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Collection Development Policy


DIVISION: Library and Instructional Support
UNIT: Olson Library
DATE: July 27, 1989; Revised August 10, 2006; Reviewed July 25, 2008
PURPOSE: To articulate criteria for selecting new library resources
APPLICABILITY: Librarians are guided by this policy in selecting new material.

I. Philosophy and Audience

A. Clientele

As described in its mission statement, the Library provides resources to support University programs and the University community. The Library's primary aim is to support the instructional curricula of the University, both undergraduate and graduate. Faculty research interests are supported when they can be justified in terms of instructional courses and will supplement, complement, or extend them. Recreational interests of students, faculty, and staff are considered. In accord with the University's role as a regional center for higher education, the Library considers the interests of the general community.

B. Responsibility

The Dean bears responsibility for collection development and materials selection. The Dean has delegated overall coordination and selection to the Collection Development Librarian. Participation in collection development and book selection are the responsibility of all members of the Library faculty, who serve as liaisons to departments. Departmental faculty are expected to recommend materials to support their instructional programs and research interests.

C. Area Resources

Librarians will strive to remain informed of the library collections in the region and refer its clientele to them. Olson Library will not duplicate the special collections of local libraries or general popular collections provided by public libraries.

D. Scope of the Collection

Current year publishing will be the primary focus of selection and will be defined each year for ordering purposes. "Current year" is defined as the years of the academic fiscal year plus the preceding calendar year. Materials may be purchased in any format. The reading level of clientele will be considered. The Library seeks representative and standard works for its collection, not comprehensive coverage.

Principal limitations: Textbooks will not typically be selected but will be purchased if known to be of outstanding quality and usefulness or if published in fields where the literature largely appears in that form. Texts will not be bought to substitute for required classroom reading--which is provided by the sales of texts from the NMU Bookstore. Finely printed books, rare books, or other unusual and expensive materials will be purchased only with strong justification, when program need is very great. Popular books will be avoided, except where specifically chosen to support a browsing collection or the juvenile/young adult collection. Little material will be purchased in foreign languages, except to support courses in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures or the Center for Native American Studies. Generally, only one copy of a book will be purchased. A second or third copy would be added only if heavy use warrants purchase or if received as a gift. Quality paperbound editions are preferred to hardbound whenever possible. A more complete list of limitations is appended.

In selection, consideration will be given to alternative means of access, including interlibrary loan and online searching.

E. Location of Library Material

The Olson Library collection is housed in the Elizabeth and Edgar Harden Hall. For the main collection, location is determined by Library of Congress Classification system. Within Olson Library, there are separately cataloged collections for: government documents, curriculum materials, juvenile/young adult books, audiovisual material, special collections, the Tyler Collection, and microform collections.

The Olson Library adheres to national cataloging and classification standards. The classification of materials does not necessarily match curricular or departmental definitions.

F. Controversial Materials

Olson Library supports the concept of intellectual freedom and the idea of "freedom of expression" as guaranteed by the First Amendment. It further subscribes to the Library Bill of Rights as approved and adopted by the American Library Association. Thus, the Library bears a responsibility to collect materials with content representing various points of view on current issues without endorsement, restriction, or prejudice.

When a library user deems material to be objectionable, he/she may register a complaint by completing the "Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form." This form must be completed and signed by the person who initiates the request. The form and the material will be forwarded to the Collection Development Librarian, who will be responsible for reviewing the material in accordance with present selection criteria and collection development objectives. The Collection Development Librarian may consult reviews and outside advice and will review the request with the Dean. The person who has placed the complaint will receive a reply from the Collection Development Librarian in writing indicating the Library's position and any action planned or taken.

Challenged materials, which meet the Library's selection criteria will not to be removed as a result of pressure. The Library Bill of Rights states in Article I that "Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background or views of those contributing to their creation," and in Article II, that "Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval."

II. Selection Criteria

A. Principles

1. The primary aim is the support of the instructional curricula of the University, both undergraduate and graduate. Faculty research interests are supported when they can be justified in terms of instructional courses and will supplement, complement, or extend them. Consideration is given to recreational interests of the University community and regional educational needs.

2. The aim of selection is the development of a collection of representative and standard works in fields of study, not a comprehensive collection in any.

3. Materials may be acquired in all formats.

4. Materials may be placed in the general collection or designated for assignment or separate locations within the Library, such as Reference.

5. All materials purchased with Library funds are processed and cataloged for the Library's collection. Materials owned or purchased by other departments will be accepted for inclusion in the Library's collection if they meet the criteria in the Collection Development Policy.

6. Materials will be incorporated into the collection so as to be accessible to all students and faculty in accordance with Circulation policies and procedures.

7. Both cost and potential usage are considerations.

B. General Guidelines

The following points should be considered in selection:

1. Does the subject matter and scope of the material suit the purposes of the curriculum for which it is intended? Will it serve students and faculty in more than one curriculum?

2. Does the treatment of the subject match the needs of the students studying the discipline? Is it an introductory work? Is it speculative? Is it scholarly, technical, or popular? Is it partial or complete in coverage? Is it contemporary or retrospective in nature?

3. Is the material accurate? Is it indexed? Does it present fact or opinion? What are the author's qualifications? What is the publication date? What is the reputation of the publisher? Is the item based on primary or secondary sources? Is it based on observation or research?

4. What is the point of view? Is it partisan/sectarian? Is it fair? Does it challenge and promote thought? Is it substantially biased?

5. How well does the material fit into the Library's collection? Does it fill a gap? Does it duplicate other material?

6. How well does the material add to the understanding of the subject it addresses? Is it representative of an author, genre, or perspective of current and/or lasting interest?

7. Is the format acceptable? Is it unusual in size? What is the quality of the paper, illustrations, and binding?

8. Is the cost of the material reasonable when compared to other items in the subject area? Might material of lower cost substitute?

C. Specific Concerns

1. Serials, including periodicals and standing orders:

Under current budgetary constraints, the Library may initiate new periodical subscriptions only when an existing subscription(s) is cancelled to offset the new cost. In addition to the criteria listed earlier, periodical titles are strongly preferred which are indexed in standard sources. Library aggressively pursues opportunities to increase access to electronic journals by partnering with other Michigan academic libraries and the Michigan Library Consortium to negotiate with publishers as a group. The library supports enterprises that make journals accessible online at reasonable costs and provides access to high quality collections of open access journals. The library closely monitors usage statistics to inform decisions on selection and renewal of print and electronic serials.

2. Non-print and electronic resources:

In selection, hardware and software requirements and the Library's ability to support them will be considered. More specific guidelines are maintained for selecting (a) Internet Resources and (b) Microforms. Print materials are preferred to microform.

3. Gifts:

Gifts are welcomed if they meet the criteria governing purchased materials. Monetary appraisals or receipts stating value will not be given. The Library must be free to dispose of material, which is not needed. Gifts accepted for inclusion in the collection will be cataloged, processed, and made available to students and faculty according to standard Library procedures.

4. Replacement:

Worn, damaged, or lost materials may be replaced.

5. Deselection:

Removing outdated, superseded, damaged, or duplicated material from the collection is a vital part of collection development. Failure to deselect material that is no longer useful can diminish the vitality and appeal of a library collection. The valuable books can easily be overlooked if marginal material is allowed to accumulate. With weeding a higher proportion of the material on the shelf will interest users. Weeding increases the availability of stack space for current and future growth of the collection.

5a. Deselection Criteria:

The following general criteria are used to deselect library material. Differences among disciplines and subjects are recognized. Books in the humanities or mathematics often retain their value indefinitely, whereas books in medicine or technology may quickly lose their value.

i. Chronological and usage criteria. In general, books that are more than 25 years old and that have not circulated in the last 15 years are considered for withdrawal unless:

  • The book appears in a standard bibliography of core books such as Resources for College Libraries or Recommended Titles for Undergraduate Chemistry Library Collections.
  • The author is so prominent in the field that marginal works have value,
  • The content is such that it would only be consulted inside the library,
  • The book concerns the local area or is written by a local author,
  • The book is a volume in a series and other volumes are still being used or purchased,
  • The book has an extensive bibliography which is still useful,
  • The treatment is historical or of historical importance, or
  • The book contains valuable illustrations or unique historical data.

ii. Additional Criteria. In addition, library material meeting the following criteria may be withdrawn if usage has ceased or there is little evidence of use:

Quality. The book lacks intrinsic merit (it should never have been added to the collection).

  • Scope. Books that no longer pertain to the university’s programs.
  • Physical condition. Books that are worn, frail, or beyond repair and their value to the collection does not warrant replacement.
  • Obsolescence. Books with substantial outdated or incorrect information that is likely to mislead the reader. This does not sanction the removal of materials because of controversy. Further, historical materials with viewpoints currently considered inaccurate or offensive, but representative of their time and place, are not withdrawn on that basis alone. Obsolescent general anthologies, ephemeral fiction, and outmoded translations will be withdrawn if not of research interest.
  • Redundancy. Superfluous copies of books when the need for them has passed. Reprints of titles where the original is held in the collection and in good condition. Older editions are withdrawn as revised editions of the same work are added to the collection. A previous edition may be kept depending on the subject, length of time between editions, circulation, or extent of revision.
  • Language. Books in languages other than Chinese, Latin, Finnish, French, German Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and the central Algonquian family of Native American languages.
  • Technical bulletins and conference proceedings that are more than 10 years old.
  • Series. Isolated volumes in a series and broken runs of older series that are no longer purchased or published.
  • Format. Copies of media that have been transformed into other formats.
  • Conventional textbooks, except in mathematics, that are more than 10 years old.
  • Biography or personal narrativesof an obscure person.
  • Dissertations and theses from other universities and outside faculty research areas.

5b. Deselection Procedures: The Collection Development Librarian determines areas to be weeded in consultation with the Circulation Supervisor and liaison librarians.

Deselection criteria specific to the subject are drafted in consultation with the department head, liaison librarian, and faculty. Standard bibliographies or sources identifying prominent authors are specified.

  • Librarians use the criteria to deselect books in consultation with the Collection Development Librarian. Primary responsibility lies with the librarians; advice from other faculty may be sought.
  • Technical services staff withdraw the books.
  • Deselected books with market value and in fair condition are offered to other libraries or to vendors. Books that are in poor physical condition or do not qualify for redistribution are recycled.

III. Selection Procedures

    A. A "Purchase Request" form should be filled out when recommending an item for Library purchase. Consultation with a librarian is encouraged.

    B. Normally, a single copy of a title is sufficient. When demand or class size is very great, a second or third copy may be purchased for reserve.

    C. Textbooks designated for current courses should not be purchased.

    D. Requests may be rushed to meet immediate Reserve reading requirements.

IV. Supporting Library Policies

    A. The Library has a long-term goal of developing specific collection development statements for each curricular area of the University.

    B. More specific Acquisitions policies and procedures support these policies.

REFERENCES: Collection development policies

CONTACT: Krista Clumpner, 906-227-1205

Limitations to Selection

The Library usually avoids the purchase of the following types of materials:

-- general anthologies except those treating a unique theme, or a specific geographic area

-- textbooks to replace classroom required reading

-- collected works except those of major writers

-- complete correspondence

-- collected articles except those not previously printed in journals or other sources owned by the Library

-- abstracts, extracts, or abridged editions

-- dissertations or reprinted dissertations

-- manuscripts except NMU theses and Forest Roberts' plays in Special Collections

-- rare books or other expensive material, except if greatly needed or received as a donation

-- archival materials

-- vanity press materials

-- legal case books

--government or legal documents, except for those received as a depository library or those selected by the documents librarian

-- symposia and proceedings except major ones in the sciences

--spiral or ring notebooks except for educational materials in the Curriculum Media Center

-- foreign language materials except those in languages taught by the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and translations into English

-- highly specialized material

Olson Library
Northern Michigan University

Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials

                  Book_______ Periodical_______ Other________


Request Initiated By

Address___________________ City______________ State____ Zip_______ Phone

Do You Represent?       ____Yourself

                                         ____An Organization (name)

                                         ____Other Group (name)

1. To what in the work do you object? (Be specific. Cite pages.)


2. Did you read the entire work? ________ What parts?


3. What do you feel might be the result of reading this work?


4. What do you believe is the theme of this work?


5. Are you aware of the judgments of this work by literary critics?


6. What action do you wish the Library to take in regard to this work?


7. In its place, what work would you recommend that would convey as valuable a perspective of the subject treated?

                              Date                                         Signature



Library Staff: Please forward this form when completed by a library user to the office of the Collection Development Librarian.

Library Bill of Rights



The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.


1. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

3. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

5. A person's right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

6. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.



Adopted June 18, 1948.

Amended February 2, 1961, June 17, 1967, and January 23, 1980, reaffirmed January 23, 1996,

by the ALA Council.



Library Hours
Mon: 7:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Tue: 7:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Wed: 7:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Thu: 7:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Fri: 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sat: 12:00 noon - 8:00 p.m.
For exceptions and full year hours