Collection Development


Timely access to research and learning content for the Cornell community is the Library’s first priority in the scholarly resources arena and a prerequisite for continuing to develop Cornell’s academic distinction, educational verve, and community engagement.

In support of this priority, we’ve drafted the following principles to guide our policy and practice:

  • We at Cornell University Library develop collections for use by the Cornell community today and in the future.
  • Collection development at the Library also supports collection preservation, and the availability of content beyond the Cornell community.
  • Collection development at the Library benefits from the coordination of efforts with other research and learning institutions.
  • Collection development at the Library seeks to make the best possible use of limited financial resources and takes into account all the costs of ownership and access (including acquisition, processing, storage, and preservation).
  • The success of collection development at the Library is measured by regular quantitative and qualitative assessment.
  • Attentive to the multiple intersecting ways that our Library collection reflects societal histories of bias, exclusion, and oppression, collection development at Cornell seeks to redress omissions and to advance research and teaching that critically examines unjust structures, contributing to their dismantlement.
  • Our Library’s collection development principles are reviewed regularly to align with changing university priorities.

Funding and Expenditures

To meet the research and teaching needs of the Cornell community across the disciplines, our collections budget pays for access to a vast range of resources – text, images, data, and more in various electronic and physical formats. Our collections budget, which totals around $18 million annually, is comprised of an appropriation from Cornell University, restricted and unrestricted endowment funds, and gifts to the Library.

Licensing Electronic Resources

We subscribe to over a million ejournals, ebooks, and databases from thousands of publishers. They are licensed individually and in bundles, either directly or through one of many third-party aggregators or service providers. These licensed electronic resources amount to more than 70% of the Library’s annual collections expenditure of over $20 million.