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Subject librarians and Medical Information specialists employ general criteria when evaluating titles to be added or removed from the collections, some criteria having greater or lesser importance depending on subject area.

Subject Librarians, curators and medical information specialists collect in close collaboration with faculty members to anticipate and provide for current and changing needs. Collection development has made a shift from more traditional “just in case”, buying potentially valuable materials , to “just in time”, acquisitions based on an actual need. For example, an agreement with academic publishers that give our users access to e-bookcollections and allow for purchase on basis of usage statistics (evidence based acquisition). 

Limited funds and space, coupled with the expansion in the number of books and journals published every year, has resulted in a greater emphasis on evidence based acquisition and the need to provide access rather than ownership to books and journal articles.


Above all a title must strengthen the existing collection and fill gaps. But when evaluating a book or journal also other factors are considered such as reputation of the author, academic affiliation, publisher, editorial board, sponsorship, lasting value, and inclusion in bibliographies. The UBL sometimes buys non-scientific materials when considered important as a source or object for research.

When considering online resources not only the content of a database is evaluated, but also the interface. A database must me accessible, easy to use and preferably offer options as storage and export to citation managers. License terms are also crucial, for example, possibilities to download and print (Digital Rights Management), access to books and journals after termination of a subscription (perpetual access), and agreements on price increases.


To provide for an accessible collection the UBL prefers to acquire materials in Dutch and English. Primary sources are preferably bought in their language of origin. The UBL collect materials in a wide array of languages to support the Universities extensive area studies programs.


Paperbacks or hardbacks: if both are available hardbacks are preferred for reasons of durability and better paper quality. If the difference between hardback and paperback price is over 25 euro’s paperbacks are preferred.

E-books: for books available in multiple formats, the electronic format is preferred unless the print format is substantially less expensive or when a paper format is more convenient to use, for example when reading long texts or when the quality of illustrations is poor.

E-books are made available via subscriptions to packages or by purchase of individual titles or packages. Both aggregators as individual publishers are used to acquire content access. Although e-books do not necessarily provide a cheaper model they are useful where several users may need to access titles simultaneously.

For journals electronic only format when available is preferred to print or hybrid formats. Electronic only versions of some reference materials, such as abstracts and indexes, are preferred because of the convenience of access and interrogation.

Selection Process

The UBL uses a variety of selection tools to choose what title’s to add to the library’s collections. Customized vendor profiles to receive notification slips for new publications.  In lesser extent subject librarians use publisher websites, acquisition requests, library catalogues, bibliographies and major review resources.

The Library also subscribes to electronic book and journal packages, Approval Plans and Patron Driven Acquisition.

Short before the beginning of each year an amount is budgeted for each subject area decided on by the library committee of a faculty. For Humanities the budget is divided according to the total of ECTS taught by and number of staff members related to a research institute in the previous year.

Expensive subscriptions and one-time purchases have to be evaluated by the Collections Group, a group of subject librarians that meet every month during the academic year.

The library does not purchase duplicate copies of a title unless there is heavy usage of copies already held by the library or when a duplicate is necessary as archival copy.

Discard Policy

Decisions to discard specific items are made within the context of the total collection policy. Withdrawal of holdings is considered in case of unneeded duplicate copies. Paper versions of held electronic items may be withdrawn upon consideration of factors such as: long term archivability is secure and garanteed and quality of digitization. At least one paper copy should be available in one of the Dutch University Libraries.

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