Collection Development and Management Policy

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Collection Development and Management Policy

Western Libraries
Collection Development and Management Policy



The Western Libraries Collection Development policy is intended to provide a framework for the selection of materials for our collections, whether through purchases or gifts.  It sets priorities about what kinds of materials we consider most important to collect and in what formats.  The policy is meant to assist us in building a collection that furthers the university’s and library’s core missions.


Western Washington University

Western Washington University is a state-funded, four-year comprehensive university with the Carnegie Classification of “Masters L.” The university serves a primarily undergraduate population while also offering some masters-level and professional programs, though these are less than 10% of total degrees awarded. There are nearly 140 degree programs.

Western Libraries

The Western Libraries connect people to place, people to people, and people to learning. The libraries have a central role in fulfilling the mission of the university by ensuring that students, faculty, and staff have access to the information sources they need. The libraries provide leadership in navigating the changing information landscape, including scholarly communication and related technology.

Collection Development Policy

The Collection development policy is a guide for library personnel and university faculty. Our goal is to create a systematic policy that adapts to the evolving profile of the institution and that relies on data to make informed decisions about our collections.  In addition, there are a number of individual policies for particular disciplines and for defined collections within the library.  These individual policies provide more specific details about these collections, but conform to the overall collection policy and its principles.

The Western Libraries collection development policy embodies the following principles:

  • Collect materials most in demand by students, faculty, and staff.  Priority will be given to those materials directly relating to the university curriculum.
  • For materials the libraries are unable to collect, provide access to requested materials in a timely manner.
  • Use consortial arrangements to maximize access to material and cost savings.
  • Use purchasing models that enable us to procure materials in the most cost effective manner, including whether it is more economical to provide access to a journal via subscription or through interlibrary loan.
  • Periodically evaluate and assess the collection policy to keep it relevant to the university and the scholarly publishing landscape.
  • The Collection development policy encourages multicultural understanding and serves an increasingly diverse population in the university. 
  • The Libraries will attempt to make available resources in all formats to accommodate a wide range of learning styles and physical requirements.  If you require an accommodation for accessing resources that is not being currently met, please contact Jeff Purdue who will work with the Office of Disability Accommodation to ensure access.


In making decisions on what resources to acquire, the library will observe the following collection priorities:

  • Relevance to the actual or potential needs of the educational programs.  We will select based on appropriateness to undergraduate programs and faculty research needs.  As a primarily undergraduate institution, our priority will be to collect for an undergraduate population. 
  • In terms of scope and content, we will focus on broad treatments of a subject while attempting to balance this with the selective collecting of specialized aspects of a subject for certain undergraduate programs and for graduate programs and faculty research
  • Materials that go beyond the academic curricula but meet the cultural, career, recreational, and information needs of the campus
  • We will acquire primarily newly published material in an effort to stay current with scholarly research
  • We will opt for formats that enable maximum access of material; increasingly, this will mean electronic formats.  Where materials are available in multiple formats, electronic formats will be preferred. 
  • Availability of resources  through consortial agreements will play a strong  factor in the selection process
  • Cost of materials is necessarily an important consideration.  We will factor in the potential value to the collection, processing costs, and anticipated use of resources considered for purchase.  Increasingly constrained budgets make full implementation of collection development policies difficult, promoting the need for more shared collecting responsibility (through consortia and/or agreements with other libraries).
  • When possible, we will seek to build on the identified strength of an existing collection in a particular subject area and/or a high profile local collection of unique or special research interest.


Responsibility for selection of materials rests with the library selectors and ultimately with the collection development librarian, who also makes final decisions regarding matters of policy. It is the responsibility of the collection development librarian to ensure that the policy is being systematically utilized.  The library will consult departmental faculty whenever possible. 

Allocation of funds

The library uses an allocation formula to help guide how we apportion funds by departments.  Factors considered in developing the formula include number of majors and faculty, research requirements of majors (as demonstrated by assignments and faculty and graduate student research requirements), cost of material, and use of material already owned by the library. 

The original intention of this formula was that it was to be periodically revised.  This has not happened in some time.  During that time, individual university programs have changed significantly (some growing a great deal, others shrinking); additionally, interdisciplinary programs have become much more prominent, something not adequately addressed in the current formula.  Also the library’s purchasing power has diminished because of journal inflation and the lack of an inflation component in the budgets provided to the library.  Accordingly, the library will work to revise the formula by 2011 and will institute a policy of regular review and revision. 

Cooperative Collection Development:

As a member of the Orbis Cascade Alliance, the library takes part in a number of initiatives meant to maximize our shared resources and to offer a broader spectrum of materials to researchers than we could possibly acquire on our own.  This currently includes considering the holdings of Alliance libraries when making purchases or deselecting material.  We will consider Alliance holdings when deciding whether to purchase a book.  In general, the more Alliance libraries holding a particular book the less likely we will be to acquire it, unless there is a compelling reason (use in a course for example).  The Alliance is considering further measures, including cooperative purchases of e-books and the use of shared approval plans.  The library will continually evaluate these initiatives to consider whether they might benefit students and faculty.


The libraries will collect in all available formats as warranted by the research requirements of the university.  Priority will be given to electronic formats given their greater accessibility to all students, including those in extended education.  Perpetual access to electronic materials will be an important factor when collecting in this format.  We will strive to not duplicate materials in multiple formats as a cost-containment strategy; again, priority will be given to electronic formats.  The library does not collect in outmoded formats (e.g. VHS, audio tapes, and vinyl records).  Any exceptions to this must be approved by the collection development librarian. 

Collection Assessment and Deselection

The libraries will engage in ongoing assessment of its collections in order to have an accurate sense of what items are of most value to the university community and so that we can make informed decisions about the collections’ growth and development.  This should reflect the ongoing growth and development of the university itself.  The libraries will use a number of tools to continually assess its collections and ensure that we are providing resources that are useful to the university’s mission.  Also, with no guarantee of additional space, it is imperative for us to remove unused material to make room for new purchases that better reflect the current university curriculum.  We will consult with faculty and others when warranted.  We will consider the following factors in assessing the potential value of our collections:

  • Relevancy to the curriculum
  • Historical value vs. currency of information
  • Usage statistics
  • Duplication or superseded editions
  • Availability through consortia
  • Completeness of sets
  • Condition (may replace if use would suggest an in-demand resource)

 Gift Policies:

The library is happy to accept gifts of materials.  However, gifts often include significant hidden costs to the library.  Accordingly, gifts must meet the following criteria:

  • Items must be in good condition.  We do not accept damaged material, including material heavily marked-in, or ex-library copies.
  • Any gift materials that require processing by the mendery will not be accepted.
  • Items must meet the general collection guidelines for our collection.
  • We do not accept outmoded formats (see format statement above).
  • We do not accept periodical literature, except in rare circumstances.
  • We do not accept mass market paperbacks.
  • We do not accept textbooks, unless these are materials for the curriculum collection.
  • Large gifts should be accompanied by a monetary gift adequate to cover necessary processing.
  • Any exceptions to the above restrictions must be approved by the collection development librarian.

January 29, 2010
Collection Development Policy Work Group
Robyn Adcox
Julie Fitzgerald
Jeff Purdue, chair
Wayne Richter
Peter Smith