General Collections Information

Tulane University Libraries offer a broad range of general collections for study and research. Howard-Tilton Memorial Library is Tulane's main library, and its general circulating collections are among the largest in the Gulf region of the United States. Its collection development is focused in support of Tulane's academic programs and includes nearly 4 million physical volumes housed in the main Howard-Tilton building and an off site storage facility—exclusive of the materials held in the library's archival Special Collections in Jones Hall. Howard-Tilton spends about $5.6 million annually on digital resources. As a result, Tulane's students and faculty have access to a large array of library databases, including digital facsimile collections of important scholarly material, more than 1.2 million eBooks, and articles in more than 197,700 serial titles online. The library's media collections house more than 40,000 audio recordings and more than 30,000 audio/visual recordings in physical formats, and many titles are acquired in streaming media formats as well. Tulane Libraries general collections include a Math Library in Gibson Hall. In addition, the Rudolph Matas Library of the Health Sciences on Tulane's downtown campus houses more than 165,000 print volumes of books and journals in the basic sciences, clinical medicine, and public health.  It manages a substantial collection of digital resources for the health sciences as well.

Collection Development

Collection development for the general collections is carried out through a program described in a regularly updated Collection Development Manual. The library's general collections are managed by liaison librarians who are assigned to the academic disciplines that the collections support. Through their 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 coordinators for scholarly resources representing the humanities, science & engineering, and the social sciences & government publications. The coordinators  are liaison librarians themselves and collectively serve as a working group for collection projects and to provide individual librarians with guidance in collection development.

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.

Faculty participation in the selection process is welcomed.  Direct communication with liaison librarians is encouraged, as are requests for new materials.  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 that are automatically acquired based on detailed, pre-determined subject profiles to ensure timely and more affordable receipt of scholarly materials.  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 preferred.

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 selected by the library.
  • 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 limits its acceptance of physical gifts to books and other materials that will enhance the strength of its collections in support of Tulane's current academic profile. Of primary interest are unique or rare items with obvious research value that are in good physical condition. More information can be found on our gifts web page.

Hurricane Katrina and the Library

Flooding after Hurricane Katrina left Howard-Tilton Memorial Library with about 1.5 million books and folders of manuscripts underwater and an equal number of units of microform submerged as well. The salvage, restoration, and rebuilding of the library's affected collections and eventual remediation of its destroyed spaces is a library recovery story for the ages--one that very much distinguishes Tulane Libraries. See links below for more information.