Aberystwyth University Library Collection Policy

1. Introduction

There have been some key changes in recent years which continue to impact upon the way Aberystwyth University Library acquires content.


 There are clear advantages to providing information in a digital  format, including remote access, 24/7 availability, multiple use, and space saving.  However these can be high cost, and some items, textbooks for example, are not always available electronically, and this varies across academic disciplines. Where they are available, the licencing conditions can be restrictive and uneconomic when compared to their print alternative. Inflation in the cost of all library content has risen steeply, typically at a rate faster than the UK average.  The effects of this inflation have been aggravated by the exponential growth in the amount of material published year-on-year. There is no possibility that the Library can acquire anything but a small fraction of this output.


Changes in the publishing industry around how we pay for access to content, moving from paying to ‘read’ to paying to ‘publish’ will also have an impact over the coming years, particularly as the cost implications of this are not yet clear.


Space remains a key factor.  We operate in a zero growth environment, where for every item we add to our physical collection, we need to remove one.  There is no room for the expansion of the physical collection.  Coupled with this, we also face a continued  demand for additional user study spaces within the library.


These factors, cost, changes in the publishing market, space and the availability of content in electronic format, have shaped the direction of this policy.


Although we are in a position where there can be no further overall expansion in the physical stock of the library, at the same time we cannot allow our holdings to become inflexible. We must continue to acquire new material to be able to meet the strategic aims of the University. This can be partly resolved by making best use of electronic sources where they are available, however, for the foreseeable future we will continue to acquire printed materials. To accommodate them we will take a critical look at our existing holdings and assess their value against the current and future needs of the University. In order to develop our collections, we must make space on the open shelves for the continued acquisition of printed materials by disposing of those items which are no longer required for current teaching, learning and research. Criteria and arrangements for withdrawal are contained within this Policy. We will continue to work with teaching and research staff to ensure that our acquisitions meet academic imperatives as precisely and efficiently as possible.

2. Purpose of this policy

This Policy sets out the current strategic thinking behind the acquisition and management of materials and information content to support learning, teaching and research at the Aberystwyth University. In this Policy, the term ‘collections’ refers to all information resources managed by the Library, with the exception of our Special Collections, details of which can be found here: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/is/library-services/collections/special-collections/

The Policy has been developed to respond both to the needs of the University and to changes in the environment in which we operate. The Policy is, therefore, designed to be flexible and will be reviewed annually to ensure its continuing relevance.  

3. Budget

The Library Resource Budget is split, with the majority of the amount assigned to departments for spending on resources to meet their specific subject needs, 86% on recurrent expenditure such as journals, and 4% on non-recurrent such as reading material for research.  The remaining 10% of available funds will be used to purchase materials on reading lists including books, digitised book chapters and journal articles.

4. Selection principles

Recommendations from academic staff are the main source of material selection, primarily through reading lists.   These will be acquired by the Library whilst seeking to maintain the balance and quality of the collection. Where there are conflicting demands and resource limitations, decisions will be informed by measured and predicted use of materials, determined by current and known future academic commitments.

We operate a ‘Digital First’ policy whereby the electronic provision of information and materials is preferred to print where it is affordable, appropriate, and advantageous to our users.

We will acquire materials in other media but only in formats which are accessible, sustainable and supportable.

The Library will collaborate with other libraries and organizations through its Document Supply Service to provide access to resources not available locally.

Censorship will only be exercised when required by UK law.

5. Acquisition

The Library obtains resources from a range of suppliers, taking advantage of contracts negotiated by regional and national purchasing consortia. The services provided by these suppliers are monitored to ensure they are performing to the required standard and that the contracts are providing value for money. These contracts also ensure that we stay within the bounds of statutory procurement regulations. We are therefore unable to reimburse staff for any personal purchases they might make which they wish to add to the library collection.

The usage of our collections is continually monitored to ensure that they are cost effective and meeting the learning, teaching and research needs of the University.

5.1 Reading List materials

The Library aims to provide sufficient copies of, or electronic access to, items on reading lists. The Reading List Policy (https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/is/regulations/reading-list-policy/ ) sets out how we aim to achieve this goal.

5.2 Books

The Library will consider purchasing books recommended by academic staff or students of the University.  Academic staff can request these through their departmental discretionary budget. The online purchase request form is accessible via the Purchase Request button on Primo.  In addition, the More Books scheme (https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/is/library-services/morebooks/) is available to students to recommend books for purchase by the library.  When the library decides to purchase print books requested in this way, one standard loan copy will be ordered.

5.3 Journals and other subscriptions

The Library will conduct regular reviews of journal and database subscriptions to achieve value for money, and to ensure they continue to be of relevance to learning, teaching and research. Electronic access will be purchased subject to the selection principles listed above, which may involve participation in transformative read-and-publish agreements (https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/is/help/open-access/).  It is anticipated that new journal titles or databases will normally be funded by the cancellation of existing subscriptions wherever possible.

5.4 Document Supply

The Document Supply service enables academic staff and students to obtain resources not held in the Library Collections. Obtaining resources from other libraries is a cost effective alternative to purchasing them, particularly when demand is limited.


5.5 Theses

Aberystwyth University Research postgraduates are required to deposit, through their department, one print and one electronic copy of their final, approved thesis. https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/is/library-services/collections/theses/

5.6 Other formats

As noted above in the selection principles, The Library will collect materials in other media but only in formats which are accessible, sustainable and supportable, so long as they are relevant to current learning, teaching and research.

5.7 Donations

We will accept donations if the items are:

  • relevant to current learning, teaching and research
  • there is sufficient space available to shelve them
  • they are in a good physical condition
  • the cost of making them available for use is proportionate
  • there is full agreement that they may be withdrawn from the collection at a later date

Donations that fail to meet these criteria will not be added to the Library Collection.  Further details regarding donations can be found here: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/is/library-services/collections/donations/

6. Withdrawal and Relegation

Regular editing of resources is necessary in order to maximise the usefulness of the collections, make the best use of limited space and eliminate unnecessary storage space.

Items will be considered for relegation to our external store where they meet the following criteria:

  • Journal runs older than 7 years
  • Low demand items which are still deemed useful to support current or future learning, teaching and research at Aberystwyth University

These items will remain accessible to our users through the use of our retrieval service: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/is/library-services/externalstore/

The Library will consider for withdrawal:

  • Books which have not been used for 10 years
  • Older editions of books when a more recent edition is added to the collection
  • Print journals for which electronic access is readily available
  • Material in other formats that has not been used in 10 years and/or where the format is no longer supported
  • Material which is damaged and can no longer be repaired
  • Items which are not relevant to current university learning, teaching or research