Collection Development Policy

Quick links: Materials Collected | Selection Criteria for Monographs | Selection Criteria for Journal Subscriptions | Evaluation Criteria for Electronic Databases | Organization of the Materials Selection Process | Gifts and Donations | Collection Management 

The collection development policy is intended to communicate the library’s collection goals and policies for the circulating collection to the library community. Policies for the reference collection, archives, and special collections are available separately. The library serves the students, professors and staff of a teaching university. The guiding principle of the library’s collection is the support of the academic curriculum. Collection development – providing the best, most relevant information – is part of that mission.

Materials Collected

The primary goal of the materials to be collected is to support the curriculum. Other materials may be added to the collection after this goal has been met. The library collects both print and electronic copies of books and journals depending upon availability and cost. Some materials are better suited to electronic formats (e.g. encyclopedias), but many others are either not available in non-print formats or more appropriate for print formats (e.g. art monographs), so the library will continue to collect print materials. In the case of journals and reference materials, electronic access is favored when available. The library collects non-book media supported by current technologies (e.g. DVD and CD formats) and is actively working to phase out media supported by fading technologies (e.g. VHS tapes.) The materials that the library collects are complementary to the materials used for classroom instruction. Textbooks, instructional non-book media, workbooks, and consumable materials are outside the scope of the library’s collection. The library cannot assume administrative or departmental responsibilities for providing classroom instructional resources for the teaching faculty because such demands would preempt funds meant to develop the library’s material collection. Such equipment and materials are most appropriately requested of department chairs, academic dean, or campus administrators.

Selection Criteria for Monographs

Selection criteria vary across disciplines. Subject-specific criteria can be found in the collection development policy statement by discipline. General considerations for the selection of monographs include:

  • Appropriateness – Should support the curricular needs of the students and faculty
  • Level – Should be written for an undergraduate community
  • Currency and accuracy of the information
  • Scope and depth of coverage
  • Availability of other material on the subject in the library and in other area libraries
  • Suitability of content to form
  • Critical Reviews – Choice, Chronicle of Higher Education, Library Journal, and Books in Print among others are consulted when considering new library materials for the collection.
  • Language – English will predominate within nearly all areas except where foreign language instruction is part of the curriculum. Arabic, Chinese, German, French, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish are taught at the University; materials collected in these languages will be at a basic reading level.

Selection Criteria for Journal Subscriptions

As costs associated with journal subscriptions rise every year, all print and electronic journal subscriptions that are not part of aggregated databases are subject to annual review. With the exception of general interest and popular magazines and newspapers (People, Time, Psychology Today, etc.) electronic is preferred over print; electronic and print is preferred over print alone.
Factors used to determine the selection, continuation, or cancellation of journal titles include:

  • Use
  • Importance of the title to the discipline, as determined by metrics like the number of times a journal is cited and requirements for accreditation
  • Relevance of the content to the library’s collection and university’s curriculum
  • Accessibility of the content via indexing
  • Cost and cost-history of a title

Many journals are available electronically through aggregated databases, which is subject to change according to the terms governing the library’s access to the content licenses. Access to some individual journal titles may change depending on the contractual agreements between the publishers and aggregators, thus individual libraries do not always have control of access to come electronic publications. If a journal title becomes unavailable through an aggregated database, the library will consider purchasing online access directly from the publisher. New journal titles, whether print or electronic, are considered ‘on probation’ for a period of two subscription years. At the end of that time the title will be evaluated and either continued or cancelled on the basis of use.

Evaluation Criteria for Electronic Databases

Access to databases may be leased on an individual basis by the library, received as part of state grants or funding, or arranged through a consortial agreement.

Criteria used to determine the library’s licensing, continuation, or cancellation of a database include:

  • usage
  • scope of the library’s collection
  • type and method of access to the intellectual content of the database
  • reliability and usability of the database’s functionality
  • cost to the library for access
  • availability of usage statistics for evaluation purposes

Organization of the Materials Selection Process

Each department or academic area of the University is represented by a library faculty member who serves as the liaison between that department’s students and the faculty and the library. Each liaison has responsibility for selecting library materials relevant to the academic areas they represent. Materials requests from the teaching faculty or from students should be directed to these library liaisons. Library liaisons may also seek opinions on specific titles or resources from the members of departments.

Gifts and Donations

The library may accept small gifts of up to thirty volumes if the materials meet the needs of the collection. Larger gifts must be approved by the library director. Gifts of periodicals are not accepted. Multimedia donations are generally not accepted. Exceptions must be approved by the library director.

Gifts are accepted according to the following stipulations:

All gifts are final. By the act of donation, the donor permanently relinquishes all rights to ownership and dispensation.
The library reserves the right to dispose of gifts to its best advantage.
In accordance with the donor’s wishes, book plates or other labels can be affixed to selected items showing the donor’s name and, if applicable, the person or cause in whose honor or memory the gift was made.
In accordance with IRS regulations, the library cannot appraise gifts for tax purposes. As part of the donation process the library will furnish the donor with documentations of the date of the gift, the number of titles, and the format(s) of the gift.
Gifts of money to be used for the purchase of library materials are welcomed. Donors considering such gifts should consult with the library director.
Gifts of rare or valuable materials or special collections of scholarly importance that are in keeping with the scope of the library’s collection are also welcomed. The acceptance of such special gifts is at the discretion of the library director.

Collection Management

As a small college library, it is not part of our mission to keep materials in perpetuity. Instead, we support current curriculum and limited research needs. As part of this mission, the library staff engages in collection management. This includes the replacement of worn materials, the withdrawal of outdated or infrequently used materials, and the addition of second copies of highly-used materials.

General Criteria for De-Selection

In order to maintain a relevant and useful collection, materials will be reviewed annually for possible withdrawal from the collection. If an item is 20 years old or older and has not circulated in the past 5 years, it will be removed from the collection unless a compelling reason to keep it is presented. Additionally, items will be removed from the collection for one or more of the following reasons:

Titles outside the collecting scope of the library

Titles no longer relevant to current curricular or research needs and therefore not within the scope of the library’s current collection development policies may be removed from the collections or (in the case of subscriptions) canceled.
Copies or editions of titles may be deselected to minimize redundancy of holdings. Individual titles containing information found elsewhere in the collection may also be deselected for this purpose.
Physical Condition
Deteriorating books are evaluated for preservation and withdrawn if necessary. Replacement copies are sought as appropriate and available.
Technological support for the item format (non-book media)
Lost items
When items are categorized as lost, the library decides to replace them as warranted.

Considerations for Journals

Incomplete and short runs of a title will be withdrawn, unless the title is received currently. A back-file retention and binding decision will be made at the end of a title’s two year probationary period. A title may also be withdrawn if its low use warrants it, even with a current subscription. If a title is available online, the bound copies may be withdrawn due to space and use considerations. Factors to consider prior to withdrawal include sources of online access (publisher or database vendor), perpetuity rights, and/or extent of online holdings. Prior to canceling print, the library will purchase the title online—if it has not already done so—from the publisher. Access via database vendor alone does not ensure access.

Review Process for Items Proposed for De-Selection

Except for materials superseded by later editions and those deemed physically unfit for repair, all items chosen for de-selection will be reviewed by library staff and the relevant faculty members. Lists of materials identified for possible removal from the collection will be made available electronically to the faculty. Faculty and staff will be asked to comment within a set period of time on the items chosen for de-selection. The Collection Development Librarian will compile the responses and make final decisions on the disposition of items.