Values for collections

These values guide the University of Minnesota Libraries' work to build collections and act as an excellent steward of the University’s resources.


The University of Minnesota Libraries' consider our student, staff and faculty's research and educational needs when negotiating contracts with vendors and publishers. This work is guided by a values-based strategy to make wise investments in collections and access to collections expenses.1 

The guiding values that follow provide the basis for determining and implementing policies, processes, and tools used in the evaluation and decision-making around new and ongoing investments.

These Values have been given a Senate Library Committee Statement of Support.


1) Alignment of collection development with the University of Minnesota’s mission

The University of Minnesota Libraries purchases, acquires, and makes accessible materials in support of the research and discovery, teaching and learning, and outreach and public service missions of the University of Minnesota (hereafter “University”).2 In developing collections, the Libraries gives principal consideration to the use of the campus community, the broader statewide activities of the University as a land grant institution, and to diverse audiences who depend on the University’s rare and unique collections.

The Libraries collects and provides access to published and unpublished materials in a variety of languages and formats across a broad range of subjects as appropriate to the teaching and research needs of individual disciplines and interdisciplinary scholarship.

The Libraries prioritizes investments in uniquely or scarcely held materials, including those relating to existing special and archival collections. In making decisions regarding investments and acquisitions, we strive to balance known immediate demands with research libraries’ commitment to preserve the scholarly record for long-term needs. The Libraries also pursues collective collecting opportunities while prioritizing access for the University’s core constituents.

2) Open and enduring access to information

The Libraries values open and enduring access to information for our authorized users and the public at large. For licensed content, we expect that all of our authorized users and anyone on site in our library facilities can access content. Preferred vendors allow access to all University system campuses. We expect that licenses permit searching, remote access, viewing, printing, saving, scholarly sharing, text or data mining, integration with course materials, and sharing via interlibrary loan, as well as the ability to exercise all rights granted under United States copyright law. We prefer that licensed content be free of digital rights management.

The Libraries expects content and hosting platforms to be accessible to all our users as required by law. The Libraries prioritizes working with vendors that meet expectations for equitable service and access as outlined by the Big Ten Academic Alliance's (BTAA) Library E-Resource Accessibility Standardized License Language.3 Publishers who have not yet met these expectations need to show progress toward doing so and, when requested, adapt licensed materials to comply with applicable law in a timely manner and at no cost to the Libraries.

As the State of Minnesota’s flagship research institution with an archival responsibility, the Libraries invests in preservation of key analog collections, and we prefer vendors of e-resources that provide perpetual access to content in a manner and form equivalent to vendor-hosted delivery mechanisms. We expect all e-resource publishers to preserve their content through a reliable third-party archiving service.

The Libraries commits to support and expand open access to scholarly resources. We support production of new open access content through our strategic digitization and Publishing Services programs. We support open access initiatives that are relevant to our collection priorities and we prioritize programs that go beyond simply making individual articles available openly. We support programs that are managed in a transparent and ethical manner and that contribute to a collaborative, academy-owned open access infrastructure. We explore transformative agreements with established publishing entities. In selecting projects and agreements, the Libraries prefers making agreements with partners who have a proven track record of providing fully open access content (libre and gratis) or who are implementing a clear plan to move toward full open access.

3) Partnerships and collaborations

We acknowledge, along with our colleague institutions, that no library has the capacity to acquire or preserve everything. Collaborations with groups and organizations that share our values ensure that our collection and services are sustainable, allow for the collection of unique materials, and increase the breadth and depth of accessible content. We do this by negotiating collectively when acquiring electronic resources and by working collaboratively with other universities to coordinate collections or preservation responsibilities and to rely on interlibrary lending to provide access for our users. For example, we work at scale with consortial entities, including the BTAA and Center for Research Libraries (CRL), on pricing, content, access, and transformative models of publishing. We seek to further our existing work (e.g., SACOOP, MOLLAS, FRESCOE, etc.) on collaborative collection development, and with BTAA and HathiTrust on collaborative retention of print materials.4

4) Innovative information, use, and interactions

In response to current and emerging needs of University researchers, scholars, instructors, and students, the Libraries seeks out and evaluates new and evolving formats and information sources, as well as the methods by which it provides access to information. The Libraries also strategically invests in collections that support innovative developments in teaching and research, including, but not limited to, augmented reality, data mining, computational text analysis, commercialization, and translation and delivery of University research. Further, to support the full range of research practices and applications, the Libraries invests in publishers and practices that permit author copyright retention and allow scholars to build on, remix, and transform purchased or licensed content.

5) Economic sustainability

The Libraries provides efficiencies and cost savings to campus through centralized, campus-wide acquisition and licensing of collections. In pursuit of this goal, the Libraries works to establish a balanced and sustainable information environment where access to content remains affordable for the Libraries and the communities it serves. The Libraries prefers content providers who are transparent about their governance, finances, pricing, and licensing practices, and are responsive to requests and concerns of the Libraries.

High quality metadata, delivered or made available in a timely manner, ensures that users have the best opportunity to discover the Libraries resources. When possible, we work with vendors who provide high quality, no cost, shareable metadata.

The Libraries gives preference to content providers and products that have or are developing economically sustainable business models and practices, in which content costs balance the financial needs of content providers and the budgets and mission of the University. Sustainable pricing practices include reasonable absolute price changes that do not exceed the Consumer Price Index and valid rationales for price increases. We resist unsustainable business practices such as the proliferation of new journals or creation of mirror journals.

The Libraries balances space needs for physical collections with emerging initiatives and prioritizes acquisitions that support teaching, learning, and research. As new materials are acquired and less space is available, we address physical space constraints with a number of strategies: transitioning some content from print to digital formats, shifting content to off-site storage facilities, and deaccessioning some materials. In considering strategies for the acquisition or retention of collections, we evaluate the economic and intellectual value of items in relation to the long term costs of physical storage, maintenance, access, delivery,  and preservation, and we participate in collaborative shared print retention agreements.

6) Equity, diversity, and inclusion

The Libraries strives to develop and steward diverse collections that reflect the broad scope of intellectual, cultural, educational, and research interests of its users and communities. To this end, the Libraries pursues multiple methods, locally and collectively, to address critical gaps in the collection and anticipate emerging research and educational needs. These methods include patron-driven acquisition and community input; purposeful engagement and strong communication with faculty and students; and consortial cooperation.

7) Privacy

The Libraries recognizes that the privacy of our user community in their academic endeavors is essential to fulfilling the University’s mission, and that the best way to protect user privacy is to limit the amount of user information that is collected, monitored, disclosed, and distributed.5 The Libraries also understands there is an inherent tension between innovation and privacy. With this in mind, we expect vendors and publishers to fully comply with federal and state laws and University policy; seek user consent to collect personal information; and not disclose this information to third parties.6 Vendors/publishers should have a publicly-available privacy policy to this effect.


1) University of Minnesota Libraries (February 2019). Collections Strategic Steering Committee Charge. Second Revision.

2) University of Minnesota Board of Regents. (2008). Mission Statement.


4) South Asian Cooperative Collection Development (SACOOP) is a collaboration among North American South Asian Libraries that has been going since 2010. The Midwest Organization of Libraries for Latin American Studies (MOLLAS) promotes collaborative and cooperative projects in collections development, preservation, and access. The Francophone and Scandinavian Collections Expertise Exchange (FRESCOE) is an arrangement with the University of Chicago and the Libraries to collaborate in collection development and subject reference for Francophone, Scandinavian, Italian, and German studies.

5) American Library Association. (2006). Resolution on the Retention of Library Usage Records.

6) Minnesota Statutes 13.40 (2008).