Collection Management Guidelines

Collections’ Guidelines: VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library

The guidelines contained within this document are adapted from the Collection Development Guidelines for Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries. VCUarts Qatar Librarians appreciate the excellent Collection Management planning model provided by VCU Libraries. Differences in the VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library policy guidelines reflect the VCUarts Qatar curriculum and the distinct needs of the local campus and environment.

Related policies, documents, and missions:

Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar, Mission Statement

The VCU School of the Arts

VCU Libraries

VCUarts Qatar Library Mission Statement

American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights

United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19

1. Overview and Purpose

The Faculty Librarians at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar), with support for its digital collections from the Collection Management Department in VCU Libraries, are responsible for building and managing VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library collections. Central to the VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library mission is the goal of carefully building and managing substantive information resource collections that serve the academic, creative, and research needs of the VCUarts School of the Arts in Qatar.

1.a. Function of Collection Management Guidelines

A collection guideline is an official statement of the library's goals in building and managing its collections in all subject areas. It is designed to:


  • define the scope of existing collections
  • serve as a collection development planning document by guiding selectors in choosing materials most appropriate to support academic programs in each discipline
  • provide guidelines and criteria for de-selection and preservation decisions
  • promote consistency and continuity in collection management through establishing clear objectives for each librarian who assumes selection responsibilities
  • enable the library to communicate its rationale for managing its collections to the university community
  • equip the library to participate in cooperative collection building and resource sharing arrangements with other libraries by specifying areas of collecting emphasis and de-emphasis
  • ensure its collections remain relevant, current, and accessible


1.b. Goals of the Collection Management Program

Consistent with the mission of VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library, the guiding principle of collection management is to develop collections that support the university's academic programs in the arts. Librarian liaisons choose materials that best serve two primary university functions:

Instruction. The collections should include materials that reinforce and enhance the quality of instruction in all courses offered at the university. Disciplinary faculty should be able to depend on VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library resources for their curricular and research needs and students should be able to rely on VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library resources for course-related study and work. Materials should engage the learner and encourage library use and the development of information literacy skills.

Research and Creative Activities. Because research and creative activities are integral university activities, VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library should provide resources and services to assist faculty and students in the intellectual inquiry and experimentation that form the creative, design and research process. Researchers, artists and designers should be able to utilize VCUarts Qatar and VCU Libraries to obtain information and media essential to their investigations to support scholarship and creative activities.

2. Materials Budget and Allocation

The ability to attain the library’s collection management goals is chiefly dependent upon funding. VCUart Qatar Art and Design Library’s major funding source is annual appropriations by the Qatar Foundation and administered through VCUarts Qatar Finance Office. Appropriate budgeting techniques are used that enable us to monitor all expenditures and manage appropriation efficiently.

The materials budget is an important tool in apportioning financial resources as equitably as possible. The Library endeavors to allocate funds to every academic and support program in the university at an amount consistent with both the program's curricular level and the cost of materials and the extent of literature in the program's subject area. The Library attempts to establish strong instructional support collections for all disciplines offered with additional support for graduate programs. It is expected that new programs will be funded appropriately and therefore new programs are supported as funding allows. Support levels will also address specific needs of the Qatar Foundation and the mission of VCUarts Qatar.

The VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library considers resources available from the Qatar National Library, as well as other libraries within Education City, before purchasing library resources that are not central to the VCUarts Qatar curriculum or to the broader needs of arts-related study, practice, and research.

2.a. Supplementary Funding

Interested donors may supplement Qatar Foundation funding through contributing monetary grants or endowments to underwrite purchases for the collection. If donors prefer to support particular subject collections, the Library works with them prior to acceptance to define the subject area or areas to which the grant or endowment will apply. Subject areas should be defined broadly enough that grant or endowment income does not exceed amounts adequate to purchase all pertinent materials likely to be available at present or in the future.

While the Library welcomes recommendations from donors or individuals designated by donating organizations, VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library retains responsibility for the selection of materials purchased with grant or endowment funds. Librarians select these materials in accordance with VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library collection policies to ensure that purchased items are of appropriate academic or scholarly quality.

3. Role of Library Liaisons

VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library employs a librarian-subject liaison model for collection acquisition and de-selection of library resources. Each academic program, and Student Affairs, is assigned a librarian liaison and faculty librarians consult regularly with both the department and individual faculty regarding acquisitions for new courses and areas of expertise. Purchase requests in support of teaching and research are encouraged and receive a high priority.

The library liaisons responsible for collection acquisition and de-selection are committed to:

  • Making informed and timely resource selection decisions based on the curricular, academic, creative, and research needs of VCUarts Qatar students and faculty
  • Performing selection responsibilities in a systematic manner that maximizes subject coverage, minimizes gaps, and avoids unnecessary duplication
  • Following a set of quality standards for selection of materials including consultation of book reviews, awareness of predatory journals, professional list recommendations, and more
  • Anticipating users’ needs
  • Responding to users’ needs
  • Engaging with the complete life-cycle of materials in the library collection including selection, use, storage, preservation, and possible de-selection
  • Basing decisions of selection or de-selection on changes to the VCUarts Qatar curriculum as well as continuing evaluation of the collection, including statistical data and library usage patterns
  • Following principles of intellectual freedom as contained in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights

In accordance with these guidelines, VCUarts Qatar liaison librarians stay informed of current developments in their subject areas including new research and emerging fields of study.

4. A Collection of Diversity

All VCU Libraries subscribe to the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which pledges us not to exclude materials because of the origin, background or views of their creators (ALA Bill of Rights, 1996, sec. 1). The philosophy behind the ALA Library Bill of Rights prescribes collections that represent the diversity of knowledge and those who create knowledge. In addition to these aspects of diversity, the increasing interdisciplinary nature of scholarship requires diverse research approaches and methodologies. Our collections are managed to support the interdisciplinary qualities of study, research, and pedagogy at VCUarts Qatar.

To help foster a university environment characterized by a spirit of open inquiry and discussion, and in reflection of the University community’s diversity, VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library selects materials that represents a balanced coverage of issues, as well as a variety of viewpoints through diverse authorship.

The Libraries will:

  • Provide support for library staff to deepen their personal and professional understanding of racism and discuss its implication in work-related practices.
  • Advocate and act to decolonise the collection through increased understanding and the sharing of relevant resources with colleagues directly involved in teaching.
  • Review our content development policies to give greater priority to material reflecting stories and voices of traditionally marginalised groups and subjects.
  • Work to embed the stories and voices of diverse groups/histories in the way we present the collections to the VCUarts community through exhibitions and social media.

These actions are critical to the Library’s operational plans and priorities. They will be reviewed regularly to improve progress towards diversifying collections and practices.

5. Collection Formats

The VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library collections represents a diversity of formats to support teaching, learning, and research. These materials include printed and electronic books, electronic and printed journals and serials, streaming media and media in other formats, and electronic resources (databases, images, reference materials, among others. Technology and production studios is also made available to the school through the Library’s Innovative Media Studios; materials and a makerspace (TinkerLab) are available through the VCUarts Qatar Materials Library.

Below are further considerations for collection format:

5.a. Current and retrospective coverage.Though the Library emphasizes the acquisition of current resources in arts related subject fields, it also endeavors to acquire retrospective works and back-files as needed to strengthen and balance its collections, particularly in disciplines where retrospective materials are of special importance.

5.b. Formats. Information resources are produced in an increasing variety of formats. Collections no longer consist exclusively of print monographs and serials, though these materials remain important. Significant instructional and research tools also include, among other formats, exhibition catalogs (collected as monographs), artists books, architectural, interior and fashion design and industrial design materials, archives, digital images, DVDs, software, games, online databases and other new media appropriate to support the educational mission. VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library strives to build collections that incorporate all forms of scholarly communication. In each subject field, however, there is an attempt to establish a collection consisting of every appropriate format in a quantity proportional to its value for practitioners of the discipline.

5.b.1. Multimedia. DVDs are no longer actively collected by the VCUarts Qatar Art and Design. Exceptions will be made for titles not available through the VCU Libraries streaming media subscriptions. The VCUarts Qatar technology infrastructure supports Region Code 1. DVDs purchased for the library’s collection will be purchased for DVD Region Code 1 or those labeled as “region free”; however, depending upon the importance of a given title, availability of Region 2 only will not militate against the purchase of a DVD.

5.b.2. Theses. Theses completed in Qatar as a requirement for the MFA degree are made available through the VCU Electronic Theses and Dissertations Archive.  

5.b.3. Fiction. The VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library maintains a small fiction collection and juvenile collection in addition to its main arts collection. The focus of this collection is to support literacy and leisure reading. The Juvenile collection is based on a view toward diverse authorship.

5.b.4. Print Journals and Serials. The VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library maintains a collection of print journals and serials in support of VCUarts Qatar’s academic programs and complementary subject areas. In consideration of physical space and online access, the Library maintains only a limited retention schedule for print journals. The Library also takes into account the illustrative quality of print journals in an art and design context before making a retention decision. New journal subscriptions are initiated at the beginning of each calendar year.

5.c. Geographical Coverage.Acquisitions may originate from the United States or Europe due to the location of publishing centers; however, there is a strong emphasis on sourcing publications originating from the Gulf region, the Middle East, and North Africa. Titles related to Qatari art and design or Qatar’s history, heritage, receive high priority. Two or three copies of these titles will be purchased; one or two copies will be placed into general circulation and one copy will be placed in Special Collections.

5.d. Language. English is the language of instruction at VCUarts Qatar; therefore, collection activity will focus on English language materials. In rare cases non-English language materials may be purchased to support a unique curricular, research or creative need. Transliterated catalog records will be used for any Arabic and non-Roman script materials added to the collection.

5.e. Ownership and access. Library collections are composed of resources owned and housed locally, but supplemented by materials accessible from other institutions. VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library endeavors to purchase materials basic and essential to each discipline in the university curriculum for its own holdings. Budgetary and geographic constraints may necessitate that the Library is dependent upon resources in other locations to augment these holdings. The Library does participate in an MOU that allows interlibrary borrowing and lending between Qatar National Library and other university library partners located in Education City.

5.f. Editions. The VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library does not automatically replace earlier editions of books with subsequent editions. Art and design publications are unique from other disciplines in that information is not generally superseded; however, publications that contain technical information will be replaced by newer editions as necessary.

5.g. Ideological balance To help foster a university environment characterized by a spirit of open inquiry and discussion, VCUarts Qatar Art and Design selects materials so that collections as a whole reflect a variety of viewpoints and provide balanced coverage of issues. This library reflects the principles of open and free access to information as reflected in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19, which states

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library respects and is sensitive to the traditions of the local Qatari culture; however, some materials within the VCUarts Qatar collection may not be appropriate for every library user. If any library user is concerned about using the collection, they may contact librarians for assistance in finding appropriate choices according to their individual needs and values.

6. Collection Evaluation

Selection is the process of determining which materials to acquire for the library's collections. De-selection is the removal of materials from the collections because of their condition (see preservation statement below) or because they no longer serve instruction and research programs. In making selection and de-selection decisions, librarians attempt to ensure that library collections as a whole are balanced in terms of teaching, learning, research, and overall quality.

The ongoing evaluation of collections is an important component of a comprehensive collection management program. Collections must grow and change to reflect evolutions in both the scholarship of each discipline and the curricular needs of the institution. Systematic evaluation of the collections by means such as use and user studies, shelf list inventories, list checking, and other methods is imperative to ensure that available resources continue to be of maximum benefit to students and faculty. Likewise, serial subscriptions are reviewed on a regular basis.

Collection assessment may result in the acquisition of additional materials for subject collections that are judged inadequate to support current academic programs. In the case of serials, titles of diminished scholarly significance or instructional relevance may be replaced by more useful subscriptions. The following criteria guide librarians in these decisions:

Physical Condition. Materials in a state of physical deterioration will be reviewed for preservation area and/or withdrawn from the collection.

Usage.Materials in collections for a long period of time with no evidence of recent usage may be candidates for withdrawal. Items of distinct scholarly, historical, or archival value will be retained, but may be relocated to Special CollectionsCost.High-cost materials and materials of unique value may be housed in the Special Collections area for their protection. Serials whose prices increase substantially will be reviewed for renewal on an annual basis.

Cost.High-cost materials and materials of unique value may be housed in the Special Collections area for their protection. Serials whose prices increase substantially will be reviewed for renewal on an annual basis.

Duplication. Duplicate copies of most items can be withdrawn, except for titles in high demand or at an established risk of loss. Where VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library owns multiple editions of one title, retaining only the most recent edition may be sufficient.

Because shelf space is limited, it is important to review all collections periodically to identify materials that can be deselected to relieve overcrowding. The above criteria can also be employed in these reviews.

7. Consortia Membership

VCU Libraries in Richmond, Virginia is a member of several consortia, which enable expanded access to digital resources shared between the libraries in Richmond and the library in Qatar. Additionally, VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library may consider individual subscriptions to digital resources that support the curricular and research needs of its constituents.

8. Gifts and Donations

Materials donated to the library may be a useful component of the collection management program. VCUarts Qatar Libraries accepts gifts only in select circumstances.

Whenever possible the Director of Libraries, in consultation with appropriate staff, will discuss gift collections with donors prior to accepting them. If the gifts appear to be highly duplicative (particularly in the case of serials) or unsuitable for an academic library, the Library may suggest alternative recipients. Every effort is made to accept only items appropriate for addition to the Library’s collections. Gifts are accepted with the understanding that they become the property of the VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library upon receipt and that the Library will make all necessary decisions regarding their retention, location, treatment, and other issues relating to their use and disposition. Materials not added to the VCUQatar Libraries collection may be given away or disposed of through charitable organizations or other means.

VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library does not provide lists or appraisals of donated materials. Librarians and curators select gifts for addition to the collection in consideration of the gifts' physical condition and usefulness. In all cases the Library employs selection criteria stated in the collection guidelines. Generally, the Library designates added gifts for inclusion with other materials in established VCUarts Qatar collections locations. Separate locations will be created only if the materials are of unique importance or in a format that cannot be readily housed in any existing collection. Instituting a separate location requires the approval of the VCUarts Qatar Director of Libraries in consultation with the Head of Research and Information Technology (Library).

9. Preservation

The quality and physical state of all library materials are evaluated before accessioning to the VCUarts Qatar collection. This applies equally to circulating material, special collections, and archives.

  • Hardcover copy is preferred over softbound in the acquisition of printed books
  • Collection needs and value of materials will dictate binding of selected print serials. While the library no longer actively binds its serials, exceptions may be approved by the Director of Libraries
  • Digital assets are purchased with persistence and portability in mind.
  • Acquisitions to Archives and Special Collections are quarantined and evaluated for potential threats to collection stability and for special housing needs by the University Archivist.

The primary goal of preservation is to maintain physical stability and prolong the existence of informational content. Providing an optimum environment is the only way to extend the life and use of an entire collection. Preservation is an active measure to slow or minimize potential deterioration due to relative humidity, temperature, light, and other organisms or conditions including technological obsolescence.

The VCUarts Qatar University Archivist will develop and implement guidelines and procedures in collaboration with other members of staff for preservation and maintaining a stable physical environment for the collection. This will include establishing stability of temperature and environment, cleaning and housekeeping, and proper handling of materials depending on their type and use.

9.a. Conservation of General Collections.The practice of conserving aging, but still useful, materials is a collection management responsibility equal in importance to selecting new materials. Retrospective sources retain their value to the library and their utility to the community only if maintained in serviceable condition.

The identification of deteriorating materials needing conservation treatment occurs at several points during routine processing or use (cataloging, circulation, or shelving, for example). Periodic review of the collection by library specialists is the most thorough means of discovering and correcting preservation problems.

The choice of a preferred conservation method is a decision made by the University Archivist in consultation with Director of Libraries. Minor repairs to library materials are handled internally. Items in exceptionally poor condition may necessitate the purchase of a new copy or by acquiring data in digital formats.

The University Archivist also addresses the disposition of materials requiring extraordinary conservation measures. Periodic review of the collection by library specialists is the most thorough means of discovering and correcting preservation problems. Periodic review of the collection by library specialists is the most thorough means of discovering and correcting preservation problems.

10. University Archives, Special Collections and Digital Library

The VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library maintains the University Archives for VCUarts Qatar.

The VCUarts Qatar University Archives provide an “institutional memory” for the university – its spirit of growth and development, its active campus life and its unique position as an international branch campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. Our collection begins with records relating to the Shaqab School of Design Arts, the forerunner of VCUarts Qatar, which was established in 1998 as the first university in Education City in Doha, Qatar. The types of materials held in the archives includes programs, brochures, posters, photographs, videos, newspaper clippings, correspondence and publications. Material contained in the archives is both physical materials and digital objects. Digital images are preserved in LUNA, a searchable, digital-asset management platform.

Special Collections consists of the Artists’ Book Collection, Qatar-related materials, regional material related to art and history and materials that support the curriculum and research of faculty and students within the academic programs at VCUarts Qatar.