Collection Development

F. W. Olin Library generally collects material that supports the curriculum or campus research and will be used by the campus community over time. With very few exceptions, we do not collect self-published books. Here are the guidelines that direct our collection development:

  1. Supporting the curriculum or research can include but is not limited to materials required for courses (but not necessarily textbooks—see #3), materials that will be useful for students’ independent or course related research, or materials that are necessary for staff or faculty research for which interlibrary loan is not possible or will not suffice. Additionally, we collect materials relating to higher education, pedagogy, research methods, academic writing, etc, whether related to a specific field/division or more general in addition to juvenile materials to support students in the School of Education.
  2. New acquisitions should have the potential to be used by the campus community over time. Though we collect popular materials in addition to academic, we cannot purchase multiple copies of a single title that will likely be untouched once the current popularity passes. We also strive to purchase the most up-to-date edition of materials which may require us to delay the purchase of material that is likely to come out in a new edition in the next year.
  3. Though we will put textbooks on reserve for classes, we generally do not purchase them for the collection as they are quickly out of date, republished in a new edition, or otherwise no longer required. We will accept personal copies of textbooks from professors or departments to be put on reserve; we will not add them to the permanent collection.
  4. We maintain fiction and leisure collections, so popular materials are also appropriate purchases. This can include but is not limited to fiction, juvenile or young adult fiction, popular nonfiction and essays, biographies and memoirs, DVDs, graphic novels, comic books, and manga.
  5. We collect the published work of Mills College and Northeastern University-Oakland professors, staff, and alums, whether academic or leisure in nature.

Donation Guidelines

The library accepts book donations at the discretion of the librarians. Large donations without warning will generally not be accepted. Acceptance of a donation does not constitute an agreement to add all items to the library’s collection. Items not added to the collection will be shipped to Better World Books to be sold in service of the library or if not sold, recycled. The library cannot supply any tax documentation or appraisal for your donation although an acknowledgement can be provided on request.

Textbooks should not be donated to the library; take them to the Re-Use Depot instead.

For information regarding donations of rare books, archives, and manuscripts to special collections please inquire at [email protected]


In order to maintain a collection that is up-to-date and meeting the needs of the current Mills College at Northeastern University curriculum and community, items may be de-accessioned. Librarians choose to de-accession items based on a number of criteria including the currency of the material, history of use, importance in the field, and availability to borrow the item from other libraries if needed. Items may also be de-accessioned if they are damaged (excessive cover wear, pages missing, moldy, non-playing media, etc). Damaged items will be replaced with the same or newer editions at the librarians’ discretion.

Items that were part of the original Sage Library collection, as noted by a Sage Library bookplate, and items listed as part of our retention agreement with the SCELC shared print program will not be de-accessioned.