Collection Management Policy

As amended March 2017

Allegheny’s Pelletier Library is committed to providing students, staff, and faculty seamless access to the information resources they need to fulfill the educational mission of the College. The purpose of the Library’s collection is to provide the finding aids and resources needed to support the undergraduate curriculum at the time of need. The Library’s collection is focused on three types of resources, since the Library’s resources are relatively limited, the College’s curriculum is increasingly broad and diverse, and the corpus of work that might conceivably be held in the Library’s collection to support that curriculum continues to expand:

  1. Indexes, which may contain full-text content but are purchased primarily for their value as tools to find resources
  2. Print and electronic journals, particularly those that support work in introductory and intermediate level course
  3. Monographs, which includes print and electronic books, as well as video and audio titles.

To support students and faculty pursuing more advanced work, the Library is committed to locating and acquiring materials that are not held in the Library’s collection when needed.

§1. Acquisitions

Material Format

Since digital resources are more broadly accessible and more heavily used by our student population, all materials are usually acquired in an appropriate digital format. Materials will be purchased in other formats if the digital version is in some way inferior to the analog format, the digital version is cost prohibitive, or the expected use justifies the purchase of an analog format. For example, digital representations of artworks are often inconsistently rendered, so for art references a print format is often preferable to a digital version; the scholarly value of some works is enhanced by being able to see the context in which they are displayed, which again argues for print over digital; and although digital monographs are often preferable for fast retrieval and quick reference, the limits of current technology suggest that extended reading is typically better done on print copies. When requested to do so by faculty to support the College’s curriculum, the Library will purchase print versions of works it has in digital form or digital versions of work it has in print form, provided such purchases are not unduly expensive.

General Selection Criteria
The Library staff encourage faculty and students to participate in selecting materials for the Library’s collection. The Library is seeking materials that are relevant to the curriculum and meet one of the following criteria, which are ranked in order of their importance:

  1. Material that supports the curriculum is our highest priority. Such material is likely to be placed on course reserve, to have specific reference made to it in a course, or to be used for class preparation. Required textbooks are an exception to this preference. The Library does not normally acquire such works.
  2. Material that supports students preparing papers or projects is also a high priority, particularly if it is likely to be used by multiple students over a multi-year period.
  3. Material that provides broad subject coverage, adds alternative perspectives, or supports a basic liberal arts education are valuable additions to the Collection, and are acquired as resources allow.

The following factors help determine which materials within the above categories will be purchased:

  • Faculty recommendations
  • Authority (reputation) of creator
  • Reviews such as those found in Choice reviews or disciplinary outlets
  • Currency and enduring value of material
  • The strength of the Library’s present holdings in the subject and whether the material fills a gap in the Library’s coverage or supplements existing materials
  • Licensing restrictions and the balance between cost and value
  • Ease of patron access and use
  • Ease and expense of related to the Library’s management of the material

Specific Criteria — Indexes
The Library seeks to provide adequate index coverage for every academic program offered by the College, although cost constraints make it impossible to purchase the primary index in every field of study. Factors that contribute to the selection of indexes for the collection include:

  • Uniqueness of searching capabilities as related to discipline or program needs
  • Uniqueness of content
  • Level of use relative to cost
  • Faculty recommendations

Specific Criteria — Journals
The Library seeks to provide a journal collection with broad coverage for each area of study offered by the College. Coverage is expected to be sufficient to meet immediate needs in introductory courses and to serve as a starting point for more advanced research. As with indexes, the quantity of good titles and the cost of journal material makes it impossible for the Library to purchase significant quantities of advanced material other than that acquired in the process of selecting materials needed to meet introductory needs in a discipline. The Library works with advanced students and researchers to acquire copies of more specialized content. Recognizing the importance of specialized content in supporting student and faculty work, the Library invests in technologies and processes to facilitate rapid acquisition of journal articles needed by students and faculty once such articles have been identified.

Factors that contribute to the selection of journals for the collection include:

  • Ensuring appropriate support for general and introductory-level inquiries in all areas of the curriculum
  • Level of use relative to cost
  • Faculty recommendations
  • Assessment of document delivery requests to identify gaps in the collection coverage

In most cases, journals are acquired in large packages because of the efficiency of such purchases (as measured by cost per use) relative to the purchase of individual titles.

When a new package or title subscription is added, it will be assessed after 2 – 3 years. All long-standing subscriptions will be assessed every year. Assessments of long-standing subscriptions will be based on the most recent 4 years of use because usage levels are affected by changes in the the curriculum and interests of students and faculty.

Individual journal subscriptions which are available in our JSTOR Archive with a gap of three or fewer years will normally be cancelled unless they cost less than $200 per year.

Journals without use data (primarily print journals) are reviewed on a regular basis to determine if there is a continuing need for that journal to support the undergraduate curriculum.

Specific Criteria — Monographs
The Library will purchase or borrow, if at all possible, any monographic publication requested by Allegheny students, faculty, and staff. The Library’s decision whether to purchase or borrow monographic materials is based on the following criteria:

  1. Relevancy to the curriculum
  2. Proposed use and need (e.g., for course reserves, ongoing project)
  3. Appropriateness for the collection
  4. Authoritativeness of the author, editor, publisher, and content
  5. Price
  6. Timeliness of materials
  7. Demand or patterns of borrowing materials

The Library does not normally purchase duplicate monographs or textbooks, although exceptions are made in accordance with warranted use and available funds.

When purchasing monographs, electronic formats are preferred over physical formats unless there are countervailing circumstances such as faithfulness of color reproduction, a particular use case that argues for physical format, or price concerns. When purchasing books, soft cover books are preferred over hardcover when there is a significant cost difference.

Recent experience has shown that demand-driven-acquisition or subscription services for electronic monographs provide a better return on investment than traditional purchasing models since they provide immediate access to a large volume of material yet require payment only for those titles that are actually used by Library patrons. Consequently, the Library elects to subscribe to such services in lieu of purchasing individual titles or bundles of titles when appropriate opportunities arise.

Since it is usually possible to acquire print titles within a few days of request and the cost of acquiring, managing, and storing a monograph just in case it might be needed can be a significant drain on Library resources, the Library does not normally acquire print monographs unless there is a faculty request for a specific print title that conforms to the guidelines outlined in this policy.

§2. Deselection Criteria

Significant time, budget, and space are required to manage the Library collection, and good materials can become lost in the collection should the volume of lower-quality or outdated materials grow large enough to hide good materials. As a consequence, good resource and collection stewardship practices include a thoughtful program of deselection and deaccession.

The Library considers for deselection materials that are likely to be available from other sources should they be be needed in the future, and that exhibit one or more of the following characteristics:

  • In poor physical condition
  • Duplicate copies
  • Judged to be inappropriate for a College library collection
  • Outdated or superceded by newer editions
  • No longer being used or likely to be used by Library patrons
  • No longer relevant to the curriculum

The Library reserves the right to rely on the discretion of Library staff when electing to deaccession materials that are in poor physical condition, duplicate existing materials, or are judged inappropriate for an academic library or outdated. The Library will consult with faculty before deaccessioning any materials the Library believes may no longer be useful to support the College’s curriculum.

Deselection Process
Each year, the Library reviews a portion of the collection and flags items meeting six conditions:

  1. The item was published 20 or more years ago.
  2. The Library has had a copy of the item on the shelves for at least 10 years.
  3. The item has no more than two circulations ever.
  4. The item has no documented circulation, course reserve, or internal use in the last 10 years.
  5. Library staff know of no impending curricular change or other reason to believe the item will be used in the future.
  6. The item is available for interlibrary loan from multiple other academic libraries.

Once materials have been flagged for possible deaccession, the Library will notify the chairs of programs that might be affected. Faculty in programs that might be affected will be given a reasonable amount of time to visit Pelletier to review those items being considered for removal, with the length of the review period depending on the volume of texts to be reviewed. In no case will such review periods be less than two weeks. At the end of the faculty review period, the Library will deaccession any materials that faculty have not requested be retained.