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University of Groningen Library
University of Groningen Library Collections

Collection management

Collection management at the University of Groningen Library

In 1615, six months after the founding of the University of Groningen, the University Library was established opposite the Academy Building on the Broerplein. The current UB City Centre is still in the same location. Over the centuries, the collection has grown enormously and changed dramatically in character. What started with approximately 400 books is now a modern library with millions of books and journals, and a rapidly growing collection of e-books, e-journals and online information resources.

The collection management policy described below applies to the UB City Centre and UB Zernike and the associated closed stacks. The Central Medical Library pursues its own collection policy.

The collection

The starting point of the collection management policy is to support education and research at the UG, by offering students, teachers and researchers access to a relevant, up-to-date and inspiring (mainly academic) collection. Where possible, the University Library facilitates a freely accessible and digital collection. We encourage open access, and make as much material as possible available online through licensing and purchasing. Our digital collection has now grown to 1.7 million e-books, 150,000 e-journals, and over 500 licences on databases and other digital resources.

The physical collection consists of 2.4 million publications (books and bound volumes of journals) and an audio-visual media collection. In addition, we host the historical collections, managed by the Special Collections Department: manuscripts, incunabula, papyri, printed works up to and including 1900, newspapers, pamphlets, bibliophile editions, letters, personal estates, historical atlases and maps. Finally, the UB holds a number of special quality collections, such as the Groningana collection.


The UB has three locations: UB City Centre, UB Zernike and the Central Medical Library. A small part of the books and journals are offered here in so-called open display. The vast majority of the physical material is kept in our closes stacks. The entire collection is searchable via SmartCat and a list of digital resources. Students, staff and external users can request books and journals, and pick them up at any of the three locations or in Leeuwarden at Tresoar. However, some works are too fragile, too expensive or too important and can therefore only be consulted on site at a library. The digital collection can be accessed by students and staff anywhere. External users have access via the ‘walk-in computers’ in the UB City Centre.

Materials that are not part of our own collection can easily be requested from other libraries, via SmartCat. For employees, these Interlibrary Loan (ILL) requests are free of charge. Students can make ILL requests within the Netherlands free of charge.

Collection specialists and license managers

The collection specialists are the point of contact regarding the collection. They maintain short, personal lines of communication with the departments and/or faculties. In addition, they are, in consultation with the departments, responsible for the composition and presentation of the collection on the open shelves. The license managers maintain the licenses on digital collections and, together with the collection specialists have a preparatory and advisory role in procurement. A large part of the licenses are concluded nationwide.

Library committees

Most faculties have a library committee, which serves as a consultation platform between the UB and the faculty. On behalf of the UB, a department head, a collections specialist and when necessary, a license manager participate in the meetings. For decisions around subject-specific licenses, the collection specialists, together with the license managers, provide the library committees with substantive and budgetary advice.

Selection and acquisition

The acquisition of e-books and e-journals is largely automated: through arrangements with major academic publishers, much relevant literature is readily available at the time of publication. Selection of individual titles is demand-driven. The University Library purchases required and recommended educational literature. In addition, acquisition suggestions may be submitted using a request form on the website, or by contacting a collections specialist.

The UB prefers to purchase new material in digital form: as an e-book or e-journal. When this is not possible, for example because of high costs or restrictions placed to free use, books or journals are purchased on paper.


In addition to acquisition, deselection also contributes significantly to the quality of a collection; it is an integral part of collection management. Currently, the UB is dealing with limited warehouse space, hence a process is being established to de-duplicate the physical collection where possible and to remove selected material from the collection. In this process we are applying strict criteria, adhering to the national retention policies of the UKB libraries, and take into account special quality collections and areas of interest.

Bequests and donations

The UB has a strict policy regarding bequests and donations. Only publications that are not present in the Netherlands or that belong in the Special Collections may currently be included in the collection.

Further reading
Last modified:08 February 2024 09.05 a.m.
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