Collection Development

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Collection Development

Collection Development Policy


Table of Contents



The University Libraries was established in 1912. As the oldest academic library system in Hong Kong , it provides a well-developed and in-depth collection built up over the years with a wide range of disciplines including Dentistry, Education, Law, Medicine, Music and East Asian materials in specialist branch libraries. The University of Hong Kong Libraries collects traditional and electronic resources, and also provides access to resources that it does not own to support the academic programs and the research needs of the University.

Collection development at the University of Hong Kong Libraries is a process of selecting, acquiring, and providing access to traditional and electronic resources supporting the information and scholarly needs of students and faculty. Communication between the Collection Development Team and faculties to identify collection needs, formulation of library policies, budget distribution, collection assessment, planning and coordinating selection and acquisitions activities, preservation and weeding are fundamental to the collection development process.

This Collection Development Policy reflects the policy, mission, and objectives of the University Libraries by providing the background to collection development and guidance in building quality and relevant collections. It outlines the underlying principles and guidelines in the selection, acquisition, evaluation, and maintenance of library resources. It provides consistency among those responsible for developing the collections and defines the responsibilities among the librarians and faculties. It also helps to communicate the Libraries' policies concerning collection goals and methods to faculty, students, staff and users. As academic programs, information needs and technology change, the collection development policy will be revised to meet the changing needs.

This current policy is a revision of the one adopted in May 2001. It accounts for changes in the process of collection development and management, and addresses issues that arise as the Libraries move from a print-based collection towards a web-based collection.




Collection Development Objectives

To fulfill the mission of the Libraries, Collection Development has identified the following objectives to be achieved:

  • To develop high quality, relevant and balanced collections that aim to support and strengthen teaching, learning, and research by providing information resources that are becoming increasingly diverse, non-traditional, and interdisciplinary.
  • Implement collection development and management policies to sustain and continue to build the print, media and electronic resources to support the information needs of the University including continuing-education programs.
  • Provide leadership in a team-based environment in planning, managing, formulating policies, and prioritizing resources and to develop balanced collections that meet with new demands and evolving technology.
  • To build on existing collection strengths and to develop awareness of and responsiveness to new user demands and new technologies.
  • Maintain and actively seek communication with teaching faculty and subject selectors to guide the Libraries in anticipating and fulfilling the changing information and curricular needs and to identify areas of excellence and growth.
  • To be aware of and responsive to the dynamics of curriculum change based on guidelines for the assessment of library support for proposed new courses and programs.
  • Expand access to information through resource sharing and other cooperative arrangements with libraries locally and worldwide.


Purpose of Collection Development Policy

This document is written to provide a guideline to facilitate the development and management of the Libraries' collection for teaching faculty and all parties involved in building and managing the collection. The Collection Development Policy has been carefully described to enable the selection of library resources, which support the realization of the University Libraries' mission. It will become a framework for on-going review and projected growth, and will be adjusted as necessary on a continuous basis. This policy will:

  • Serve as a communication device that clarifies objectives to library staff, and contribute to operational efficiency in terms of routine decisions.
  • Provide information for allocation of funds.
  • Facilitate coordination and cooperation among library staff and with other libraries.
  • Guide the Libraries in developing and maintaining rich and quality resources in support of teaching and research.
  • Guide in the balanced treatment of subjects. Provide objective criteria for collection development and selection.
  • Provide a means of interpreting the collection to library users.
  • Provide guidance on efficient and effective selection, acquisition, and dissemination of scholarly information.



Selection Guidelines

The primary goal of the University Libraries is to acquire and develop the vast array of information resources needed to support the University's curriculum and research. The following criteria apply to all materials. Particular criteria may assume greater or lesser importance depending on the type of materials under consideration, the subject matter covered, the librarian or teaching faculty selecting the materials. Each librarian involved in collection development (Collection Development Librarian, Electronic Information Acquisitions Librarian, Web Resources Selector, Faculty Librarians, CJK Bibliographer, Audiovisual Librarian, Reference Librarian, Archive and Records Management Librarian, Special Collections Librarian, Branch Librarians, Acquisitions Services Librarian and Selectors) will write his/her own statements that explain the application of the following criteria within his/her particular subject area, which form the basis for acquisition and retention of materials within that area of responsibility.


General Criteria:
  • Users' needs and demands.
  • Scope and content – comprehensiveness and depth of coverage.
  • Scholarly worth.
  • Currency and timeliness.
    • Computer books, especially computer manuals, with imprint four years or before are not selected or purchased.
    • Selection of older editions would only be allowed with valid reasons.
  • Relevance to existing collection.
  • Bibliographic accessibility – inclusion in major indexing and abstracting services, and electronic information access services.
  • Relative price – the purchase price as well as the on-going expense involved in ordering, cataloguing, preservation.
  • Availability of the materials through interlibrary loans or document delivery services. 
  • Physical quality, special features.
  • Language and country of origin.

Generally, the Libraries collects extensively materials in English and Chinese languages. Materials in other languages are collected more selectively to support the language and area studies programs of the University.


Choice of Format

The Libraries collects materials in print, audio-visual, microform, and electronic formats. Selection criteria for specific format types include the following:



The Libraries will select a print version of a title when:

  • The print format is more convenient to use.
  • Popularity of the use of the title in a print format.
  • The title contains many illustrations such as tables, charts, graphs, statistics, images etc, which are better presented and copied in print, rather than electronic or other format.



Hardcover Versus Paperback

Hardcover format for monographs is preferred when placing orders for titles available in both paperback and hardcover because hardcover bindings are more durable and the paper is generally of better quality. Hardcover format eliminates the need for binding or lamination and expedites the delivery of the book to the patron. Paperback format will be acquired when a title is available only in that format and when a title is considered a consumable or current use only item. Trade and scholarly press paperback titles will be acquired only if:

  • Great difference in price between paperback and hardcover exists.
  • Alkaline paperbacks have sufficient inner margins for future binding, if necessary.
  • Paperback binding is considered durable enough to withstand reasonable use.




The Libraries will select a microform version of a title when:

  • Infrequency of use, cost, size, and unavailability precludes the purchase of the title in print or electronic formats.
  • Title is subject to deterioration in print.
  • Additional space for heavily used titles is needed.
  • Bibliographic access to the microform version is adequate and electronic version is not suitable or available.



Electronic Resources

The Libraries' preferred platform for electronic resources is the Web, which maximizes remote accessibility and presents fewer problems in maintenance and preservation than CD-ROMs/diskettes. Other selection considerations include functionality, pricing and licensing. For details, please refer to the Electronic Resources Collection Development Policy.


Formats and Materials Not Collected

The following types of materials are generally not collected for the Libraries' collection. However, this statement does not exclude these types of resources being collected by the appropriate special collections, or as accompanied publications that are an integral part of a printed format.

  • The Libraries does not collect works of art.
  • Games, models and realia, three-dimensional objects, charts and pictures, study prints, transparencies, and toys are not acquired as individual titles into the collection, unless they accompany a printed work.
  • Materials that run on obsolete software platforms or those not supported by the Libraries, such as Windows 95, are not collected.
  • Obsolete formats: Long Plays, 5.25 inch computer disks, Laser Disks, Open Reel Tapes, Video VHS, Video Beta, Video UMatic, Film 16mm, Film 8mm, Film S8mm, Filmstrips, Filmloops, and others as they become obsolete.
  • Revision exercises on A-Level and Certification Examinations are not normally purchased.
  • Juvenile materials such as books appropriate for the preschool child through young adult, picture books, and read-along books are generally not collected.
  • Application and instructional software or courseware are not collected for use in the Libraries or for circulation from the Libraries.



Collecting Levels and Criteria (See Classed Analysis)

Levels of collections, representing a continuum from the Basic Information level through the Research level, describe the relative size and nature of library holdings in specific subjects, and define the level of development for particular areas of the Libraries' collection. The University Libraries will adopt WLN (Western Library Network) Conspectus definitions that include subdivisions to RLG (Research Libraries Group)'s 5 collection depth indicators to provide a total of 10 collection depth indicators for collection description. This is one of the methods of evaluating the strength and weakness of the collection for improvement or projected collection building.

Collection levels will be determined by Faculty/Branch Librarians in consultation with the faculties, and a Subject Policy Statements will be written for each broad subject division.


Levels of Collections:

Level 0: Out of Scope: The Libraries do not collect in this area.

Level 1: Minimal Level: Collections that support minimal inquiries about this subject and include a very limited collection of general resources, including monographs and reference works. Periodicals directly dealing with this topic and in-depth electronic information resources are not collected. The collection should be frequently and systematically reviewed for currency of information. Superseded editions and titles containing outdated information should be withdrawn. Classic or standard retrospective materials may be retained.

Level 1a Minimal Information Level, Uneven Coverage: Few selections and an unsystematic representation of the subject. Supports limited, specific service needs. Consistently maintained even though coverage is limited.

Level 1b: Minimal Information Level, Focused Coverage: Few selections, but a systematic representation of the subject. Includes basic authors, some core works and a spectrum of points of view. Consistently maintained.

Level 2: Basic Information Level: Collections that introduce and define a subject, indicate the varieties of information available elsewhere, and support the needs of general library users through the first two years of college instruction include:

  • A limited collection of general monographs and reference tools.
  • A limited collection of representative general periodicals.
  • Defined access to a limited collection of owned or remotely accessed electronic bibliographic tools, texts, data sets, journals, etc.


The collection should be frequently and systematically reviewed for currency of information. Superseded editions and titles containing outdated information should be withdrawn. Classic or standard retrospective materials may be retained.

Level 2a: Basic Information Level, Introductory: Limited collections of introductory monographs and reference tools that include:

  • Basic explanatory works.
  • Histories of the development of the topic.
  • General works about the field and its important personages.
  • General encyclopedias, periodical indexes and statistical sources.


This collection is sufficient to support the inquiries of patrons and students through high school attempting to locate general information about a subject.

Level 2b: Basic Information Level, Advanced: Collections of general periodicals and a broader and more in-depth array of introductory monographs and reference tools that include:

  • Basic explanatory works.
  • Histories of the development of the topic.
  • General works about the field and its important personages.
  • A broader array of general encyclopedias, periodical indexes, and statistical sources.
  • A limited collection of representative general periodicals.
  • Defined access to a limited collection of owned or remotely accessed electronic bibliographic tools, texts, data sets, journals, etc.


This collection is sufficient to support the basic informational and recreational reading needs of an educated general public or students through the first two years of college.

Level 3: Instructional Support Level: Collections that provide information about a subject in a systematic way, but at a level of less than research intensity and support the needs of general library users through college and beginning graduate instruction include:

  • An extensive collection of general monographs and reference works and selected specialized monographs and reference works.
  • An extensive collection of general periodicals and a representative collection of specialized periodicals.
  • Limited collections of appropriate materials in languages other than the primary language of the collection and the country, for example, materials to aid in learning a language for non-native speakers or literature in the original language, such as German poetry in German or Spanish history in Spanish.
  • Extensive collections of the works of well-known authors and selections from the works of lesser-known authors.
  • Defined access to a broad collection of owned or remotely accessed electronic resources, including bibliographic tools, texts, data sets, journals, etc.


The collection should be systematically reviewed for currency of information and for assurance that essential and important information in retained, including significant numbers of retrospective materials.

Level 3a: Basic Study or Instructional Support Level: Resources adequate for imparting and maintaining knowledge about the primary topics of a subject area that include:

  • A high percentage of the most important literature or core works in the field.
  • An extensive collection of general monographs and reference works.
  • An extensive collection of general periodicals and indexes/abstracts.
  • Other than those in the primary collection language, materials are limited to learning materials for non-native speakers and representative well-known authors in the original language, primarily for language education.
  • Defined access to appropriate electronic resources.


This collection supports undergraduate courses, as well as the independent study needs of the lifelong learner.

Level 3b: Intermediate Study or Instructional Support Level: Resources adequate for imparting and maintaining knowledge about more specialized subject areas which provide more comprehensive coverage of the subject with broader and more in-depth materials that include:

  • A high percentage of the most important literature or core works in the field, including retrospective resources.
  • An extensive collection of general monographs and reference works and selected specialized monographs and reference works.
  • An extensive collection of general periodicals and a representative collection of specialized periodicals and indexes/abstracts.
  • A selection of resources in other languages, including well-known authors in the original language.
  • Defined access to a broad range of specialized electronic resources.


This collection supports upper division undergraduate courses.

Level 3c: Advanced Study or Instructional Support Level: Resources adequate for imparting and maintaining knowledge about all aspects of the topic which are more extensive than the intermediate level but less than those needed for doctoral and independent research that include:

  • An almost complete collection of core works including significant numbers of retrospective materials and resources.
  • A broader collection of specialized works by lesser-known, as well as well-known authors.
  • An extensive collection of general and specialized monographs and reference work.
  • An extensive collection of general and specialized periodicals and indexes/abstracts.
  • A selection of resources in other languages, including well-known authors in the original language and a selection of subject-specific materials in appropriate languages.
  • Defined access to a broad range of specialized electronic resources.


This collection supports master's degree level programs as well as other specialized inquiries.

Level 4: Research Level: Collections that contain the major published source materials required for doctoral study and independent research include:

  • A very extensive collection of general and specialized monographs and reference works.
  • A very extensive collection of general and specialized periodicals.
  • Extensive collections of appropriate materials in languages other than the primary language of the country and collection.
  • Extensive collections of the works of both well-known and lesser-known authors.
  • Defined access to a very extensive collection of owned or remotely accessed electronic resources, including bibliographic tools, texts, data sets, journals, etc.


Older material is retained and systematically preserved to serve the needs of historical research.

Level 5: Comprehensive Level: Collections in a specifically defined field of knowledge that strive to be exhaustive as far as is reasonably possible (i.e., "special collections"), in all applicable languages include:

  • Exhaustive collections of published materials.
  • Very extensive manuscript collections.
  • Very extensive collections in all other pertinent formats.


Older material is retained and systematically preserved to serve the needs of historical research. A comprehensive level collection may serve as a national or international resource.




Roles and Responsibilities in Collection Development


Collection Development Team

The Collection Development Team works under the direction of the Collection Development (CD) Librarian to coordinate library-wide collection development of material collections across all the disciplines. Members of the team are the Collection Development Librarian, Assistant Collection Development Librarians (Electronic Information Acquisitions, Web Resources Selector), Faculty Librarians (Humanities/Social Sciences/Sciences), CJK Bibliographer, Audiovisual Librarian, Reference Librarian, Archive and Records Management Librarian, Special Collections Librarian, Branch Librarians, Acquisitions Services Librarian and Selectors. The CD Team meets regularly to receive information and to discuss issues concerning the Libraries' collection development and management. Other librarians concerned will be invited to CD meetings as needed. Collection development activities include:

  • Continually identifying and evaluating the University information needs in study, learning and research in consultation with the faculty.
  • Keeping abreast of recently published materials in all formats and out of print publications that are of research value to academic departments.
  • Developing and maintaining collections in his/her assigned area of responsibility, in liaison with faculty/departments, in accordance with established policies.
  • Staying informed of library materials expenditure in their respective areas of responsibility through the Acquisitions Department monthly report and making appropriate recommendations for purchase with a view to spending the allocated fund by the end of the fiscal year.
  • Managing the collection by advising procedures for access, preservation treatment, binding, weeding, and relegation to storage.
  • Evaluating the collection through assessment exercises.
  • Recommending collection development policies and/or changes concerning collection management policies to the Librarian.


Collection Development Librarian

The Collection Development (CD) Librarian has oversight for the building and integrity of the entire Libraries' collections. Since much of the library materials are interdisciplinary, the CD Librarian coordinates and fosters teamwork among members of the Collection Development Team and collaboration with faculty to select the interdisciplinary materials. The CD Librarian is responsible for continuing review of the policies and procedures concerning collection development to reflect changing needs and new technology. Other major responsibilities include:

  • Leading, coordinating and supervising the activities of the Collection Development Team.
  • Managing the electronic-resources licensing program.
  • Budget planning and monitoring of the Library Resources Fund.
  • Coordinating collection assessment and planning.
  • Overseeing and evaluating the effectiveness of the book approval program.
  • Working with other local or overseas libraries on collaborative collection development activities.
  • Managing the gifts and exchange program.


Faculty Librarians/Branch Librarians

Faculty Librarians and Branch Librarians perform similar collection development functions within their assigned faculty. They serve two major functions: the collection development of assigned subject disciplines, and the role of faculty liaison. The Faculty/Branch Librarians draw on their library experience and expertise in their assigned disciplines to build and maintain a strong collection that meets the needs of their faculties. In doing so, Faculty/Branch Librarians are expected to establish a collaborative relationship with designated faculty library committee chairs and representatives and to communicate the policies and services of the Libraries to all teaching faculty in the departments via the respective Faculty Library Committees. In addition to the collection development activities listed above, other responsibilities include:

  • Continually surveying faculties/departments/students to better understand their needs in teaching, study and research.
  • Selecting library materials in all formats (books, serials, both free and fee-based electronic-resources, and audio-visual materials) and languages (Western and Eastern) for acquisition, in consultation with faculty.
  • Coordinating the activities of Selectors, where applicable, and reviewing all materials requested by faculty or users to guide selection decisions.
  • Assessing the existing collections for weaknesses and strengths in supporting both current and new courses/programs, advising faculty the appropriate acquisition level needed to support the curriculum.
  • Involvement in curriculum development with the curriculum planner through the shaping of new and existing courses by integrating the appropriate library resources.
  • Monitoring and expending the allocated funds for departments.
  • Providing research consultation and work with the Information Literacy Coordinator to develop bibliographic instruction service, and creating online user guides for specialized resources.
  • Keeping abreast of subject development of the assigned disciplines and on current literature in the fields.
  • Refining the approval plan profile for currency and relevancy and working with vendors to provide updates on scholarly publishing and sourcing of relevant materials.
  • Analyzing quantitative and qualitative data to be able to make informed decisions concerning budgets and materials purchases.



Selectors are librarians with special subject knowledge who assist the Faculty and Branch Librarians in selection activities. Faculty and Branch Librarians will determine the guidelines for the activities of the respective selectors working under his/her assigned subject disciplines.

Liaison and contact with the teaching faculty will remain the primary responsibility of the Faculty and Branch Librarians.


CJK (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) Bibliographer

The CJK Bibliographer is chiefly responsible for developing the collection on Chinese studies in consultation with the Department of Chinese, the Contemporary China Collection, and selection of CJK materials in general. The CJK Bibliographer will approach and liaise with departments with particular emphasis on CJK countries and cultures. Faculty Librarians and Selectors should work with their assigned faculty to identify any CJK information needs and communicate them to the CJK Bibliographer.


Faculty Library Representatives

It is hoped that Faculty/Branch Librarians can partner with teaching faculty in the selection of library materials by communicating regularly with the designated Library Representative from each academic department. A Library Representative is designated by each academic department chair to serve as liaison and is responsible for channeling recommendations for the purchase of library resources. Faculty Librarians who have primary responsibility for content selection liaise regularly with Library Representatives whose functions are:

  • To distribute information from the Libraries to members of their department.
  • To encourage and to coordinate the communication from other faculty members with the Libraries.
  • To advise Faculty librarians of any changes in academic directions, new developments in the curriculum, program/course changes, and ongoing courses and research focus of the department.
  • To provide input in the profiling of the approval plan if required.
  • To offer recommendations in the enhancement of services and on the revision of the Collection Development Policies






Methods of Acquiring Materials

Library materials are acquired through purchase, gifts, or depository programs. Materials are purchased utilizing appropriate vendors and publishers by firm orders, approval plans, standing orders, and/or subscriptions.


Selection Aids for Library Resources

Faculty and Branch Librarians and other librarians involved with collection development regularly consult a variety of sources to recommend and purchase appropriate resources for the Libraries' collection. Librarians notify faculty of new resources in their discipline and consult the faculty on recommendations for purchase. Selection aids include, but not limited to:

  • Bibliographies and literature guides including sources from the Internet.
  • Subject specific list of materials published by professional associations or commercial publishers.
  • Library catalogues from other academic institutions with similar strength or interests.
  • Review journals for librarians.
  • Brochures, advertisements, and flyers.
  • Web sites for publishers, vendors, online review sources etc.
  • Publishers and approval plan vendors.


The Libraries' holdings are compared with these resources to determine collection needs.


Acquisition Procedures

The Libraries strive to facilitate timely purchase of materials, greater efficiency, and closer collaboration between the librarians and teaching faculty in building the collections and in expending the Library Resources Fund.

Faculty and Branch Librarians with the help of Selectors will assume responsibility in selecting relevant library materials for purchase either through approval plans or individual title selection by firm orders. While approval plans are used to develop and maintain core collections, faculty's participation in making individual title selection in more specialized areas is strongly encouraged and deemed essential in developing research collections.


  • Generally, recommendations are received from librarians and faculty members throughout the year, and are processed subject to availability of funds.
  • To keep pace with publication output and to allow better control of expenditures, librarians with selection responsibilities will monitor their expenditures throughout the year. The recommended percent of budget expenditure for each quarter of the year is 25% of the allocation or more. This will help to avoid rush spending towards end of FY.
  • To expedite processing of all outstanding requests as the fourth quarter of FY approaches, Acquisitions Services will:
    • From the beginning of the fourth quarter by April 1, monitor funds at the faculty level only to permit processing of orders without delay.
    • From the second half of the fourth quarter by mid-May, process all outstanding orders or orders received as long as time and funds permit.
  • Approval books are sent weekly, reviewed by Faculty Librarians and/or faculty, and processed without delay.
Book Approval Plan Procedure


Faculty Guide for Recommending Books/Journals/Databases



The primary purpose of these forms is for the University of Hong Kong Academic Departments to electronically submit acquisition requests.


Library Resources Fund

The University Librarian together with Deputy Librarian, and in consultation with the Senate Library Committee, determine the annual budget allocations, known as the Library Resources Fund, based on a formula for all faculties and library departments, which are then subdivided among their respective departments (Faculties of Dentistry, Education, Law, and Medicine do not subdivide their budget allocation). The Library Resources Fund includes allocations for books, serials (journals, series, newspapers), audiovisual, non-print, electronic resources, and other library information materials. Serials expenditure, in accordance to existing policy, should not exceed 80% of the Faculty LRF allocation. Funds have also been set aside for various purposes including binding, replacement of books and journals, and online information services.




Library Impact Statement

The University of Hong Kong Libraries will create a Library Imp act Statement when a new academic program or course is proposed or introduced. The Library Impact Statement is a mechanism to assist with library planning and collection development.


Purpose of the Library Impact Statement
  • Provide the Libraries with adequate notice of proposed new courses/programs and the information needs of students and teaching staff.
  • Allow the Libraries to assess its ability to support new courses/programs within its existing resources.
  • Allow the Libraries to evaluate/work closely with faculty/academic staff on course needs.
  • Enable the Libraries to allocate appropriate funding to meet the needs of new courses/programs.
  • Encourage communication between the Libraries and academic staff on the needs of new courses/programs in advance of their approval.
  • Encourage academic staff to become familiar with existing library resources in their particular area of teaching.
  • Ensure the information needs of students and academic staff is accommodated in advance to the adoption of new courses/programs.
  • Remove the possibilities of non-available library resources supporting new courses/programs due to lack of advance planning.

Faculty should complete the Library Impact Questionnaire for Proposed New Course/Program and submit it to the Faculty Librarian or Collection Development Librarian. The Faculty or the Branch Librarian will prepare an assessment of:

  • Adequacy of existing library resources to support new course/program.
  • Required or recommended purchase of new resources to support new course/program.
  • Funds/ongoing commitment needed to purchase new resources to support information needs of students and academic staff.






Duplication Policy

The University Libraries discourage duplication of titles held within the Libraries in order to optimize the use of shelving space and the Library Resources Fund. As a general principle, duplication is kept to a minimum with the exception of heavy use items and for archival purposes.

Purchase of additional copies may be considered if requesters provide justification of real need. Electronic resources should be considered as an alternative to the duplication of traditional formats if feasible. Print duplication of electronic versions is generally discouraged, e.g. computer manuals.

Specific criteria for duplicate copies:


  • Heavy use as indicated by statistics on circulation data.
  • Projected heavy demand.
  • Required for multi-location needs such as reference and interdisciplinary materials.
  • If need is demonstrated, to provide a circulation copy when the original has restricted circulation.
Required Course Reading Materials and Textbooks

The limit for the maximum number of duplicate copies has been increased to ensure that a higher percentage of titles are a vailable on the shelves when they are needed.

  • 1 copy may be purchased for every 15 students enrolled in the course, with a maximum of 12 copies.
  • Multiple copies purchased may be placed in the main collection and/or on reserve, as recommended.


  • Students are generally expected to purchase their own copies of textbooks.
  • The Libraries will purchase and make available needed textbooks and other materials on course reading lists to support the teaching and learning.
  • Textbooks are generally not recommended for purchase in multiple copies because they go through many editions and become obsolete very soon, unless where there is considerable demonstrated demand.

Periodicals are generally expensive and duplicate subscriptions are discouraged whether they are print-and-print or print-plus-electronic except in unusual situations. Generally, because of space and long-term preservation issues, electronic subscriptions will be favored over print subscriptions. Even with bundled subscriptions where there is no cost savings when one is cancelled, the Libraries will still work with concerned parties to determine if the print can be cancelled due to space and preservation considerations. The Libraries will only provide both print and electronic access to a journal when:

  • Electronic access is available only to print subscribers.
  • The content coverage is not identical to that of the print version, or the text or illustration format of the print and electronic versions is not of the same quality.
  • Print versions are needed to enable accurate references to an official or authoritative version (including those recognized in court hearings).
  • Electronic publication lags behind the print edition.
  • The publisher has no commitment to archiving the electronic version and there is no other archiving solutions.
  • The title is deemed essential to have in both print and electronic formats being a core journal in the field, and there is demonstrated need as indicated by usage data.


Print-and-print duplication across campuses is also discouraged.


Non-print Materials

Most non-print materials, which include audio-visual materials and microforms, are usually expensive and duplication is discouraged unless exceptional circumstances prevail.

Duplicate non-print materials may be purchased for different campus collections where a real need is demonstrated.


Hong Kong Materials

Where there is demonstrated need, if only 1 copy of a title is acquired for Special Collections either through purchase or gift, additional copies may be purchased for Main Library or relevant branc hes for circulation.


Guidelines for Multiple Copy Purchase of Monographs Based on Heavy Use


Main Library

Usage of the Main Library collection will be reviewed regularly. Items with over 3 simultaneous requests will be placed on reserve for 7-day loan period, and 1 additional copy may be ordered and placed in the Main Library collection for browsing and normal loan. Usage of reserve items will be reviewed twice per semester.

  • 2-hour loan: 1 additional copy may be added to the Reserve Collection (either by purchase or by removing from stacks) for items with over 30 transactions per month, with a maximum of 3 copies placed on reserve.
  • 1-day & 2-day loan: 1 additional copy may be added to the Reserve Collection for items with over 15 transactions per month, with a maximum of 3 copies placed on reserve.
  • 7-day loan: 1 additional copy may be added to the Reserve Collection for items with over 3 transactions per month, with a maximum of 3 copies placed on reserve.


Branch Libraries

Items will be transferred to the Reserve Section in branch libraries at the request of the faculty or branch librarians. Additional copies as requested will be purchased if a real need is demonstrated.


Gifts and Exchange Policy



The University of Hong Kong Libraries welcomes and solicits gifts of books, manuscripts, audio-visual materials, microform, and other materials that enhance the strength of the collection and support the curriculum and research programs of the University.

The Libraries retains the right to accept or decline gifts. Gifts-in-kind are accepted with the understanding that, once received, they are owned by the University. The Libraries reserves the right to determine their retention, location and processing, or, when a title is a duplicate or inappropriate for our needs, their disposition in the appropriate manner (The form "Instrument of Gifts" refers.)


Criteria for Retention

Gifts are evaluated against the same criteria as purchased materials as stated in the collection development policy. Particular attention will be given to:

  • Relevance to current curriculum and research of the University -- Generally, scholarly works should be of academic nature in fields within the scope of the University's curriculum and research.
  • Currency of the materials -- Works should be published within 4 years except for Chinese, rare and special items, e.g. manuscripts or books about Hong Kong . Outdated reference materials or school textbooks are not accepted.
  • Physical condition of the materials -- Items should generally be in good physical condition, except for Chinese, rare and special items.
  • Serial publications -- Serial donations will be accepted only if they fill specific gaps in the collection or to extend the held run of current subscriptions. For the gifts of new subscriptions, if arrangements have been made to have the donor continue to support the subscription for at least two more years, with the exception of special circumstances, e.g. the need for comprehensive collection of Hong Kong materials including Hong Kong serials.
  • Format -- Items of a format which is no longer supported by current equipment in the libraries are not accepted. For example, LPs, VHS, U-matic or Beta video tapes, film reels, film strips, 12" laser disks, 5.25" floppy disks, software on operating system below Windows2000, and microcards.


Responsibility for Gift Selection

Decision on the retention and disposition of gifts are responsibility of librarians in collection management, including the Collection Development Librarian, Faculty and Branch Librarians, Chinese Bibliographer, Reference Librarian, Special Collections Librarian, AV & Reserve Collections Librarian, in consultation with Librarian, Deputy Librarian, or Fung Ping Shan Librarian as necessary. Subsequent to review for retention/treatment decisions by the parties concerned, materials will be sent to Technical Support Services Team for processing.

Special Collections and Branch Libraries may solicit and receive gift materials independently, as well as adding or discarding materials in accordance to accepted guidelines.

The workflow of processing gifts is illustrated in here.


Disposition of Gift Materials
  • All gifts added to the collection will be catalogued and listed in the Libraries' online catalogue.
  • Out of scope and duplicate materials may be offered to other libraries, discarded, or returned to the donor as per his/her request.
  • Unwanted issues of periodicals may be recycled for exchanges or discarded.

The Libraries will also accept monetary gifts. Endowment funds have been established, designated for purchase of expensive specialized library materials or equipment.



Acknowledgement letters/cards are sent to all donors, except for gifts from anonymous donors.



The Libraries offers in exchange library materials that are duplicates or out of scope, as well as selected publications of the Libraries. Collection Development Librarian is responsible for making decision for sending the donations to appropriate exchange partners. The workflow of processing gifts for exchange is illustrated in here.

Medical, Law, Dental and Education Libraries will handle their own donations/ exchanges, with the exchange partners agreed by the Collection Development Librarian and the Deputy Librarian/Librarian.

The Libraries will normally not supply specific titles, nor will it acquire publications, university press or commercial, to use for exchange, unless special agreement has been made with exchange partners.



Gifts & Exchange staff in Collection Development Department will handle shipment of donations to other local/overseas libraries, institutions and organizations, with the exception of Medical, Law, Dental and Education Library who will handle their donations. A listing or number of items, as required, to be donated should be sent to the Collection Development Librarian for notification. The exchange partner should be agreed by the Deputy Librarian, Fung Ping Shan Librarian and Collection Development Librarian.



A Record of Gift Inflow/Ouflow for keeping the gifts and exchange activities should be compiled by branch libraries and departments (Acquisitions/Western Cataloguing, Special Collections, Learning and Research Services, AV & Reserve Collection) and forwarded to Collection Development Librarian monthly.


Weeding Policy

Weeding is an integral part of the collection development process. Through periodic weeding, obsolescent, damaged, ephemeral materials which are no longer in scope or used are identified and withdrawn. Weeding helps to keep the collection update in areas where newer material is needed when older editions have been removed, to ensure that the collection remains responsive to the patrons' needs, and also to optimize the use of space. Materials weeded may be relegated, used for gifts and exchange, or discarded, and the decision is discretionary. The following factors are generally considered in the weeding of library materials:

  • Past usage data
  • Value for historical research
  • Last copy with archival value
  • Accuracy & timeliness of information
  • Physical condition
  • Availability of similar materials within the community library



Systematic weeding of the collection is the responsibility of the Collection Development Librarian, Preservation, Lending Services, Reference, Special Collections, Faculty Librarians, Branch Librarians and Audio-visual Librarians.


Guidelines for Weeding
  • Materials non-circulated for discretionary number of years
  • Multiple copies of older editions
  • Superseded volumes of reference works
  • Materials damaged beyond repair
  • Outdated or inaccurate materials
  • Materials of minimal value or deemed out of scope
  • Archival copy -- one copy of superseded editions may be kept in compact storage for research purpose and to show the continuous development of the subject over time.
  • Classics and seminal works may be retained on open shelf.
  • Previous edition of high demand reference works may be placed on open shelf for circulation.
  • Previous edition of reference works may be sent to other branches on request (in practice).
  • Depository materials will not be discarded except those that could be discarded under specific terms.



Faculty of Architecture

Faculty of Arts

Faculty of Business and Economics

Faculty of Dentistry

Faculty of Education

Faculty of Engineering

Faculty of Law

Faculty of Medicine

Faculty of Science

Faculty of Social Sciences




Serials Collection

The Libraries acquires and maintains serial publications (e.g. journals, magazines, series, newspapers) to support the teaching and research needs of students and faculty.

Serials are publications issued in successive parts bearing numeric or chronological designations and intended to be continued indefinitely. Serials are issued in print, non-print, and electronic formats. In a more general sense, any material (eg. a title, access to a database , or a license renewal) that requires a recurring/continuing commitment is treated as a serial purchase, as opposed to a one-off purchase.

The serials collection primarily supports the curriculum and research needs of students and faculty. While faculty research needs can generally be supported, resource sharing programs, access services, including online database searching and document delivery should be used to support highly specialized areas of research.


Serials-specific Guidelines for New and Continuing Subscriptions


A. Educational Value

Factors for determining educational value should include:

  1. Scope -- Subscription titles should reflect areas of study relevant to curriculum needs and instructional assignments, facilitate research needs, and have important educational value for the community in general.
  2. Quality -- Consideration for e valuating quality include whether a title is academically known in a specific field, whether it provides essential, accurate data reflecting current research trends.
  3. Demand -- Contents should be accessible through available indexing and abstracting services. Priority should be given to titles that are frequently requested by faculty or students, or where demand is indicated by inter-library loan or reserve histories. Frequency of citation or impact factor may also be considered as a means for measuring potential demand.


B. Format

Format considerations include ease of use, i.e. ability to provide access to full-text contents regardless of user place or time, storage issues, access options, and licensing restrictions. Increasingly, preference will be given to acquiring or providing access to the e-version when both electronic and print versions of a title are available.


C. Print duplication

Cancellation of the print is recommended when the electronic version and/or full-text of articles are readily accessible online and/or available from an electronic document supply service. See also under Duplication Policy-Periodicals.


D. Cost

Since the annual increase in subscription prices continues to outpace average annual rates of inflation, cost will be an essential consideration in the evaluation process, especially in the context of the availability of other forms of access such as via interlibrary loan, document delivery.


E. Back-issue Purchase

Purchase A very short/incomplete run of broken holdings reduces the potential usefulness of a serial title. One-time purchase of periodical back-issues should only be considered for filling gaps to avoid broken holdings when the Libraries holds a current subscription to the title.


Review Process

Due to the rapidly expanding serials market, care must be exercised in reviewing serials titles before purchase for the collection, and an ongoing evaluation of the current serials collection should be conducted by librarians with faculty input during a Serials Review Process. In order to arrive at an objective ranking for each title, titles may be ranked against a list of criteria when a serials review exercise is considered. The rankings form the basis on which the decisions are taken over which serial subscriptions are retained, renewed, or cancelled.