Collection Development Policy

Purpose and Goals of the Collection Development Policy

The collection development policy for Washington University in St. Louis’ Olin Library helps library staff to meet collection goals as they relate to the mission of the library, informs the University community about the principles by which materials are selected for inclusion, and provides guidance about how we spend our collections funds. Additionally, the policy helps define our commitment to support the current research and teaching at the University, as well as supporting new models of research and scholarship.

Purpose and Goals of the Collection

Collection Development is the process of building useful, balanced collections over time within a set budget, based on assessed, ongoing information needs of the library’s users. It also includes selection criteria, resource sharing, replacement of items, and routine de-accessioning. Through collection development the Libraries will facilitate seamless access to robust and distinctive collections. As a premier research library, we strive to enhance and simplify access to resources which support and enrich our users’ teaching, learning, and research. The library not only acquires print and electronic collections for the campus community, but cultivates partnerships with other research libraries to achieve fast and efficient access to resources not owned by Washington University Libraries.

The Library collects materials which support the current curricular and research needs of Washington University’s undergraduate and graduate programs and that of students and faculty members. It supports the University’s mission to discover and disseminate knowledge, and protect the freedom of inquiry through research, teaching, and learning.

Library’s Vision

Library Clientele

The library supports the information needs of its primary clientele: Washington University students, faculty, and staff. Olin Library also provides service to alumni, local and visiting researchers, and members of the surrounding community.

Intellectual Freedom

Selection Activities and Responsibilities

The library is responsible for developing its collection through a combination of selection practices, including approval plans, individual title selection, and requests from the WUSTL community. Librarians hold the ultimate responsibility for developing and maintaining the library’s collection based on their knowledge of the collection, expertise with collection tools and resources, and understanding of the information and resource needs of the library’s community of users.  Selection processes are cooperative and can involve consultation with faculty and departments.

Librarian Collection Responsibilities

Librarians serve as subject liaisons to various departments across Washington University. In this role they are responsible for developing familiarity with the curriculum of their departments and with the relevant parts of the collection that serve their subject areas. Librarians also have the responsibility to keep faculty informed of important changes regarding the collections. A significant portion of the library’s collection is developed through the use of approval plans containing profiles that are tailored to many programs of the university. Title-by-title selection supplements the approval plans, with librarians selecting items outside of the profile parameters and to meet the more specific needs of the collection, faculty, and students.

Faculty Collection Involvement

Faculty members are encouraged to participate in collection development through regular consultation with their subject liaison librarian. This contribution to collection development is valuable for the in-depth knowledge that faculty members have of their specific subject areas and broad discipline, as well as their curriculum and research needs. The subject liaison librarian is the contact person for faculty to voice any questions or concerns they may have about the library’s collection and services, or to make suggestions.

Selection Guidelines and Criteria for the Collection

The library’s collection is developed to support and enhance the instructional and research activities and goals of Washington University in St. Louis.

The library focuses on adding newly published materials to the collection that are authoritative and/or ground-breaking in their fields; however, librarians are able to make retrospective selections in order to fill gaps or respond to requests with consideration according to selection guidelines.

Acquisition Methods

The Librarians and staff of the Acquisitions Unit will make the determination about how (and from whom) a resource should be purchased. Subject librarians are encouraged to share any special information. Examples include: information about reduced prices, location of out-of-print copies, US or foreign vendors for unique foreign publications.

De-Accessioning

For journals: print journals are de-accessioned when Olin purchases digital archives which are perpetual and when there are no objections from faculty.

For monographs: In the fall of 2013, the Libraries convened a faculty task force comprised of Tim Moore (Classics, and chair of Task Force), Liz Haswell (Biology), Heather Corcoran (Sam Fox), and Andrew Martin (Law and Political Science) to review our collection management policies, including de-accessioning of monographs.  After review and consultation with other faculty members across the campus, the linked guidelines were approved in December 2013.

Duplicates

Olin Library does not generally purchase duplicates; however, exceptions can be made. We also make every attempt to avoid duplication with other libraries at Washington University that are not part of the Olin Libraries.

Formats

The Library seeks to purchase resources in the format that will be the most useful to our faculty and students.

Gifts and Donations

Olin Library will be pleased to consider donations of materials that support current curriculum and research conducted at Washington University. For more information, please see the Libraries’ Gift Policy.

Preservation

The Libraries’ Preservation Unit has the responsibility to work from the collection down through strategic programs like emergency preparedness for collections, environmental monitoring, preservation review of brittle materials, and user education.  It also works from the item up through collections care and book repair, a commercial binding program, and physical processing and labeling of materials.

Retention

The Library focuses on retaining materials that enhance the relevance of the curricular and research needs of the University. We are committed to securing long-term, perpetual access to the print and electronic content on which our patrons depend.

Scholarly Communications

Scholarly communications pertains to the creation, transformation, dissemination and preservation of knowledge. It encompasses both teaching (the promotion and transmission of knowledge) and research (the creation of new knowledge). In essence, scholarly communications is at the heart of Washington University’s mission.

Textbooks

It is the preference of Olin Library to not purchase textbooks. In particular subject areas or for specific reasons, however, exceptions can be made.

Subject Specific Policies