The University of Texas Libraries strive to build and maintain a strong research collection across all the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to serve as a critical information resource for the constituent colleges of Natural Sciences, Pharmacy, and Nursing; the Cockrell School of Engineering; and the Jackson School of Geosciences, all of which offer bachelors and graduate degrees through the PhD level. The purpose of the collection is two-fold: 1) To meet the needs of students in degree programs; and 2) to meet the needs of advanced researchers (faculty, staff scientists, postdocs, etc.) in these fields.
The increasingly interdisciplinary nature of STEM research and teaching has made the lines between traditional disciplines less defined, and this is reflected in the dynamic array of Organized Research Units that bring together researchers from various fields, and similar cross-disciplinary specializations in degree programs. Librarians are attuned to the fluidity of research frontiers and curricula, and develop the collection collaboratively when content does not fall neatly into one statement.
No library can hope to acquire everything that its users might need now or in the future, but our goal is to provide direct campus-wide access to content that is needed most frequently, in formats that are best suited to needs and budget, while simultaneously providing indirect access to content that is not locally available, via interlibrary services. Librarians in the Science Division, who also serve as liaisons to the constituent departments and colleges, make decisions about what content to acquire, and in what format, based on many factors, not all of which can be described in the brief individual subject statements. Ultimately the decisions rest on these underlying considerations: the known or inferred needs of the campus community, modes of discovery and access, authority of the content, anticipated usage, licensing terms, the current budget, and relative value.
It should be noted that a substantial part of the Libraries’ current collecting process is automated, either via profiled purchase plans (for books in either print or electronic format) or “package” publisher-based annual licenses (for journals, series, and some books, typically in electronic format). These automated acquisitions and subscriptions are routinely monitored for coverage and performance, as well as value. They are particularly important in STEM subjects, and may provide the majority of content acquired in some of these fields.
These policies describe current collecting practices, i.e., what the Libraries are acquiring now, in the subject areas listed. They may not be reflective of past collecting practices. The management and preservation of existing collections are described in other policies that are not subject-specific. While hardcopy science and technology materials are physically dispersed across a number of branch libraries and storage facilities, they should be seen as a single collection, in tandem with their digital counterparts.
Library patrons who have questions about the development of the science and technology collection should contact their respective liaison librarians as listed in the individual subject statements.