Collection Development Policy


The A. Frank Smith, Jr. Library Center (SLC) supports the mission and goals of Southwestern University primarily by providing a balanced, accessible library collection to meet the research and reading needs of the university’s undergraduate students and to support the teaching preparation of the university’s faculty. The collection also contributes to the general education and broad intellectual interests of students with core works that represent the best of current and historical thought and writing. The library’s mission statement says, in part: “the library builds collections that encourage intellectual exchange, freedom of inquiry, and a passion for knowledge.”

Collection priorities

Materials needed to support current undergraduate research and study are of primary importance. Materials that aid faculty in the preparation of lectures and other teaching activities are also high priority. Standard reference works and other quality materials of importance to the core collection of any undergraduate liberal arts and sciences library are also essential. Materials that encourage wider intellectual exploration and a love of reading are also of primary importance. High quality interlibrary borrowing and document delivery services and TexShare privileges are the primary routes the library provides for faculty and others whose information needs include more specialized materials.

Recommendation of materials

Librarians and teaching faculty select most of the print and audiovisual materials that the library acquires. Faculty are encouraged to consult with the library’s liaison for their department or the Director of Library Resources when questions arise. Electronic resources are selected by librarians in consultation with faculty.

Faculty members are asked to notify the library when their own publications are available and one copy is generally acquired.

Selection guidelines and limitations

In all collection development decisions, the principles of intellectual freedom are upheld. All subjects that are appropriate to the collection are treated without prejudice or censorship, and varied points of view are included to the greatest extent possible. Collections are developed within the limits of collection purpose, budget, and space constraints.

 Gift policy

Donations are considered in two categories: donation of funds, and donation of rare books and archival materials.

Gifts, once accepted, become the property of the university and subject to library policies as they change over time. Potential donors must know that this includes the possibility of disposal by gift or exchange with other libraries, by sale, or by any other appropriate means, including recycling as a last resort.

Donation of funds: The library gratefully accepts donations of funds. Donors wishing to donate funds to the library can do so online. Individuals considering larger gifts or naming the library as a beneficiary in estate planning should contact Kent Huntsman, Associate Vice President of University Relations-Gifts, at (512) 863-1235.

Donation of rare books and archival materials: The library is interested in acquiring special and rare materials in Texana, and early British and American literature. Special Collections also houses the University archives, developed entirely by deposit or donation. Donors wishing to give the library rare or archival materials should contact Jason Dean, Director of Special Collections, at

At this time, the library does not accept other donations (such as books, CDs, DVDs, or newspaper, magazine, or journal issues). Books authored by SU alumni should be donated to the alumni collection maintained in the Schrum Alumni Center. To donate, alumni authors should contact the Office of University Relations-Alumni and Parents
 at (800) 960-6363

Collections within the library

Main Collection:  The library’s Main Collection includes books, video, and audio recordings, and more, most of which circulate for three weeks. The library’s DVD’s and videotapes circulate for one week.

Digital Collection: The library’s digital collections are important and growing. Ebooks, ejournals, reference sources, streaming video and audio, and bibliographic databases are accessible via the library’s website.

Reserve Collection:  This collection, located at the InfoDesk on the first floor, is composed of library materials, professors’ own copies of books and photocopied articles and audiovisual materials on reserve.

Reference Collection: Reference works that support specific academic programs of the university or that are core titles in any undergraduate liberal arts and sciences university collection are purchased in print or digital formats, as appropriate.

Periodicals Collection: Periodicals support the academic program of the university. Selection is based on appropriateness for undergraduate use, cost, availability, language, intellectual value, academic need, availability of indexing, and format.

Maps:  The library has a small collection of single-sheet maps located in Special Collections. A representative collection of general and specialized atlases is kept in Reference.

Alcove Collections:  The library’s five special study alcoves are all furnished with subject collections designed to invite further exploration. The Melville Alcove includes works by and about Herman Melville as well as works of his contemporaries. The Dobie Alcove includes works by and about J. Frank and Bertha Dobie. The Enduring Legacies Alcove serves to showcase a few of the library’s most generous donors and their gifts to Special Collections. The Women’s Studies Alcove collection includes works by and about women, with most titles recommended by university Feminist Studies faculty. The Lynne Brody/Writer’s Voice Alcove highlights the work of campus guest authors.

Media Library: The Media Library houses the library’s LP albums and CD’s as well as musical scores.

Curriculum Collection and Children’s Literature Collection: The Curriculum Collection, housed in the Curriculum Classroom, includes materials to support coursework and practice teaching of the Education Department. The Children’s Literature Collection also supports the academic program of the Education Department.

Special Collections and Archives: The Special Collections Department holds a number of large collections, including the Edward A. Clark Texana Collection, the papers of Senator John Tower, the J. Frank Dobie Collection, the Brown Collection, and the Jackson-Greenwood Collection. There are also many works related to Methodism as well as numerous Bibles and hymnals. Materials for Special Collections are generally acquired as gifts only, and include rare books, manuscripts, photographs, artifacts, and the papers and memorabilia of prominent individuals who are related to the university or that enhance existing collection strengths.

The department also houses those university records that are retired to Special Collections as well as some items that the department actively collects. Materials include university catalogs, university publications, student yearbooks, photographs, student publications, records of early literary societies, and papers and memorabilia of some past university administrators and professors. Special Collections also maintains the archives of the Alpha Chi Honorary Society, which was founded at Southwestern University.