Library and Learning Services

Collection development strategy 2022 - 2031


The University of Leicester as a leading research-intensive university, committed to providing an exceptional educational experience for its students has three strategic aims (research-inspired education, world-changing research and our citizens) underpinned by four guiding principles: diversity and inclusion, health and wellbeing, environmental sustainability and operational excellence. This Collection Development Strategy outlines how the University Library supports these strategic aims through its collections and infrastructure. The local and global context that the supports this strategy is outlined in Appendix A.

The Library’s Collections 

Globally, higher education library collections have shifted from the procurement and arrangement of content locally (the owned collection), to a hybrid model (the facilitated collection) which enables access to a wide range of content not necessarily owned outright.  Our collection’s strategy is based on the development of quality collections measured through access at point of need. 

Our owned collections will be built and curated based on academic priorities, usage, and rarity. These will be complemented by investment in facilitated access to print and digital collections that are dynamic and responsive to the needs of staff and students.  This may include: acquisition and other licensing models responsive to user demand; access to shared collections nationally and internationally; and enhanced discovery of open access resources. Collections that are preserved and curated on behalf of other associations, societies or individuals will complement these institutional priorities. How our collections will be categorised is outlined in Appendix B 

Our aims and actions 

Aim 1: Develop a facilitated collection that embraces the digital environment. 


  • Maximise the benefits of our Library Services Platform and analytics tools to analyse and categorise our print and digital collections, developing an improved evidence base for decision-making.
  • Introduce a new purchasing model, reflecting our commitment to digital first to maximise access, reduce the number of print items purchased, whilst being sensitive to the ongoing importance of print in specific contexts.
  • Develop new opportunities for collaboration through our national and regional networks such as Research Libraries UK and the UK Research Reserve to maximise access to collections across the UK for our students and researchers. 

Aim 2: Create an inclusive and diverse collection that supports learning and research. 


  • Achieve online reading list coverage for all modules that require a reading list to ensure our students have access to the resources they need.  Work collaboratively with students and staff to identify, acquire, and increase use of diverse resources for learning and research.   

Aim 3: Preserve, develop and promote discovery and access to our unique and distinctive collections.


  • Scope and develop our digital preservation needs and capabilities to preserve our institutional memory and unique and distinctive collections, securing their long-term availability and discoverability for current and future users. 
  • Develop a business case for a new storage and teaching facility within the David Wilson Library for the preservation and use of our physical archives and special collections to ensure long term access and discoverability and use to support learning, teaching and research. 

Aim 4: Work in partnership with our community to put user experience and needs at the heart of collection development. 


  • Work in partnership with Schools/Departments, Research Institutes and Research Centres, to anticipate and adapt to the changing publishing and research environment, and our understanding of their specific needs. 
  • Work in partnership with Schools/Departments to support curriculum development. 
  • Work with students to develop the collection in line with their changing information needs.  

Aim 5: Create an Open Research environment that enables the production, dissemination and discovery of world-changing scholarship


  • Provide advice on and an infrastructure for the changing open access environment as the implications of Plan S, funder and REF requirements and the move towards open monographs, become clear.
  • Engage with the higher education and publishing sector to transition to new open access book and journal models. 

Key performance indicators 

  • We achieve 92% of satisfaction on the NSS score for library services and 90% on PRES.
  • We achieve 100% coverage of reading lists on the University’s reading list system for all taught modules where a reading list is required for a module, annually from 2022/23.
  • We achieve 95% staff satisfaction for Library services (exact metric to be determined).
  • We achieve 95-100% of open access research outputs (exact metric to be determined for 2022/23 by REC) 
  • We will retain our status as an Accredited Archive Service every 6 years. 

Appendix A: Our local and global context

The University Library

The Library’s collections have always reflected the needs and ambitions of its staff and students, since its inception in 1920. We ensure this by: 

  • creating, maintaining and developing dynamic, responsive, inspiring, impactful, inclusive and accessible collections; 
  • ensuring we respond in an agile way to the complex and changing scholarly publishing and communications landscape; supporting the transition from a physical to a digital networked environment maintaining an appropriate balance between the two; 
  • curating and preserving distinctive, unique and rare content; 
  • recognising and maintaining our contribution to regional and national collections;  
  • ensuring discoverability of our content and the content of other libraries;
  • providing value for money and maximum return on investment.  

The digital environment underpins a huge and increasing amount of our work with an aim to create a personalised digital experience for every student and researcher. A ‘digital by default’ approach, where copyright and published digital content licensing allows, underpins our collections. Our digital environment, comprising discovery services, centrally provided repositories, and mediated services will: 

  • remove barriers to effective research; 
  • optimise access to books, journals, audio-visual etc. at point of need whenever and wherever; 
  • provide seamless access to content; 
  • provide access to content that is curated to meets the needs of researchers and students; 
  • provide easy to use, centrally provided, data and publication repositories and services for flexible and secure access to content from anywhere in the world;  
  • provide digital preservation and data archiving to ensure long term storage is safe, efficient and cost-effective, opening up our unique and distinctive collections to new audiences;
  • facilitate digital scholarship, for example text and data mining. 

However, the shift to digital collections and services is balanced against the continued importance of print collections as required by researchers and students. Across the sector, libraries are moving towards a shared print collection and reducing the overall footprint of their physical holdings. We will contribute to this initiative and continue to preserve those parts of our collection that are unique, distinctive, and relevant to our communities. At the same time, there will be occasions when lack of a digital alternative, value for money, or individual accessibility needs will require the purchase of print.

Open Research and Open Access (Open Scholarship)

Transparency, openness, verification and reproducibility have become important features of research and innovation. The Institution is committed to embracing open access. The Library collects, manages and curates the institution’s scholarly output in the Leicester Research Archive, this includes research publications, PhD theses and research data. We will enable the discovery and promotion of our open access collections alongside leveraging access to open access resources internationally through linked discovery services. 

The Library manages Article Processing Charges (APCs) on behalf of the Institution. As both open access and research funder requirements evolve, we will manage the relationship between APCs and ‘Read and Publish’ subscription prices to ensure the balance is fair and affordable. 

Value for money 

We maximise our purchasing power through nationally negotiated deals, consortia purchasing and taking an evidence-based approach to inform purchasing decisions. Content usage, quantitative and qualitative indicators will be used when evaluating resources.  

The information resources budget is managed in the context of internal and external pressures including publishers’ above average inflation, currency exchange fluctuations and new pricing models. We maximise the budget by recognising the need for multiple access versus the breadth of the collection. 

Unique and distinctive collections 

The Library recognises and values its role, as a holding and contributing library, as part of a network of institutions across the UK that collectively safeguard the nation’s written heritage. We hold collections that are of global, national, and regional significance. Our collections development activity will recognise the resource intensive nature of preserving and providing access to archives and rare printed material. We will consider offers of new collections based on our existing areas of collection strength, relevance to learning and research, and the collecting policies of other institutions. Decisions to acquire significant new collections will be taken in consultation with our research community, taking account of sector best practice in this area. 

Appendix B: Our Collections 

We take a comprehensive approach to the definition of collections, encompassing existing and emerging formats. Our unique and distinctive material in Archives and Special Collections forms an integral part of our strategy. Collections may be owned outright, custodial collections, facilitated, and include research outputs (data and publications) of the University. 

We will use the following categorisation to assess and manage our collections and identify areas of strength and priority. 


Definition: Collections that are of national or international significance, or unique to Leicester, and are a particular strength.  

Management: These are active collections that will be added to either through acquisition, donation or strategic investment, subject to suitable space and funding available. Items will not normally be withdrawn, and active steps will be taken to preserve them.  

University Research Output

Definition: Collections that are the research output of University researchers. 

Management: These are active collections that will be added to and made discoverable: open access publications, PhD theses, and research data. Active steps will be taken to preserve items of all formats held within them. 


Definition: Collections that are of historic strength or unique to Leicester, reflecting previous institutional research and teaching priorities, but are no longer current priorities.  

Management: These are closed collections and will not normally be added to, nor items withdrawn. Steps will be taken to preserve items of all formats held within them. 


Definition: Collections that support current teaching and research needs but are not unique to Leicester and are not of national or international significance. 

Management: These are collections that will be subject to regular review and withdrawn where usage indicates it is no longer required, where the format is obsolete, has been superseded by other material/editions or is no longer needed for teaching and research. Librarians will exercise professional judgement, informed by evidence and user feedback to ensure these collections are dynamic and responsive to teaching and research requirements. Items may be owned outright or provided through facilitated access. 


Definition: Collections that are not a strength, are not of national or international significance and do not reflect current teaching and research needs. 

Management: These collections will not be added to and will be considered for withdrawal as determined by the criteria for withdrawal/retention and consultation with appropriate stakeholders as agreed. Items will not be considered for preservation. 

Agreed and ratified by Senate March 2022 as part of the Senate Working Group on Information Resources. Aims and KPI’s subject to annual review

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