General Collections

Howard-Tilton Memorial Library is Tulane's main library and its general circulating collections are among the largest in the the Gulf region of the United States.  While its collection development has been tightly focused in support of Tulane's academic programs, the library's general collections have still grown to include more than 3.8 million volumes housed in the main Howard-Tilton building and an off site storage facility for older volumes—exclusive of the materials held in the library's Special Collections in Jones Hall.  Howard-Tilton spends about $4.6 million annually on digital resources. As a result, Tulane's students and faculty have access through its main library  to an uncommon array of published digital facsimile collections of scholarly material and to articles in about 81,000 journal titles, most of them online.  Post Katrina the library is rebuilding collections in music, media, and government documents--aiming to make its collections in these areas stronger than ever.  In fact, after losing all of its recorded materials, today the library's temporary Music & Media Center alone houses more than 38,000 audio recordings and more than 21,000 audio/visual recordings.  The library's Hogan Jazz Archive, undamaged after the hurricane, houses an additional 65,000 audio recordings.

Collection Development

The library's collections are managed by subject liaison ibrarians who work in departments throughout the library and are assigned to the academic disciplines that the collections support. Through liaison contacts with Tulane's academic departments, these librarians select books, journals, and other materials. Their work is coordinated by the library's associate dean who is assisted by three chief bibliographers: for the humanities, for science & engineering, and for social sciences & government publications. The chief bibliographers each carry the largest numbers of subject assignments among the subject liaison librarians and function as a working group for collection projects and provide individual librarians with guidance and mentorship.

Comprehensive Collection Policies

The library has formulated a comprehensive set of collection development policies that include detailed statements for each discipline supported. The framework for these policies is designed to reflect the academic department and cross-departmental academic program structure of the university.

Book and Journal Selection

Faculty participation in the selection process is welcomed and encouraged. Requests may be sent directly to the subject liaison librarians (bibliographers) or through department book chairs, faculty from academic departments assigned as liaisons to the library. The selection and receipt of many current books is expedited through the use of approval plans for domestic and foreign publications. These plans provide books based on a detailed, pre-determined subject profiles to ensure regular timely receipt of scholarly materials at a discount.

Because subscriptions involve both current and future funds, all journal requests are scrutinized with extra care and online access to new and existing subscriptions is sought routinely.

Collection Development requires sound collection management practices, which may occasionally involve the de-selection of physical items such as ones that are no longer used and in poor condition.  In these instances, the librarians follow a set of Guidelines for Withdrawing Materials From the Collections.  

Standards and Ethical Principles

  • Standards: The Howard-Tilton Memorial Library maintains its collections in accordance with the standards and membership criteria of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL). The library's collections must also meet criteria defined by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and numerous other accrediting agencies to which the university's degree granting programs are subject.
  • Intellectual Freedom and Censorship: The library recognizes that free access to ideas and freedom of expression are fundamental to the educational process. Consequently, the library purchases materials that represent a wide variety of viewpoints and the library subscribes to and complies with the American Library Association (ALA) Library Bill of Rights. The library does not add or withdraw, at the request of any individual or group, material which has been chosen or excluded on the basis of stated selection criteria. An individual or group questioning the appropriateness of material within the collection will be referred to the Library Dean.
  • Confidentiality: The ALA Code of Ethics states that "Librarians must protect each user's right to privacy with respect to information sought, received, and materials consulted, borrowed, or acquired." In addition, the library adheres to the ALA Policy on Confidentiality of Library Records and Confidentiality of Library Users.
  • Copyright: The library complies with the provisions of the U.S. Copyright Law (17 U.S.C.) and its amendments. The library strongly supports the "Fair Use" section of the Copyright Law (17 U.S.C. 107) which permits and protects the rights to reproduce and make other uses of copyrighted works for the purposes of teaching, scholarship, and research.


The library welcomes contributions and selected gifts of books and other materials that will enhance the strength of its collections. Of interest are scholarly or rare items with research value that are in good physical condition. More information about making a contribution or donating materials to the Library can be found on our gifts web page.

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