a disservice to our students or faculty.
    • Withdraw materials that continue to function as originally designed but potentially lead to inaccurate information, e.g. medical and legal resources.
    • Withdraw materials that no longer function as originally designed but may lead to accurate information.
    • Retain materials that continue to function as originally designed AND that lead to accurate information.
  • Medical or legal resources that are superseded or obsolete.
  • Materials that no longer serve the function for which they were originally acquired.
  • Materials where the condition of same is below minimal standards.
  • Materials in fields where programs have been discontinued and the field is no longer represented in the curriculum.
  • Items that have egregious multiple copies, more than two.

At the USF Libraries, our top priority is to provide a wealth of electronic and print resources to help our students, faculty and community be successful in their research endeavors.  All potential gifts will be carefully evaluated by collection management librarians, who will make a determination regarding the suitability of these materials for addition to the library’s research collections.

The following suitability factors listed below will be considered regarding potential donations to the USF Libraries:
  • Academic titles that are highly relevant to the teaching and research needs of the university;
  • Materials that are within the scope of existing collecting priorities, which have lasting research value;
  • Unique titles that are not already owned by the library (this includes both in print or electronic format);
  • Materials that are in good, clean, usable physical condition.
Materials designated for Special Collections must be:
  • Within the scope of existing collecting priorities ;
  • Scholarly or historically significant;
  • Able to support curriculum development, student learning and engagement, faculty research, and community interest;
  • in good, clean, usable physical condition without restrictions or access limitations
The materials below are outside of the current collection scope of the USF Libraries:
  • Textbooks
  • Previous editions of currently held titles
  • Materials that have any hint of mold, mildew, smoke, or pest infestation
  • Materials with broken spines, loose pages, dog-eared pages
  • Materials that contain highlighting, underlining, or annotations
  • United States government publications
  • Outdated legal, medical, or reference materials
  • Popular magazines or newspapers
  • Print journals, unless the title completes a run of journals already owned that is not available electronically
  • Popular fiction
  • Trade/mass-market paperbacks
  • Practical “how-to” guides
  • Obsolete formats, such as LPs, filmstrips, cassette tapes, VHS tapes, etc.
  • Electronic materials requiring dated or specialized software
  • Materials which might cause the library to be liable for copyright infringement
Donations from USF Faculty

For USF Faculty who would like to donate substantial collections of scholarly works that have lasting research value for the students and faculty of the university, the library asks that the faculty member submit a list of the books and/or journals for potential donation to the library, and a decision can be made on whether these items can be added to the library’s collections.


Government Documents Special Collections