Library acquisitions is the department of a library responsible for the selection and purchase of materials or resources. The department may select vendors, negotiateconsortium pricing, arrange for standing orders, and select individual titles or resources.
Libraries both physical and digital, usually have four common broad goals that help dictate these responsibilities. These goals are significant to libraries in order to maintain the basic principle of access.
- 1. To acquire material as quickly as possible
- 2. To maintain a high level of accuracy in all work procedures
- 3. To keep work processes simple, in order to achieve the lowest possible unit cost
- 4. To develop close, friendly working relationships with other library units and vendors
There are generally five steps taken in order to acquire material for a library collection whether physical or digital.
- 1. Request processing
- 2. Verification
- 3. Ordering
- 4. Reporting (fiscal management)
- 5. Receiving orders
There are eight different types of acquisition methods that are followed by libraries.
- 1. Firm orders – These are orders that are determined by name specifically. For example, a specific book, textbook, or journal that the library wants.
- 2. Standing orders – These are open orders for all titles that fit a particular category or subject. For example, these are usually developed for serials and the library knows that it will want anything published in that particular series. A benefit to this style of ordering is that it is automatic and the acquisitions department does not have to order the next in series.
- 3. Approval plans – These are normally similar to standing orders except they cover quite a few topic areas and are sent from the vendor and the library is only charged for the specific titles that they accept into their collection. Under these circumstances the library is free to return anything they do not wish to add to their collections. A benefit to this style of ordering is that the acquisitions department can sometimes make better decisions with the materials in hand versus an order form.
- 4. Blanket orders – These are largely a combination of both a firm order and an approval plan. Blanket orders are the library making a commitment to purchase all of something. For example, a library makes a contract with a certain publisher or vendor and will purchase everything that this publisher or vendor has available in regards to a topic. A benefit to this style of ordering is an automatic acquisition of materials for a particular field, which can be beneficial to specialized libraries or academic libraries.
- 5.Subscriptions – These are generally utilized for journals, newspapers, or other serials that a library will acquire. Like standing and blanket orders, a library only has to develop a contract once with a vendor or publisher and these are automatically delivered when they are printed. Many times subscriptions are for a period of time and must be renewed at the end of the contract.
- 6. Leases – These are contracts that allow access to particular resources for a period of time. Leases are most commonly utilized with electronic resources such as databases, journals, and web-based materials. The library is paying for access to the material versus paying for ownership of the material.
- 7. Gifts – In some cases libraries may allow gifts that people give to the library. It is the job of the acquisitions department to determine whether or not the gift will be kept and incorporated into the library’s collection. This is most generally a method of large academic institutions and the persons giving the gifts are mostly alumni of that institution. It is stated within a collection development policy as to whether or not the library will accept gifts.
- 8. Exchanges – These can be broken into two subcategories: exchange of unwanted duplicate or gift materials AND the exchange of new materials between libraries. Again the institutions that usually have a process for this type of acquiring are larger academic or research libraries. This is also a process of consortia.