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Collection Policies

Book Purchase Request Form

Collection Policies

Collection Development and Management

The Collection

Selection Criteria

Gift Policies & Procedures

Collection Policies: Weeding

Collection Policies: Special Collections & Archives



Collection Policies

Adopted by the Library Faculty, February 16, 2005; amended November 10, 2006.


The Mina Rees Library collections promote excellence in the graduate programs housed in the Graduate Center and University Center of the City University of New York [CUNY] by providing information that reflects the current state of knowledge and practice primarily in the humanities and social sciences. Funding is not provided for collections that support natural sciences programs housed at other CUNY colleges.
This Policy identifies the subjects, formats and quality of materials that best serve the programs, faculty and students of The Graduate Center, CUNY. It considers the needs of students and faculty in regard to course reserves and reading exam lists.

The Library houses general humanities and social sciences collections as well as a general special collection and specific special collections in utopian literature, old imprints, and the institutional archives of the Graduate Center.
Library funding is ordinarily allocated from the budget assigned to the Provost’s Office of the Graduate and Center by CUNY Central and from cash donations.


Collection Development and Management

Collection Development responsibilities are divided among the librarians. Graduate Center librarians, called selectors, are assigned to individual Graduate Center programs. Selectors answer questions from faculty and students  regarding  the purchase of materials for the Library. Selectors also serve as reference and instructional liaisons in assigned subjects. The selector program is coordinated by the Librarian for Collection Management.
Course reserves and departmental reading exam lists are the primary determinants for Library purchases. Additional desiderata lists,  compiled from faculty and student requests as well as selector research, are kept until late in the fiscal year. If money remains in the selectors’ subject funds, materials may be ordered. Selectors welcome and solicit faculty input on collection development.
Outside of the aggregated and other electronic resources purchased by the Graduate Center and by CUNY, single journal titles of critical importance only will be considered for purchase by the Graduate Center.
The acquisition of new journal titles must be approved by the Chief Librarian in consultation with the selector, the Librarian for Collection Management, and the Acquisitions Librarian. Because of space and budget constraints, online versions of journals are given preference over the print.
Reference and aggregated resource purchases are decided in consultation with librarians responsible in relevant subject areas, along with endorsements by faculty and students.


The Collection

The Mina Rees Library is small by research library standards. It was designed to support the Graduate Center courses and programs, particularly the Tier I programs (programs housed at the Graduate Center). Programs housed at other City University of New York colleges, (Tier II programs) are primarily supported by the college libraries where these programs are housed, although basic reference materials and some resources to support Tier II classes taught in the Graduate Center are purchased if funding permits.
When created, it was assumed that the Mina Rees Library would be buttressed by the surrounding New York City libraries, primarily the New York Public Library. Therefore, the holdings of NYPL are taken into consideration when purchasing highly expensive materials; if NYPL already has these materials then the Library does not normally purchase them.


Selection Criteria

Maintenance of Print Format
Online-only Serials
Reciprocal Borrowing
Cooperative Collection Development



Primarily materials in the humanities and the social sciences.  Faculty and staff are encouraged to suggest materials to support their programs.

  • Subject areas and focus appropriate for instructional support of the Graduate Center’s academic mission.
  • Subject areas and focus in support of the Tier I programs. Librarians serve as selectors for their programs.
  • Materials repeatedly requested through Inter-Library Loan in a given year.



    • Journals, monographs and electronic resources supporting the Tier I programs.
    • Texts and reference works.
    • Languages collected: English, the Romance languages (excluding Romanian), Greek, Latin, and German; some exceptions may be made for other languages on a case-by-case basis and on the basis of need

Works of literature are purchased on a discretionary basis if they are:

  • In foreign languages from foreign publishers difficult for students to buy copies.
  • Out-of-print and cannot be obtained in an inexpensive current version by students.
  • Annotated editions, scholarly editions, or are items of enduring interest to the research programs.
  • Older materials are kept only if the information is central to a subject and is therefore useful in current graduate work.
  • Replacements for missing items are purchased if needed for course reserve, otherwise not unless they are not found for a period of six months.
  • The Library buys and/or keeps only the most current edition of works; older editions are discarded unless they are of exceptional interest.

The Library buys only one copy of materials.  Textbooks are not purchased by the Library.

  • Library does not buy publisher “throw away” editions, e.g. Penguin paperbacks, etc.
  • Library does not accept publisher’s advance copies or uncorrected proofs.
  • Library does not collect biographies unless the subjects are of enduring interest to a course or program.
  • Library does not collect non-CUNY dissertations unless requested in support for course reserve.



  • Full-text databases that provide materials in the Tier I subjects.
  • Interlibrary loan and in-house print and electronic usage reports.
  • Indexed: Primarily indexed in online humanities and social sciences bibliographic databases.



  • Credentials of the author or editor.
  • Publication’s professional society affiliation.
  • Currency of references.
  • Quality of graphics.



  • Print and online journals, monographs, texts and reference works.
  • CDs. (Cassette tapes, LPs and other record forms [?] are not purchased.
  • DVDs. (VHS tape if resource is only available in this format.)
  • Microfilm and microfiche primarily for back-runs of journals not online and microfilm copies of CUNY Ph. D. dissertations.
  • Multimedia purchases must be supported by the Library’s audiovisual and computer hardware.
  • Original published formats only. Copies or reproductions in un-copyrighted formats are not collected.



  • The Library will negotiate and comply with vendor licensing agreements for electronic resources.
  • The Library will promote compliance with licensing agreements among its users and among its staff.
  • Necessary details for this negotiation and compliance include consideration of the following:
    • Definition of Authorized Users as full and part time faculty, students and staff affiliated with the Graduate Center plus walk-in users physically present in the campus libraries.
    • Off-campus access for Authorized users.
    • Interlibrary loan rights.
    • Search, copy, print and download and capabilities.
    • Archival rights or perpetual access.
    • Usage statistics.


Maintenance of Print Format:

  • Titles available only in print.
  • Titles whose online version is available only with a print subscription.
  • The Library does not bind print copies and generally retains them for 3 years.
    Titles more expensive in online version.


Online-only serials:

  • Because of space restrictions, online journal subscriptions are preferred.
  • Online preferred if  substantial savings will result from canceling print.
  • The electronic journal platform should be excellent, providing full-text and PDF format with high reliability.
  • The license must contain archival and interlibrary loan rights.
  • Usage statistics are required.

Availability of funding: Recognition that development of new programs requires institutional commitment of new monies for support.


Reciprocal borrowing arrangements with:

  • Other CUNY colleges.
  • METRO members.
  • Nylink and OCLC members.
  • International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) voucher participants.
  • Other local, national and international borrowing arrangements.


Cooperative Collection Development:

  • For databases: the CUNY Electronic Resources Advisory Committee (ERAC) and the CUNY Council of Chief Librarians.


Gift Policies & Procedures

  • The Mina Rees Library selectively accepts donations of library materials based on several criteria including:
    • the research value of items in view of the graduate programs supported by the library;
    • space considerations; and
    • the condition of the material.
  • The Library only adds materials to the collection that satisfy the “Selection Criteria”.
  • Decisions about the acceptance of large or notable donations will be made in consultation with the Provost.
  • Once a donation becomes the Library’s property, items will be processed for the collection or disposed of through sale donation or discarded.
  • Because of limited staff and space, theLibrary cannot create a special collection for a donor’s materials nor can it provide special processing (e.g., special book plating) for all materials added to the Library’s shelves.
  • Except where items have been designated “Reserve” for a particular course, gift items will not ordinarily receive expedited processing.
  • The Library does not provide appraisals for donations and donors are asked to have their gifts appraised independently.
  • The Library does not accept donations of special collections unless financial support for processing, preservation and/or staffing is provided.
  • When a donor wishes to gift large numbers of volumes at one time (i.e. in excess of approximately 200 volumes):
    • the donor will provide a description of the collection including its scope, condition, approximate number of volumes, and – if possible – a list of titles;
    • the library will consult with an appropriate member of the doctoral faculty as to the value of the material to current graduate research; and
    • the Chief Librarian will provide this information to the Provost along with a needs assessment in terms of processing costs.


Collection Policies: Weeding

To keep the collection current and to maintain adequate shelf space for new acquisitions, out-of date, older editions, outworn, or damaged copies of materials will be weeded routinely. Replacements of older editions and damaged materials will be made at the discretion of the selector. Currently, there is no budget for replacements.  Material of historical or reference value will be retained only if it continues to support the current curriculum in the Tier I programs.


Collection Policies: Special Collections & Archives

The Library’s special collections houses rare materials in a variety of subjects. The primary collections are the Seymour B. Durst Old York Library, the Joseph Buttinger Rare Book Collection on Utopias, the Old Imprints collection and a general special collection.   The embryonic archives are the institutional archives of the Graduate Center. The Library does not accept faculty papers or keep an archive of faculty publications because of the lack of space and lack of a full-time archivist/special collections librarian.