Library Collections Info

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Managing Our Physical Collections

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is proud to have the 11th largest research collection in North America. Our library collections have over 8 million volumes spread over 125 miles of shelving in multiple campus buildings. Responding to teaching and research needs, both current and those of the future, we continue to develop and grow our collections, adding over a mile of print material per year on average. While our users increasingly access our content online and while we are challenged by competing priorities for campus spaces, the Libraries are firmly committed to retaining and curating unique content, regardless of format. Furthermore, we recognize and acknowledge our role as stewards long into the future. (read more...)

Financial Challenges to the Collection, FY12-13

Like all other University of Wisconsin units, the UW-Madison Libraries are facing significant budget challenges. Flat or decreasing State budget allocations inhibit our response to changing market costs. Escalating expectations for immediate access to content compete with desires for depth and breadth. Our collections of distinction demand development and attention just as emergent trends and disciplines do. Ever rising publisher prices and restrictive business models continue to confine us. In the past, the Library has used flexible funding sources (such as gifts or grants) to supplement an increasingly inadequate budget; these funds are now less available for special purchases as they are needed to support routine services. These combined pressures (and more) will result in significantly reduced buying power for collections in the 2012-2013 fiscal year. (read more...)

The University of Wisconsin Libraries comprise a complex and growing system that supports faculty and student research and curricular needs. The information provided here is to keep the campus community informed and involved in the growth and support of our libraries.

Mission Statement

The UW-Madison Libraries support the teaching, research, and outreach missions of the university by providing access to and delivery of information. To that end the libraries acquire, organize, make accessible, and preserve source of knowledge in all formats. They also provide instruction on how to find and evaluate knowledge resources. The libraries provide safe, respectful environments for collaborative and individual study and learning.

More information is available in our Libraries Strategic Plans and Annual Reports.

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About the Campus Libraries and their Collections

The UW-Madison Libraries are the 11th largest research collection in North America. The Libraries serve over 4 million visitors a year and our collections include:

  • More than 7.3 million printed volumes
  • 55,000 serial titles
  • 6.2 million microforms
  • 160 linear feet of manuscripts
  • Over 7 million items in other formats, including government documents, maps, musical scores and more

The campus is served by Memorial Library, the largest library in Wisconsin, as well as numerous subject, professional and special purpose libraries.

The Libraries' collections are developed and managed by subject specialists. Purchase recommendations from patrons are always welcome.

The UW-Madison Libraries participates as a member of the following consortia: the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) - comprised of Big Ten institutions plus the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois - Chicago), the Council of University of Wisconsin Libraries (CUWL), and the Wisconsin E-Book Consortium. As a benefit of membership in these groups, the Libraries license some of our databases collectively, negotiate discounts on shared electronic resources, coordinate resource sharing, and maximize the efficacy of our expenditures and our expertise.

The UW-Madison Libraries supplement our on-site collections with the resources of the nationally recognized Center for Research Libraries (CRL).

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Electronic Collections

Electronic resources are a growing part of UW Madison Libraries collections. There are currently over 20,000 journals available electronically, as well as numerous e-books.

Many of these resources are accessed through more than 650 databases available to UW-Madison library users and through the Library Catalog.

As journal subscriptions continue to evolve from print to electronic access, we consider a number of factors when determining what to offer and how best to do so:

  • Content
  • Pricing
  • Budget
  • Usage
  • Access
  • Functionality
  • Archiving
  • Duplication
  • Licensing Terms
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Special Collections

The UW-Madison Libraries have many rare and specialized collections. Among our notable special collections:

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UW Digital Collections

Since 2001, the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections (UWDC) has digitized over 1 million page of texts and images. Among the topics covered are collections related to the state of Wisconsin, Africa Focus, decorative arts, primate literature, the University of Wisconsin, and Southeast Asian Images and Texts. Use this E-Resource Gateway link to see a list of UWDC resources.

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