New York State Library
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General Policies

Allocation Formula

Acquisitions are funded entirely from the New York State General Fund after the state legislature passes the budget. After determination of the funding required for the Core Collection, the Library's Collection Development Committee (CDC) reviews the allocation formula annually. This formula takes into account the levels of collection development in this collection development policy. Subject areas assigned a higher collection level are allocated a higher percentage of the acquisitions budget. The CDC forwards the recommendations for the allocation formula to the Library's Executive Group for final approval.


The State Library does not collect recordings, with the exception of:

  • recorded books acquired and maintained for the use of people who are blind or physically handicapped (see entry under TBBL),
  • recordings received as part of manuscript or archival collections,
  • recordings which are documents of New York State agencies,
  • recordings which are documents of US government agencies.


Bibliographies, in a variety of formats, are collected to support and augment the research strengths of the Library, to assist in using the Library's materials and to identify library materials for referral purposes.

Core Collection

The Core Collection consists of titles that comprise a core list of monographs, journals and electronic resources essential to the goals of the New York State Library. Funding for the Core Collection will be allocated before allocations for specific subject areas are determined.

Computer Software

Computer software is acquired for internal use only in compliance with SED policies and procedures.


Databases available for searching at the State Library or for searching remotely are acquired through contractual agreements with vendors. Databases (online and CD-ROM) are acquired in subject areas of high use, or to complement areas of existing collection strength.


Doctoral dissertations are ordered in areas of special interest to the Library. Dissertations requested by clients may be ordered if within the scope of the collection development guidelines.

Films and Videos

The New York State Library does not acquire films. Videos are not usually collected by the Library because of their general availability and because the Library lacks special equipment and staff to use, maintain and circulate materials in this format. The Library may acquire videos which:

  • result from a program or workshop sponsored by the Library,
  • are useful for staff or customer training,
  • are documents of New York State government agencies,
  • are documents of US government agencies.


As a general rule, the Research Library purchases materials in all formats (e.g., paper, microform, electronic). However, unless there are compelling reasons to collect a title in multiple formats, only one format will be available for each title. For the purchase of multiple formats of core titles, the requesting subject area will be responsible for allocating funds from its budget for the second format. For the purchase of multiple formats of non-core titles, the entire funding will be charged to the subject area allocation.

Government Documents

Federal Documents

As a Regional Depository for United States government documents, the New York State Library must, under Federal law (44 USC 1912), retain all Federal depository documents in paper, microform, or electronic format unless they are authorized for discard by the Superintendent of Documents.

The depository collection is supplemented by non-depository documents and by resource materials which facilitate the use of these collections. Some examples of ancillary materials include commercial indexes, reprints, microform collections and electronic databases.

New York State Documents

The New York State Library has been designated by law as "the central repository for the distribution of public documents," (New York State Printing & Public Documents Law, Article 3, Section 11). State agencies are required to deposit copies of public documents, as defined in Section 12 of the above law, with the State Library.

United States Patents and Trademarks

The State Library participates in a separate depository program for United States patents and trademarks. See entry under Patents.

Other Government Documents

Documents of other states, municipalities, the United Nations and foreign countries (particularly Great Britain and Canada) are acquired and added to the collection when appropriate in content, scope and level. Foreign documents in languages other than English are rarely acquired.

Indexes and Abstracts

Indexes and abstracts are collected in a variety of formats (paper, online, CD-ROM, microform) to support the research interests of the Library.


The New York State Library collects selected works of imaginative literature (i.e. novels, poetry, plays, short stories) with a New York State theme.

Loose-leaf Services

Loose-leaf services appropriate to the Library collection are acquired to provide current information on rapidly changing topics, particularly in legal and regulatory fields. The Library acquires loose-leaf services selectively because of the continuing cost of maintaining these services.


Microforms are collected to enhance the preservation of materials already in the collection, or to expand the collection, within the parameters of the collection development guidelines. Microform editions of journals may be purchased instead of binding the Library's paper copy. Major microform sets are collected, within the Library's collection development guidelines, as the most cost-effective way to make these materials available statewide through the interlibrary loan network.

Multiple Copies

Although duplication of materials is generally avoided, there are some instances when the Library may acquire two or more copies of a title. Examples include working tools (e.g. Books in Print), New York State documents, US Government documents, titles in great demand, titles dealing with New York state and local history and titles in both print and microform, CD-ROM or electronic format.

New York State

Aspects of subject areas that directly pertain to New York State or New York State persons should be collected at a comprehensive level.


Revised and approved January 2015

The New York State Library's goal is to acquire and maintain a comprehensive historical collection of New York State newspapers.

  • New York State newspapers published prior to 1970 are acquired and retained in paper along with microfilm and digital format when available.
  • Post-1969 New York State newspapers may be retained in paper, particularly when they are not available in microfilm and/or digital format. Examples include the September 11, 2001 collection (QC16538) and the Metro New York Ethnic and Neighborhood Newspaper Collection (QC16543).
  • Current acquisitions include selected major New York State newspapers representative of the entire state in paper, microfilm and/or digital format.

A limited number of major national and international newspapers are acquired in paper, microfilm and/or digital format. Paper copies are discarded when alternative formats are received for those dates.

Non-New York State newspapers are retained as parts of large microform sets and paper copies in special collections (examples include the John Ellis Wool Papers [SC15361] and the DeWitt Clinton Collection).


As a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patent Depository Library, the State Library maintains a complete set of United States patents and related literature, including trademark information. Literature to support the use of this collection is obtained.

Retrospective Collection

The New York State Library has many significant retrospective collection strengths. While many of these subject areas continue to be emphasized, others are maintained at a lower level. For current collection level emphasis, consult the Library's Collection Development Policy and the Collection Development Policy for the Manuscripts and Special Collections Unit.

Standards and Specifications

The State Library maintains a large collection of current and historical technical standards and specifications, including most issued by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), a complete file of current federal and military standards and many industry standards.

Talking Book and Braille Library (TBBL)

As a Regional Library for the Library of Congress's National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), the State Library maintains a circulating collection of federally supplied materials in recorded disk and tape, braille and other special formats. The collection provided by the NLS represents a wide range of informational and recreational library materials. Other materials of regional or personal interest to eligible readers may be acquired by purchase, transcription, or recording to supplement the basic collection.

The Collection Development Policy of TBBL is not included in this document, but is available as a separate publication.

Last Updated: June 1, 2021