Collection Development Policy Task Force Report
May 17, 2005


The Task Force was charged to review policies of other academic institutions, existing RUL policies, and recommend further action as applicable. This is under CDC Goal 4: Improve Documentation of Collection Development and Management Policies.

Literature Review:

The debate on usefulness of collection development (CD) policy statements is well represented in library literature. Despite widespread emphasis on the need for a CD policy, many institutions lack one. According to the survey conducted by Taborski and Lenkowski in 1989, only 58% of the responding libraries had some sort of documented policy. One explanation for the absence of universal acceptance of the written policy is the lack of precise definition. 1 Despite many uncertainties, the reasoning and value for CD policy are as follows:2

IFLA defines the collection development policy as "a framework and a set of parameters within which staff and users work. It serves many functions beyond being merely a tool for selection of materials. In addition to describing current collections, it forces the staff involved to (re)consider the aims and objectives of the organization, both long and short term , and the priorities to be attached to different activities. It assists with budgeting, serves as a communication channel within a library and between the library and outside constituents, supports cooperative collection development, prevents censorship, and assists in overall collection management activities, including the handling of gifts, deselection of materials and serials cancellations."3

Voices of reservation question the policy's applicability in today's changing library. Richard Snow (cited in note 1) believes that time spent in writing policies is better utilized on selection and evaluation activities. Another problem of the written policy is inflexibility and unresponsiveness to the changes that occur outside the libraries, in the parent institution where academic programs and curricula undergo changes and new centers emerge from time to time. Although the libraries are expected to serve these new constituents and presumably the CD policy should reflect these new directives, such revisions and ongoing maintenance need procedures in place and investment of time. Some librarians question the need to compose a CD policy when budgets for new materials shrink or become so limited that it has little influence in the library operation.

What should CD policies address during this period of profound transition in information resources and services? Collecting and managing this intersection of print and electronic, subscription-based and freely available information, requires skills of collection planning, selection, analysis, and cooperation that challenge the long-established print and building based CD framework.

Categories For Analysis:

The taskforce designed a template (below) with broad categories to facilitate review of the policies of the following library systems: Cornell University; Penn State; University of Texas, Austin; and Dartmouth College. This analysis is limited to the documents available on the Web; despite this limitation, it is possible to determine many aspects of CD policies and the content provided by other institutions. We include the RUL analysis, using the same template, at the end of this segment.

LINKS:  Major links in the CD site
HEAD:  Administrator/librarian in charge
MEMBERSHIP:  Active members, groups, committees that create policy and carry out the CD activities
OVERVIEW & GOALS:  Written statement of institutional goals
SELECTION PRINCIPLES:  guidelines for selection, including exclusions
GIFT POLICY:  Written policy for gifts
PRESERVATION:  Guidelines and criteria
DIGITAL RESOURCES:  Guidelines for selection, bibliographic control and access
CONSORTIUM:  Consortia and collaborative arrangements
SELECTOR RESPONSIBILITY:  Definition of areas of responsibilities
SUBJECT CD STATEMENT:  structure/model used
SELECTOR RESOURCES:  Manuals, bibliographies, useful tools for the selector
OTHER:  Any relevant information

Survey Of Institutions:

Cornell University


HEAD:  Associate University Librarian
MEMBERSHIP:  Subject selectors, bibliographers and curators
SELECTION PRINCIPLES:  included in each subject CD statement
SUBJECT CD STATEMENT:   Over 30 selectors maintain 60+ subject CD statements. Categories include user community, description/background of programs served, subjects, geographical area, language, and exclusions.
OTHER:  The link "Areas of expansion." In the introduction mentions the issues of preservation and storage as challenges that need to be addressed. :"Issues in Scholarly Communication" is not only an internal working document, but it is a forum of communication that addresses the Cornell academic community, as well as the outside audience on this significant issue for libraries.

Penn State Libraries


HEAD:  Associate Dean of Collections
MEMBERSHIP:  selectors
SELECTOR RESPONSIBILITY:  Selection and maintenance
SUBJECT CD STATEMENT:   department/program description, subject boundaries, geographical area, and language.
OTHER:  The section "Selector Responsibilities" defines the areas of responsibilities of the selector and that of the Assistant Dean of Collections. It also defines the charges of various subgroups. This section contains useful information and bibliography that serves as a resource for the selectors, with special emphasis on collaboration system wide and within consortium. It also provides links to university goals, programs, course syllabi, etc. providing the context in which the libraries operate and its significant support role to the academic mission of the university.

University of Texas Austin


HEAD:  Associate Dean of Collections
MEMBERSHIP:  Bibliographers/liaisons
DIGITAL RESOURCES:  y (e-books and e-journals)
OTHER:   The site includes "UT Libraries Digital Library Collection Development" and "Issues Facing Collections.". Although the path for submission of recommended databases/products is not discussed, selection considerations, goals and priorities are articulated for commercial, as well as for in-house digitization projects. UT also defines the selectors in the role of information providers,

Dartmouth College Library


HEAD:  Director of Collection Services
MEMBERSHIP:  subject selectors, acquisition Librarian, Bibliographic Control Services, and Circulation Services
SELECTOR RESPONSIBILITY:  selection and management of collection
SELECTOR RESOURCES:  Guidelines, Bibliographer's manual
OTHER:   Of interest, is the link "Dartmouth College Library Digital Resources License Information" under "Electronic Information Group." This page lists the license information of each e-resource including access to publisher's archive, permission for ILL, consortium, # of simultaneous users and publisher's URL.

Rutgers University


HEAD:  AUL for Collection Development
MEMBERSHIP:  elected and appointed subject selectors/unit representatives, Acquisitions librarian, Head of Systems Dept, AUL for Public Services and Communications, AUL for Digital Library Systems.
OVERVIEW AND GOALS:  only under Policies > General/generic Policies
GIFT POLICY:  y, but not available online
PRESERVATION:  y (there a task force currently in action)


Membership. In addition to existing CDC membership list, defined areas of responsibilities of all members and expected course of action for various committees and task forces could better inform RUL community, as well as outside constituents.

Overview. In the RUL page, The CD page is available under "Staff Resources." For a visitor looking for related documents, the access is hidden, 3 clicks away. The CD policy is subject centered with strong emphasis on selection. The "General policy," which presents the overview and goals, is at the same level as "Subject policies." The 12 subject policies, dated 1993-1995, provide subject CD criteria systemwide. The policies describe the subject representation, programs served, and physical location of materials reflecting an outdated building-centered collection.

Mission and Goals. Rather than expressing the overall RUL mission and goals, the "General Policy" includes documents such as "Database cancellation template" and "Expense recovery for lost books," under "Procedures." They are task specific and useful, but with limited application. The same with "Training" where the only document posted has title "Water emergency Demo."

Digital Resources. RUL has extensive subscriptions to online resources and performs a leadership role in New Jersey as a statewide digital repository. Traditionally, the CD of subscription-based and in-house created material has been carried out independently. Better integration of these resources in terms of criteria for selection, representation in IRIS, and assessment might insure a seamless continuum of resources to the user community.

Selector Responsibilities. The definition is oriented towards selection for acquisition and building based resources. It excludes tasks related to collection evaluation and assessment. There are consequences of the random manner of executing these tasks. Selectors tend to exercise evaluation and assessment at their own pace and interpretation, and tasks -- such as weeding of print resources -- that needs to be performed continuously, become more daunting as they take place sporadically and intermittently. Selectors responsibilities should include the development/update/maintenance of the subject research guides.

Resource Sharing. RUL is involved in a variety of consortia. A listing of partner institutions and their CD strength could be shared and selectors be encouraged to explore the possibilities for a collaborative arrangement. Some of the RUL partners include: ARL, CRL, METRO, NERL, PANILET, RLG, and VALE.


CD Policy. The CD policies are a dynamic set of principles that establish the institutional culture and guide the libraries' the course of action.4 Revise the CDC Site as suggested in Appendix I. to serve:

CDC Site: Link Contacts. Provide link to "Collection Development / Subject Specialist Librarians." This link is available under "About Libraries."

Procedures. Add existing procedures and information including the Serials Team operations and contact information. This team-based process based on sequence of actions, rather that traditional unit-based operation, to carry out a task provides integrity and efficiency. Documentation such as "How to…?" available on the Web informing specific tasks' workflow and teams involved would ensure improvement in overall operation.5

Subject Policies. Update/add subject policies. Suggested outline in available under Appendix II. In addition to changes to collection responsibilities that occurred since these policies have been created, topics of importance include:

Recommended Action/Timeline:


1. Richard Snow. "Wasted Words: The Written Collection Development Policy and the Academic Library," The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 22:3 (May 1996): 191-194.

2. Joanne S. Anderson (ed.). Guide for Written Collection Policy Statements. Chicago: ALA, 1996.

3. IFLA. Guidelines for a Collection Development Policy Using the Conspectus Model. 2001.

4. Joseph J. Branin. "Fighting Back Once Again: From Collection Management to Knowledge Management," in Collection Management and Development: Issues in an Electronic Era, ed. by Peggy Johnson and Bonnie Macewan. Chicago: ALA, 1993.

5. Denda, Kayo and Gracemary Smulewitz. "Douglass Rationalization: an Evaluation of Team Environment and a Computer Based Task in Academic Libraries." Journal of Academic Librarianship, 30:2 (2004), pp. 145-150.

6. Dan C. Hazen. "Collection Development Policies in the Information Age," College and Research Libraries, 56:1 (January 1995): 29-31.

7. Myoung Chung Wilson and Hendirck Edelman. "Collection Development in an Interdisciplinary Context," The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 22:3 (May 1996): 195-200.

8. Ross Atkinson. "Access, Ownership and the Future of Collection Development," in Collection Management and Development: Issues in an Electronic Era, ed. by Peggy Johnson and Bonnie Macewan. Chicago: ALA, 1993.

Appendix I

Rutgers University Libraries > Staff Resources > Collection Development > Policies

General Information
Subject Policies


General Information

Introduction and Overview

Selection Process

Cooperative Collection Development

Gift Policy
 (taskforce appointed?)

Format Criteria

Collection Development Priorities

[Definition of Collection Levels]

Subject Policies

* indicates existing documents.

Appendix II

Subject Policies

     New Brunswick: [name, library, contact information]
Program and Degree Information
     New Brunswick
Location of materials
     New Brunswick
Collection Overview
     Subjects covered
     Strength and weakness
     Special features
     Resource sharing arrangements
     [specific cooperative information with selectors, other libraries, consortia]
Types of Materials Collected
     Academic and Trade Publications
     Gov. Documents
     Special Collections
     AV Materials
     Electronic Resources
Collection Guidelines
     Chronological guidelines
     Geographical Limits
     Languages collected
Other Considerations

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