Skip to Main Content
Elmer E. Rasmuson Library
view all hours

Library Collections: Collection Development Policy

Learn about the many collections housed at Rasmson Library.

Library Collection Development Procedure


1.0 Library Mission and Vision Statement

The University of Alaska Fairbanks libraries advance the university’s mission through education and the creation, acquisition, management, preservation and dissemination of information resources.

This mission encompasses:

  • Promoting information literacy
  • Maximizing information access and delivery to the UAF community, Alaska and others
  • Being the library of choice for researchers on Alaska and the circumpolar North

2.0 Purpose of the Collection Development Procedure

This Collection Development Procedure (CDP) provides:

  • A description of the collections’ existing strengths
  • A clear outline of the library’s acquisition commitments and materials selection goals
  • A guide for library staff, users, the UAF administration, funding agencies, and cooperating libraries on the selection, care and deacquisition of materials

The CDP provides short and long-term planning for collection development according to rational and consistently defined goals.

Its aim is to:

  • Shape more effective collections
  • Optimize the use of funds
  • Relate collection generating activities to the goals and mission of the library
  • Relate collection generating activities to the teaching and research needs of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF) and the UAF Community and Technical College (UAF-CTC)

Included is an Appendix of goal and mission statements provided by the library and UAF. These statements provide a framework within which collection development and maintenance, collection interpretation and resource sharing, and research can be carried out.

3.0 Audience for Whom Procedure is Intended

  • Elmer E. Rasmuson Library (Rasmuson Library) employees engaged in collection development work
  • Other Rasmuson Library staff, faculty, and administration
  • UAF faculty, students, and staff
  • Librarians at other institutions:
    • Alaska Library Network members
    • Statewide Collection Development Roundtable Members
    • Librarians outside of Alaska
  • Campus and statewide university administration
  • Other interested parties

4.0 Organization of the Procedure

The CDP consists of two parts:

An overview of collection development objectives and goals
The objectives and goals overview provides a rationale for collections decision making and collection development for the library, and highlights the tangible steps used by decision makers on the selection, care and deacquisition of materials.

An overview of library print holdings and community
The collection overview outlines the communities served by the library’s collections. It also provides a survey of existing collections, and current collection needs. It distinguishes the core collections necessary for the library’s mission from peripheral areas of interest. It endorses cooperative collection planning and acquisitions based upon tangible collection strengths.

An overview of collection development objectives and goals

5.0 Collection Development Objectives

Support the instructional, research, and public service roles of UAF and the UAF Community and Technical College by:

  • Systematic, timely, selective acquisition of appropriate print, electronic (digital) and audio-visual materials when such are commercially available and of suitable quality and format. This requires knowledge of academic book and AV markets and publishing practices, effective use of services offered by publishers and booksellers, business and licensing models for acquisition of and perpetual access to electronic resources, and familiarity with the requirements of library users.
  • The library not only acquires, but provides access to information, through licensing, linking to free resources, or making consortial agreements with publishers, other libraries, or other organizations. This CDP includes all of these resources as the library’s “collections,” whether they are borrowed, owned, leased or made available online, and whether or not they reside physically in the library.
  • Developing collections with adequate resources in each subject area in which courses are taught and research or public service efforts conducted. All possible viewpoints will be represented. The library subscribes to the American Library Association Library Bill of Rights.
  • Promoting the UAF campus as a world center for the study of Alaska and the Polar Regions by building the most comprehensive collection of its type available anywhere, in all formats.
  • Maintaining the collections through appropriate conservation and preservation methods.

6.0 The Collection Development Function

This CDP serves as a guide for collection developers who make daily decisions on what library materials from the large universe of books, serials and periodicals, audio-visual resources, and electronic resources are necessary and appropriate for Rasmuson Library in its support of the UAF and UAF-CTC mission and goals within the constraints of available funding.

uestions that collection developers may ask include:

  • Does this item fit the parameters of our collection?
  • Who will use it?
  • Is the format suitable?
  • What is the return of investment (ROI) between the costs of producing, cataloging and processing this item and its utility?
  • Does its subject matter fall within the core needs of this library, or can we depend on another library in the state to create or acquire this item and make it available through interlibrary loan?
  • Is it preferable to maintain current access to an electronic copy rather than owning a hard-copy item in perpetuity?

Collection development policies to guide this process are set by the Collection Resources Group (CRG) as well as the Dean of Libraries. The CRG is chaired by the Collection Development Manager.

Members may include:

  • Collection Development Manager
  • Acquisitions and Technical Services
  • Head Alaska and Polar Regions Librarian
  • Sciences Librarian
  • Subject Librarians as necessary
  • Faculty liaisons as necessary
Primary collection development responsibilities are assigned to and by these individuals as appropriate. Their collection development tasks include selection and de-selections of books and other media; and evaluation of journal subscription and holdings adequacy, currency with regard to new electronic resources, and liaison with academic departments.

7.0 Basic Documents Guiding Collection Development

The basis of collection development can best be described as eclectic, in that collection developers draw on the widest possible variety of information about available materials, and about the needs of library patrons and their use of library resources. Several documents do, however, form a basis of assumption:

  • The current UAF and UAF-CTC catalogs delineate curricular programs which the library collections are expected to support. Collection strategies will vary based on changes to curricular needs.
  • The Collection Development Manager receives contacts from faculty who propose new courses or programs; this information will be forwarded to the appropriate liaison as needed.
  • Departments and institutes on campus publish their own research annual reports, newsletters, etc. Subject liaisons are responsible for being familiar with the essential research publications and websites for their subject areas.
  • These documents provide only limited advance warning of courses, programs, or research directions of the future. Librarians engaged in collection development functions must keep abreast of academic planning, through Faculty Senate and regular communication with academic departments and institutes, to consider the costs and services associated with new or expanded programs.

An overview of library print holdings and community

8.0 User Community

The Rasmuson Library is the largest library resource in the state of Alaska, and a member of the Alaska Library Network.

It builds its collections primarily to serve the following clientele:

  • Faculty, students, and staff of the UAF
  • Faculty, students, and staff of the UAF-CTC
  • Faculty, students, and staff of the University of Alaska system

It builds its collections secondarily to serve the following clientele:

  • Librarians, users, students and staff of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School and Public Libraries
  • Librarians, users, students and staff of non-university libraries regionally, nationally, and internationally

Emphasis is placed on developing cooperative collecting practices and sharing patron information when necessary to ensure the delivery of services and resources. Consideration is given to the security of the library collections and of patron Personally Identifiable Information.

9.0 General Collection

The Rasmuson library’s General Collection refers to the materials which support disciplines studied and researched at UAF and the UA systems. These consist of discipline-specific primary, secondary, bibliographic, reference, and electronic resources.

Any written procedure regarding collections is subject to change as the emphasis of the University’s curricula, research direction and trends in publishing change. To maintain the integrity of the Library’s collections, appropriate acquisition activities must be balanced with de-selection activities.. Both print and electronic materials are acquired as necessary, and the selection of appropriate physical and digital format will reflect the best interest of the library and the user community.

Following is an outline of the library’s General Collection.

9.1 Current Monographs

Consideration of the use of Monographs:

Priorities for Monograph purchases are given to the fields and depths appropriate to the current curriculum, research, and public services requirements of the UAF and UAF-CTC. The major emphasis is on current imprints, and among those, works which could be expected to have future as well as current utility. The collections in specific subject areas should be built in proportion to the functional level that part of the collection must support. It is also not generally appropriate to build a collection of materials for the exclusive use of one individual.

Consideration of the acquisition of Monographs:

Designated subject selectors use several strategies to maintain currency in the collection and ensure that funding is fully expended in a timely manner.

Some of these strategies include:

  • Utilizing vendor or publisher alerting systems
  • Consulting monograph reviews
  • Consulting publisher web pages and/or catalogs
  • Consulting with faculty, researchers or students knowledgeable in the discipline
  • Reviewing notable prize awards

A patron-driven selection program is maintained by library collections and acquisitions staff; a patron may request the purchase of a particular item through the use of the InterLibrary Loan (ILL) Form. Purchase suggestions from library and academic faculty, staff, administration, and students are considered if appropriate for current or anticipated curriculum, research, or service requirements, and within the limits of the current budget. Notifications will be sent to those who so request, when the book has been received and cataloged.

Special considerations in acquiring Monographs:

Books may be ordered from anywhere in the world; however, priority is given to English-language materials except in those subjects in which other languages are most important, such as language study and belles-lettres. The library will seek to have most important works of major writers in German, French, Spanish, and Russian in the original languages. A small amount of popular, non-literary books for practice reading by language students will be acquired. Writers in most other languages will be represented in English translation.

The library will not as a rule buy lower-division textbooks, due to the high cost of purchase, and the quick turn-over of multiple editions. The Library may purchase upper-division and graduate textbooks selectively, when they represent the best coverage of the material in the field. Recreational literature will be collected selectively in support of disciplines studied and researched at UAF and the UA systems, and / or in support of the user community.

Replacement of worn or missing copies is done only after a determination by the appropriate collection development librarian that the replacement is warranted; particularly so if the title is out-of-print. Out-of-print books are ordered only if replacements for missing items are considered of high priority, and for other titles on a very selective basis.. Out-of-print book needs are influenced by program need, collection strength, funding and availability from other libraries. Duplicate Monograph copies are added only in the case of heavily used materials when book funds permit, or for Alaska collection items as appropriate.

9.2 General Serials

Consideration of the use of General Serials:

Serial titles are selected, whether as purchased, gifts, or exchanges, on the same basis as are monographs: relevance to the current teaching, research, and service requirements of UAF and UAF-CTC.

Consideration of the acquisition of General Serials:

Electronic format of serials and periodicals is preferred when possible and when perpetual access is guaranteed.

Standing orders for books in series are used for acquiring appropriate new titles, ensuring that new editions, numbered volumes, and similar serial materials are received promptly and automatically upon publication. Standing orders are lodged with the original publishers or with booksellers.

Special considerations in acquiring General Serials:

ILL transactions are analyzed to identify titles in particular demand, and these are purchased as funds permit. Newspapers are selected to include, in priority order, the major papers such as the New York Times, to provide representative geographic North American coverage, major non-U.S. English-language publications, and non-English language newspapers.

9.3 Reference and Index Collections

Consideration of the use of Reference and Index Collections:

A reference collection is a collection of electronic resources, books and other materials in a library, useful for supplying authoritative information or identifying sources, kept together for convenience in providing information service by the reference librarian. Materials in the reference collection, by the arrangement and treatment of their subject matter, are designed to be consulted for definite items of information rather than to be read consecutively. To better facilitate this process, the use of printed reference materials is generally restricted to the library building, but select items may be checked out for short-term loan with permission from a Reference Librarian.

Consideration of the acquisition of Reference and Index Collections:

Materials chosen for the general reference and index collection at the Rasmuson Library are selected to serve the various curricular and research needs of the University community. The acquisition priority for this collection is to maintain the currency of the information, authority of the source, and the appropriate scope for our university audience. Items are acquired in the format best suited for the information they contain.

In the case of most reference tools, the latest edition only will be located in the reference area. Earlier editions are housed in the main stacks or in the Alaska collection, when they do pertain to Alaskan or Polar Regions. A monograph which is a part of a numbered series that has been catalogued for main stacks or elsewhere will be separated from the set only if it is exceptionally high reference value. The subject area librarian should weed the collection carefully and continuously to ensure that materials adhere to the collection goals of the library.

Items to be acquired for the Reference and Index Collections include:

  • Dictionaries: In addition to defining words and phrases (including slang) and supplying pronunciations, dictionaries may break down abbreviations, provide synonyms, antonyms, rules of usage, pronunciation and meanings of proper and geographic names, as well as locations and population figures for specific areas.
  • Encyclopedias and Almanacs: General encyclopedias and almanacs answer questions and provide introductory information and bibliographic services. Special subject encyclopedias supply excellent historical background, identify prominent persons are events in the field, current trends, and references for further reading. Both the single subject encyclopedias and encyclopedias covering a large group of related subjects are of vital importance in the reference area.
  • Handbooks and Manuals: Handbooks and manuals supply charts, tables, statistical data, and historical background in specific subject areas. They acquaint the reader with the latest developments and practices in a given field and are useful in isolating a single fact or figure. They often contain lists of important references in the major fields as well as for specialized areas of the subject.
  • Guides to the Literature: Guides direct the user to the standard sources in given subject fields and instruct them in their use. Current guides are needed for all major subject fields and divisions of subjects in which the University maintains curricula or research programs. The most effective guides are those which also treat retrospective sources, especially in the humanities and social sciences.
  • Bibliographies: Because of the increasing brevity of information provided by the subject catalog, the availability of carefully chosen bibliographies in the reference area is important. In addition, the overwhelming bulk of publications necessitate their presence as a reference tool to be utilized in assisting patrons in specific searches.
  • Biographical and Directory Information: These provide addresses and titles of individuals, officers in corporations; associations, institutions, and government bodies.. Biographical information, may be both current and retrospective dictionaries, dictionaries of governments, corporations, associations, and institutions as well as specialized compilations of persons engaged in various fields.
  • Yearbooks and Annuals: These summarize latest events, trends, and research in a specific discipline; they may list new publications or include current directories for the field. They may also provide similar summaries for governments (national, state, local) or for a geographic area. They are vital in updating histories, encyclopedias and bibliographies in the field.
  • Histories of Subject Fields or Regions: These broad historical surveys furnish important names, facts, and events in the development of a discipline or of a geographic area.
  • Indexes and Abstracts: These provide contextual and provenancial information on periodicals, journals, plays, short stories, poems, quotations, reviews of books, films, research reports, and dissertations are reference tools upon which more and more students and researchers depend.
  • Catalogs of Library Collection: These consist of printed dictionary catalogs or classified catalogs of large public, academic, and research libraries containing special collections and serve as excellent bibliographies of materials in particular subject areas, or by given authors.
  • Guides to Translated Materials: These are eagerly sought in disciplines researched and taught at UAF. Sources listing guides to translated materials should be available in the reference collection.
  • Statistics: These are particularly required in special subjects or regional areas. Especially helpful are those which are detailed and thoroughly indexed. Most frequently requested are the most current compilations, but many researchers require historical figures for comparative studies.
  • Atlases: Two categories of atlases will be retained in the reference collection: 1) those which are general and comprehensive in scope and, 2) those dealing chiefly with political, social, and economic aspects concerning which numerous inquiries are presented in the reference area.
Special considerations in acquiring Reference and Index Collections:

The following special considerations should also apply:

Dictionaries, Yearbooks and Handbooks treating very fine delineations of subjects or extremely technical subjects will not be located in the reference section. Such information will be available in the main collection unless the direction of interest changes. In some instances, more than one dictionary will be retained because one will supplement the other in information supplied.

Decisions to separate yearbooks (current editions from earlier ones) must be considered carefully to ensure location(s) that will best serve patrons. This decision must be made individually for each set, based on the nature of the information provided and patterns of patron usage.

Bibliographies to be retained in the reference area must be selected carefully, and the collection should be weeded frequently to ensure that only the most scholarly and those which include both current and retrospective materials (when applicable to the subject field) are kept there. Those treating highly technical materials or narrow aspects of a subject field will not be located in reference; they are more useful to the user when he/she can check them out. In addition, bibliographies treating subjects in current vogue will not be retained there; the user may obtain such information by utilizing current periodical indexes or current abstracting services.

The basis for selection of Histories of Subject Fields or Regions for the reference section will be scholarliness of treatment and the presence of detailed indexes and bibliographies. Histories of regions and subjects where there is presently no marked interest among users here will be shelved in the main library collection.

Atlases dealing with specifically Alaskan or Polar Regions, when they fall into the above categories will be located in the Alaska collection. Some may be duplicated in the reference atlas collection if prices permit, as it would seem desirable to have them easily available to readers. Atlases dealing with regions on a primarily geological or topographical basis, or in a distinctly technical manner will be located in the map collection.

9.4 Map and Atlas Collection

The map and atlas collections are worldwide in scope with the emphasis on Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, northern Canada, Scandinavia, and far eastern Russia. Cartographic formats collected include but are not limited to: printed atlases and sheet maps, globes, CD-ROMs, indexes, gazetteers and similar finding aids. However aerial photos are generally excluded as they are collected by the Alaska Polar Regions section of the library and the GeoData Center of the Geophysical Institute.

9.5 Federal Documents

Rasmuson Library became a partial depository for U.S. government documents in 1922 and currently receives about one third of the items distributed through the Government Printing Office’s Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). The collection is government-wide and nation-wide in scope. However, emphasis is placed on research oriented materials, data, and internet resources directly related to Alaska or UAF curricula. Geographic emphasis is placed primarily on Alaska, and secondarily on Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. Some of the material may be duplicated in the Reference collection on Level 4, the Alaska collection of APR, the BioSciences Library, or the Geophysical Institute Library.

By informal agreement with the other GPO depositories in the state, UAF retains the draft copies of environmental impact statements for Alaska. The other depositories keep or discard the draft versions at their discretion.

9.6 BioSciences Collections

Current BioSciences collections are located in the Rasmuson Library or the Mather Library. Some materials are in storage and can be requested through Interlibrary Loan. Collecting responsibilities are managed through the Rasmuson Library. A variety of biological bibliographic databases for identifying journal articles and other publications are provided online through library subscriptions.

9.7 Gifts

Gifts of funds or materials are a valuable source for library collection enhancement and are welcomed. Any checks or cash donated to the Library must go to the UA Foundation.The Library’s Fiscal Manager will oversee this process. The donation of any funds will be acknowledged and then forwarded to the Library Director. Funds will be used for collection purposes according to the goals outlined in this CDP or for other library services at the discretion of the Director and in consultation with the donor.

The Rasmuson Library’s Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives (APRCA) primarily receives donations of unique materials which have special needs. As such, separate APRCA collections policies apply to APRCA gifts and donations. The policies are available on the APRCA Policies page

The following guidelines are in place for material gifts to the library’s general collections:

  • When accepting material gifts, the Rasmuson library will follow the general collection priorities and Conspectus in support of disciplines studied and researched at the UAF
  • Staff must devote time and library resources to properly evaluate and process material gifts, and safely house materials into finite spaces. All gifts become the property of the library. Unsolicited, unordered materials sent with invoices are treated as gifts
  • To be accepted, gift materials must be in good condition and unmarked. Gifts of not-owned or not-currently received periodicals, annuals and other non-periodical serials are not accepted. Donations of analyzed serials will be considered as gifts if the item can be cataloged separately as a monograph
  • The library makes no guarantee that material gifts will be added to the collection. If an item is not finally accepted into the collections, alternative disposition, location or sale of the item(s) will be made at the discretion of the library
  • The library can make no formal commitments concerning the housing, processing, conditions of access or final disposition of gifts, unless such commitments are considered advantageous to the library, or are discussed with the Collection Development Manager and specifically noted in writing to the donor
  • Some gift materials may contain viewpoints which others find partisan or subjective. As part of its obligation to its collection development objectives and in consideration of its budget, the library may attempt to balance viewpoints through gift solicitation or purchase of additional items
  • Gift materials accepted into the collections may be publicly acknowledged, upon donor request, through indication of number and format of items donated. A title-by-title acknowledgment can be supplied if the donor prepares the title list. Value information cannot be provided by the library
  • The library cannot legally perform appraisals or complete forms for purposes of tax deductions for donors
  • The Collection Development Manager will inform appropriate UAF administration of gifts totaling $5000 or more in value

The following will happen with gifts that are donated to the Rasmuson Library:

  • Collections staff will ask donors to read the guidelines listed above (6.5 Gifts) and complete an In-Kind Gift Form. Any additional or special conditions on material gifts will be contingent upon approval by the Collection Development Manager
  • One of our librarians will evaluate the materials you donate. If your gift is rare or unique, we may refer you to another department of the university that specializes in these materials
  • The librarian will evaluate materials in consideration of the library’s collection development policies. We cannot make a commitment to keep or use your materials. If the materials you give us do not meet our guidelines we will do one of the following things with some or all of your donation:
    • We may place your donated materials in the Library Book Sale and use the proceeds from these sales to benefit the Library
    • We may sell your materials to a specialty book dealer or other dealer and use the proceeds from these sales to benefit the Library
    • We may offer your gift to other institutions whose collections are more appropriate for your material
    • We may give your materials to other departments or campuses in the university system
    • We may donate your material to the Literacy Council of Alaska to help support that agency’s programs
    • We may discard the materials, especially if they are in poor condition, part of the popular, mass market or are self-published
    • Occasionally we will refuse a donation before evaluation if the materials are in particularly poor condition or unsuitable for our collection

10 Materials Deselection Procedure

The UAF Libraries endeavor to maintain a current and relevant collection for its users, including strong collections in specific areas to support UAF curriculum and research programs, and as agreed upon in consortial sharing arrangements within the state of Alaska. The libraries should evaluate collections regularly, deselecting items in order to make space available for more relevant works, and replacing outdated materials. Careful de-acquisition allows the library to ensure that the collection is not static, while still retaining older materials of lasting value. Materials contributing to on-going research efforts should be retained or updated, and judicious selection of materials to be "weeded" should be made on an on-going basis.

Items to be withdrawn will be selected by subject liaisons or the Collection Development Manager. Items selected for withdrawal will be reviewed by at least one other librarian or liaison, or by a subject specialist from a UAF department selected by the Collection Development Manager, before going through the physical deacquisition process. Items will be searched in OCLC World Cat before holdings are removed, to ensure that UAF is not the sole remaining holder and to ensure that copies of significant works are retained in the library’s collection; duplicates or extra editions of these works may be withdrawn.

Deselection Criteria:

  • Duplicates
  • Superseded textbooks, handbooks, and reference books, or those whose content is dated or obsolete
  • Older materials on non-academic, more "popular" topics
  • Any book of low relevance and value for the UAF user community
  • Items in extremely poor physical condition without hope of repair; some items may be replaced after being withdrawn
  • Materials showing minimal use, and little usefulness to the programs of UAF's user community
  • Materials showing little use that are held by many other institutions

Disposal of Superseded Materials:
Library materials that are withdrawn from the collection will be made available for purchase to the general public in the library’s on-going book sale. A price sheet will be posted at the book sale location. Items that are not sold at the library’s book sale may be donated to other libraries or non-profit organizations. When cost-effective, the library will attempt to identify other libraries or non-profit institutions which may be able to take materials that still have value, but which for various reasons have been removed from the Rasmuson Library collection.

11 Procedure for Challenged Material

A person who wishes to request the reconsideration of library material must file a formal written request using the Reconsideration of Library Material form available at the library or on the Library’s website. A person who wishes to request the reconsideration of Library material must file one form per item for consideration. Once a physical item, such as but not limited to, a book, journal, film or document, or its digitally formatted version is reviewed, it cannot be reviewed again for a period of three (3) years. All forms for reconsideration must be filed in person. Each person is limited to three (3) forms in a month. The person filing a reconsideration must have read or viewed the material in its entirety or the form will not be accepted. The material will remain on shelf or on display until the review is completed and a final decision made.

The request will be reviewed by the Collection Resources Group consisting of the head of Acquisitions and Technical Services, and the Collection Development Manager; at least 3 MLS/MLIS degree- Librarians, and an additional subject matter expert as necessary. Together, these librarians will follow guidance provided by the American Library Association’s Guidelines for Reconsideration Committees and develop a recommendation that will be submitted to the Dean / Director of Libraries. The Dean / Director of Libraries will make the final decision. The patron submitting the request will receive a final written response regarding the matter within 90 days of the Library receiving the request.

12 Procedure Review

Accuracy, relevance, and completeness of this procedure will be monitored on an on-going basis by the Collection Department Manager and revisions will be issued as appropriate. The Procedure Statement will be compiled and edited by the Collection Development Manager. The Collection Resources Group will review this document and any revisions, and recommend approval by the Dean of Libraries. The procedure will be made openly available to library staff, administration and users.

Assistant Professor of Library Science / Collection Development & Engagement Librarian

Profile Photo
Genova Boyd
Room 417A
Elmer E. Rasmuson Library
1732 Tanana Loop
PO Box 756800
Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-6800
Phone: 907-474-7481​​
Text: 907-341-4404​

The University of Alaska Fairbanks is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer and educational institution and provider and prohibits illegal discrimination against any individual.

Learn more about UA's notice of nondiscrimination.