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Library Collection Policy

V3 Revised February 2022


1.     Policy objectives

2.     Strategic fit

3.     Measuring effectiveness

4.     Scope of policy

5.     Delegations

6.     Recognition of the value of Books in the Balance Sheet

7.     Publicly available information

8.     Collection guidelines

9.     Language

10.    Purchase requests

11.    Special collections

12.    Resourcing

13.    Curate Victorian legal history material

14.    Cataloguing

15.    Review of the Collection Policy

1. Policy objectives

The policy underpins the Library’s strategy. The Policy is an essential tool for the library’s first priority: provide a comprehensive and authoritative collection (Library Strategic Priority 1).

This policy is designed to achieve the outcome: Judicial officers, the profession and community have access to authoritative legal information when needed. Judicial officers and the profession have flexibility about where and when they access legal information.

The Library is responsive to Court Services Victoria (CSV), jurisdictions, and the profession and their respective needs.

2. Strategic fit

The Policy prioritises purchasing digital resources so that they may enhance legal research capabilities for judicial officers and the profession (Strategic Priority 2).

The Policy will be communicated to judicial officers and the profession as part of the Library’s communication plan. Judicial officers and the profession may have input into collecting decisions (Strategic Priority 3).

The Policy is intended to complement the collections of key organisations, and foster collaboration with publishers (Strategic Priority 4).

Good management of the Policy, and its effective implementation, will enhance library governance (Strategic Priority 5).

3. Measuring effectiveness

The effectiveness of the policy, and the effectiveness of its implementation, is measured by:

  • Seamless digital access to the collection, with a target of 100% of subscribed licensed content accessible seamlessly
  • Maintain 24/7 access to the digital collection, with a target of 98% non-maintenance up time between 6am – 10pm
  • Use of the digital library represents no less than 95% of total library use
  • Target 5% annual increase in usage for digital resources

Collections management improvements are achieved through:

  • Annual review of the collection policy following input from jurisdictions and the profession
  • Annual review of content across digital and print resources, and reviewed during procurement

4. Scope of policy

The policy guides all purchasing decisions, with certain considerations including:

a. Unless otherwise stated (for example, where ‘monographs’ are specifically referenced), Collection Guidelines are for publications purchased in digital form, with licence agreements that provide access via the internet for all lawyers who have paid a library fee on admission to practice.

b. Print format will be purchased instead of digital if the licence agreements referenced in 4. a. do not demonstrate value for money.

c. Print format for titles in the Core collection will only be discontinued when digital access via the internet by all lawyers who have paid a library fee on admission to practice to the equivalent material is secured under agreement with the publisher for a period of five years hence or greater. 

d. When material is being purchased by request as part of a service agreement that includes payment for particular publications with specific access arrangements, purchasing decisions for such agreements may take precedence over Collection Guidelines in this policy.

5. Delegations

The Library Committee is the approver of this Policy.

Primary responsibility for selection recommendations lies with the Manager, Collections and Reader Experience working closely with the Manager, Reference Services, based on Collection Guidelines in this Policy, advice from the Collections Librarian and Reference Librarians, previous usage, uniqueness/substitutability, and cost.

The Manager Collections and Reader Experience actively seeks input on collecting decisions from jurisdictions and the profession as an annual process. 

Decision-making for acquisition of items for the collection is subject to delegation of expenditure conferred by the Library Committee.

Issues related to purchasing decisions are referred to the Director Law Library of Victoria for resolution and final decision.

The Policy is supported by collection procedures which contain further detail.

6. Recognition of the value of Books in the Balance Sheet

The value of the Supreme Court Library print collection is recognised as an asset in the Balance Sheet. The value reported in the Balance Sheet is based on an independent valuation carried out by a suitably qualified valuer. 

A revaluation of the Supreme Court Library Collection carried out by a suitably qualified valuer should be undertaken every five years or as determined by the Library Committee and the Governance Policy and Procedure Manual. 

7. Publicly available information

Links to authoritative digital resources which are freely available on the internet are included in the Digital Library. Examples of content includes:

  • Legislation of Victoria, Commonwealth and all other Australian states and territories are available via the Library website
  • Commonwealth and Victorian parliamentary debates
  • Victorian government gazettes
  • Journals and other legal publications
  • Websites or publications of legal organisations

8Collection guidelines

8.1  Core collection

  • Authorised and general law reports and digests for Victoria and all other Australian jurisdictions, and England;
  • Specialised law report series from all Australian jurisdictions and England covering select subjects;
  • Legal encyclopaedias, dictionaries, citators and indexes covering Australia and England;
  • Legal journals published in Australia and select international journals;
  • Legal related texts published in Victoria;
  • Texts covering Victorian law.

8.2  Auxiliary collection

  • Authorised and general law reports and digests for Canada, New Zealand, and other common law jurisdictions;
  • Legal encyclopaedias, dictionaries, citators and indexes covering New Zealand, Canada and the United States.
  • Texts covering Commonwealth and interstate material and other common law countries
  • United States material is purchased only if the content has not been dealt with extensively by any of the common law jurisdictions listed above.


English is the predominant language of the collection.

10Purchase requests

The Library provides a facility via the Library website to recommend new items for purchase for the Supreme Court Library Collection via the Contact us form.

Requests will be considered against the Collection guidelines outlined in this policy. 

The final decision to purchase a resource may be made by the Director, Law Library of Victoria.

11. Special collections

11.1  Judgments

The Library maintains a collection of publicly available judgments from all jurisdictions. Where permitted, these judgments are made accessible on the Judgments Database via the Library website.

Judgments are also made available electronically to AustLII, BARNET JADE and other legal publishers as the agent of the Council of Law Reporting in Victoria.

11.2  Judges speeches

The Library maintains a collection of welcome and farewell speeches. Access is by request to the duty Librarian.

11.3  Rare books and the Classics Collection

The Classics Collection of 18th century books was collected during the early years of the establishment of the Supreme Court Library. It consists of a range of generalist texts and classic novels. This collection is housed in the Classics Room. Access to the collection is at the discretion of the Library Director.

The Library does not pursue additional purchasing to supplement these collections. However donations may be accepted. The collections are maintained for historical purposes and are included in the Library catalogue.

The Supreme Court Library also holds many other rare and old books. Access to these items is at the discretion of the Reference Librarian on duty.

11.4  Collections from prominent retired judges

The Library holds a small number of legal textbook collections from prominent retired Judges.

Incorporation of collections is at the discretion of the Director, Law Library of Victoria.

12. Resourcing

12.1  Collaboration and partnerships

The Library is a party to a Memorandum of Understanding to the Court Library Consortia. The Consortia’s strategic objectives include facilitating co-operative collection development.

The Library strives to cooperate with other substantial law libraries, such as the Melbourne Law School, and the State Library of Victoria, to maintain a combined comprehensive collection available locally and nationally. This includes community legal service libraries, law firm libraries, university libraries and the Victorian Government Library Service.

12.2  Funding the collection

The Law Library of Victoria is funded from a number of sources. Funding will determine the extent to which resources are purchased, with two fundamental guiding principles:

  • Digital resources available to judicial officers is purchased with funds from the Courts or the State.
  • Purchase of print material held in the Supreme Court Library and digital resources for the profession is purchased with funds from the profession, or profession-related organisations.

12.3  Gifts and donations

The Library accepts donations of hardcopy publications on the basis that they become the property of the Library and any item not required will be offered for donation to other organisations or persons, or discarded.

Donations will be refused if material does not meet the selection criteria outlined in this policy or is already held by the Library and duplicates are not required.

The cost of cataloguing, storage and conservation are also important considerations in determining acceptance, therefore donated materials may need to be accompanied by funds to cover those costs.

The Library accepts donations of superseded material from other libraries if they meet the criteria outlined in this policy.

All donations of collection materials to the Library are gifts. The Library will not accept donations of material on a permanent loan. Once material is accepted and added to the Library collection, the Library reserves the right to catalogue, store, conserve and provide access to material at its absolute discretion.

The Library does not usually accept donations with access restrictions, except for restricted Judgments. However, the Library may accept materials which due to their rarity or value may be deemed important to hold in closed or restricted access.

Unencumbered monetary donations are also welcomed. The Supreme Court Library has deductable gift status.

13. Curate Victorian legal history material

13.1  Preservation

The Library will curate and preserve the historic print legal collection taking into consideration the selection criteria. Binding, digitisation and conservation will be undertaken if required and when funds permit, following the guidelines in the Collection Procedures, the library’s Disaster Recovery Plan and Business Continuity Plan.

13.2  Collection maintenance

Maintenance of the collection will be undertaken by Library staff or other experts when required.

All formats making up the collection for a particular subject area i.e. books, journals, digital resources, etc. are assessed on a regular basis.

13.3  Storage

Other than for publications purchased according to terms of service agreements, the Supreme Court Library is the usual place for storage of Library material.

Where offsite storage is appropriate, a Public Records Office of Victoria approved storage facility is used.

13.4  Deselection

The Library actively manages the collection which includes, from time to time, deselecting material for discard. Discard decisions are in alignment with the collection profile as described in this policy. The Library may use the following methods of disposal of materials from its collections:

  • Donation to other libraries or appropriate institutions, including donation through programs to libraries or legal bodies in developing countries;
  • Sale to a reputable book seller;
  • In the case of publications not required by other libraries or institutions, and unsuitable for sale, secure recycling disposal is arranged.

14. Cataloguing

The Court Library Consortia shares a Library Management System (LMS) with each library contributing items to the catalogue.

All Library resources are catalogued onto Libraries Australia and holdings added to the LMS.

Any new original cataloguing input by the Law Library of Victoria will meet Libraries Australia required data elements using MARC21 (Machine-Readable Cataloguing) standards.

The Law Library of Victoria follows the standards recommended by Libraries Australia:

  • The standard for descriptive cataloguing in Libraries Australia is Resource Description and Access (RDA)
  • The standard for subject heading classification in Libraries Australia is Library of Congress Subject Headings.
  • The standard for name heading classification in Libraries Australia is Library of Congress Name Authorities.

The Law Library of Victoria uses the 23rd edition of Dewey Decimal Classification and relative index (DDC 23) for assigning classification numbers.

15. Review of the Collection Policy

This policy will be reviewed annually to meet the strategic priorities of the Library, the changing needs of the Library, judiciary and the legal profession.