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Library Collections: Collection Development Policy

Learn about the many collections housed at Rasmson Library.

1.0 Purpose of the Collection Development Policy

This Collection Development Policy is intended to serve as a communications, planning, and implementation tool. It articulates the premises on which the library collections are being built, and describes the existing strengths, acquisition commitments, and collection goals of the constituent parts of the collections. It serves as a guide for library staff, users, the UAF administration, funding agencies, and for cooperating libraries.

The policy statement enables short and long-term planning for collection development, and helps collection developers to proceed rationally and consistently towards defined goals. Its aim is to shape more effective collections and optimize use of funds, and to relate collection generating activities to the goals and mission of the library and the teaching and research needs of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The Appendix includes the various goal and mission statements of the University, of UAF, and of the library. These statements provide a framework within which collection development and maintenance, collection interpretation and resource sharing, and research can be carried out.

2.0 Organization of the Policy Statement

This policy document consists of two parts: a narrative section followed by an overview of library print holdings. The first section describes the library environment and policies for the various collections. The collection overview is a detailed survey of the existing collections to provide a map of the shallows and depths of the constituent parts of the collections by Library of Congress classification.

The collection overview also permits policy to be recorded governing current collecting commitment and collection goals at these functional levels. It enables the library to more easily distinguish the core collections necessary for its mission from peripheral areas of interest, and enables cooperative collection planning to be based on actual collection strengths and acquisition activity.

3.0 Audience for Whom Policy is Intended

  1. Library faculty engaged in collection development work.
  2. Other library faculty and library administration.
  3. UAF academic faculty, students, and staff.
  4. Librarians at other institutions:
    • Alaska Library Network members
    • Statewide Collection Development Roundtable Members
    • Librarians outside Alaska
  5. Campus and statewide university administration.
  6. Other interested parties.

4.0 Collection Development Objectives

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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 policy document 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.
  3. 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 (See Appendix).
  4. Promoting this 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.
  5. Maintaining the collections through appropriate conservation and preservation methods.

This collection development policy is a guide for addressing these objectives, for prioritizing the allocation of collection development resources, and as a strategic tool for planning how the collection development function contributes with other library activities in the attainment of overall library goals.

6.0 User Community

Rasmuson Library builds its collections to serve the faculty, students, and staff of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and UAF Community and Technical College as its primary clientele. Rasmuson Library cooperates with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School and Public Libraries in a formalized arrangement entitled the “North Star Libraries Cooperative Agreement,” see Appendix. This agreement guides collecting practices, and the sharing of patron information as needed in order to ensure collection security. It must be noted that this agreement is secondary to the Rasmuson Library mission of serving UAF faculty and students.

As the largest library resource in the state, and a member of the Alaska Library Network, Rasmuson Library also has a significant statewide function, for both the University of Alaska system and for non-university libraries. This is particularly true with regard to the Alaska and Polar Regions collection, which serves a regional, national, and international community as well.

5.0 Basic Documents Guiding Collection Development

he 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 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 Officer 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.

7.0 The Collection Development Function

This policy document serves as a guide for collection developers who make daily decisions on what library material 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 CTC mission and goals within the constraints of available funding.

The questions collection developers ask include: does this item fit the parameters of our collection? Who will use it? Is the format suitable? What is the relationship 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 policy to guide this process is set by the Collection Resources Group (CRG) as well as the Dean of Libraries. The CRG is chaired by the Collection Development Officer. Members include:

  1. Collection Development Officer
  2. Arctic Bibliographer
  3. Bibliographic Access Management Head
  4. Alaska and Polar Regions Head
  5. Information Services Head
  6. BioSciences Librarian
  7. Government Documents Head
  8. Faculty liaisons as assigned

Primary collection development responsibilities are assigned to and by these individuals as appropriate. Their collection development tasks include selection of books and other media, evaluation of journal subscription and holdings adequacy, currency with regard to new electronic resources, and liaison with academic departments. Expected liaison activities are described in Appendix.

8.0 Policy Review

Accuracy, relevance, and completeness of this policy will be monitored on an on-going basis by the Collection Department Officer and revisions will be issued as appropriate.

The Policy Statement will be compiled and edited by the Collection Development Officer. The Collection Resources Group will review this document and revisions and recommend approval by the Dean of Libraries. Copies will be shared by the Collection Development Officer with the Alaska Library Association’s Collection Development Roundtable members, the Electronic Resources Management in Alaska (ERMA) members, and to others as appropriate.

9.0 General Collection

For all appropriate fields, the necessary primary (literary, historical, statistical, etc); secondary (monographs, journals, conference proceedings, technical reports, etc); bibliographic and reference sources (handbooks, indexes, dictionaries, etc), and electronic resources are collected.

9.1 Current Monographs

Monographs are purchased in the fields and depths appropriate to the current curriculum, research, and public services requirements of UAF campuses and UAF-CTC. Both print and electronic versions are acquired.

The major emphasis is on current imprints, and among those, works which could be expected to have future as well as current utility. Several selection methods are currently utilized, including a limited approval plan in support of some subjects, a few designated subject selectors in sciences, Alaska and polar regions subjects, and general subjects. Selectors utilize vendor or publisher alerting systems, reviews, publisher web pages and/or catalogs, notable prize awards, and other means to maintain currency in the collection and ensure that funding is fully expended in a timely manner. A patron-driven selection program is also used, whereby a patron may fill out an interlibrary loan form and recommend that the item requested be purchased instead of borrowed from another library.

Purchase suggestions from library and academic faculty, staff, administration, and students are an important means of identifying monographic materials for acquisition. Purchase suggestions are essential for those items not covered by selectors. Faculty members are encouraged to discuss their needs with the Collection Development Officer. All purchase suggestions will be 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.

Priority will be given to materials requested for specific academic requirements and to materials for specific faculty research purposes. Second priority will be given to non-faculty requests and to materials selected by collection development librarians in areas in which academic faculty are not active in selecting.

The collections in specific subject areas should be built in proportion to the functional level that part of the collection must support. For example, it is not effective to build a collection suitable for master’s degree work when the university offers a baccalaureate, or only a minor. It may also not be appropriate to build a collection of materials for the exclusive use of one individual, when it may be more suitable for personal collections to be bought with personal funds.

Books are ordered from anywhere in the world, and 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 which students are required to buy for class use, and will buy upper-division and graduate textbooks selectively, when they represent the best coverage of the material in the field. A disproportionate share of book funds could be absorbed in buying textbooks, which in many cases become obsolete with the publication of new editions. Outdated textbooks fill valuable shelf space which is not then available for more current material.

Duplicate copies are added only in the case of heavily used materials when book funds permit, or for Alaska collection items as appropriate.

In the past few years the budget has not been adequate to support buying for recreational reading other than literature well reviewed in critical media. No mass-market paperbacks are purchased. The “bestsellers” leasing program currently in place has considerable popular support, and will be maintained at low cost.

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, due to budgetary constraints. Out-of-print book needs are influenced by program need, collection strength, and availability from other libraries. Generally speaking, under normal circumstances priority must be given to current and retrospective in-print books.

Reprints and facsimile editions are routinely selected and since they are often printed on more durable paper than the original works, are often preferred to original editions.

9.10 Re-evaluation of Challenged Material

Materials challenged by a user will be re-evaluated according to a procedure to be devised by the Collection Development and Management Group.

9.2 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. 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.

A continuing difficulty in obtaining adequate and consistent funding for periodical subscriptions has resulted in a collection less than adequate in many subject areas. ILL transactions are analyzed to identify titles in particular demand, and these are purchased as funds permit.

The periodicals and standing order lists are to be reviewed on alternate years.

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

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. Some users possess skills that enable them to access the reference collection without the assistance of 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.

Materials chosen for the general reference collection at the Elmer E. Rasmuson Library are selected to serve the various curricular and research needs of the University community. To satisfy these informational needs the reference staff has developed documents to guide the building, maintenance, and weeding of the Reference Collection (see Appendix K). These documents define the types of materials to be included in the general reference section and the various criteria to be used in their selection. To facilitate meeting these basic user needs, certain categories of materials are included in the general Reference Collection. In all these categories there is an effort to maintain currency of the information, authority of the source, and appropriate scope for our university audience. Foreign items are acquired in the format best suited for the information contained. The Reference Collection Working Group in conjunction with the Collection Resources Group is responsible for building a balanced and useful general print and electronic Reference Collection that includes:

  • Dictionaries (English, multilingual and subject oriented)
  • Encyclopedias and Almanacs (general and subject oriented)
  • Handbooks and Manuals (including travel guides)
  • Guides to the Literature (directing users to standard sources)
  • Bibliographies (scholarly treatment of current and retrospective materials)
  • Sources of Biographical or Directory Information (including individuals and organizations)
  • Yearbooks and Annuals (general and subject oriented)
  • Histories of Subject Fields or Regions (scholarly surveys of particular relevance to curricula and research)
  • Indexes and abstracts (general and subject oriented)
  • Catalogs of Library Collections (useful for specialized bibliographic research and verification)
  • Guides to Translated Materials (retrospective and current in all areas where the University maintains research and curricula)
  • Statistics (current as well as those containing some historical perspective concerning general and special areas)
  • Atlases (general and comprehensive as well as political, social, and economic)

The dynamic nature of information must be reflected in the reference collection. Any written policy is subject to change as the emphasis of the University’s curricula and research direction change and also as trends in publishing change. To maintain the integrity of the various categories, proper selection policies must be balanced with de-selection activities. Pruning from the collection those items that are no longer useful is an integral part of the collection development process. Preference is given for electronic over print sources where possible and user-friendly, to promote greater use and availability for patrons.


From "Reference Collection" in the The ALA Glossary of Library and Information Science (Chicago: American Library Association, 1983), p. 188.

From "Reference Book" in The ALA Glossary of Library and Information Science p. 188

9.4 Gifts

Gifts, whether of funds or materials, provide a valuable potential source for collection enhancement, and are welcomed. But since significant staff time and other library resources are involved in properly evaluating and processing material gifts, and since no library dealing with finite space limitations and following an orderly and rational collection development policy can absorb all materials which might possibly be donated, the following guidelines are established.

  1. The gifts policy of Rasmuson library follows the general collection development parameters, criteria, and Conspectus.
  2. The curators of the Alaska and Polar Regions (APR) Collections recognize that donors of rare and unique materials have special needs and expectations. See APR gift policies for more information.
  3. The library must always consider the best use of staff resources, physical space limitations, bibliographic access, and the most effective development of the collections. Since gift materials involve these factors and are therefore not free of cost, they cannot be added simply because they are gifts.
  4. Gifts of funds for general library use or for particular items, collections, or memorials relevant to library needs are always appreciated. Funds so received will be acknowledged and used in accordance with accepted library procedures for collection development.
  5. The library seeks to include materials from a broad spectrum of opinion as part of its obligation in the education process. It is recognized that some gift materials may be oriented to viewpoints which others may find offensive, and the library may attempt to balance such materials through gift solicitation or by purchase, subject to budget limitations and to its overall collection development policy.
  6. The library can generally make no formal commitments concerning the shelving, housing, processing, or final disposition of gifts, unless specifically noted in writing to the donor. The library is obliged to process all materials, whether purchased or gift, in a cost-effective manner, which requires that routine and standard procedures be followed as closely as practicable. Gifts with conditions or restrictions are not acceptable unless such conditions or restrictions are considered advantageous by the library and accepted in writing. Such conditions as separate housing or shelving may well serve to restrict, rather than enhance, access by patrons. The library does not allow bookplates or other honoraria to be added to gift items, except for library bookplate program bookplates.
  7. If requested by the donor, gift materials accepted into the collections will be acknowledged. As a rule the acknowledgment will indicate only number and format of items donated. A title-by-title acknowledgment can be supplied if the donor prepares the title list or if the number of items is small enough to make this practical--normally, 10 or fewer titles. Value information cannot be provided by the library.
  8. All gifts become the property of the library. If an item is not finally accepted into the collections, alternative disposition or location of the item(s) will be made at the discretion of the library. Materials may be sold at the ongoing library book sale and the proceeds deposited to the book fund.
  9. The library cannot legally perform appraisals for purposes of tax deductions for donors.
  10. To be accepted, gift materials must be in good condition and unmarked.
  11. The Collection Development Officer will inform appropriate UAF administration of gifts totaling $5000 or more in value.
  12. Gifts of non-owned, non-currently received annuals and other non-periodical serials are not accepted.
  13. Gifts of non-owned, non-currently received periodicals are not accepted.
  14. Gifts of analyzed serials will be considered as monographic gifts if not already set up as a serial and the item can be cataloged separately.
  15. Unsolicited, unordered materials sent with invoices are treated as gifts.

Here is what will happen if you give materials to the Library

  1. We will ask you to read these instructions and fill out and sign our collection development form (.pdf format) (.doc format).
  2. We cannot accept gifts with restrictions or conditions. If you place restrictions or conditions on our gift, you will have to speak to the Library’s Collection Development Officer. In rare instances, the Collection Development Officer may accept restricted or conditional gifts. If this occurs, you and the Collection Development Officer must sign a written agreement (not the form on the back) that specifically describes your restrictions or conditions and the Library’s acceptance of them.
  3. 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 the other materials in light of our collection development policies and guidelines. 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 your some or all of your donation:
  1. We may place your donated materials in the Library Book Sale. We use the proceeds from these sales to benefit the Library.
  2. We may sell your materials to a specialty book dealer or other dealer. Again we will use the proceeds for these sales to benefit the Library.
  3. We may offer your gift to other institutions whose collections are more appropriate for your material.
  4. We may give your materials to other departments or campuses in the university system
  5. We may donate your material to the Literacy Council of Alaska to help support that agency’s programs
  6. We may discard the materials, especially if they are in poor or soiled condition, part of the popular, mass market or are self-published.
  7. Occasionally we will refuse a donation before our evaluation if the materials are in particularly poor condition or obviously unsuitable for our collection.

[Policy as approved by Rasmuson Library Dean and UAF General Counsel Larry Zervos, November, 2007]

Assistant Professor of Library Science / Collection Development & Engagement Librarian

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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​

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