Library Policies

Collection Development Policy


The information materials collection of the University Libraries exists to support the curriculum and related research of The University of Akron. It has been, and continues to be, acquired and organized by The University Libraries with the advice of the faculty and administration of the university in accord with the goals and objectives of the university. The collection of information resources and the access to information is the responsibility of the University Libraries when such resources have general usefulness. Acquisition of and access to information resources which have multiple uses or potential multiple uses are the chief responsibility of the ULLR. The policies included in this document are intended to guide the selection, acquisition, inclusion, and maintenance of information materials in the library collection. While not intended to be static, these policies are expected to provide the basis for continuity and consistency of the information materials collection, evolving over time and reflecting and supporting the university's mission, goals, and objectives.

These collection policies are a written definition of the specific collection needs supported with the funds established for acquisition of information resources and discrete collections in the library. The subject bibliographers, and other University Libraries personnel having collection responsibilities, have written these policies in consultation with the appropriate teaching departments and faculty. It is intended that no policy is included in this compilation that does not reflect the teaching department's assessment of their library needs. Each policy describes which materials should be acquired to serve the curriculum and research goals of the department and the university in general.

The product of an effort to examine the information support needed to reach the university's goals and the goals of the individual departments of the university, the policies are a standard by which to evaluate the collection, to formulate the cost to reach or maintain the defined collection, and to make spending decisions which set priorities for the use of available funds. The policies are not intended to be a permanent guide, but should change and be revised as the goals, objectives, and emphases in university and departmental operations change. Review and change should occur continually as a part of an interactive process between the University Libraries and the faculty. These policies will provide for decision making related to necessary levels of acquisition, choices between specific items, decisions on repair, replacement, or continued inclusion of items in the collection, and an evaluation standard for judging collection response to instructional and research needs.

There are some general considerations that necessarily apply to all collections in the library. The most important of these is that any item collected shall be considered to be available to any appropriate user of the library so long as there is no danger to the physical condition of the material. Library collections are gathered on the principle that information resources need to be shared, and that the sharing makes more information available to all. That is, the University Libraries must give priority to the acquisition of materials which are not for the exclusive instructional or research use of a single individual or department. Materials which are collected cannot be used exclusively by a department or a faculty member, but should be available for any other university faculty member or student if requested.

Since everything in the University Libraries collections should be widely available (except for physical protection as noted above) acquisitions will be only in generally usable formats; the library must have access to appropriate equipment for the use of materials requiring readers, players, projectors, or other devices. Thus, no materials will be acquired in formats that restrict access and none will be stored in locations which are not reasonably open and under University Libraries control or in which prompt access to the information is not provided by the storing agency.

Whenever there is a question about the appropriateness of the purchase or acceptance of materials into the collection, or about the value of retaining something in the collection, these policies should provide the basis and rationale for a decision. If any interested party feels that the decision arrived at does not reflect departmental, University Libraries, or University of Akron missions, goals, or objectives, the policies may be reviewed and amended by the collection management department as appropriate. In ordinary circumstances, such discrepancies should not occur; these policies should be under constant scrutiny and review, especially as changes occur in university policy and departmental curricula.

Organization and Constraints:

Organization of the policies -- These policies are written in a uniform manner to facilitate comparison between the various collections comprising the entire University Libraries collection of information materials. The various sections of each policy are:

SCOPE AND PURPOSE: This is a statement specifies the subjects needed to support the purposes of the department or unit for which a collection is established. For each subject included a level of collecting (defined below) is specified reflecting the relative importance of the subject to the curriculum.

CURRICULUM: A general description of the curricula to be supported by the collection described above establishes the reasons for maintaining the collection. The description is abbreviated since university curricular documents can be consulted for details.

GEOGRAPHICAL COVERAGE: A statement of the geographical areas to be covered in the information collected.

LANGUAGE: A statement of the usable language or languages for the information in the collection described.

PERIOD COVERAGE: A statement about the relative importance of currency and specific historical periods.

PUBLICATION TYPES: This should specify the intellectual levels and organization of the information collected.

FORMATS: The relative quantities for the inclusion of various publication media should be given in this statement.

REMOTE SOURCES: This should specify which information resources will be readily available to supply the needs of this collection without our having to acquire them locally.

EXCLUSIONS: This is a statement to eliminate anything not needed which would be acquired by a literal interpretation of the above.

Collection levels -- In writing the descriptions of the various collections the terminology used to specify collecting intensity for the subjects mentioned is taken from the American Library Association publication Guidelines for Collection Development (1979). The levels of collection specificity are defined as follows:

Comprehensive level. A library endeavors, so far as reasonably possible, to include all significant works of recorded knowledge for a defined field. This level of collecting intensity maintains a "special collection"; the aim is exhaustiveness. (At present the University Libraries does not collect in any subject at this level which might include purchase of rare books and manuscripts.)*

Research level. Includes the major published source materials required for dissertations and independent research.

Advanced study level. A collection adequate to support the course work of advanced undergraduate and master's degree programs, or to sustain independent study.

Initial study level. A collection adequate to support undergraduate courses.

Basic study level. A highly selective collection which serves to introduce a subject and indicate sources of information available elsewhere.

Minimal study level. Few selections are included beyond very basic works.

For a more detailed description of these levels, including specific types of publications appropriate for each level, the title cited above should be consulted.

Constraints -- General constraints on the collection of materials are governed by the university's and the University Libraries' goals and objectives and by practical considerations. Some of these restraints merit specific mention because there is recurring misunderstanding about them.

  1. Duplication. Multiple copies of information sources are avoided unless there is a strong service reason for such duplicates to be available. This limitation is necessary not only to assure the widest possible variety in the collection, but also to avoid unnecessary use of storage space (one of the costlier aspects of library operations). The library uses a guideline, based on experience, for the acquisition of multiple copies of works required for use by all students in a course; these are usually reserved circulation items.
  2. Formats collected. The University Libraries has usually collected only formats which are usable in the library and for which equipment for use is readily available on campus. With the proliferation of audio-visual and computer formats for information storage formats collected will change, but formats that the University Libraries cannot access will not be collected.
  3. Expendability. The University Libraries does not collect information materials which are consumed by their initial use or which are too fragile to survive multiple uses. Thus, we do not have such things as ditto masters, except as samples of a type of material. There are no user-completion materials, such as test answer sheets in multiples, for users to complete and keep; again, samples of such answer sheets may be in the collection as examples not to be used. Some rare books and manuscripts are collected, and the use of them restricted to researchers, because of their research value and unavailability in inexpensive and durable formats, but no currently published materials are added to the collection if they are judged insubstantial for the rigors of normal library uses. The expenses of record keeping, monitoring, repair, and replacement are too high for the University Libraries to try to maintain collections of such materials.
  4. Content. Subject matter or treatment will not be a constraint that precludes collecting any material if that material answers a collection need stated in these policies. Due to societal conditions some of the materials may need to be restricted and access limited to protect the materials. No one in the university community should be denied access to any materials in the collection unless such access poses a physical threat to the material. In that circumstance the University Libraries may seek from the user demonstration of a valid reason for access. The requirement that the materials collected have a basis in collection policy should be enough prevention of the inclusion of frivolous matter in the collections.

*The collections in Archival Services which parallel the library material collection in several fields such as history, are described in a separate document put out by that division. Rare books in the collection have been acquired as gifts or as purchases by the Friends of the University Libraries.


The compilation of these policies was helped by the cooperation received from the faculty members consulted on the information needs of their departments. We are also grateful for the support received from departments in the University Libraries. Support for the writing of these policies also came from departments in the University Libraries. Those library and media departments which have specific selection roles have helped with policies, notably Claudia Salem Burdge and Anne Peterson in the reference department and John V. Miller, Jr., assistant director for archival services, and those responsible for acquiring and maintaining materials have contributed important operational considerations for the policies, especially Julia Gammon of the acquisitions department and Thomas Bennett of instructional support services. This project could not have been completed without Lenora F. Clark and Renee M. Wilson of the collection management office who have worked long and carefully to compile and produce the finished text of this document.

While the library has often had various documentation for its collection acquisition and maintenance operations, these policies have been compiled as a result of the recent reorganization of the information services at The University of Akron into the the University Libraries. Dr. George V. Hodowanec as director has made suggestions, followed and supported the writing and compilation of these policies since the collection management department was organized. We now have a complete and comprehensive guide to identify information needs, to set priorities for expenditures,and to evaluate materials in the collection for retention, replacement, or repair.

Jack E. Hibbs
Head, Collection Management Department
April, 1987
Revised 6/16/97 by RC