Collection Development Policy

Guiding Principles

Grand Valley State University Libraries approach collection development with the same principles which inform the library’s mission and values. Ideally, our resources will be:

Sustainable: we champion the success of every student through investigating, promoting, and publishing in open and alternative models of scholarly communications. We promote the dissemination and impact of GVSU scholarship through our ScholarWorks repository, and Open Educational Resources. We recognize sustainability comes from open scholarship as well as infrastructure.

Responsive: we analyze thousands of data points to understand the evolving interests, priorities, and experiences of our patrons. We develop the library’s collection through both automated processes and human interventions. We select resources and develop services focusing on flexible and accessible resources that are responsive to curricular needs.

Collective: we use the library’s extensive staff and faculty expertise to connect the GVSU community with more resources than it would be possible to obtain through traditional acquisitions methods and limited budgets. We leverage our local, regional, and national networks as active collaborators in student learning, teaching, and research. We recognize the future is shared.  

Objectives of Collection Development

Collection development in the GVSU University Libraries collects, manages, disseminates, and preserves information to support the university curriculum and fuel the intellectual life of the university. Coordinated collection development efforts should align with the University’s existing curricular goals, while balancing the need for materials to support emerging programs of research and study. As we select materials, we take care to develop and sustain responsive collections not only for the present but for the future of the University Libraries.

The University Libraries are committed to inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility. We strive to provide an environment in which all members of the campus community feel welcome, supported, respected, and valued. Many library staff and faculty are active in the ongoing work of identifying and eliminating barriers to ensure that all members of the library community are able to participate in library spaces and services. We work to ensure that our tools, services, and environments are available and usable by as many people as possible.

The Libraries strive to balance access to and ownership of resources. Priorities for collection and acquisition of materials are, in order of importance:

  • Support the curricular programs of the University and the scholarly needs of students. 
  • Support the curricular and scholarly needs of faculty.
  • Support access to information resources not explicitly covered by curricular or research programs.

A variety of power dynamics exist in academic libraries between patrons, content providers, supply chains, technologies and systems, disciplinary canon, accreditation, metrics and assessment, and the institutions we serve. This is ultimately reflected in what, how, and why the library maintains and develops the greater collection. The collection is not static, but living and influenced by many individuals, strategic priorities, and stakeholders. University Libraries collects materials in a deliberate, sustainable, and purpose-driven way to support our communities. We recognize that none of the metrics, benchmarks, or tools used to evaluate, arrange, and describe the collection are free from bias. University Libraries faculty and staff work on individual and systemic levels to address those biases.


Responsibilities for assessment, maintenance, and collection alignment lies primarily with members of the library’s Collections and Digital Scholarship department, in collaboration with subject liaisons and teaching faculty.

Collection Analysis

We collect data about our resources from many areas. Some entry points for collection analysis before and after the library acquires materials include, but are not limited to:

  • Accessibility
  • Bibliometric analysis of institutional research output
  • Company profile, ethics, and supply chain
  • Cost and sustainability
  • Currency of information
  • Ease of use and usability
  • GVSU faculty authorship
  • Holdings of consortia and partner libraries
  • Language of the material
  • Population trends of students and faculty in the area
  • Resource sharing activity
  • Strength of holdings in the subject area or similar subject areas
  • Support of curriculum and research
  • Support of the library’s mission
  • Uniqueness of content, delivery, metadata, or treatment of the subject

Materials Not Collected

The Collections and Digital Scholarship department considers several criteria when deciding what not to collect. For example, it would be rare for the library to acquire materials with all these characteristics:

  • Cost: prohibitive or unsustainable for the library’s budget
  • Audience: limited curricular or research applications
  • Access: cannot be shared or have non-negotiable restrictions on use
  • Scope: beyond the scope and mission of University Libraries

Certain licensed materials such as industry white papers, certain technical standards, textbooks, and some proprietary assessment tools may be excluded because of high cost and limited access. However, if access allows for multiple users and/or inclusion in course packets and learning management systems, the library may acquire these kinds of materials. 

Popular reading or self-help books may be excluded due to scope and are better handled through partnerships with local public library systems. However, courses use a variety of materials which might include graphic novels, films, music, or other media and it would be reasonable for the library to develop a collection in support of those curricular goals.

Controversial Materials

Academic and intellectual freedom allow members of the campus community to engage with a variety of sources. This can include works that are uncomfortable or offensive. Grand Valley State University Libraries do not consider the requests of unaffiliated individuals or groups seeking the removal from the collection of materials chosen according to this collection development policy, nor will the Libraries consider requests to add to the collection materials if their addition contradicts the objectives of the policy.

Demand-Driven Acquisitions and Approval Plans

University Libraries purchase materials using a variety of tools. The Collections and Digital Scholarship department recognizes the strengths and limitations of these methods, and works to assess their effectiveness for inclusive and equitable collections, content, and access. Automated DDA and approval plans augment and assist existing library staff and faculty expertise, they are not a replacement.

Electronic Collections Life Cycle

Additions to electronic journal packages will be considered during the yearly cycle, not added piecemeal. Statistics and other information are gathered twice a year. Resources generally move from trials, to limited duration pilots, to established. Once established, databases are renewed in 3-year cycles unless circumstances dictate otherwise.

As part of the renewal and assessment cycles, we also consider service issues, vendor relationship changes and business practices, metadata and search quality control questions, interoperability concerns, and the need for additional research into how well a production functions over time. Requests for additional research into a resource, platform, or tool can be requested by subject liaisons as part of the renewal and evaluation periods of the life cycle. Members of the Collections and Digital Scholarship, and Systems and Discovery Departments can initiate this process at any time.

Criteria for Electronic Journals and Databases

In addition to meeting general criteria, electronic journals and databases have technical requirements.

  • Campus-wide access via acceptable authentication method
  • OpenURL compliant
  • Minimum uptime threshold (98%) as part of their service level agreement (SLA)
  • COUNTER 4 or 5 compliant whenever possible
  • Exceed, meet, or make active progress toward industry accessibility standards

Labor devoted to troubleshooting, improving metadata quality, in-house development to meet accessibility and usability standards, resolving errors, unsatisfactory customer support experiences, data analysis, accessibility, and other issues not explicitly covered by a service level agreement or license agreement are considered during negotiations, renewals, cancellations, and acquisition of new materials.

Open Access Materials

Open Access (OA) is the “free, immediate, online availability of research articles combined with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. Open Access is the needed modern update for the communication of research that fully utilizes the Internet for what it was originally built to do—accelerate research.”

The library pays for OA in labor, expertise, and time, just as it does for paid content. Inclusion of OA content in the library’s discovery system and catalog is considered throughout the year, but typically follows the same life cycle as licensed electronic resources. University Libraries invests in Open Access materials, tools, and initiatives when possible and in alignment with strategic goals.

Infrastructure, Systems, and Software

The library’s collection and the software, standards, and systems supporting the collection are inextricably related. When licensing collections and service-related infrastructure, the library considers their impact on the library’s mission and greater scholarly communications environment. For our purposes, this includes but is not limited to: search and discovery, indexing, knowledge bases, link resolvers, collection lifecycle management tools and electronic resource management platforms, integrated library systems/services platforms, and metadata standards.

Standards, Assessment Tools, Datasets, Case Studies

The library has limited funds for single purchases of standards, case studies, assessment tools, and datasets. Priority use of these funds will go toward students conducting research or collaborating with faculty on research projects, especially those with plans in place to disseminate scholarship with student authors. As with the rest of the collection, the library works to support the curricular and scholarly needs of students and faculty. We encourage interested students and faculty to contact their subject liaison or members of the Collections and Digital Scholarship Department to begin discussion.

  • Requests for data should demonstrate wide curricular application and impact to the university community.
  • Assessment tools, data sets, case studies, and standards may have limited access given their disciplinary applications.
  • Items with restrictive license terms or with technical requirements beyond the scope of other library resources will not be purchased by the library. 
  • Standards, assessment tools, and datasets must meet or exceed the standards governing licensed electronic resources in this document as much as possible. 
  • The library welcomes cost sharing and joint purchase agreements between individual researchers, departments, and schools, with the understanding that the library has distinct strategic goals and is unlikely to support the acquisition of materials outside those objectives.
  • Like everything else the library acquires, standards, assessment tools, and datasets demand University Libraries’ faculty and staff expertise, time, and labor. The library’s ability to purchase takes these needs into account as part of the decision-making process.


University Libraries pursues a variety of license terms depending on the nature of the resource. In 2019, GVSU Libraries adopted a number of standards for resource licensing: addressing clauses on confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements, certain types of indemnification and warranties, accessibility standards, language around security incidents, audits, and modification. These are periodically reviewed by members of the Collections and Digital Scholarship Department, Executive Team, and the University Office of General Counsel. See the Appendix for current criteria. 

Streaming Media

The library subscribes to several streaming media databases and continues to purchase formats which can be converted and streamed via Panopto for instructional needs, pending fair use analysis or compliance with the TEACH Act criteria. Streaming media continues to evolve, and University Libraries considers several factors:

  • Platform stability
  • Acquisitions model
  • Licensing terms
  • Perpetual or ‘life of file’ access options
  • Accessibility features, including accuracy of captions and searchable transcripts.

Teaching faculty, faculty proxies such as teaching assistants, and others can request to have a DVD evaluated for possible digitization using this form. The Libraries consider digitizing out of print books on a case by case basis. 

Collection Maintenance

Just as the university’s academic programs, demographics, scholarly output, and strategic alignments change over time, so must the collection which supports those objectives. University Libraries considers a variety of data sources as part of evaluation and maintenance of the collection. Evidence used to evaluate the existing collection includes but is not limited to:

  • Accessibility
  • Bibliometric analysis of institutional research output
  • Company profile, ethics, and supply chain
  • Condition of materials and life of format
  • Cost and sustainability
  • Currency of information
  • Disciplinary needs
  • Ease of use and usability
  • Feedback from subject experts
  • GVSU faculty authorship
  • Holdings of consortia and partner libraries
  • Inclusion in a set
  • Item usage
  • Language of the material
  • License terms
  • Population trends of students and faculty in the area
  • Quality of digital surrogates
  • Regional availability
  • Resource sharing activity
  • Space considerations
  • State and regional retention commitments
  • Strength of holdings in the subject area or similar subject areas
  • Support of curriculum and research
  • Support of the library’s mission
  • Uniqueness of content, delivery, metadata, or treatment of the subject

Policy Revisions and Questions

Requests for clarification may be directed to Cara Cadena, Head of Collections and Digital Scholarship. The Collection Development Policy is a living document, reviewed every two years by library faculty, members of the University Libraries Advisory Committee, and the Libraries Executive Team. The policy's primary author is Scarlet Galvan, Collection Strategist Librarian. It was last reviewed in September 2021. 


University Libraries pursues a variety of license terms depending on the nature of the resource. Regardless of the license, software and resources cannot be licensed without meeting minimum standards whenever possible: 

Confidentiality and Nondisclosure Agreements

University Libraries will not enter into contracts that contain confidentiality clauses of any kind or require the nondisclosure of license terms. If the Library and vendor are unable to come to an agreement regarding the removal of such clauses or terms from the license, then the Library will not license that content or software. University Libraries, at its sole discretion, will openly share information contained in its licenses and agreements with interested parties.

Indemnification and Warranties

University Libraries cannot enter into contracts which indemnify the licensor for misuse on the part of authorized users.

Dispute Resolution

Dispute resolution clauses are determined by the University's Office of General Counsel and periodically reviewed. The Office of General Counsel has requested the library pursue mediation over arbitration, with Michigan jurisdiction when possible.


At minimum, licensed content and platforms comply with the Level AA criteria of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 by the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative. Content and platforms which are not compliant must show reasonable progress toward compliance, or otherwise hold the library harmless should an Authorized User file a complaint.

Notification of Security Incidents

Vendors agree to notify the library in the event of any data breach or leak involving Authorized Users’ information, regardless of the perceived material harm to users.


University Libraries will not enter into contracts which give third parties the ability to physically audit laboratories or hardware on any Grand Valley State University campus.


Licenses may be modified if mutually agreeable; vendors cannot change license terms at will.

Page last modified January 30, 2024