Gordon Library’s policies support equitable use and access to library resources for research and learning. The Gordon Library also supports and affirms WPI policies, including those on privacy, acceptable use of computing resources, copyright compliance, and web accessibility.

These policies have been revised and approved by the library’s leadership team in October 2017, June 2018, and March 2023. For more information about the library’s policies, please contact the library’s administrative team, library-admin@wpi.edu, or Anna Gold, University Librarian, akgold@wpi.edu.

Library Use

The Gordon Library seeks to provide all library patrons with a welcoming, comfortable, and safe environment to support their research, learning, and study needs.

General Use & Conduct

All library users are expected to respect library facilities, collections, other users, and staff; and all users are required to comply with directions from library staff and other WPI officials in the performance of their duties. Disruptive or hostile behavior of any sort is not permitted and will not be tolerated. 

To ensure that students who need quiet study are not disturbed, all users are asked to respect designated quiet study areas, which include the first floor of the library. Other quiet study areas are noted on posted library floor plans.

Food and drink are allowed in most parts of Library except where otherwise posted. To help keep the library clean, please protect library materials and equipment, and use designated trash and recycle bins.

Destruction or defacement of Library materials by marking on or removing pages or other destructive activities toward materials, art, objects, equipment or facilities are considered acts of vandalism and violate the WPI Student Code of Conduct. Any person who willfully defaces any library material or facility may be subjected to loss of library privileges or to other actions by the university. 

Animals may not be brought into the library unless specifically approved by Library Administration or unless the animal is serving as a service animal, special occasion therapy animal, or law enforcement animal. This policy aligns with WPI general polices for animals on campus property, including classrooms, research labs, and other shared academic spaces.

Users who do not comply with the Gordon Library Use & Conduct Policy may be asked to leave the building or refused future access. Problems, concerns, or policy violations may be reported to any library staff member or to library@wpi.edu.

Electronic Resources


Use of library electronic resources implies acceptance of the WPI Acceptable Use Policy.

Personal research use: Gordon Library licenses electronic resources from publishers and information providers to support the research, teaching, and learning needs of the WPI community. In some cases, the terms of our license agreements limit access to current WPI students, faculty and other employees, for personal research use. Licensed library resources cannot be used for commercial purposes.

Systematic downloading prohibited: Publishers and information providers prohibit systematic downloading or republishing of articles, books, search results, and other information from licensed databases and other research products. Prohibited use includes downloading thousands of records from databases, or entire works, whether journals or books.  Systematic downloading, even for personal research purposes, can result in temporary and partial or complete loss of access to this content for other WPI users. In this case WPI will investigate usage reports to identify users who are violating the publisher’s license, so that steps can be taken to resolve the situation and restore access to other users.

Data mining: Some library resource licenses permit data mining of resources, with prior notice to the library and to the publisher. For more information please consult a research librarian who can refer you to the appropriate staff member to pursue this option.

Library Computers


Use of library computers implies acceptance of the WPI Acceptable Use Policy. Current WPI students, faculty, and staff may use any of the computers located throughout the library after logging in with their WPI username and password.

WPI alumni, Academic and Research Collaborative (ARC) visitors, and other guests may use the computers on the main floor upon presentation of a WPI alumni library card or an ARC card. Guests must present a photo ID, and limited computer access is available for public use; with a two-hour time limit. Although WPI alumni, ARC members, and guests are welcome to use the computers on the main floor, WPI students, faculty, and staff have priority over other users.

Please note that some of WPI’s licensing agreements limit access to currently enrolled WPI students and current WPI staff and faculty.

For information on printing, scanning, borrowing technology, or using your own laptop in the building, please consult the ITS website or inquire at the IT Service Desk located on the library’s main entrance level.


Your privacy while using the Gordon Library and its services is an important part of your intellectual and academic freedom. The library’s privacy policy prohibits the release of personal information about any user of library services, in person or online, including user activity (books checked out, fines, reference questions, interlibrary loan requests, etc.), to other individuals or organizations, unless required by officials of WPI or authorized by the user. Information is never revealed to any third party except by a warrant, court order, or subpoena authorized by national, state or local law. All access to and use of personal information is restricted to library-related business. 

For more information about the library’s privacy policy please contact the library’s administrative team, library-admin@wpi.edu or Anna Gold, University Librarian, akgold@wpi.edu.

Personal privacy, confidentiality, and name changes in Digital WPI

Our goal is to protect the personal privacy and confidentiality of student authors and members of the extended WPI community, including sponsors, interviewees, and collaborators. This includes working with authors to reflect their preferred or lived names in the metadata and/or the content of submitted works in the WPI digital archive, Digital WPI.

Metadata: Any author, advisor, or contributor to a work published in Digital WPI may request that the library revise the form of their name in the metadata (description) of a work or works. To request such changes, please contact the Digital WPI team, digitalwpi@wpi.edu.

Undergraduate works: In April 2023 the WPI faculty endorsed a motion that allows the WPI Library to make reasonable and timely efforts to address personal privacy and confidentiality needs (such as changing a published name to a lived name) that require changes to the content of published undergraduate student works in Digital WPI. To request such changes, please contact the Digital WPI team, digitalwpi@wpi.edu. More detail on this process is available from the library. 

Graduate works: Current policies do not support making changes to the content of published graduate student works in Digital WPI. However policies to support such changes when needed to address personal privacy and confidentiality needs will be proposed for consideration by the WPI faculty in the 2023-2024 academic year, and library policies will be updated as appropriate. To request more information, please contact the Digital WPI team, digitalwpi@wpi.edu.


The Gordon Library supports a variety of exhibit spaces and sponsors and produces exhibits each year.

Exhibits that support the library’s goals and the curricular goals of academic programs are given priority. Library exhibit galleries may be used to share WPI student, faculty, and staff scholarly and creative work.  

Library galleries are not a public forum, and all exhibits must be suitable for view by the broad community of people who visit the library. The library retains the right to determine the suitability of any proposed exhibit. Due to the open nature of the library’s public spaces, neither the university nor the library can assume responsibility for the security of exhibit items.


The Gordon Library’s collections of books, journals, databases, manuscripts, audiovisual and other materials are principally chosen to support the WPI curriculum, and student and faculty research.

WPI faculty, staff and students are invited to make recommendations for purchases of collection materials that will support these needs. When our budget or policies prevent us from acquiring recommended materials, we can often provide quick and convenient access to requested resources through our interlibrary loan service.

For more information about any of the library’s collection policies, please contact Lori Ostapowicz Critz, Associate Director - Scholarly Communications and Open Strategies, lostapowiczcritz@wpi.edu, or Anna Gold, University Librarian, akgold@wpi.edu.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility for the Library's Collections


The Gordon Library supports the American Library Association Bill of Rights (external link), which affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas.

The Library's general collection supports the core curriculum, research, projects, and interdisciplinary work of the WPI community. Library resources serve the WPI community through curated access to excellent scholarly material; access is made possible through traditional print book purchasing as well as subscriptions to electronic resources, user-driven selection programs, and open access materials.

The Library serves a diverse constituency with varied experiences, backgrounds, abilities, and needs. We endeavor to attain equity of ideas and diversity of voices in the research materials provided to users of the library's collections. We affirm our alignment with the Association of College & Research Libraries’ Diversity Standard #4: "Librarians and library staff shall develop collections and provide programs and services that are inclusive of the needs of all persons in the community the library serves.’"

Specifically, in practice the Library seeks to: 

  • Provide an equitable basis for purchasing materials and providing attendant programs and services.
  • Include constituents as major stakeholders in decision-making and advisory entities in the planning, development, and evaluation of the collections 
  • Advocate for and include resources that are reflective of the cultural heritage, cultural backgrounds, and social identities of the library’s constituent populations.
  • Ensure that consideration of the needs of historically oppressed, underrepresented, and underserved groups is integral to the collection's development and management 
  • Regularly assess the adequacy of existing collections to ensure they are reflective of the diversity of the library's constituent populations and of WPI's global research and project work scope
  • Regularly review the current and emergent demographic trends for the library’s constituent populations to inform collection development and management 
  • Provide increased accessibility through cataloging by allowing natural language words and advocating for changes in the Library of Congress subject headings.
  • Provide increased accessibility through assistive technologies and vendor/publisher accessibility compliance

Adapted from: https://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/diversity


The library currently acquires most resources in digital formats, assuring WPI community members with access anytime and from anywhere in the world, on a variety of computing devices. Print formats may be preferred when there is no digital equivalent, when digital costs are prohibitive, or where print formats better support use whether for the curriculum or for research.


Decisions about new subscriptions or cancellations of existing subscriptions for journals or databases are made in consultation with WPI faculty, and taking into account the library’s budget, use of the resources at WPI, and availability of contents through alternative services including document delivery and interlibrary loan. The final decision on subscriptions is the responsibility of the library's collection development unit, in consultation with the University Librarian, based on the factors outlined above.


Decisions about books and audiovisual titles for the library collection are based, in part, on requests from faculty, students, and staff, with priority given to titles that support WPI programs and curriculum. The library will purchase most individual print or ebook titles on request, when available. Most ebooks licensed by the library for WPI will work on multiple devices and some permit downloading for individual research use. The library does not buy multiple copies of the same content, regardless of format.

Course Materials

The library will also purchase print book titles to be placed on course reserve, but does not normally acquire textbooks. The library will place instructor or donated copies of print textbooks on reserve upon request. Digital books from the library’s extensive ebook collections provide depth and currency and can provide convenient access to books used for required or supplementary course reading. The library also encourages faculty to consider the option of adopting open educational resources (OER) for their courses. Learn more on our OER guide.

Faculty Authors

The library acquires copies of most books by WPI faculty authors and editors. One copy is retained in the library’s Archives & Special Collections, with a second copy available to borrowers on the third floor in the Faculty Authors shelves. Works by WPI faculty authors can be found in the library’s catalog. Significant works by WPI alumni are also available in Archives & Special Collections.

Archives and Special Collections

The library’s Archives & Special Collections has extensive collections of documents, rare books, and manuscripts related to WPI history, WPI alumni, and WPI faculty.  In addition, its strengths include Worcester industrial history as related to WPI faculty and alumni; the history of science and technology generally; fire protection engineering; and the world and works of Charles Dickens.

When assessing material for acquisition, the Archives & Special Collections considers factors such as the relationship of the material to WPI history or to Worcester history; to the careers of WPI alumni and faculty; the potential of the material to support the WPI curriculum, or the research interests of WPI faculty and students.

More information on collection policies for Archives & Special Collections may be found on their web pages.

Art Collections

The Gordon Library curates works of art at WPI, including art objects stored and exhibited by the library, as well as art displayed or stored elsewhere on campus. The purpose of art collections at WPI are to document and preserve the history of the Institute; support the curriculum; and create attractive indoor and outdoor spaces on campus. Works have come to WPI from alumni, supporters, faculty, and staff. Most have been donated, but the university has also invested in art.

Areas of collecting focus include works of art related to WPI’s history, and works related to the curriculum (e.g. Dickens collection, Bernard Brenner sculpture collection, Native American pottery, 19th century tinware).

More detailed art collection policies may be found on the Archives & Special Collections web pages.

Donations and Gifts in Kind

At this time, the library would welcome donation of:

  • Books authored by WPI faculty and alumni
  • Recently published books that support the current curriculum and research of WPI
  • Books about the history of Worcester and industrial history
  • Books related to fire protection and engineering

Items not generally accepted for the library’s general collections include:

  • Technical books more than ten years old
  • Textbooks and study guides
  • Workbooks
  • Case studies
  • Photocopies
  • Print journals
  • Titles already owned by the library
  • Superseded or earlier editions of titles already held
  • Popular fiction
  • Items marked with a highlighter or otherwise damaged
  • Any moldy or mildewed books. If left anonymously, these will be immediately discarded because of the damage they may cause to other library materials.

Bay State Book Company Donation Bins :The WPI Library is also collaborating with Bay State Book Company [https://www.baystatebooks.com/] to offer another option for book donations. Bay State Book Company bins make it easy to intelligently recycle your unwanted books: they carefully sorts all donations and identify which books can be resold, which books they can donate to non-profits, and they responsibly recycle any books that can’t find a new home.  You’ll find WPI’s new Bay State Book Company donation bins in two locations with easy drive-up or pedestrian access: (1) near Park Street Garage entrance, and (2) just inside the entrance to the Boynton Street student commuter parking lot.

Archives & Special Collections: Archives & Special Collections is particularly interested in receiving gifts of WPI and Worcester historical materials. Further information about gifts to Archives & Special Collections can also be found on their web pages. For donations of rare books, personal papers, manuscripts, and organizational records, please contact Arthur Carlson, University Archivist, alcarlson@wpi.edu, or archives@wpi.edu.

Alternative Destinations for Your Gifts: Donations that are out of scope for the collection may be returned to the donor on request, or will be offered as "free books" to members of the WPI community, to other libraries and booksellers, or will be recycled. If we are unable to accept your gifts, here are some suggestions for selling or donating your materials:

Tax Information: On request, the library will supply a donation letter for tax purposes which lists the number of items donated, but does not assign a dollar value to the gift. For information about tax treatment of your donation, please consult a qualified tax professional or the Internal Revenue Service.

To find an appraiser, you may consult: