Collected Materials Formats Policies

Books | Journals | Electronic Resources | Research Data | Media | Standards and Technical ReportsUnpublished Works | Open Access

The library acquires materials in various formats to add to the general collection. This page outlines policies specific to each format.


For the purposes of this policy, the word “books” refers to monographs and serials in both print and electronic formats.

Books are acquired in one of four ways:

  1. Automatically: the Library automatically receives all publications from selected publishers in selected subject areas.  Automatic purchases include series on Standing Order.
  2. Subject Librarian Selection: Librarians choose materials that support teaching research in their subject areas.
  3. Faculty or Researcher Request: Librarians purchase materials requested by library users.
  4. Demand Driven Acquisitions: This category consists of E-books accessible to users, but which the library does not own until a significant amount of usage activates a purchase.

A dollar amount is budgeted annually for books in each academic discipline.  Subject librarians will make purchases for the collections using the specific fund assigned to their disciplines, and will receive monthly reports of expenditures. 

Subject librarians determine which book format (print or e-book) is most appropriate for the collection on a case-by-case basis.  Some disciplines may have a clear preference for one over the other, though most will prefer a mixture of both.  The library may duplicate titles in two formats if specifically requested by a faculty member, or in cases where demand for a title is unusually high.

The libraries make every effort to collect the works of SMU professors, and also of Alumni, as appropriate. The library does not collect textbooks, workbooks, or consumable print materials.


The library does not subscribe to journals or other serials in multiple formats.

Electronic is the preferred format for journals with some exceptions based on curricular or archival needs.  Journals may be subscribed to individually, included as part of a large journal package, or received as part of a membership.  Long-term support of the curriculum is the most important concern when considering new journal subscriptions.

JSTOR is considered a stable electronic journal repository, the stability of other electronic repositories will be judged on a case-by-case basis. 

The library does not collect or catalog off-prints, reprints, or photocopies of journal articles.

Electronic Resources  

Electronic resources must meet the same criteria that other formats meet to be added to the collection: i.e., the data or information must support an identifiable current or future research or curricular need of the University community.  In addition, electronic resources are not considered a viable alternative to print resources if they in any way impede access or impose additional costs on the patron.

Research Data

SMU Libraries will acquire text and data mining sets selectively, with the primary goals being to support faculty research and dissertation- and thesis-level work by graduate students.

To be included in our collections, data can be purchased, licensed, or open. Purchased data are data that the Libraries owns outright (although there may be terms of use in a contract). Licensed data are data that the Libraries negotiates access to, but that access is dictated by the terms of the contract license agreement and may be time limited. Open data are data that are openly available to the public.

The libraries will privilege resources that can be accessed by the entire SMU community over those that are restricted to a single user or small group of users when determining how to spend library funds. Priority will be given to the acquisition of data to which SMU retains permanent rights.

Archival copies of purchased data are preferred. Any independent data must include documentation which describes their internal format and meaning, and which can assist in the recovery of the data should changes to the University computing environment render it unreadable in the future.

All data acquisitions, whether library databases or specific data for faculty research, should be routed through SMU Libraries to provide a centralized knowledge base of everything data-related that is purchased with university funds. The Libraries should be the entity that negotiates the license agreement and facilitates payment to the vendor in order to prevent duplication of purchases between departments. Libraries acquisitions staff will (when possible) coordinate the transfer of funds and payment. The Head of Collections signs data contracts and ensures the data specifics, such that any restrictions are clearly stated.

Data purchases may be funded in several ways:

  • Grant funding
  • Faculty startup funds
  • Departmental funds
  • General collections budget
  • SMU Grants Data Acquisition program

These funds may have prerequisites or specific conditions in regard to what may be purchased. Contact your Subject Librarian to determine what restrictions may apply.

Acquisition decisions will include the relevant Subject Librarian(s) and Collections Team within the Libraries. The Business Library has additional policies in regard to the purchase of data. Contact your Business Librarian for more information. All research data resources are considered on a case-by-case basis and exceptions may be made.

Submitting a purchase request does not guarantee dataset purchase. In the event of initial approval, dataset acquisition procedures may take between a few weeks to a few months to be finalized. Approved requests may still not be realized if licensing negotiations fail.


Faculty may request visual media to support their courses, including documentaries and feature films. The library subscribes to streaming video services, some of which require a faculty request before library staff can make the film available to the campus community.  Faculty may request films from Kanopy or Digital Campus streaming services by filling out a Course Reserves Request.  

If a film is essential to a course, it may be acquired in a physical format, such as DVD or Blu-ray, for the library to ensure its ability to support the course in the future.  Rights holders can remove content from streaming services at any time, and content is regularly removed from all of our streaming services. 

When acquiring physical media, DVD format is preferred over Blu-ray. The libraries do not purchase VHS format. Blu-ray can be acquired as needed if determined to be necessary by teaching faculty. Due to the limited availability of playback equipment, foreign-region DVDs and Blu-rays will only be purchased when no local-region or region-free versions are available, and only as determined to be necessary by the faculty.  The libraries will acquire films in the requested formats, but SMU’s Office of Information Technology oversees all classroom technology. 

The Hamon Arts Library preserves sound recordings in all formats, with compact disc being the preferred collecting format.  The library also subscribes to music streaming services.

Standards and Technical Reports

Standards and Technical Reports come in a variety of formats such as books, pages, and pamphlets in both print and electronic format. Upon request, the library can purchase Standards to support faculty and graduate student research and teaching needs. When possible, the library will privilege purchasing of Standards in print format that can be added to the collection and accessed by the entire SMU community, over those restricted to a single user.

Unpublished Works

Manuscripts and all other unpublished works are housed in Special Collections.

Open Access

The SMU Libraries support the goal of making research and scholarship accessible to a broad audience, both inside and outside the academy. Recognizing that opportunities to support open access to scholarship are varied, we will prioritize the following kinds of initiatives for support with the Libraries acquisitions budget:

  • Open access projects that align with our General Collection Development Policy
  • Support of university, local, and regional presses
  • Support of initiatives that have long-term preservation plans, discovery mechanisms such as MARC records, and appropriate editorial oversight
  • Support for projects and services that do not overlap with those already provided by SMU and its Libraries
  • Support for initiatives that are administered through consortia of which the library or university are members.

We will monitor the Libraries’ investment in open access, to ensure the continuing alignment of the project or publisher with SMU Libraries’ collection development policy and strategic plan, and that the content is findable and usable.