The Caltech Library’s collection development is managed by Subject Librarians in the Research Services (RS) group. These Librarians choose material that reflects current campus research and teaching needs given limitations such as space, price, and processing. The Subject Librarians work together to make every effort to distribute resources equitably between Caltech Divisions and other campus stakeholders. Librarians collect and license material exclusively for current Caltech students, researchers, faculty, and staff and only accept purchase requests from said groups. 

Format Preferences

Unless specifically requested, we prefer to acquire books and journals electronically.

With respect to electronic books our format priorities are: unlimited access with concurrent users, DRM-free, and downloadable chapters/ebook. We will buy print, cost permitting, if there are no ebooks available, if available ebooks do not match our above priorities, or if we don’t have a license from that publisher to acquire their ebooks. We will also buy print books when specifically asked to do so by a Caltech library patron.


We only collect textbooks if they are being used for a class or are requested by a Caltech patron. We make sure that there is at least 1 copy of each book identified for each class in AdoptaText (the course reserve system) on reserve. For classes we try to have 1 book on reserve for every 15 students registered in the class. AdoptaText defaults to closed reserves but, due to space constraints, not all reserves fit in the closed reserve space.

We do not keep multiple copies of older editions of textbooks. When a new edition is released we try to withdraw extra older editions and keep just one print book of each edition. Exceptions to this include but are not limited to: high use, Caltech authorship, rarity, or an older edition is used for a class.


The Library works with a set book and journal budget each fiscal year. All subjects and Divisions draw from this same collections money.