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Collection Development Policy
Date: October 19th, 2016
At first glance, one might question the need for a statement of purpose for an academic library. “Everyone knows” why an academic library exists. However, as the academic institution to which the library is attached changes over time, so will the library; as the institution redefines its goals over the years, so must the library adapt to achieve those goals. Therefore, those responsible for the library must scrutinize it regularly and carefully to make sure that it is developing in the same directions and at the same rate as its parent institution.
The primary goal of Raugust Library is to support the undergraduate and graduate curricula. For the undergraduates, this requires a broad subject coverage rather than an especially deep one. Any degree of depth in the undergraduate collections will not encompass the research materials required by graduate level study or faculty research; certainly a comprehensive collection, containing everything available upon a given topic, is beyond the scope of this library. For faculty and upper-division research, the library will gladly make use of its extensive series of networks to locate and retrieve extramural materials.
For the graduate students, far more depth is required in targeted areas and currency of research is a greater deciding factor for acquisition. A comprehensive collection is still beyond the means of the libraries. The physical location of the collections, whether in Jamestown or in Fargo, is also a decision that must be made on a case-by-case basis.
The libraries also attempt to provide a variety of points of view on the subjects taught at the university. A collection that is skewed to one interpretation will not help students learn to analyze positions or synthesize arguments.
The primary clientele of Raugust Library is the undergraduate population of the university. Within this group are individuals with a wide range of reading abilities, from minimal to excellent. The library collection contains materials which are accessible at every reading level, although the bulk of the materials are in the upper high school / lower college range. Where complex materials cannot be satisfactorily reduced to a simplified level in printed form, some attempt has been made to cover these areas in kit, cd, DVD, or other non-print format, or through streaming the content.
It should be emphasized that this is not an attempt to “dumb down” the collection, but rather an effort to meet the students at their own level of ability. Far more materials are held which challenge the best students and serve as gateways for further study or graduate research.
The graduate students are co-equal with the undergraduates in terms of primacy of importance for collection development. Although many of the materials acquired for the undergraduate curriculum are also useful to the graduate students, an additional level of complexity is necessary.
The other major user group is the faculty. The faculty have a strong tendency to use their own personal libraries rather than the university’s, except for periodicals, recreational reading, and interlibrary loan. Much of their library use involves placing materials on reserve for students in their classes rather than research.
The fourth user group on campus is that of administration and staff members. Although this group has accounted for the smallest number of users in the past, in recent years their requests for information and materials have grown, as their jobs have become more complex. This trend is expected to continue.
Raugust Library also has a surprisingly large body of non-university borrowers. Given the geographical problems of North Dakota, the university library has become the back-up library for the school, city, and county libraries in our area, used by over 800 people with no formal affiliation to the institution. One side effect of the development of the Curriculum Library is that the collection now appeals to all age groups, from pre-readers to the elderly.
Within the subject areas taught at the university, the library collects materials only on classes actually offered. For instance, while history is taught, there are no classes in South American or African history; while chemistry is taught, there are no classes in petroleum chemistry. Therefore, the library will acquire minimal amounts of materials in these areas, sufficient only to satisfy a general curiosity or to answer questions arising in the course of research into a related field. As classes and majors are added or deleted, so are collecting areas within the library. The library will make no attempt at encyclopedic knowledge in depth.
Generally speaking, in addition to supporting the curriculum, the library will supply access to online indexing and full-text databases, which will enable the user to locate materials in electronic format or in other libraries. Every attempt will be made to acquire or provide access to relevant content in a format-agnostic form. The library will also provide a current and broad reference collection. The library does not have sufficient funds to buy adult fiction, other than copies of materials which are taught in courses, and so will not be able to supply popular fictional reading materials, except as these are received as gifts. The discretion of the librarian will determine which gift materials are accepted.
While the library staff is most anxious to strengthen the weak sections of the collection, it is important not to do this at the expense of the sections which are already strong. A systematic approach to collection development is crucial, with each collecting area examined carefully in turn in order to assess its usefulness and value to the university. After each area has been strengthened to the degree which has been determined necessary, it must be maintained at that level and still improved, if at a slower rate. To do anything less would be to backslide.
The library will acquire materials in whatever format is most useful to the user, whether print or non-print. In addition to books and journals, the library currently holds and will continue to acquire kits, games, cds, ebooks, CD-ROM’s, DVDs, streaming video and audio, and computer programs. Format will only be a consideration in the purchase of materials if the library does not have the equipment to access the format.
The library now licenses and will continue to license bibliographic and full text databases, as well as streaming video and audio, in appropriate content areas. The same selection criteria will apply to these databases as to any materials bought for the library.
English will be the language of the collection effort, except for those materials which are bought specifically to support the foreign language curriculum. In addition, English/foreign language dictionaries for modern European languages will be bought and reference materials in foreign languages will be updated as needed (e.g., yearbooks and supplements for foreign language encyclopedias.)
No chronological period will be excluded from the collection.
Duplicates will be bought only in cases of extremely heavy use. This should not happen more than three or four times per year. If a gift is received which duplicates material already held in the library, the condition of the library’s copy will be evaluated to see if it needs to be replaced and its circulation history will be examined to see if a second copy would be a valuable addition. Otherwise, the gift will either be returned to the donor or disposed of by the library staff.
Gifts will not be accepted for the collection which do not meet the selection requirements for books bought for the collection. If the donor still wishes to give the materials to the library, they will be disposed of through the annual book sale, the library’s Amazon store, or in some other manner. AV materials, videotapes, computer software, and other materials involving public performance rights or licensing may not be accepted as gifts unless copyright has first been cleared or a license obtained.
Currently, only one formal cooperative collection agreement exists, between Raugust Library and the North Dakota State Library. It involves the Curriculum Library, which has been designated the state resource for children’s materials. The original agreement has been abrogated by the State Library, but Raugust Library still receives a small number of children’s books every year for the collection. We bear the expense of cataloging, shelving, and lending these materials, but as they are gifts to the State Library from various publishers, we do not have any control over the selection process. The program should be evaluated periodically to see if it is still meeting our needs.
There are various informal agreements with other libraries as well. The James River Valley Library System purchases what might be described as more general or popular materials, oftentimes things outside our curriculum areas, and our patrons who desire these items are referred downtown for them. Conversely, the public library sends patrons who need more scholarly materials to the university library. The directors of the two libraries do not feel that competition in these areas would benefit either library or either primary patron group.
Given the geographic isolation we deal with, cooperative agreements are not easy to sustain. The only other one is very informal and involves the State Library again. This simply states that if a book is borrowed on interlibrary loan more than twice during a year, the State Library should be notified so that it can buy a copy for back-up. We have rarely invoked this policy.
NCA accreditation teams take the size and quality of the library into consideration when granting accreditation or reaccreditation to a school. They do not recognize a particular set of parameters (number of volumes/student or number of volumes/school size) nor do they have a particular set of rules defining the number of employees necessary to run a library. Rather, they attempt to ascertain that the library can support whatever programs are offered by the university.
When the nursing program is examined periodically for recertification, the library is scrutinized much more closely, at least as to the nursing holdings. Problems here would cause problems with the recertification of the program.
The State Board of Higher Education has some guidelines, albeit unstated, for the curriculum libraries at institutions which train teachers; they are not articulated as clearly as could be hoped.
The Physical Therapy program in Fargo has outside accreditors whose requirements for a library are rather vague; however, they wish to have a physical as well as a digital library in place.
The Association of College and Research Libraries of the American Library Association issues a publication, STANDARDS FOR COLLEGE LIBRARIES, which is the best yardstick for determining the overall strength of an academic library collection. In past years, the standards consisted of the “bean counting” variety: numbers of books, journals, professional librarians per student or degree area, for instance. Raugust Library has improved from a grade of C- to a B over the years by these measurements.
The most recent STANDARDS, however, do not measure the quality of a library by what it holds, but rather by the effect it has on the learning of the students. This is difficult to assess. The new standards need to be applied to the library every two or three years and the results incorporated into the collection development policy.
Selection levels defined:
Selection levels defined:
c comprehensive: complete & exhaustive acquisition of materials
e excellent: deep subject coverage to satisfy the research needs of upper- division undergraduates
s strong: broad coverage which would satisfy most lower division student needs
b basic: standard works containing general information
m minimal: slight or no coverage
Dewey Number by Decade Description Level
000 generalities b
010 bibliography b
020 library & info. science b
030 general encyclopedic works s
040 collections m
050 general serial publications b
060 general organization; museology s
070 journalism, publishing s
080 general collections m
090 manuscripts & book rarities m
100 philosophy & related disciplines e
110 metaphysics s
120 epistemology e
130 paranormal phenomena b
140 specific philosophical viewpoints e
150 psychology e
160 logic s
170 ethics e
180 ancient, medieval, oriental philosophy s
190 modern western philosophy e
200 religion e
210 natural religion s
220 Bible e
230 Christian theology e
240 Christian moral & devotional s
250 local church & religious orders s
260 social & ecclesiastical theology s
270 history & geography of church s
280 Christian denominations & sects s
290 other & comparative religions e
300 social sciences e
310 statistics s
320 political science e
330 economics e
340 law b
350 public administration s
360 social problems & services s
370 education e
380 commerce s
390 customs, etiquette, folklore s
400 language b
410 linguistics b
420 English & Anglo-Saxon languages s
430 Germanic languages s
440 Romance languages s
450 Italian Romanian, etc. b
460 Spanish & Portuguese languages s
470 Italic languages (Latin) b
480 Hellenic (classical Greek) b
490 other languages b
500 pure sciences e
510 mathematics e
520 astronomy & allied sciences m
530 physics e
540 chemistry & allied sciences e
550 sciences of earth & other worlds s
560 paleontology m
570 life sciences e
580 botanical sciences e
590 zoological sciences e
600 technology (applied science) s
610 medical sciences e
620 engineering & allied operations e
630 agriculture & related technologies m
640 home economics & family living m
650 management & auxiliary services s
660 chemical & related technologies s
670 manufacturers s
680 manufacture for specific uses s
690 buildings b
700 the arts s
710 civic & landscape art m
720 architecture s
730 plastic arts (sculpture) s
740 drawing, decorative, & minor arts s
750 painting & paintings e
760 graphic arts (prints) s
770 photography & photographs s
780 music e
790 recreational & performing arts s
800 literature (belles-lettres) e
810 American literature in English e
820 English & Anglo-Saxon literatures e
830 literatures of Germanic languages s
840 literatures of Romance languages s
850 Italian, Romanian, Rhaeto-Romanic literatures m
860 Spanish & Portuguese literatures s
870 Italic literatures (Latin) b
880 Hellenic literatures (Greek) b
890 literature of other languages b
900 general geography and history e
910 general geography (travel) s
920 general biography & genealogy b
930 general history of the ancient e
940 general history of Europe e
950 general history of Asia e
960 general history of Africa b
970 general history of North America e
980 general history of South America b
990 general history of other areas b
Within these areas, criteria for considering the purchase of any particular item will include, but not be limited to, the following:
1. demand for and projected use;
2. whether or not it is in a subject area taught at the university;
3. whether or not the subject is currently covered in the library’s collection;
4. whether or not the approach/point-of-view is covered in the library’s collection;
5. quality of the item as reflected in available reviews;
7. projected long-term value of the item to the collection;
8. equipment needed to access the item.
In order to maintain a strong and useful collection, materials must be removed from the collection as well as added. The function of a university library is not to serve as a warehouse of old books.
Weeding must be done very carefully. The librarian should use standard and specialized bibliographies, consultations with faculty in doubtful cases, knowledge of the school and curriculum, and professional instincts and experience in deciding which books to discard.
The criteria for discarding materials from the library include, but are not limited to, the following:
- whether or not a more current edition is available;
- whether or not multiple copies can be discarded, leaving only one or two copies;
- whether or not the subject area is being taught or is likely to be taught in the foreseeable future;
- circulation history;
- physical condition of the material;
- format obsolescence.
Academic libraries are rarely challenged on account of the materials they collect and hold. However, it is appropriate to have a policy in place to deal with any challenge to materials held in the library.
If any patron objects to any material in the library, s/he will be asked to fill out a form and turn it in to the director. The director will then arrange a meeting with the patron during the following week to discuss the concerns raised. If the matter cannot be resolved, it will be referred to a meeting of the patron, the director, and the academic dean.
However the matter is resolved, a formal report will be made to the dean and the North Dakota Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee. The name of the patron initiating the request for reconsideration will be kept confidential in this report.