Data collection development policy

This policy governs the collection development and acquisition of data at UVA Library. All acquisitions initiated by the Library will follow these guidelines.


  • There should be broad curricular and research interest in the data to be acquired. In order to maximize impact, we strive to build a data collection useful to the largest number of people, and preference will be given to data requests that meet that requirement.
  • Access should not be restricted by school or department if purchased by UVA Library.
  • “Single user” datasets will not be purchased (e.g., iTunes model). That is, if only a single user (or project team) can use the dataset based on restrictive license terms or technical requirements, we cannot purchase the data.


  • Joint purchases between the Library, researchers, and/or departments, are encouraged.
  • Typically the library can allocate $5,000 for a research data acquisition of value to a range of research interests, and $1,000 for research data of value to a single researcher. These amounts are flexible, and we encourage researchers to consider the value of the data to the widest number of UVA affiliates.
  • At the same time, we strive to be flexible; an expensive dataset or database that has high value – broad impact across research and instruction at UVA – will be considered. Supplemental funding on the part of the researcher or schools are especially welcome in these cases.


  • Numeric, spatial, and textual data will all be considered.
  • To be included in our collections, data can be purchased, licensed, or open.
    • Purchased data are data that the Library owns outright (although there may be terms of use in a contract).
    • Licensed data are data that the Library essentially rents for a period of time, which may be predetermined or on-going.
    • Open data are data that are openly available to the public.
  • Data should be relevant to research and curricular needs of UVA.
  • Any time period, geography, or language will be considered.


  • Data are current, and do not require frequent or costly updates.
  • Data are from a credible and reliable source.
  • The vendor is a reliable business partner.

Format and access:

  • Supported access methods:
    • Mounted on Library server with IP-access (e.g., Dave Leip Election Data)
    • Mounted on Library server with dedicated terminal access (e.g., Geolytics Census CDs)
    • Online licensed databases with IP-access (e.g., Social Explorer)
    • Online data repositories with institutional memberships (e.g., ICPSR)
    • Online licensed databases with dedicated terminal access (e.g., Datastream)
    • Physical format (e.g., CD-ROM)
    • Freely available online resources
  • Preference is given to data that can be stored online and remotely accessed.
  • Preference is given to software-independent (“standard”) formats. If not software independent, the interface must offer ease of use.


  • Data must be accompanied by adequate documentation and metadata.

Decision making authority:

  • Acquisition decisions will include the Data Librarian, the relevant Liaison Librarian(s), and Collections Management within the Library.