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Collection Policies

We appreciate the generosity of those who would like to donate materials for our collections. Unfortunately, we are unable to accept gifts for the circulating collections because of constraints on shelving space, as well as significant costs for evaluating and processing gifts of tangible personal property.

If you have rare or unique materials, please contact Liz Siler, Associate Dean for Collection Services, who will work with our subject librarians and Special Collections and University Archives unit to determine if they are appropriate to add to the collections.  

Materials dropped off or sent to the library without contacting us first will not be considered for the collection and will be disposed of at our discretion.


Statement of Purpose: The collection development policy outlines the philosophy and principles that the faculty and staff of the J. Murrey Atkins Library follow as they select, acquire, and oversee the collection. It does not give specific instructions on which resources to choose, but it does provide faculty and staff with a general direction as they make their decisions. These guidelines help the library meet the needs of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) academic community while using the library collection funds appropriately. The overall policy ensures consistency in long-term collection development and communicates the values of the library to its community members.

Mission Statement: The Atkins Library develops its collections based on the ideals outlined in the Library’s Strategic Plan.

University Goals: The library strives to support the goals outlined in UNC Charlotte’s 2016-2021 Institutional Plan.

Intellectual Freedom: Intellectual freedom and privacy are priorities for any library. In upholding these principles, the Atkins Library supports the following statements from the American Library Association. These values enable it to serve all of its patrons equally and without bias, both through patron interactions and through the content that we offer.

Copyright: The Atkins Library fully complies with U.S. Copyright Law and expects its users to do the same. The Library follows Fair Use as described in Section 107 of the Copyright Act, which addresses use of copyrighted materials for scholarship, research, teaching, and other purposes. Please contact the library staff with any questions regarding copyright:

Review: This policy will be reviewed annually by the Collection Development Working Group. The policy will be revised as necessary and approved by the Collection Development Committee.

Consortial Agreements: UNC Charlotte is a member in good standing of the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL), the Carolina Consortium, and Lyrasis.

Accessibility: Atkins Library is committed to providing equal access to our resources to all of our users. When evaluating current and new resources, the accessibility of the resource is taken under consideration. If a resource is not accessible we will work with users to find an alternative way to present the information.


Responsibility: The many aspects of collection development are divided as follows. The Associate Dean for Collection Services and the Collection Development Librarian are responsible for overall management of the collection and are the primary contacts for publishers and vendors. Subject librarians are responsible for collection development in their areas, and help guide the overall direction of the collection. More information on them, including contacts for specific subjects, is on the Meet Your Subject Librarian webpage. Members of the Collection Services Department manage the process. The Dean of the Library has final approval on high-value purchasing decisions.

Service Population: The Atkins Library serves UNC Charlotte’s staff, faculty, and students of all levels as well as community members. Information on our current demographics can be found on the public relations website.

Location: Print materials are stored in the J. Murrey Atkins Library and the Architecture Library on the UNC Charlotte campus. Some are restricted to in-library use, but most may be checked out by community members. Purchased online materials are available through the library website from anywhere on campus and off-campus for users to access with a UNC Charlotte login and password. The Architecture Library is housed on the second floor of Storrs Hall, but its collection development is managed through the Atkins Library.

Special Collections and University Archives: Special Collections and University Archives are creating their own collection development policies for rare books, manuscripts, and oral history interviews. Guidelines for accepting donations and transfers of rare books can be found on the rare books page.

Types of Materials

The Atkins Library collects resources of the following types and formats.

  • Books/Monographs: This includes print editions as well as ebooks.
  • Journals, Newspapers, and Other Serials: E-journals are preferred; however, print versions will be collected if electronic subscriptions are unavailable, cost-prohibitive, or the print is preferable.
  • Textbooks: The Library does not buy print copies of assigned textbooks for specific classes because of limited funding and space. The Library encourages faculty to request e-textbooks through the Course eBook Request Form. In some cases, core textbooks for the general collection may be acquired. The library also encourages the use of open textbooks and open education resources, and will assist faculty in locating materials that fit the course’s need.
  • Audiovisual Materials: Media are acquired as necessary to support academic needs. They include DVDs and streaming media, which are available through the library website.
  • Electronic Resources: In addition to ebooks, ejournals, and streaming media, the Library subscribes to and purchases many resources electronically, including abstracting and indexing databases, full-text databases, primary source material, data tools, and other services.
  • Microforms: Microfilm and microfiche materials are added to the collection to save physical space in the Library or when no other format is available for the content.
  • Dissertations and Theses: Dissertations and theses of UNC Charlotte students are handled by the Center for Graduate Life. Theses and Dissertations provided to the library can be browsed and searched through the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Database, the library catalog, and NinerCommons, the library’s institutional repository.
  • Government Documents:
    • Federal:
      • Atkins Library is a selective federal depository library.
      • Federal documents will be selected to support the curriculum and the citizens of U.S. Congressional District 12. They are selected by the Federal Documents Coordinator, in consultation with subject librarians.
      • Documents may be selected in print, online, or microfiche format.
      • Documents are received from the Government Publishing Office.
      • Federal documents must be retained for five years and then may be removed if approved by the regional depository library (Chapel Hill). Then they must be offered to other libraries before disposal.
    • State:
      • Atkins Library is a 100% depository for documents published by the State of North Carolina.
      • North Carolina documents are received from the NC State Publications Clearinghouse, State Library of North Carolina.
      • Atkins Library selects to receive all documents published in print. Many documents are also available online.
      • NC documents must be retained for ten years and then may be removed if approved by the Government and Heritage Library, State Library of North Carolina.
    • Local: See special collections

Book Selection Criteria: These are some of the guidelines used by library staff and faculty when deciding whether to purchase an item, regardless of format.

  • Currency: Is the content something that becomes outdated? If so, is this the most current version available?
  • Authority: Does the author/editor/publisher have a reputation for quality work? Are they qualified to provide information on the subject matter?
  • Utility: Will the resource be useful to the library’s users, primarily in support of the curriculum?
  • Cost: Is the cost of the resource appropriate given the anticipated use?
  • Format: Is the resource in a format that the library’s users can use easily?
  • Availability: Is the resource in print or otherwise readily available for purchase?

Ebooks: Ebooks must meet the selection criteria outlined above. In addition, to provide users with the best and most consistent access to the resources, ebooks should meet the following requirements for purchase. Exceptions may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

  • Unlimited user access - any number of users can access the material simultaneously.
  • No digital rights management (DRM) - there are no limitations on printing, downloading, or sharing the material.
  • Perpetual Access/Archival Rights - we retain access even if the contract with the publisher ends.
  • Ease of use (including tutorials, different search options, help screens, etc.)
  • Appropriate and consistent updates for resources where currency is important
  • Licensing terms that suit the library’s needs or are negotiable
  • Clear, complete documentation and customer support
  • Ability to provide remote access
  • Free trial of resources, if possible

New Journal and other Resources Selection: The library currently subscribes to several individual journals and journal packages. When reviewing new journal requests the collection development librarian must look closely at the budget, as journal subscriptions are an ongoing cost that frequently increases each year. These selections are made on a case by case basis in consultation with subject librarians and faculty, reviewing interlibrary loan and electronic turnaway data, and may require the cancellation of other titles or resources to cover the cost.

Open Access: Learn more about the library’s position on Open Access in this statement.

Languages: The Atkins Library collects primarily English-language resources, though foreign language materials may be purchased for specific courses or at faculty request.

User Recommendations: Users are welcome to recommend additions to the collection. The appropriate subject librarian will determine whether they should be purchased based on the standard selection criteria and availability of funds. In addition, each department has a library collection representative that can suggest purchases for their department to their subject librarian.

Faculty Publication: The Atkins Library works to highlight and support the research of its community members. With this goal in mind, subject librarians seek out and purchase faculty publications. Users are encouraged to bring to the Library’s attention any faculty publications that are missing from the collection.

Duplication: Duplicate copies may be held based on need, to be determined by the subject librarian.

    Gift Policy

    As a rule, the Atkins Library does not accept in-kind donations. See the full gift policy.


    The Library periodically removes materials because of space constraints and to keep the collection current. See the monograph rightsizing policy listed below.

    Damaged and Lost Items

    When an item has minor damage, on-site staff repairs it. If an item is lost or suffers extensive damage, the appropriate subject librarian determines whether to replace it. The decision is based on usage data and the standard selection criteria. If the item is out-of-print or otherwise cannot be replaced, a similar substitute may be purchased instead.

    We subscribe to licensed e-resources, such as databases, journals, and books, in support of the educational and research needs of the UNC Charlotte campus community. Access and use of our e-resources is governed by both copyright law and license agreements that restrict use to defined authorized users such as members of the campus community (generally faculty, employees, and enrolled students) as well as on-site, walk-in users. It is the responsibility of all authorized users to use these resources only for individual, non-commercial, research or learning purposes, as generally set forth below.

    Users are advised that violation of these terms potentially jeopardizes campus access for all other authorized campus users and exposes violators to sanctions. By using these e-resources, authorized users are indicating awareness of and compliance with the following terms and conditions.

    Under our e-resource licenses, users generally may not:

    • Permit anyone other than authorized users to use the licensed materials
    • Modify or create a derivative work of licensed content or remove, obscure or modify any copyright or other notices included in the license materials
    • Use the licensed materials for commercial purposes, including but not limited to the sale of the licensed materials
    • Upload any licensed materials on an open website, including social networking sites
    • Engage in systematic downloading, distributing, or retaining substantial portions of the licensed materials
    • Use software such as scripts, agents, robots, or spiders to retrieve information

    Faculty, students and staff with questions about copyright or use of the licensed e- resources may contact the Associate Dean for Collection Services, Liz Siler via email. Additional information can be found on our copyright information page.

    Open access publishing of scholarly work assures research is available online at no cost for the reader and increases the dissemination of ideas to improve our global society. Unlocking unnecessary paywalls to influential research not only increases the impact of research conducted at UNC Charlotte, but supports information equity for people around the world.

    Atkins Library at UNC Charlotte regards Open Access publication of scholarly works as a foundational aspect of a sustainable communication system for scholars and researchers.

    To support this idea, we provide the following services to researchers on campus related to both publishing in open access journals (Gold OA) or depositing work in Niner Commons (Green OA):

    Education and Support

    • Understanding author’s rights and publishing agreements
    • Identifying reputable Open Access publishing opportunities
    • Informing about Open Access requirements of granting agencies
    • Hosting outreach events on the benefits of Open Access.

    Open Access Article Publication Subvention Fund - This is a fund to assist UNC Charlotte authors across campus with the cost of article processing charges (APCs). Niner Commons - We provide our community with access to Niner Commons, an Open Access platform to disseminate the scholarship created by UNC Charlotte researchers. This platform hosts all of UNC Charlotte’s theses & dissertations, as well as peer reviewed journal articles, conference proceedings, working papers, videos, open education resources (OER), research data and more. Digital Publishing - Atkins library provides a platform and digital publishing services of scholarly works including online journals, eBooks, digital exhibits, and conference proceedings.

    We strive to provide users with the information they need to be successful in their research and education. We continuously evaluate the print collection to ensure the collection is relevant and up to date. In addition, the library continues to plan for new spaces, which requires Special Projects to review large parts of the collection.

    Special Projects Review Procedures

    In order to effectively execute rightsizing projects it is advised library personnel follow the steps laid out below:

    1. The review project will be planned by the Collection Development Committee at the request of the Dean of Libraries.

    2. Lists of items to be reviewed will be divided by call numbers and shared with the subject specialist who will make decisions on the future of the item. 

    3. Once the items for removal are identified, Collection Services will remove the items from the collection and the catalog. 

    4.  If necessary Collection Maintenance staff will consolidate the collection in one area, creating additional space in the library.

    Regular Review

    Upon the completion of planned rightsizing projects, subject librarians will be expected to continue rightsizing the collection on a regular basis to ensure the collection stays current and relevant for our users, and collection space remains manageable.

    1. At the beginning of each year, each of the subject librarians will be given a list of the current holdings in their subject area. The list will include overall circulation information, year acquired and year published.

    2. The subject librarian will review the list and make decisions based on predetermined rightsizing criteria and their subject area expertise. Titles with interdisciplinary appeal should be marked and shared with appropriate subject librarians.

    3. As books are selected, they will post titles poised for removal in a shared document for other subject librarians to review and make recommendations. 

    4. Titles selected for removal will be given to the Collection Services staff to be discarded from the collection and removed from the catalog.

    Criteria for Removal – These are general guidelines to follow when rightsizing the collection. Other factors might need to be considered depending on the subject area. Removal decisions may be made in consultation with the Collection Development Committee.

    • Currency - The content of library materials should be accurate and up to date. Materials that are superseded by newer, revised, or updated editions may be removed. The library takes into consideration faculty and students whose scholarship and teaching require the use of historical texts.
    • Usage - Low or no usage may be a factor in removal decisions. Library personnel should consult circulation statistics or other reports to determine viable candidates for removal. Removal based on usage will not apply to material purchased in the last seven years to allow time for discovery and use.
    • Physical Condition - Materials that are badly deteriorated or damaged and beyond reasonable preservation efforts will be removed. New copies can be purchased if necessary.
    • Duplicates - Because of space limitations the library may remove duplicate copies of library materials. Library staff will take into consideration the need to have more than one copy of a title on hand, especially for materials that are heavily used or are a part of a university-wide program.
    • Completeness - Materials that are part of a multi-volume set of which the library does not have all volumes can be considered for removal in consultation with the CDC and the CDL.
    • Uniqueness - The library will not remove materials that are considered unique or of importance to the library.
    • Permanent Retention Agreement - Atkins Library has agreed to keep selected monograph titles as part of shared print retention agreements with other libraries.

    Researchers must complete and sign a registration form once each academic year (August 1 - July 31) and must provide acceptable identification (driver's license or photographic I.D.).

    Special Collections staff assist patrons in locating books, documents, manuscripts, maps, photographs, and other material, as well as access to the UNC Charlotte Archives, the information source for the University's history. In some cases, staff may direct you to other sources in Atkins Library and outside the University.

    All purses, coats, briefcases, backpacks, and other personal belongings are to be deposited in provided lockers. Only pencils may be used in the Reading Room. Food and drink are not permitted.

    Personal computers, digital cameras, and portable scanners may be used in the Reading Room provided that such use does not disturb other researchers. Use of cellular phones is not permitted.

    Please use one manuscript box at a time, and remove one folder at a time. Manuscripts and archival materials are to be maintained in the order in which they are received by the researcher. If any material is discovered to be out of order, please notify the staff member on duty. Please do not rearrange papers.

    If you have any questions about the use of Special Collections materials, please consult the Reading Room staff.