Fundamentals of Acquisitions

Description: This 6-week course provides a basic primer for library acquisitions concepts common to all library material formats. Topics include:

  • Goals and methods of acquiring monographs and serials in all formats;
  • Theoretical foundations and workflows of basic acquisitions functions;
  • Financial management of library collections budgets;
  • Relationships among acquisitions librarians, library booksellers, subscription agents, and publishers.

In this course, we distinguish between collection development, which involves the selection of materials for the library; and acquisitions, which orders, receives, and pays for those materials. In many libraries, selecting and acquiring materials may be done in the same department—in the smallest libraries perhaps even by the same person. In larger libraries, selection may be done by a collection development department and/or designated subject specialists, while a separate department acquires the selected materials. In essence, acquisitions is the business operation, bringing materials into the library and licensing access to library collections and resources.

Because success in acquisitions depends on ability to collaborate, negotiate, and be flexible to work out win-win solutions with others, this course includes collaborative and social elements.

Sessions tend to sell out weeks in advance but are offered several times each year.  You only need to sign up for one session.

2024 Sessions

Click on a date range to register for that session.

Format: Students receive login instructions one week prior to the course start date. Students have 24/7 access to the course site for the 6-week period, and aside from assignment and quiz deadlines, the course may be completed at their own pace. Instructors provide guidance and feedback as students work their way through the course material. Weekly, instructor-moderated chat sessions are the only live course events that students are asked to attend.

Weekly Chat Schedule: The following times are tentative and may change according to instructor availability.

  • Week 1: Tuesday at 2:00 pm CT
  • Week 2: Wednesday at 2:00 pm CT
  • Week 3: Wednesday at 1:00 pm CT
  • Week 4: Thursday at 12:00 noon CT
  • Week 5: Tuesday at 11:00 am CT
  • Week 6: Wednesday at 2:00 pm CT

Learning Outcomes

This course provides a broad overview of the operations involved in acquiring materials after the selection decision is made.

Who Should Attend

As a fundamentals course, FOA is tailored for librarians and paraprofessionals new to the acquisitions field; and librarians and support staff from other library units and library school or LSSC students who want to know more about acquisitions. Although FOA focuses on the acquisitions of monographs in various physical formats, it covers key components of acquisition and licensing processes for all library materials, in all formats, in all types of libraries.



  • Jennifer Arnold is the Director of Library Services at Central Piedmont (N.C.) Community College.
  • Lauren DeVoe is the Order and Continuing Resources Librarian at Columbia University.
  • Donna Smith is the Electronic Resources Librarian at Northern Kentucky University.
  • Lisa Spagnolo is the Acquisitions Librarian at University California, Davis.
  • Tracey Thompson is the Director of Collection Management Services at King County Library System.



  • $196.71 Core members;
  • $224.10 ALA members;
  • $249.00 nonmembers.

Registration fees are in U.S. dollars.

How to Register

Register Here

Register by Mail

Register by mail using the print registration form. Tip: If you’re unable to open this “register by mail” link, right-click the link and save the form to your computer. 


For registration questions, call 1-800-545-2433 to speak to our customer service representatives.

Registration Deadline

Registration for each course is limited to 25 people. For courses that are not sold out, online and fax registration ends at 12 noon CDT on the Monday before the course begins. Mailed registration forms must be postmarked by two Mondays prior to the course start date.

Core Code of Conduct

Please review our Statement of Conduct before registering.

Tech Requirements

A Moodle-developed site is composed of self-paced modules with facilitated interaction led by the instructors. There are predetermined start and end dates and a suggested pace which include interaction with the instructors and your classmates. Students regularly use the forum and chat room functions to facilitate their class participation. Section quizzes are offered and feedback given, however, there is no final class grade.

The course website will be open for 1 week prior to the start date for students to have access to Moodle instructions and set their browser correctly. It will remain open 1 week after the end date for students to complete any sections and submit the course evaluation survey.


Contact Hours - 36 hours

Core defines contact hours in line with the IACET standards on Continuing Education Units.

Certificates of completion are sent upon successful completion (passing score of 70% or higher) of the course.

This course is one-third of the Collection Management Elective course approved by the Library Support Staff Certification Program (LSSCP). Collection Management Elective FAQ


For questions about registration, contact ALA Registration by calling 1-800-545-2433 or email

For all other questions or comments related to this course, please contact