Collection Development Policy

The J. Paul Leonard Library Collection Development Policy establishes guidelines for the continued growth and maintenance of library collections at San Francisco State University’s J. Paul Leonard Library (JPLL). It is intended both to guide the selection of materials and to inform the community of the motives, standards, and procedures used in collection development at San Francisco State. However, it is also a living document that will evolve as SF State’s information needs and the nature of our collections change.

General Collection Principles

The J. Paul Leonard Library’s Collection Development Policy works in accordance with the Library’s general Mission and Goals, including:

  • Through collections and access, the Library encourages exploration of the broadest spectrum of viewpoints, constructs, cultures, beliefs and methodologies.
  • In alignment with the University’s mission, the Library endeavors to promote equity, inclusion, social justice, and an understanding and appreciation of diversity through its collections.
  • The Library is committed to leveraging technology and evidence-based methods in developing collections.
  • The Library is also committed to supporting remote learning and the widest possible access to material.

The fundamental principle behind collection development at JPLL is a focus on supporting SF State’s curriculum and research needs.


Selection of materials in all formats is the purview of library faculty with subject area responsibilities. These Library Liaisons select material in all formats in order to support the curriculum in programs aligned with their subject areas. When possible, selectors work collaboratively with colleges, departments, and faculty in facilitating the selection of appropriate material. All requested materials requiring continuing budgetary support (journals, databases, and other serial resources) are reviewed and given final consideration by the Collection Development Coordinator in collaboration with the Collection Development Advisory Group and appropriate Library Subject Liaisons.

Selection Criteria

  • Formats: The Library collects a broad spectrum of information resources in a variety of formats, including print and electronic resources. The primary criterion for selecting any item is its relevance to SF State’s curriculum and teaching mission. Another criterion in evaluating information resources is accessibility. As such, we typically purchase materials in electronic format, and we also select closed-captioned multimedia formats whenever possible. It should be noted that the Library does not select and is not responsible for materials available from SF State’s Audio-Visual Services division of Academic Technology. Whenever possible, the Library prefers acquiring electronic resources via offerings through the CSU’s Systemwide Electronic Information Resources (SEIR) office.
  • Language Coverage: The preferred language for most materials in the collection is English. Materials in languages other than English are included when they specifically support the curriculum of the University. This includes programs under the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and other programs that necessitate the use of materials in languages other than English.
  • Thesis/Dissertation Collection: The Library receives master's theses from students who opt to take thesis courses at SF State as well as PhD dissertations. With the author’s permissions, recent theses and dissertations are available online in ScholarWorks. Theses and dissertations not available in ScholarWorks can be requested through the Library’s interlibrary services.
  • Required reading for classroom instruction: The Library supports Affordable Learning Solution efforts on campus and throughout the CSU, and endeavors through its collections to support the curriculum of SFSU however possible. With this in mind, the Library reviews required-reading titles every semester for online availability and provides an Ebook Textbook list for titles in the collection. In addition, the Library encourages faculty who are interested in making required textbooks available in the Library for their classes to provide a “desk copy” with Circulation Services, or request physical copies of existing library materials to be placed on reserve through a Course Reserve Request.
  • Purchase Requests: The Library welcomes suggestions of materials to acquire and include in the collection. All suggestions are subject to review by the appropriate Library Liaison prior to acquisition, and preference is given to material that supports the curriculum and is recommended by students and faculty, the Library’s primary users. Requests and suggestions for serials (journals, databases, etc.) and other recurring expenses are also reviewed by the Collection Development Coordinator or the Collection Strategies Working Group prior to approval and purchase. Suggestions can be made using the Suggest a New Library Resource form. SF State faculty may also request media purchases.

Collection Evaluation & Assessment

  • Collection Coverage: As a state university offering mostly bachelor's and master's degrees, the collection focuses on supporting these programs, with more comprehensive coverage for doctoral programs when budgetary considerations permit.
  • Collection Review: The Library reviews its collections to ensure that materials meet the needs of the University’s curriculum. Materials important to the collection may be replaced when lost, missing, or in poor condition. In the case of serial resources, which require continuing support, periodic reviews are held to consider the possibility of cancellation and/or acquisition of these resources. When feasible, colleges, departments, and programs are enlisted to help with the process.
  • Deselection Policy: Deselection of library materials is a critical practice in maintaining a useful and productive collection that serves the needs of the University’s curriculum. Materials may be withdrawn from the collection based on, but not exclusive to, the following criteria:
    • Materials damaged due to normal wear, mutilation, or mishandling. (In exceptional cases, items of particular value may be preserved accordingly or within reasonable expectations.)
    • Materials that have been superseded or have become obsolete. This varies according to discipline and subject area, but in many instances, it is important to remove items that no longer accurately represent the current information and standards of these areas of study. 
    • Materials that have changed format or are duplicated in multiple formats (e.g., electronic, microform, etc.).
    • Duplicate paper copies of low-use materials.

Interlibrary Services

To expand the resources available to students and faculty and SF State, the Library invests substantial resources to allow its users to borrow material from other libraries and agencies through its Interlibrary Services. These services provide users with access to materials unavailable at SF State. They also provide users from other institutions with access to SF State materials. Examples of services the Library provides are consortial member library resource sharing systems, such as ILLiad and CSU+, and rapid article delivery services, particularly RapidILL and Reprints Desk for all users, and Get it Now for Faculty.


It is the policy of the Library to provide the widest possible access to its collections. The Library collaborates with the SF State Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC) to make library materials and technology accessible.

Special Collections

The Library has several Special Collections & Archives that represent unique and often rare materials. These collections maintain their own development policies, and as such are not governed by the general collection development policies of JPLL.

Government Documents

The JPLL participates as a federal document depository in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). Through this program the Library selectively receives many resources from the federal government. Participants in the program “maintain these information products as part of their existing collections and are responsible for assuring that the public has free access to the material provided by the FDLP.” JPLL handles material in this collection in accordance with Title 44, Chapter 19 of the United States Code. In addition to the Federal Depository collection, the Library is a California State Depository and has selective documents from local and international (United Nations, etc.) organizations and agencies.

Intellectual/Academic Freedom & Censorship

JPLL advocates for intellectual freedom as a fundamental principle of its mission, fervently renounces censorship in any form, and abides by standards set out in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, specifically:

  1. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the Library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
  3. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment. With these principles in mind, the Library is committed to developing a collection that represents various points of view and will resist efforts to censor materials that may be controversial or unpopular because of their content.

The Library also supports the principles of academic freedom outlined in the University’s Academic Freedom Principles Policy.


Collection development practices follow copyright law; copyright notices are included in all reproductions and on unsupervised reproducing equipment.

In addition, the Library has established a copyright policy, which spells out both restrictions on the use of material as well as “fair use” standards.

Gifts & Donations Policy

Gifts to the Library of materials that support the university’s curriculum and research needs and enhance the Library’s collections are encouraged and welcomed. Inquiries from potential donors should be directed to the Collection Development Coordinator, who will facilitate the decision on whether the material should be added to the collection. Decisions will be made in accordance with existing collection development policies.

The Library reserves the right to refuse any potential gift or donation and is not obliged to return unsolicited materials. All gifts and donated material are considered the property of the Library.

Potential donations that have been determined to be inappropriate for the Library's collections will be referred to the Friends of the Library (FOL) for the Friends Used Book & Media Store; distributed to other libraries; or disposed of in an appropriate manner.

It is contrary to University and Library policy to provide a tax evaluation or appraisal of gifts. However, the Library can provide verification of the quantity of materials donated and will acknowledge gifts in writing upon request.

Gifts will be accepted in conformity with current Internal Revenue Service and University regulations.

Materials generally not accepted as gifts or donations:

  • Used textbooks (new textbooks may be accepted if they meet a particular curricular need)
  • Encyclopedias
  • Most journals and other periodicals
  • Medical or legal materials more than three years old
  • Reference materials more than five years old
  • Materials in poor condition (material with significant wear, including but not exclusive to deterioration of paper, damaged binding, mold, water damage, underlining, and highlighting)
  • Outdated, superseded materials

All cash and non-cash gifts are to be received, accepted and acknowledged by the University Advancement division. Once received, it is the policy of the University that such gifts shall be administered and managed by either The University Corporation, San Francisco State ("UCorp") or the San Francisco State University Foundation ("Foundation") except in those special cases where the donor, for clearly specified reasons, requests that the gift be administered and managed by the University. In approaching donors, the Office of University Development is obligated to inform them about this arrangement.

For large or estate collections and for other questions about gifts and donations, please contact the Collection Development Coordinator