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Library Collections

Coates Library Collections Guide

Coates Library develops and maintains collections guided by the mission of Trinity University to provide a transformational undergraduate liberal arts and sciences education. We balance this mission with the responsible stewardship of physical, digital, and financial resources.

This Collection Policy outlines various strategies we use to guide the selection, acquisition, and management of materials within a constantly changing scholarship and publishing environment. Therefore, this is only a guide as we continue to adopt new acquisition models to provide economical access to needed academic resources to support the liberal arts and preprofessional curriculum at Trinity University.

Collecting Priority

Collecting Priority

Priority is given to materials that support teaching and learning throughout the curriculum and have excellent potential for use by students or faculty members today, not in the future, and not in the abstract. Beyond support for teaching, we may also support the research of current faculty and students by acquiring materials. 


Level of Collection Intensity 

The library maintains its collection at the instructional support level for both undergraduate and graduate degree disciplines. The instructional support level is described as supporting undergraduate and most graduate instruction, or sustained independent study; that is, adequate to maintain knowledge of a subject required for limited or generalized purposes, of less than research intensity. It includes a wide range of basic monographs, complete collections of works of more important writers, selections from the works of secondary writers, a selection of representative journals, and reference tools and fundamental bibliographical apparatus pertaining to the subject.


* The levels of collecting intensity are based on those developed in the 1980s by the Research Libraries Group (RLG) as part of the RLG Conspectus. Academic libraries around the world have adopted this approach to describing and assessing their collecting activities. The Library of Congress posts the definitions of the various levels at:

General Policies and Princples

  • We focus on developing resources that primarily support the university curriculum.

  • We are responsible for all purchasing decisions and appreciate and encourage requests from faculty, staff, and students. 

  • We support intellectual freedom by presenting diverse viewpoints and avoiding personal bias in our collection development. It is crucial to offer a range of perspectives, particularly on controversial topics.

  • We strive to provide access to perspectives, voices, and viewpoints that are underrepresented and marginalized, per our library’s statement on diversity, equity and inclusion. 

  • We acquire materials based on demonstrated need, anticipated use, and available funding.

  • We collect materials in the most useful format for the content, intended use, specific discipline, availability, urgency of need, and price. For example, ebooks may be preferred for whole class use, print for clarity of images.  

  • We participate in consortia and cooperative initiatives with other libraries and organizations to ensure we leverage our buying power and gain comprehensive access to scholarly resources.

  • We actively explore strategic approaches that effectively steward the library’s collection budget to provide information resources and content.

Collection Strategies

We provide resources (articles, books, journals, databases, etc.) through several methods: 

  • Purchase

  • Subscription

  • “Just-in-time” models such as pay-per-view, document delivery, and evidence-based book acquisitions (i.e. Sciencedirect, Get-It-Now article delivery, JSTOR ebooks).

  • Interlibrary loan

For example, we purchase journal articles for patrons as needed when that approach is more economical than subscribing to a journal. Accessing specialized research materials can be achieved through borrowing from other libraries using interlibrary loan services. We also provide quick delivery of articles upon request via document delivery services. These measures enable us to allocate our materials budget towards resources that are in real demand, as opposed to those with only potential use. 

Guidelines for Acquiring Books

The library maintains an active program to purchase recently published books for the collections. The most intense collecting of books is in the humanities, with more selective acquisitions in the social sciences, and very selective ones in the sciences. Decisions about which books we purchase are influenced by many variables, including the holdings of other libraries and the ease with which patrons can borrow books elsewhere that they need for research purposes. 

Other ways we provide access to books:

  • Librarian liaisons routinely order books to build our collections. While librarians are responsible for all purchasing decisions, they appreciate and encourage requests from faculty members and students. 

  • The library evaluates ebook packages from publishers and licenses those that offer a useful and cost-effective strategy for providing access to monographic content.

  • Our library uses a demand-driven acquisition model, allowing patrons to select the content they want to purchase. Instead of automatically acquiring new ebooks from certain publishers, we load records into our catalog for some new ebooks, providing links for immediate access and viewing. The library only purchases a book when it is used, ensuring that we are making the most of our resources.


We acquire materials in all languages taught in the curriculum and generally rely on interlibrary lending for materials in non-curricular languages and specialized foreign-language publications.


Most books are purchased in paperback, and are bound when needed according to the book’s condition. Cloth-bound (hard cover) books are ordered when high use is expected or is the only format available.

Children’s and Young Adult Literature Collection

We have a small collection of juvenile literature that primarily supports the curriculum of the Education Department. The collection is limited, and we mainly purchase specific award-winning children’s books.

Institution-Specific Materials

The library collects one copy of faculty-authored books for our circulating collection.The Digital Commons houses student theses and faculty publications.

Recreational Reading

The library leases a small collection of current popular books for recreational use.


As a general policy, the library does not acquire copies of textbooks due to their cost and purchasing limitations. Publishers typically do not license electronic textbooks for institutional use and increasingly do not sell physical textbooks directly to libraries. 


The library will attempt to obtain via interlibrary loan dissertations that are needed by faculty members or students writing an honors thesis. If unavailable via interlibrary loan and is judged to be necessary for a faculty or honors research project, the library will attempt to purchase an electronic copy of the thesis.


Missing, lost, or damaged books are reviewed for replacement by liaisons. The decision to replace is based on multiple considerations including the nature and cost of the work and the availability of copies at other libraries.

Guidelines for Acquiring Journals

Maintaining a collection of scholarly journals requires a large ongoing budgetary commitment, and renewals often involve price increases that exceed inflation. The library evaluates new journal subscription requests based on their support for the curriculum, cost, interlibrary loan borrowing requests, and available access models. 

The library acquires journal articles in several ways:

  •  Faculty members at Trinity may submit requests for new journal subscriptions and must provide a valid justification for the new content they are proposing.

  • To ensure cost-effectiveness, the library subscribes to several electronic journal packages from various publishers and content aggregators. These packages are regularly reviewed and evaluated based on their content and pricing, and their usage versus cost is assessed annually.

  • To provide access to a wider range of journal titles without incurring full subscription costs, the library uses a pay-per-view model where only the individual articles used by a patron are paid for.

  • Additionally, interlibrary loan is an effective method for obtaining journal articles without the need for an annual subscription.

Guidelines for Acquiring Databases

The process of acquiring databases involves a thorough evaluation and recommendation from the librarians and faculty. These databases are offered either as a one-time purchase of archival content or as an annual subscription with ongoing updates. We prioritize the purchase of databases based on factors such as potential students and faculty reached, cost, and relevance, and overlap with similar resources. To ensure that we make the best decision when making a significant financial commitment, we usually request a trial from the vendor for librarians and faculty to review as part of the evaluation process.

Guidelines for Acquiring Film

Our film collection is used primarily in support of the curriculum. We acquire Blu-Ray, DVD, and streaming film, and provide multiple film subscription databases. Analog format is preferred. For exclusive content on consumer-facing platforms (Netflix, Amazon, etc.), the library recommends individually paid access.


Related guides: Kanopy and Screening Films on Campus 

Request for digitization


Subscriptions to electronic resources and journals represent an ongoing financial commitment that increases annually with inflation. The library regularly evaluates resources based on scholarly value and usefulness to support teaching and learning relative to their cost. Many factors inform the review, including but not limited to cost, usage, content overlap, and relevance to the curriculum. Our librarians work with faculty as necessary during this process. Any funds that are freed up through cancellations will be reallocated towards covering rate increases of existing subscriptions and acquiring new subscriptions as needed.


The library’s collections are reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure that the collection continues to meet Trinity’s curriculum and information needs. Materials that no longer meet these needs may be removed from the collection. Librarians base these de-selections on various categories of information, including relevance to the current curriculum offerings, recorded uses, year of publication, subject, currency of the information, physical condition, and number of copies owned by other Texas and U.S. libraries. These criteria vary from discipline to discipline to account for the reading and research practices and publication types that characterize different subject areas. Librarians solicit the opinions of faculty members, asking that requests for retention of titles be grounded in convincing, evidence-based arguments for their use in coursework or research. Titles identified for de-selection are de-accessioned from the catalog and sent to a third-party bookseller.