Collection principles

Openness and transparency

The University Library’s General Collection is developed in response to, and in consultation with, the University’s Faculties and Schools.

The University of Sydney Library will:

  • communicate and consult with the University community on new developments and significant changes to the collections
  • collaborate with Faculty representatives to develop acquisition profiles that enable the scalable and sustainable development of the General Collection
  • consider requests for resources not available through profile acquisition.

Equity of access to Library resources

The University Library is committed to enabling the broadest and most equitable access to its collections for its staff and students. Where possible, we seek to provide access to our physical and digital collections in support of independent scholars.

The acquisition of content in electronic format is preferred for the General Collection and University research outputs including Higher Degree by Research theses (via Sydney eScholarship Repository). Significant works from Rare Books and Special Collections and legacy theses will be digitised and made open access via Sydney Digital Collections. Items in the Sydney eScholarship Repository and Sydney Digital Collections are available open access wherever possible.

The University Library prioritises content vendors that:

  • promote scalable and flexible use through appropriate institution-wide licensing and digital rights management
  • support sustainable business models
  • maintain web accessibility standards
  • promote archival digital formats to enable long term preservation.

Ethical and diverse collecting

The University Library seeks to develop diverse collections according to the highest ethical standards. The University Library undertakes acquisitions and enables access to its collections in accordance with applicable laws, vendor licence agreements, cultural considerations, and professional best practice.

To provide a greater diversity of voices and perspectives for future scholars, the University Library will seek to acquire material:

  • authored by, or created in collaboration and consultation with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • authored by, or created in collaboration and consultation with, First Nations peoples and members of gender, cultural or geographically diverse communities
  • published by specialist or non-traditional NSW, Australian, Aotearoa New Zealand and Asia-Pacific publishers, research organisations and/or cultural organisations.

The University Library is mindful of Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property (ICIP) and restricted cultural materials. The University Library encourages informed and ethical use of First Nations cultural knowledges in accordance the University Library’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Protocols and the CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance.

The University Library will actively avoid accessioning new material if it:

  • contains First Nations cultural information that should remain secret
  • contains private information about First Nations peoples
  • discusses First Nations cultural heritage or traditional knowledges without evidence of sufficient collaboration with the relevant communities
  • includes Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property (ICIP) without evidence of permission from the relevant communities.

Freedom of speech and academic freedom

The University Library seeks to support the principles of the Charter of Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom (2020) through its collecting practices. Through the acquisition of titles selected to reflect the teaching, learning and research needs of the University community, the University Library affirms the rights and responsibilities of researchers and students to pursue learning and knowledge for its own sake.

The selection and acquisition of resources is guided by professional consideration and does not exclude resources on moral, political, religious, race or gender grounds. Subject to considerations around acquiring cultural materials that should remain secret or contain ICIP, resources that are considered “controversial” or non-traditional in their subject matter, format or publication may be acquired for the collections if there is a genuine and demonstrated research, teaching, or learning need.

Preservation of the scholarly record

The University Library is committed to the preservation of the scholarly record. The University Library will:

  • collect and retain the works of University of Sydney staff and Higher Degree by Research students, to support the dissemination of the intellectual output of the University and preserve it for future scholars
  • retain and repatriate to the community materials containing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors, subject matter or cultural intellectual property
  • retain and preserve unique, rare or historically significant items
  • leverage local, national and international partnerships and vendor agreements to enable the preservation of the global scholarly record.

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