Reference Collecting Principles


Our reference collection provides Western Australians with free and equitable access to documentary resources in response to their immediate needs for learning, growth and enjoyment. This collection aims to bring the world of information to Western Australians.

The collection makes available reference resources which:

  • reflect key Australian reference publications; and
  • cover all subject areas sufficient to support self directed learning to an undergraduate study level.

We develop this collection to satisfy the immediate needs of Western Australians for current information rather than for historical or post graduate research.

Collecting intent

This collection has a focus on Australian content, however it includes significant overseas content of relevance/interest to many Western Australians.

Where there is known client demand and existing collection strength, we designate specific collecting areas - currently these are:

These specific areas may contain resources for post graduate study or historical research.

We review existing owned collections to ensure they are current and provided in the most effective way. This is particularly relevant for areas where information becomes dated.

We develop this collection through a changing combination of owned and accessed resources, with the emphasis on accessed rather than owned.

This collection has a finite retention period to ensure it remains current and dynamic. Any exceptions are outlined in the specific collecting profiles.


Electronic resources may duplicate those provided through other state libraries. This reinforces our intent to move toward national access for information resources common to the needs of Australians.

State Library reference collections fill a niche between public library collections and academic library collections. We aim to minimize overlap with these collections in line with the general principles for duplication.

No duplicates are kept within this reference collection, unless specifically stated in this framework.

Reference items no longer required in the public library collection may be selected for transfer to State Library reference collections to fill gaps.


Full text digital resources are collected in preference to print unless specifically noted in a collecting profile.

We selectively own or acquire print format where:

  • a specific title falls under a collaborative print collecting arrangement.
  • a digital equivalent or alternative is unavailable.
  • cost or access restrictions make other formats non viable.


This collection is in English unless a resource:

  • assists in the translation to or from English; or
  • is a popular international newspaper in the language of country of origin.

Collecting analysis

Usage will be a key factor in determining ongoing access and retention to each resource in this collection.

We develop processes and programs to determine and improve cost per use and review the continuation of access to high cost per use resources.

Budget emphasis

Our budget for the purchase of collection resources is finite so we will be selective in collection decisions. The budget allocation for reference resources will be based on both accessed and owned resources with the budget emphasis on digital resources.

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Page last updated: Tuesday 23 November 2010

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