The library provides access to over a million print and electronic books and subscribes to more than 100,000 journals, the majority of which are available electronically. Tens of millions of documents owned by the library can be found and accessed through Primo Search. The Library expands users' access to information resources through organizations, consortia, and cooperative projects including the Center for Research Libraries and Eastern Academic Scholars' Trust.
The primary purpose of the collection is to support the Union College curriculum. All majors and minors are supported by a balanced mix of library-owned resources and resources accessible through arrangements with other colleges and organizations. Individual student research projects, especially senior theses and other advanced projects, are also supported through the purchase of materials, if they are reasonably priced and they are not readily available through resource sharing. Individual faculty research projects, beyond those related to curricular development, are normally supported through resource sharing. If the library can’t obtain material through resources sharing, it will consider purchase, depending on the scope or scale of material and price.
Schaffer Library's collections include a number of cultural and recreational titles that may fall outside strict disciplinary bounds. The Current Reading Collection is largely comprised of current fiction and nonfiction, contemporary creative works of note, and titles relevant to current events and issues. These materials are temporarily assigned to a “current reading collection” area in the library to facilitate browsing before they are moved to the general stacks.
A variety of popular and documentary videos and DVDs, music CDs and files, electronic newspapers, and graphic novels are also acquired in support of campus activities and user interests, and these materials can be found throughout the circulating and online collections.