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Ely Library at Westfield State University

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About the Library: Collection Development Policy

Collection Development Policy

1.    Introduction

The goal of Westfield State University Ely Library collection development activities is to provide materials in all appropriate formats that directly support the curricular and research activities of the University. Through the University Archives, the Library also collects and preserves items related to the history of the University. Where funding permits, the Library will also acquire materials that foster intellectual curiosity, enhance critical thinking, and support student life on campus. The collections include materials such as print and digital books, materials published by university faculty and staff, citation tools, journals, article databases, maps, videos, web resources, numerical datasets, musical scores and recordings, and visual image and motion picture databases, as well as objects, manuscripts, and archives.

2.   Mission of Ely Library

The mission of Ely Library is to support the curricular, research, and community-building activities of the University through the effective and efficient provision of information resources, services, and instruction in a supportive learning environment.

To accomplish this, the library:

  • Collects, organizes, and makes information accessible in both traditional and digital formats
  • Teaches students how to identify, retrieve, critically evaluate, and effectively apply information in creative and analytical problem solving
  • Provides a supportive and dynamic research and learning environment, both on campus and online
  • Collects, preserves, and provides access to the history of the University through the University Archives
  • Serves all members of the campus community
  • Collaborates with students, staff, and faculty to ensure the effectiveness of library collections, services, and instruction
  • Recruits and develops a skilled, engaged, and diverse workforce
  • Collaborates with partners inside and outside the University to maximize access to resources and the effectiveness of services
  • Assesses and adapts operations to ensure that the library meets the needs of the University
  • Serves as a resource for the citizens of the Commonwealth

3.   Description of the Collections

The collections consist of all the monographs, serials, manuscripts, maps, indexes, abstracts, microfilm, audio-recordings, scores, films, and licensed and purchased digital content provided by the Ely Library.   The collections provide basic and in-depth information sources in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences, and professional fields such as Psychology, Criminal Justice, Social Work, Nursing, and several fields of Education. 

The main stacks collection holds primarily monographs in all subject areas related to the curriculum. The Educational Resources Center collections hold materials in all formats that support the university’s Education programs, with a focus on teacher preparation. The Reference Collection holds reference materials in all subjects related to the curriculum. Paper-format periodical holdings are held in the Bound Periodicals collection on the mezzanine of the Library, and the Current Periodicals section is on the Library’s main floor. The Library subscribes to proprietary databases in all subject areas of the curriculum providing extensive access to journals, sheet music, streaming video, and other digital formats. The University Archives preserves the history of Westfield State University and contains documents, correspondence, publications, program materials, photographs, and ephemera from administrative departments, academic units, student organizations, and faculty and staff.

4.   Goals in Collecting

4.1. Support of the Curriculum and Levels of Collection

The first priority for collection development is support of the curriculum. The Library generally collects at the Study Level to support a broad liberal arts curriculum and at the Advanced Study Level to support advanced undergraduate work and Master’s degree programs in English, Psychology, Accountancy, Criminal Justice, Social Work, and in several fields of Education. Study levels are as defined in the ALA Guidelines for the Formulation of Collection Development Policies[1]. The Library also collects materials that fall between or across disciplines or that otherwise have curricular value.

4.2. Support for Research and Scholarship 

Secondarily, the Library will support the research and scholarship activities of faculty members and graduate students. While the Library does not generally collect at the Research Level, the Library will collect those research tools fundamental to support literature reviews for basic faculty research as well as student thesis research. The Library cannot, however, support substantial specialized research of the faculty unless that material strengthens the long-term shape and balance of the collection.  When there is no potential use beyond that of an individual faculty member, the Library will continue to strive to make materials that are not in the collection available to researchers through interlibrary loan, electronic access, and other forms of document delivery.

4.3.  Support for Life-Long Learning and Enhancing Student Life

Where funding permits, the Library will also acquire materials that foster intellectual curiosity, enhance critical thinking, and support student life on campus.

5.    Guidelines for Collection, Retention, and Deselection of Materials

5.1. Commitment to Intellectual Freedom

The Library adheres to the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights[2], specifically, that "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. 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."

5.2. Monographs and other one-time purchases

The selection of monographs or other one-time purchases for the permanent collections is driven largely by three factors: the support of the curriculum, including course reserves and academic preparation; the support of student and faculty research; and the support of the overall collection, including titles that provide broad subject coverage, add various perspectives, or that support a broad liberal arts education.  In general, selections are made from recently published material.  Normally only one copy of an item is acquired by the library, although exceptions may occur with very high-use material.  The Library continues to explore new delivery methods for monographs, such as e-books.  The primary format of selection, especially in the humanities and social sciences, is currently the book codex.  When the hardcover and paperback editions are published simultaneously, the paperback edition is preferred. The budget for subject areas is generally allocated on a formula based on factors such as number of students in each major, instructional credits taught, and faculty in each program, as well as the relative cost of materials in each subject area. The budget for each subject area is provided through a subject specialist librarian assigned to work with an academic department to identify relevant materials for acquisition. See section 6, Purchasing, and section 8, Librarian Liaisons to Academic Departments.

In recognition of the highly residential nature of the campus, the Library also collects a small amount of popular and literary fiction as well as feature films. These remain very popular with students, promote reading, and further connect the Library to the campus community. The Library may also collect, when needed, other materials that enhance and support student and faculty work, such as computer and technical manuals, and time-management, career, and professional guides.

5.3. Continuing Commitments

Continuing commitments in the form of journal subscriptions, databases, newspapers, and other serial resources are an ongoing yearly commitment of funds, library staff time, and shelving space.  They also represent a regular rise in cost on a yearly basis, usually between 5-10%.  The Library begins new continuing commitments only when an ongoing curricular need has been identified.  In addition, the Library is committed to funding subscriptions in only one format, primarily electronic (when available).  When acquiring new electronic resources, the Library will seek contractual assurances that Westfield State will retain perpetual archival access to the resource.  Westfield State will make sure that its publishing partners understand the importance of archiving as a criterion for acquiring or licensing an electronic resource. 

The following factors are considerations in the decision-making process to start a new continuing commitment: the extent to which the journal or other continuing resource supports student learning; the extent to which it is a core title in its discipline and whether it fills a gap for its subject in the Library's collection; the appropriateness of the primary language of the publication; the reputation of the issuing organization or publisher.  If the title is primarily for faculty research, then Inter-Library Loan (ILL) or other document delivery methods will be considered first.

5.4. Deselection

While the Library values historical materials and their role in enhancing the curriculum and the intellectual life of the University, the careful deselection of material is important to keep the Library's collections relevant as well as to allow for the housing of new acquisitions.  Materials that may be considered for deselection include those that are superseded secondary scholarly works, surplus copies of standard works no longer used for courses, items in poor condition, superseded formats, and items duplicated in digital format. Subject librarians will consult with representatives of academic departments in making deselection decisions. 

5.5. Replacement 

Replacement copies will be sought for titles (or volumes of print journals) in poor condition or otherwise missing when they meet current selection criteria and are still available. 

5.6.  New Curricular Areas

Because the acquisition of material is driven by curricular interests, there may be gaps in the collection when a new course or program is established.  Faculty should work closely with the department’s Subject Librarian in preparation for any new course or program.  Those developing new courses or programs should take into consideration the cost of establishing sufficient collections to support coursework. The Library may, if necessary, allocate additional funding beyond the usual formula to support new courses or programs.

6.   Purchasing

The subject specialist librarians select materials in consultation with the faculty and administrators in the departments, offices, and academic support units of the University. Reference Collection titles are selected by the Head of Reference with input from the subject specialist librarians. Orders are placed by library administrative staff. Continuing commitments such as periodicals and databases are selected by the Library Director in consultation with the subject librarians.

The Library endeavors to acquire materials or access to content by the most cost-effective methods possible, seeking discounts through price comparison, and through partnerships and consortia among libraries, publishers, and vendors.  Collections are funded primarily through student tuition and fees, as re-allocated by the Commonwealth and University, and secondarily by the taxpayers of the Commonwealth for the purpose of supporting the curriculum and research activities of the University. 

7.   Retrenchment and Windfall

In the event of budget cuts, ongoing commitments will be protected first, with a reduction in one-time purchases. If databases must be cut, they will be deselected or retained based on their importance to the curriculum, cost-per-use, and overlap with other sources of content. Unexpected additional funds will generally be expended on one-time purchases, including digital resources with archival rights.

8.   Librarian Liaisons to Academic Departments

Each librarian is assigned to designated academic departments based on interest and background in the subject area. The librarian liaisons share responsibility with departmental faculty for the selection of library materials. Liaisons also provide academic departments with information about new acquisitions, services, and changes in library policy. They help ensure that the Library acts in response to the faculty's curricular needs. They keep current on changes to the curriculum and faculty interests, and any other developments likely to influence the need for library resources and services.

9.   Gifts

The Library welcomes donations or gifts of books that support the University's programs. Gifts/donations are added according to the same selection criteria as purchased materials. Decisions on whether or not the materials will be accepted for the collection will be made by the appropriate subject Librarian.

Since processing and housing materials is expensive, the library reserves the right to accept or discard any materials received as gifts/donations.  If gifts are accepted it should be understood that, upon receipt the University becomes the owner of the material and, as such, reserves the right to determine its retention, location, cataloging treatment, and other considerations related to its use, maintenance, or removal. Unfortunately, most unsolicited items prove unsuitable for the collection and impose a burden on the Library. For these reasons, the Library cannot accept unsolicited gifts dropped off at the Library. 

Those who would like to make a donation of materials to the Library should contact the Library with a title list. If a donation is not suitable, the Library will recommend other possible places to donate the books. The Library is most likely to accept books with lasting value in the curricular areas taught by the University. Duplicate items or redundant subject matter, used textbooks, mass-market publications, superseded formats, self-published books, and materials in poor condition will not be accepted. The Library cannot provide appraisal of items for tax or any other purposes

[1] Guidelines for the Formulation of Collection Development Policies, David L. Perkins, editor (Collection Development Committee, Resources and Technical Division, American Library Association, 1979)

[2] “Library Bill of Rights | American Library Association”, January 23, 1996.


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