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Collection Development Policy

The current scope, goals, and collecting trends

Purpose & Scope

This policy presents the current scope and collecting trends of Pratt Institute Libraries’ collections and charts future directions and goals related to these collections. 

The Pratt Institute Libraries strive to develop collections that 

  • support the Institute’s evolving curricula and strategic plan
  • reflect our student body
  • represent global creative practice and scholarship
  • center the needs of our students and faculty, including those related to language and cost. 

Primary responsibility for collection development is handled by library liaisons. The Libraries also encourage patron driven acquisition practices via the Suggest a Purchase form to ensure that our collections reflect the Pratt community’s interests and research. Books by the Pratt community that are within the collection scope are also acquired. Additional guidance in policy and decision making is provided by the Pratt Institute Libraries’ Collection Development Committee.

The Libraries aim to provide a collection that encourages interdisciplinary study, therefore our approach to collection development is itself cross-disciplinary. There is not room to list every area of focus, but six representative examples of current thematic areas of focus include:

  • sustainability in art, architecture and design
  • community engagement
  • inclusive pedagogy
  • representation and identity
  • accessibility
  • interdisciplinary and integrative exploration

The Libraries’ scope of collecting varies according to the level of degree granted. The print collections are strongest in the areas of art, design, and architecture. Object based learning is supported through Special Collections, which include 16mm films, pop up and artists’ books, and an Institutional Archive. Electronic resources cover all subject areas and include various formats and media. Our audio visual and computer equipment collection provides patrons with the means to document projects, make presentations, and  implement creative ideas.

Items in the collection circulate, with the exception of periodicals, reference collections, and some Special Collections. Condition, cost and demand may affect an item’s designated collection and/or loan period. Collections are supplemented by library consortia memberships and Interlibrary Loan service.

For more information, refer to the Collections and E-Resources sections of this document.

Guiding Principles

Our guiding principles in collection development are informed by the mission of the Pratt Institute Libraries, Pratt’s Strategic Plan, and core tenants of the American Library Association. 

We are committed to the following principles.

Intellectual Freedom

The Libraries subscribe to the American Library Association’s policies on intellectual freedom as expressed in the Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read, and Freedom to View statements. Library materials shall not be proscribed or removed from the Library because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.


The Libraries are committed to ensuring educational equity for the Pratt community by making our collections accessible to all. This means selecting content in different formats, evaluating our current e-resources for accessibility, and striving to acquire, license, or subscribe to content and platforms in compliance with the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA (WCAG 2.0 AA) as well as state and federal accessibility requirements.

Diversity & Inclusion

The Pratt Institute Libraries’ collection development strategy adheres both to the Institute’s Diversity Strategic Plan, the Association of College and Research Libraries Diversity Standards and the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. We strive to build diverse and inclusive collections that not only reflect the racial, ethnic, religious, gender identity and presentation, sexuality, geographic, cultural, age, disabilities, and socioeconomic statuses of Pratt students, faculty, and staff but also the writers, thinkers, and creators whose work is studied. We seek to collect content that is created by historically under-served, oppressed and marginalized groups of people. The Pratt Institute Libraries is committed to making sure that DEI considerations are integrated into efforts to acquire, describe, and manage resources that go beyond normative structures. See more information on the steps that the Pratt Institute Libraries’ have taken to address harmful language in our libraries’ catalog here: Harmful Language Statement.

Open Access

The Libraries pledge to support and promote open access scholarship, resources, and services. By promoting resources that are free and open access, the Libraries' further their commitment to advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility, as these resources will continue to be accessible to students after graduation, as well as being decoupled from traditional academic silos. For more information on open access and the Libraries’ efforts, please refer to our Open Access Policy.

Ethical spending

We strive to develop collections that support Pratt’s evolving curriculum in the formats that allow for the greatest access and will look to our community to guide us in this effort. We are careful and conscientious in how we spend our acquisitions budget both in terms of what we acquire and the vendors and businesses we support through our purchases and subscriptions.


The Libraries are committed to supporting all learners, which includes supporting their language needs.  Although the primary language of our collections is and will continue to be English, the Libraries seek to enable student success by providing resources to international students in their first languages when possible, and by identifying and collecting resources that will aid international students in their quest to learn English.  There are no limitations to the languages the Libraries collect, but the focus is on those languages most represented by our current international student population and suggestions from faculty and students.  Particular attention is paid to translations of seminal and historically significant works that are heavily used in a given discipline.  The Libraries also partner with study-abroad programs and academic programs with a language requirement, to develop collections that will support students who are learning and building skills in other languages. 

Methods of Collection Development

The majority of the Libraries’ collections are selected at the individual title level by library liaisons and other librarian selectors with input from classroom faculty and with additional guidance provided by the Collection Development Committee. Additionally, the Libraries actively encourage the Pratt community to suggest purchases via the Suggest a Purchase form. Collections are also developed through approval plans and evidence-based acquisition. Gifts are considered under limited circumstances using the same criteria applied to purchase. The complete gift policy can be read here: Gift Policy.

An approval plan is a method used by libraries to automate the purchase of newly published books.  The library creates a profile that specifies the characteristics, or parameters, of new books the library is interested in purchasing.  These parameters may include publisher, subject, call number range, price, and many more.  A company functioning as an intermediary reviews newly published books and evaluates how well they fit the library’s profile. Judicious use of approval plans can be a valuable asset to a collection development program. With careful profiling and review of materials, approval plans have proven to be especially useful for building core collections, as well as for ensuring collection breadth. For approval plans to work well, however, incoming materials have to be carefully reviewed

Pratt Libraries has also incorporated Evidence-Based Acquisition (EBA) strategies into collection development. EBA is a hybrid subscription and purchasing model for ebooks, enabling access to large, multi-disciplinary ebook collections at a low cost per title.  The Libraries can use usage data to help inform decisions about which books to add to the library's permanent collection, creating a more direct link between use of the collection and our purchasing decisions.

Brooklyn Campus Library

Pratt's Brooklyn Campus Library is located in the neighborhood of Clinton Hill. Collections are focused on the visual arts, architecture, design, creative writing, and allied fields. Additional materials of general interest support the general education curriculum. 
Items unique to the Brooklyn Campus Library collections include:

Manhattan Campus Library

Pratt’s Manhattan Campus Library is located on the border of Chelsea and Greenwich Village. The collections support the academic programs unique to the Manhattan campus including:

  • Arts & Cultural Management
  • Associate Degree program (Game Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, Interactive Media, Painting & Drawing)
  • Construction Management
  • Design Management
  • Facilities Management
  • Real Estate Practice
  • School of Information

The library also houses a reference collection, periodicals, and leisure reading materials including fiction and poetry. Print and digital resources are shared between both Pratt Institute Library locations through services such as intercampus loan. More information about intercampus loan can be found on the Services page.

Collection Evaluation

Collection evaluation, as an integral part of collection development, is a continuous process, and is guided by the same criteria used in selecting new materials.  The Libraries seek to maintain collections that are relevant to the needs of the Pratt community at any given time.   Relevancy is determined by a variety of factors, such as changes in academic courses and their curricula, research advancements in specific disciplines, and new historical perspectives.  Selectors, therefore, when evaluating individual items, take into account the current trends in the subject areas for which they are responsible, as well as the historical and current literature of these areas.  The evaluation process results not only in the selection of new items but also in the deselection of titles not meeting the criteria for retention, although old and little-used materials may be retained if they are  considered relevant due to their historical or aesthetic value. Works authored by the Pratt community are generally retained.

The following criteria are examples of those taken under consideration when evaluating materials for withdrawal:

  • Low usage, especially within the past several years;
  • Multiple copies, except for significant materials for which there is high demand;
  • Materials no longer useful or relevant because of curriculum changes;
  • Outdated works that are no longer relevant or that have been superseded by more current research;
  • Materials in poor condition, particularly if they have received little use;
  • Space considerations, particularly if a resource is available electronically;
  • Items available regionally through New York’s public libraries, online resources such as HathiTrust, or our consortial affiliations.

Exceptions may be made according to the judgment of the selectors, especially if a resource is unique, rare, or important to a specific subject area.  Selectors may engage faculty input to help them determine whether to retain or withdraw particular materials.


Circulating Books

The circulating book collection represents the largest portion of the Libraries’ collections, encompassing all regularly circulating print and eBooks, including monographs, exhibition catalogs, technical manuals, collections of essays, biographies, children’s books, and novels. Books can be borrowed for extended periods by any Pratt community member with borrowing privileges. 

Film and Video

Videos are purchased in DVD, Blu-Ray, and streaming formats. If they are available and the price is not prohibitive, streaming videos are preferred over DVDs or Blu-Rays because they can be accessed by multiple users at one time. (See E-Resources) Streaming videos are purchased either as part of a licensing package or as individual, time-restricted licenses (e.g. Kanopy) or perpetual access (saved on the Libraries’ servers).  If a title is available to purchase with perpetual access, this will be preferred over time-restricted. The Libraries also have a small collection of 16mm films, though the format is not actively collected. More information can be found in the Film and Video Collections guide.


The Equipment collection includes cameras and camcorders, lighting equipment, photography accessories, tripods and mounts, projectors and screens, speakers and headphones, microphones and mic stands, computers and adapters, memory cards and card readers. New types of equipment may be added as patron needs change. The Equipment collection has unique circulation policies dictated by the high demand and cost of the materials. More information can be found in the Equipment guide.


Periodicals include magazines, journals, and newspapers in print and digital format and are selected for their relevance to the curriculum and interest to the Pratt community. The format of periodical subscriptions is determined by academic departmental preference, space constraints, and subscription price. Subscriptions are reviewed regularly to determine if they should be continued and/or retained. Periodicals do not circulate.


The Reference collection consists of material such as style guides, dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, and collections of codes or standards that are made readily available to be consulted by researchers and librarians. The collection also includes atlases and specialized map collections as well as a limited number of Pratt-published materials. Reference materials are more actively acquired in electronic format to ensure greater access and currency. Given the nature of many of the formats, currency is of the utmost importance and outdated or superseded editions will be replaced and/or moved to the circulating collection. Materials in the Reference collection do not circulate.

Special Collections

Special Collections encompasses original or unique items that are too rare, fragile, or valuable to be included among the regular circulating collections including: printed books, periodicals, ephemera, folios of prints and photographs, pop-up books, artists books and zines (described below). New acquisitions are generally made in collaboration with library liaisons. Special Collections materials are non-circulating and must be paged and viewed in specially designated areas, with some exceptions. More information can be found in the Special Collections Guide.

Artists Books

The Artist’s Book collection encompasses books and other book-related works that exist as works of art in their own right but individual book arts that are not editioned are generally not purchased. The collection is geared toward teaching and aims to represent a variety of Artist Book practices and formats that can serve as examples and inspiration to students engaged in creating their own book-based works. Selections are often made in consultation with faculty and an effort is made to purchase works produced by Pratt faculty, students, and alumni when funding allows. The majority of this collection does not circulate, though some works classified as artists’ books may be found in the circulating collection. More information can be found in the Artists’ Books guide.


The Libraries select zines to support classes that include zine study and production, with a focus on locally-produced titles, including student work. Zines are selected for artistic merit as well as literary content. The majority of this collection circulates, though some rare items are for library use only. More information can be found in the Zines guide.


The Thesis Collection consists of more than 10,000 theses produced by Pratt Institute graduate students going back as far as the early 1950s. Theses are submitted to the library as a graduation requirement for many graduate programs. Before 2020, print theses were collected and library bound. Starting in 2020, theses are collected digitally through ProQuest Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Print theses do not circulate, digital theses are available on the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database. More information about theses can be found in the Thesis Collections Guide.


Pratt Institute Libraries subscribe to electronic resources that support the library’s mission and adheres to its Collection Development policy. Most of these resources are proprietary and only available to Pratt’s current students, faculty, and staff.

Types of electronic resources collected may include indexes to periodical literature and other bibliographic material, Full-text journals and newspaper databases, eBooks, Reference sources, Online archives, Multimedia, Geospatial Data, Image databases, Streaming video, Websites.

Preferred Selection Criteria

Collection Development/Quality Control
  • Uniqueness of content
  • Significant lack of duplication with other electronic resources
  • Relative completeness of content and frequency of updates
  • Relevance of subject covered to the library’s intended audience
  • Fills a gap in the library’s collection
  • Educational purpose with scholarly style and tone
  • Resource is requested/suggested by a patron
  • Favorable product reviews from review sources and/or other subscribers
  • Cost of resource and ability to sustain this continued cost
  • Provides personalization features
  • Ability to print, save, email results, and cite sources
  • Well-designed interface and intuitive functionality
  • Interface adheres to responsive-design for smartphones & tablets
  • DRM-Free ebooks
  • Provides institution-wide access and unlimited simultaneous users
  • Remote access via EZProxy/IP Authentication
  • OpenURL compliant
  • MARC records available
  • Can be indexed by our current discovery layer
  • Well-designed interface and intuitive functionality
  • Interface adheres to responsive-design for smartphones & tablets
  • ADA compliance
  • Stable consistent access (includes links that work)
  • Provides usage statistics that are COUNTER compliant
  • Responsive vendor customer service and technical support, as well as useful
Help guides
  • Vendor’s reputation and their ability to keep abreast of industry standards and trends for e-resources

Given the financial, instructional and maintenance implications required to provide
electronic resources, subscriptions are reviewed periodically to ensure they continue
to meet the original selection guidelines and expectations. Criteria for canceling a
subscription electronic resource include:

  • Usage statistics are consistently low, and remain low, in spite of efforts to market the resource
  • Considerable increase in cost of resources, especially without any corresponding increase in content or improved functionality
  • Significant access issues
  • Outdated interface and lack of functionality
  • Duplicate content is found in other electronic resources
  • A better resource becomes available, with a superior interface, more affordable cost, and other key improvements
  • Severe and repeated vendor problems


The Libraries select, develop, and deploy a broad range of online applications, systems, learning tools, and web-based interfaces. This includes vendor supplied tools such as our integrated library system, online catalog, discovery layer, research guides platform, web forms, online chat system, calendaring applications, and interactive tutorial software. When selecting systems, the Libraries select tools that help us achieve our mission and are customizable, accessible, and yield a positive user experience for our patrons.

Resource Sharing

The Libraries’ consortial agreements and resource sharing services expand access to material beyond the Libraries’ current collections. The Libraries borrow and lend materials through Interlibrary Loan as a reciprocal free lender and participate in the ConnectNY consortium to share print and digital collections with other academic libraries in New York state. Availability and use of these services inform acquisitions and assessment decisions. Borrowing requests are reviewed to identify potential purchases and the holdings of consortial partners are a factor in assessment.

About this Policy

As a living document, the Collection Development policy is subject to periodic review and adjustment. It was written collaboratively by members of the Pratt Institute Libraries Collection Development Committee and last revised in October 2022. Questions or requests for more information concerning the Pratt Institute Libraries’ Collection Development Policy may be sent to Amy Ballmer, Chairperson of Research & Collection Development. 

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