General Collection Policies

The SMU Libraries Collection Development Policy relates the Libraries’ collections to the specific curricular and research needs of the University faculty and students, and to the interests of the University community.  It guides the daily selection of materials, to help frame the parameters of approval plans, to assist in the acceptance and review of gifts, and to aid in decisions regarding preservation and retention. 

The policy is subject to revision as university needs and objectives change. 

Purpose of Collections

Because the primary purpose of the collection is to support teaching and research, most of the materials purchased will be of a scholarly nature. 

Selected popular works may be collected in any discipline if they are judged to have an important social or historical significance. Older and outdated materials in all disciplines may be maintained if they document the history of a discipline, or represent the social mores, beliefs, and attitudes of the past. 

The libraries do not make an effort to collect for recreational reading, but for the long-term support of the curriculum. Fiction which is collected is expected to have literary merit, be representative of a genre, or have historical or social significance. 

Subject Librarians

Subject librarians serve as subject specialists for one or more academic disciplines, and their selections constitute the majority of the libraries’ new acquisitions. A subject librarian is assigned to one or more academic departments to consult with faculty on issues pertaining to the selection and maintenance of library materials in their subject area(s). Faculty members request library materials for their courses, and for their research, by requesting a purchase or corresponding directly with their librarian. 


Weeding is performed as needed to provide space for collection growth, to prevent damage to library materials caused by overcrowding, and to keep collections relevant to the curriculum. Candidates for weeding include unneeded duplicates, outdated materials widely held, and titles that no longer align with SMU’s curriculum or the research interests of its faculty. We do not weed titles due to the perceived offensiveness of their content. 

Conservation and Preservation

Preservation activities at SMU currently focus on binding and mending of materials with primary emphasis on the binding and repair of materials which are most used and on extending the shelf life of older materials. 

Whenever possible, such material will be returned to the circulating collection using one of two means: 1) materials which are judged to be sturdy enough to withstand machine binding are outsourced to a commercial bindery, while materials which are too fragile to withstand machine binding but which are not too fragile to circulate, are placed in custom-built protective phase boxes, also outsourced. 

Severely damaged materials are re-evaluated in terms of their current relevance and historical significance, and may be repaired, removed, or replaced, according to the judgment of the Collection Development Librarian. 

Books which are determined to be unique, rare, or valuable may be offered to the DeGolyer Library, which can provide a more controlled environment.