The Robert A.L. Mortvedt Library’s collection policy guides the Pacific Lutheran University librarians’ collective selection, maintenance, and deselection decisions regarding the library collection. It sets forth both the overarching principles by which we develop the library collection and the constraints within which we do this work. This policy is based on our understanding of current best practices of our field, supported by substantive scholarship, and is subject to regular review. Among its objectives are consistency in sustaining the library collection over time, adaptability to changes in content, format, and financial support, and transparency in communicating to the university how collection development decisions are made.


The library collection constitutes physical materials, including but not limited to books and physical media, realia, and other resources, and also electronic materials held in our collection via outright ownership or access license. Collection development is the collective body of selection decisions, acquisition through license or purchase, enabling access through physical or virtual means, and judicious replacement or withdrawal that make the library collection what it is. Collection development is managed and primarily performed by PLU faculty librarians.

Library collection development is guided by the overall priorities of the institution.

The mission and vision of the university, as exemplified in its mission statement, strategic plan, institution-wide programs and partnerships, and comprehensive areas of emphasis across the curriculum, provide guidance as to which resources are likely to be in demand, and to support the curriculum and students and faculty research in the long term.

Library collection development is guided by principles of equity and inclusion.

The historical and contemporary priorities, methods of acquisition, and methods of organization of academic libraries reflect hegemonic systems of privilege and oppression in academia and in the broader society in which they exist. This influences what is included in the library collection and, therefore, what researchers find in the course of their research, read, and cite in their work. While an increasing diversity of sources and voices can be found outside the library, what is held in the library collection may be taken as a statement as to which sources and which voices are considered authoritative and worthy of attention by both the library and the university. We are conscious of these influences when making collection development decisions and seek to balance them by deliberately selecting for voices that have gone underrepresented or unheard.

Library collection development is guided by the curricular goals of academic departments and programs, and individual courses.

The library supports student academic achievement through the provision of resources that students can find, consult, assess, and incorporate into their own work in support of critical thinking and reasoned insight. As such, library resources are chosen for their suitability and applicability to the study of academic subjects taught at PLU, for comprehensive programs such as FYEP, or in support of the academic research mission more broadly.

Library collection development is guided by an ideal of comprehensive disciplinary coverage.

Insofar as it is feasible in accordance with the previous guidelines and available funding, the library strives to build a comprehensive collection in the disciplines it serves. This is supplemented by shared or consortial access with other libraries and interlibrary loan, as well as the judicious cultivation of open access resources.

Responsibility for materials selection for the collection rests with the librarians, individually and collectively. Each subject area, interdisciplinary or graduate program, or other program (such as FYEP or IHON) has a librarian tasked with its collection development who is expected to maintain current awareness of institutional academic priorities and the state of the literature more broadly.

Faculty requests and recommendations.

Faculty are invited to consult with liaison librarians in their areas and make suggestions and recommendations to the library collection. Librarians assess these requests in accordance with the guiding principles and applicable selection criteria. Priority is given to materials that explicitly support the curriculum and will be continually used in courses or for student research. (For textbooks, see below.)

We derive our primary selection criteria from the guiding principles stated above. Materials chosen for the collection will meet some or all of the following:

  • Has relevance to the overall priorities of the university.
  • Improves the depth and scope of voices included, with especial attention to underrepresented or oppressed voices.
  • Supports a curricular goal of an academic department, program, or individual course.
  • Is authoritatively considered an important resource in the discipline, whether or not there is immediate curricular need for it.
  • Is sustainable to obtain according to current and projected budgets.

Limiting factors.

In addition to the above, we consider the following in choosing materials:

  • Language: English is the default choice for library materials. We will also add materials in languages taught at PLU that support those programs, particularly where selecting such materials meets our equity criteria.
  • Multiple copies: We avoid purchasing duplicate copies of materials, even in different formats. We endeavor to choose the most appropriate format based on type of material and disciplinary preference (see Format Considerations below).
  • Textbooks and workbooks: As a general rule we do not buy library copies of course textbooks, or materials such as workbooks or online supplements that are designed for a single user. For more details on textbooks, see below.
  • Lawfully made: The library adheres to U.S. copyright law and the licensing agreements we make with our publishers and vendors, and the principles of fair use. We will not knowingly purchase or acquire materials whose creation or distribution contravene these rules.
  • Theses: While the library has some older student theses in our collection, we do not at present have a systematic way of collecting and preserving work of this nature.

Format Considerations.

The formats in which library materials are available–physical and virtual–are increasingly diverse, as are the models under which we acquire them, add them to our collection, and ensure access to them. Given this, we adhere to the following general guidelines with regards to material format as much as possible:

  • Stability: The medium or platform should be reliably accessible over a minimum of several years. If online, whether hosted remotely or by the library, it should have minimal downtime and be regularly maintained and updated against obsolescence. Physical formats should be sturdy enough to sustain repeated handling and possibly heavy use, or else be stored and accessed in such a way as to minimize damage. Physical formats requiring technology to use should make use of currently available technology.
  • Accessibility: Patrons should be able to access resources with minimum friction and inconvenience. Digital resources ideally require only ePass access and must be compatible with currently implemented authentication technologies. If separate registration is required instructions should be easy to follow and require no more information than an e-mail address, name, and university affiliation. Accessibility features such as text-to-speech, compatibility with screen readers, and customizable viewing options should be present and easy to use. Digital resources with unlimited or at least multiple simultaneous users are preferred, subject to cost considerations.
  • Usage data: Aggregate, anonymized usage data should be available in standard reporting formats, either tracked directly in the library’s ILS or available from the vendor. Vendor data should be in the most recent COUNTER (Code of Practice standard) format if at all possible; if this is not possible, data that is readily comparable to COUNTER data is acceptable. The library avoids acquiring resources for which usage data is not available at all.
  • Disciplinary preference: Insofar as particular disciplines have a preference as to format–particularly print or electronic–the library will endeavor to acquire resources in that format, subject to cost, stability, and accessibility considerations.
  • Character of use: Resources intended for preliminary research or quick consultation, such as handbooks, dictionaries, and other reference books, are more likely to be acquired in digital form. Resources intended for in-depth study and review, such as monographs, are more likely to be acquired in physical form, subject to disciplinary preferences.
  • Cost: The price for the same content can vary widely depending on the format. The library strives to choose the most cost-effective option, balanced with the other selection criteria.

Curated collections.

  • Popular Fiction Collection Policy
  • Faculty publications: The library accepts both donations of works by faculty and suggestions for purchase.
  • Alumni and student publications: The library accepts both donations of works by alumni and current students, and suggestions for purchase.
  • Archives Collection Policy


As a general rule, the library does not purchase course textbooks. Our course reserves service facilitates shared access to course materials placed on hold by faculty, as well as Lute Library materials. The library accepts donations of textbooks from students and faculty to add to the Lute Library collection, and encourages faculty to allow use of older textbook editions where feasible, as well as the adoption of open access textbooks.


Removing materials that no longer best meet the guiding principles and selection criteria is part of maintaining a comprehensive library collection. Library collection materials may be deselected for the following reasons:

  • Obsolescence: Material contains information that is superseded, outdated, or no longer meets the selection criteria.
  • Cost effectiveness: Lack of funding, lack of use, a shift in budget allocations, or replacement by another resource that better meets the selection criteria are all reasons that keeping material in the collection may not be cost effective.
  • Replacement: Older materials of which new editions have been added to the collection may be deselected, unless there is some reason under the selection criteria to retain them. 
  • No longer accessible: Materials that are too damaged for use for which no replacement exists; or, for which access technology is no longer available and preservation copying is not feasible.


The library strives to maintain all materials in good and usable condition.

  • Copies and duplication: The library may make a preservation copy of material that is in obsolete format and not otherwise obtainable, subject to Section 108 of Title 17 of the U.S. Code.
  • Repair of damaged materials: Physical materials subjected to damage and wear will be repaired so far as in-house resources allow. If we cannot repair an item and replacing it is not feasible, we will note the damage in the catalog and inside the back cover of the item.
  • Replacement: Material damaged beyond repair, or available on a more up-to-date, accessible, or convenient format, may be replaced. If the exact same material is not available, we will endeavor to find an equivalent replacement, possibly in consultation with faculty in the relevant discipline.

Withdrawn Materials.

Withdrawn materials are sent to SurPLUs.

Gifts and Donations.

The library does not accept unsolicited donations of materials. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the librarian responsible for that subject area. Include a general description of the collection (including approximate number of items), the condition of the materials, and if possible a title list.

Adopted 11/2/2022
Updated 11/2/2022