Collection Development Philosophy

DU Libraries identifies, acquires, manages, and provides access to physical and digital resources in support of the University's mission to advance scholarly inquiry, cultivate critical and creative thought, and generate knowledge. As such, our Collection Development Committee and Collections & Content Management department coordinate the selection of an extensive range of materials in multiple formats. Primary responsibility for purchasing and overseeing collections resides with Subject Librarians in partnership with the Collections and Content Management Librarian.

In selecting materials for addition to our collections, we understand that libraries and archives are not neutral and exclude the voices, experiences, and perspectives of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Many of the librarians responsible for collection development at DU Libraries are cisgender white women and men who benefit from systems of oppression, and there are limits and biases at work that stem from that advantage. Libraries, too, uphold systems of oppression, and in our library we are working toward a more just future for each other, and for the students, teachers, researchers, and community we support.

In our collection development practice we:

  • Examine “authoritative knowledge,” what it means, and who confers it
  • Ask “Who’s telling this story?” (Consider author identities, perspectives, geographic location, and historical timeframe)
  • Reflect on cultural humility and remain open to what we don’t know
  • Collect in a range of formats and media, recognizing that there are many ways to take in information, learn, and know
  • Prioritize funding for collecting works from historically marginalized writers of small press publications, graphic novels, and literature-in-translation (to name only a few examples)
  • Work to address inequities created by racist technologies
  • Work to divest from content providers who partner with organizations that harm BIPOC communities, particularly through the sale of surveillance data to law enforcement
  • Negotiate with clarity about where the Libraries’ collection development funding comes from and direct those funds according to our values
  • Recognize that not all materials are appropriate for our collections and that we may need to work with communities to repatriate or rehome materials to appropriate custodians
  • Celebrate critical thought and the human capacity for creativity

An ethic of care, equity of access to information, and accessibility of resources also inform our collection development practice, along with Subject Librarians’ liaison work with DU faculty, researchers, and students. Through building relationships within the DU community, Denver, and the Rocky Mountain Front Range, we grow to understand what our community needs from its library and build comprehensive collections of primary sources that represent interdisciplinary study and ongoing research interests.

True to many libraries' circumstances, our ability to build collections is affected by funding, space, and availability of materials. While we work to acquire physical and digital resources through considerate stewardship of funds, our consortial partnerships also strengthen our collections. In addition to the millions of items we currently provide access to, the Libraries maintain cooperative agreements for shared purchasing and preservation through memberships in the Colorado Alliance of Research LibrariesGreater Western Library Alliance, and the Western Regional Storage Trust.

This philosophy will be revised as modifications and needs dictate.