Acquisitions Procedures for Faculty

Introduction | Basic procedures | Turnaround time | Rush requests | International orders
Out-of-print titles
| Periodicals | Finding the status of a request
Faculty reimbursement for purchase of library materials | Library Liaisons | Final note


The university’s librarians, faculty, staff, and students request that the library acquire thousands of books and media items every year, and the purchasing of these items is done by the library’s Acquisitions Department. The Acquisitions Department is managed by the Head of Collection Development and Acquisition. Two staff members and two student assistants carry out most of the daily work of the department.

Each year, department chairs receive a letter that details the amount allocated by the library in that academic year for materials in that subject area as well as important deadlines or changes in library procedures.

Each academic department chair works “with department colleagues and library liaisons” to contribute to the development of “a strong library collection to undergird the teaching in the department” (Faculty Handbook). The chair or a designate should work to assure active participation of faculty within the department in recommending the purchase of materials for the library in order to build a balanced collection that meets student research and study needs.

All teaching faculty may place requests for library materials against the subject allocations. Requests must fit the library’s Collection Development Policy and are reviewed by the library’s liaison for the subject before being ordered.

Faculty may place requests against the subject allocations, as long as funds remain unencumbered, until April 1 of each year. If funds are left after April 1, they become the responsibility of the library liaison to spend out on the assigned subject area before the end of the fiscal year. Faculty requests submitted to liaisons after April 1 cannot be guaranteed to be placed before the next fiscal year begins on July 1. In this as in all other library matters, faculty are encouraged to communicate with their library liaison to work out processes that are mutually beneficial.

Basic procedures

Faculty members send all requests for books and media items that the library does not already own to their library liaison, either by email (preferred) or campus mail. Check with your liaison to work out a request process that is mutually agreeable. Please do not submit requests for items the library might already own or have on order. This information is kept up-to-date in the Voyager online catalog, which can be checked quickly from any computer with Internet access to the library’s home page,

Electronic requests: The library has an online Acquisition Request Form that will generate an email to your liaison with your request. After you send the form, a “thank you” page will be generated that you can print for your records. Alternatively, you can send a regular email with a bibliography of items you want to request directly to your liaison for approval, or you can send a web link to a source catalog online. The library’s subscription to Choice Reviews Online allows you to email recommendations directly to your liaison, as well.

Printed requests: The other way to submit a request is to hand-deliver or campus-mail printed materials to your liaison. Practical methods of submitting orders include marked publishers’ catalogs or printed bibliographies.

If you provide the library with publishers’ catalogs, flyers, or other printed material that you need to have returned to you, please clearly indicate that on every item that you want returned. Individual items not so marked are recycled.

Required information: In order to place an order for an item that the library does not own, the Acquisitions staff will need the author and title. If you provide the year of publication, publisher, most recent edition, or ISBN, that is helpful. Please include a note if there is a vendor you know has the item for sale, especially for foreign language or hard-to-find items (though the library may choose an alternate vendor depending on discount rates, fulfillment history, etc.).

Liaisons review faculty requests and forward them to the Acquisitions Department to be ordered. For each item, the Acquisitions Department staff verifies the title’s existence, availability, and price; assigns the most appropriate vendor; places, claims, and receives the order; and forwards invoices to the Business Office for payment. Much of this work is done online through the web, in the library’s online acquisitions module, and in the university’s purchasing system.

As soon as the item is ordered, it will appear in the library’s online catalog, Voyager, with the designation “on order.” When it has been received in the building and is waiting for processing, it will have the designation “in processing.” If you want to be notified when a new item is ready, just place a hold on it in Voyager.

Turnaround time

The time it takes to acquire and process an item that has been requested for the library collection varies widely. Some items, such as foreign publications or certain out-of-print materials, can take longer to acquire. If an item is needed by a certain date, just let us know when you submit your request.

In all request fulfillment, our staff is dependent on the vendor with whom we place the order, and once received here, items may have to wait to be processed, as the flow of items into the library varies over the course of the year. The librarians and library staff work hard to minimize turnaround time so that items can be on the shelf and available to faculty and students as quickly as possible.

Rush requests

The department recognizes that sometimes an unanticipated find can necessitate rush requests, and we always do our best to fill these requests by the date you need them. Rush requests will always be handled as quickly as possible. 

Please note these guidelines:

1. When a rush request is necessary, please provide as much information about the item and where it might be available for purchase as possible.

2. Please limit the number of rush requests, since they delay the processing of other faculty requests, and because they are more expensive: rush shipping costs are paid out of the book budget, so every $15 overnight shipping charge may effectively prevent the library from purchasing another book.

3. If your need for an item by a certain date is absolute, you may want to place an interlibrary loan request for the item as a backup, in case we have difficulty finding a copy available for purchase.

International orders

The Acquisitions Department acquires not only domestic imprints but also publications from other countries. There are several ways that faculty (especially those teaching French, German, Spanish, or Chinese) can help with the acquisitions process for these materials.

Whenever possible, provide contact information for a domestic vendor for every item. You might start with the department’s Staff Links page, and look at our “Foreign Language Vendors” list. Visiting the websites for these vendors will often allow you to identify the specific in-stock edition that best suits your needs. Providing us with detailed information about the edition and the vendor that offers it is the best way to get the right book in the collection as quickly as possible.

Our student employees and staff are not always proficient in other languages, so pronouncing titles, choosing the most appropriate editions of classic works, and speaking with vendors who do not speak English can be challenging. Faculty who provide very clear titles, authors, publishers as well as vendor information can help us ensure accuracy and avoid duplication.

Keep in mind that for any library, materials published in other languages and other countries can take longer to receive than domestic imprints. Ordering ahead of the time you expect to need material published in other countries is a good idea.

Out-of-print titles

The Acquisitions Department will automatically do a preliminary search for used copies of materials that are out-of-print (OP).

Searching for and acquiring OP titles that are in acceptable physical condition is time consuming and the books can be expensive. The turnaround time for some OP materials will still be longer than it is for more readily available materials.


Faculty with requests for periodical titles that the library should consider subscribing to should talk with Amy Anderson, Head, Periodical Services, and with their department’s library liaison. The periodicals budget is separate from the budget for all other library materials.

Finding the status of a request

All faculty and librarian requests are tracked in the library’s Voyager online catalog, which can be checked quickly from any computer with Internet access to the library’s home page, at

Voyager gives the status of each item:
ON ORDER means the item has been ordered but not received
IN PROCESSING means the item has been received but not processed
CHECKED IN means the item is available for checkout

If you want to check a new item out as soon as it is available, you can search for the on-order item in Voyager and place a hold on it; this will generate a notice to you when the item is ready, and the item will be held at the Circulation Desk under your name.

Rush requests also are held for you at the Circulation Desk after you are notified that they are ready for checkout.

To request a list of all the items ordered at your request during a specified period of time, contact Amy Anderson at ext. 1639.

Faculty reimbursement for purchase of library materials

As a matter of policy, the Acquisitions Department carries out the ordering and purchasing of all materials for the library collection. The department has negotiated discounts up to 18-20 percent off retail prices and has free shipping with certain vendors.

Exceptions may be made when faculty members have the opportunity to purchase materials that would normally be difficult for the library to obtain through normal channels. Examples include materials published in other countries, those being sold at auction or from private collections, etc. Sale prices at conferences are rarely worth taking advantage of, given the ease of acquiring these books through our usual processes and the discount prices the library already has negotiated. In addition, conference sales are often heavily focused on paperback copies, and the library’s policy is to prefer clothbound books for durability.

Faculty members who are interested in directly purchasing materials for the library and then being reimbursed are requested to:

1. Discuss your plans in advance with the Head of Collection Development and Acquisition. All materials must conform to the library’s collection development policy and must be titles the library does not already own. A spending limit must be agreed in advance.

2. Ask the dealer whether the materials can instead be ordered directly by the library. A preferable approach would be to allow the library to order directly from the dealer. To do this, simply note the author, title, publisher, year, price, dealer’s name, address, phone, and fax number. Give the information to your liaison to be placed as an order when you return to campus.

3. Additions to the library’s collection are made constantly, so before making any non-refundable purchases please verify that the library does not already own the material you are purchasing. Enter the library’s Voyager catalog via the Internet from or call Acquisitions at (512) 863-1557 for assistance.

4. Bring all materials and receipts to the Head of Collection Development and Acquisition. Your receipts will be forwarded to the Business Office for reimbursement after we ascertain that we do not already own the material and that it fits the Collection Development Policy.

Library Liaisons

In addition to their responsibility for the various library departments, all librarians at Southwestern University serve as liaisons for one or more subjects, and are members of one of the three university Divisions or the School of Fine Arts. Whenever practical, liaison assignments are coordinated with Division or School of Fine Arts membership so that liaisons have an additional means of keeping up with changes in curriculum, staying aware of issues of concern to faculty, and building more meaningful partnerships with the faculty.

Librarians at Southwestern hold academic rank, are voting members of the faculty, and serve as faculty in university governance structures. Librarians may be assigned to committees that relate to their liaison assignments. Liaisons also work with the Head, Collection Development and Acquisition in evaluating the library’s collections as sections of the collection are analyzed and titles are added in coordination with 7-year departmental reviews, major curriculum changes, or accreditation efforts.

New and established faculty are encouraged to meet with their department’s liaison annually at least, to talk over library order processes, share any changes in the department’s curriculum, discuss strengths and weaknesses in the collection, make plans for collection development, and to share information about their areas of study and teaching.

Liaisons also:

  1. Prioritize faculty requests when requests exceed the allocated budget.
  2. Share responsibility for spending funds in allocated budgets.
  3. Serve as liaisons between faculty and the library.
  4. Communicate regularly with faculty about remaining fund balances.
  5. Work to avoid oversights or imbalances in the collection.
  6. Interpret the Collection Development Policy for faculty.
  7. Identify needed print and electronic information resources.
  8. Maintain a LibGuide on the library’s website for each department to direct faculty and students to the library’s resources in specific disciplines.
  9. Serve as allies in developing research assignments and help ensure that the collection can support planned assignments.
  10. Provide in-class library instruction, or direct you to another librarian who can do so.
  11. Consult one on one with students you refer.
  12. Represent academic department priorities and activities to library colleagues.
  13. Share information about the book and information trade, library policies and use patterns.

Final note

The library relies on faculty requests and communication in our efforts to ensure that the collection supports students’ information needs. The Acquisitions Department works hard to acquire everything requested by the faculty (and students) in the most timely and cost-efficient way possible. All questions and concerns about acquisitions policies should be directed to Amy Anderson, Director of Library Resources, at 863-1639 or Faculty are invited to come by the Acquisitions Department and meet our staff and student assistants.

Amy Anderson