Collection Development

I. Scope and Purpose

This policy provides a written statement of the collection development policy of the Memorial Library of the State University of New York College at Cortland. It serves to clarify but not crystallize, the emphases and scope of the library, the purposes and procedures of collection development, and the respective responsibilities of bibliographers. This collection policy will be reviewed and updated as needed by a collection development committee with input from faculty and bibliographers.

II. Library Mission

As noted in the SUNY Cortland College Handbook Chapter 510.01, the mission of Memorial Library is to collect, organize, disseminate and facilitate access to information related to the intellectual, academic, and recreational needs of the College community. Library faculty and staff work with students and faculty to promote information and computer literacy and to develop research skills. The primary clientele of the library is undergraduate students, and most library programs and services are designed to meet the curricular needs of these users. The library uses both traditional materials and new technologies to implement its programs and services and to access and deliver information.

III. Collection Development Goals

The goal of collection development is to provide a relevant and vital collection in all disciplines related to the curriculum and to the college community's information needs, in print, electronic and web-based formats, and all other emerging media as appropriate.

Additional emphasis is given to supplying the day-to-day information needs of the college community. These responsibilities are identified through continued interchange between the bibliographic staff and the faculty. The bibliographers, through an ongoing process of evaluation, develop a collection of needed items in each discipline.

Cooperative purchases and the Memorial Library's access to regional library resources will be considered in most selection decisions.

IV. Selection Responsibility

Selection of materials to be acquired is the joint responsibility of the bibliographers and the college faculty working as an effective and coordinated team. Interested and active faculty participation in checking catalogs, following reviews and making recommendations for purchase is an invaluable aid to intelligent selection. Faculty recommendations will be considered for purchase, depending upon funding, curriculum needs and current holdings. Student suggestions will also be considered.

Responsibility for the selection of current materials rests with the bibliographer who is charged with actively seeking input from assigned academic departments. Bibliographers seek to anticipate faculty and student requirements and acquire needed material in a timely fashion. The Collections Librarian coordinates the efforts of the bibliographers. The ultimate responsibility for the adequacy and quality of the selection, within budgetary limitations, rests with the Library Administration and with the Collections Librarian.

The accounting and bookkeeping functions, and the control of order flow, are the province of the Technical Services department.

The library's primary responsibility is to provide the materials needed by current users, rather than to establish a collection that will serve the projected needs of a future generation. Therefore, selection will be based primarily on knowledge of current library use and present curricular needs.

Continuing assessment of user needs and examination of current circulation patterns will be analyzed to gain a better knowledge of what is required. The primary measure of the collection's adequacy will be the rate of users' success in acquiring the materials they need within a reasonable time period.

All subject disciplines are recognized as distinct collecting areas. Each subject bibliographer is responsible for collecting discipline information from faculty and students. The bibliographers construct and update a list of topics within each discipline representing the chief concerns of the discipline. Assignment of collecting intensity is a joint decision between the bibliographer, the Collections Librarian, and the Director.

V. Weeding

It is intended that, in all but a few selected subjects, the collection will not be a comprehensive one. A continual weeding process is the responsibility of bibliographers. This provides library users with accurate, up-to-date information, while also assuring users of access to the classic works of scholarship in each field.

A book's useful life varies from subject to subject, but can be predicted from circulation records. Circulation records also determine weeding practices. Removal of materials from the circulating and reference collections is part of the collection development process and should be viewed as an ongoing and essential part of the management of the library's holdings.

Bibliographers, within the limits of their budget, determine whether materials that have become outdated, damaged, lost, or worn beyond the point of usefulness should be repaired, replaced, or discarded. Some factors for consideration include:

  • whether the item is still in print or available;
  • whether the information is available in another item or format that might better serve the college community's needs;
  • whether there is sufficient need to replace the item;
  • whether updated, new or revised materials better replace a given item;
  • whether the item has historical value; and
  • whether use of interlibrary loan services is more appropriate, given community needs.

Technical Services should be advised of major weeding projects in order to accommodate the additional workflow. Withdrawn materials from the collection will be disposed of in accordance with New York State statutes and policies.

VI. Faculty Recommendations and Requests

All purchase recommendations will be weighed against these lists of subjects and their levels of collecting intensity and assigned priorities accordingly.

All faculty recommendations will be reviewed by the appropriate bibliographer and collection needs assessed according to:

  • the amount of material already held by the library in certain fields;
  • the acquisitions allocations;
  • reviews which bring into question the value of the material for library purchase;
  • cost of the material in relation to its projected quality and use; and
  • reserve reading for curriculum needs as indicated by faculty and student demand.

If course items are needed for Reserve, the professor completes the appropriate form received from the Reserve Clerk. The Reserve Clerk consults with the subject bibliographer regarding the purchase. The request is given to the Acquisitions Clerk who completes the request.

VII. Levels of Collecting Intensity

The five "Levels of Collecting Intensity" are defined by the American Library Association guidelines of collecting intensity. (Adapted from Guidelines for Collection Development, Collection Development Committee, Resources and Technical Services Division, American Library Association, 1979). Definitions are adapted from the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Office of Management Studies, Manual for the North American Inventory of Research Library Collection (January 1985).

  • Comprehensive Level:

    Includes, within defined limits, all relevant published material together with as much documentary and original source material as the availability of funds and materials allow. Regarded as the level necessary for creating or maintaining a "special collection," the aim, if not the achievement, is exhaustiveness.
  • Teaching and Research Study Level:

    Includes fundamental works of scholarship and source materials mainly in English, and occasionally in Western European languages, that are necessary for instruction at the upper level undergraduate and Masters levels. Materials include important reference works, a wide selection of specialized monographs and an extensive collection of journals, periodical indexes, Internet resources and bibliographies.
  • Undergraduate Study Level:

    Includes works needed to support undergraduate instruction in a given subject field: dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, a reasonable variety of selected monographs in the latest or best editions, major or basic journals, databases, Internet resources, periodical indexes and selected bibliographies.
  • Basic Level:

    Includes only highly selective purchases in recognition of the relationship of a subject area to the instructional and research program, but inadequate in quantity and variety to support undergraduate instruction in the subject area involved. It includes general works and works on selected subject areas in the minimal number that will serve the purpose.
  • Minimal or Extracurricular Level:

    Materials relating to extracurricular subjects and rudimentary works designed to give an overview of a topic.

These levels, as defined, refer primarily to collecting intensity within a given subject or field of interest rather than to the content nature of individual works.

The Memorial Library serves a primarily undergraduate level institution and chiefly collects at the Undergraduate Study Level and Basic Level.

VIII. Purchasing Considerations

  • Current Materials:

    The Library primarily purchases currently published material that is needed to achieve the mission statement and objectives defined above.
  • Out of Print:

    While bibliographers should make efforts to fill in gaps in holdings and to obtain needed older materials, retrospective purchasing is necessarily governed by the availability of funds. Out-of-print titles, mainly primary sources and journal backfiles required for undergraduate and graduate programs, will be sought as funds permit.
  • Duplicate Copies:

    Duplicate copies of a title will be purchased only under very special circumstances, on a highly selective basis, given budgetary constraints. Purchase of duplicate copies is a low priority item, given ongoing budgetary constraints. Heavy demand for one title, as noted by circulation staff or the bibliographer, may necessitate use of reserves service or other arrangements will be made with the faculty member so students may complete their assignments.

IX. Serial Publications


Due to continuous cost increases, the Library's periodicals and other serial acquisitions must reflect an especially high degree of selectivity. Even the most prestigious and fully endowed academic libraries strive to ensure that the titles to which they subscribe represent the highest quality of the literature available. This is especially critical for smaller academic libraries with limited resources.

Further more, new periodical subscriptions entail long-term financial commitment. Additional considerations relative to a new subscription include handling, binding, record keeping, filling gaps, procuring backruns, and claiming. The provision for adequate expansion space also becomes an important consideration.

Therefore, the following criteria have been set forth to address all of the issues above, and will be applied in evaluating each new title request:

  • Relevance to Curriculum:

    The periodicals collection supports the College's curriculum as it evolves. Priority will be given to materials that enhance instruction and are appropriate for use in undergraduate and, when applicable, Masters level course work.
  • Indexing:

    In order to ensure accessibility to the contents of journals in the collection, prospective titles should be included in the standard periodicals indexes, preferably those to which the Library subscribes. The availability of indexing in a reputable source is, in itself, one barometer of the periodicals' quality and importance to the discipline.
  • Reputation:

    Titles should be in print long enough to allow for critical review in reliable sources, or to have established their reputability through general acceptance. Titles that have been in print for less than two years will rarely be acquired. If there is compelling evidence of the need for such titles, a close evaluation will be undertaken.
  • Cost:

    Availability of funds is always a primary consideration. Average prices of titles in a given subject area are also taken into account. High price does not preclude the addition of a title if quality and usefulness justify its inclusion. However, the cost must be affordable and proportionate to the informational need that the title fills. Interlibrary loan photocopies of articles are less costly than purchasing a serial title in order to provide users with access to seldom used serials.
  • Collection Balance:

    New titles should strengthen the collection of periodicals that are basic to the subject area. They should not merely duplicate the contents of similar titles already owned by the library. Use of serials and periodicals will be assessed and the relevance of titles should be evaluated annually. Titles should be cancelled when no longer needed by users or for accreditation and newer, more relevant titles should be added whenever possible. A proper balance must also be maintained between the acquisition of new monographic and periodicals titles that support a given discipline.

All requests for periodicals will be carefully considered. Librarians, working closely with the teaching faculty, will make every effort to include in the collection those periodicals that best meet the curricular and scholarly needs of both students and faculty, and that are essential for achieving the subject level objective. Orders for periodical subscriptions should be submitted through the Technical Services Librarian.

X. Electronic/Internet Resources

Memorial Library collects electronic resources such as monographs, full text of serial titles, aggregates of full text serial titles, indexing and abstracting databases, full text databases, and web sites appropriate to the scope of the Library's collection. The objective is to provide flexible patron access to library resources.

Selection priority is given to products with coverage that supports curricular needs of SUNY Cortland undergraduate students. Priority will be given to those resources, which offer economies of scale by benefiting the most students and faculty. Special attention will be given to products that provide coverage of high-priority subject areas or products for pertinent subject areas with limited alternatives. Examples of these products include: ERIC and Leisure, Recreation Tourism Abstracts, respectively. When advantageous, the Library will participate in consortial agreements for access to electronic resources.

In general, the same criteria are applied to the selection process for resources in electronic formats that are applied to print and other standard library formats. Even though traditional criteria apply to the selection of electronic titles, the management of this format is more complex. Additional criteria specific to electronic resources include:

  • Cost considerations:
    • Additional costs for future updates or upgrades;
    • Start-up and maintenance costs; and
    • Added value over print equivalent.
  • Technical concerns:
    • Compatibility with existing and future hardware and software;
    • Availability of technical support; and
    • Reliability of networked environment.
  • Service concerns:
    • Availability; and
    • Questions of maintenance.
  • User needs:
    • Ease of use by user; and
    • Potential usage by remote, off-site users

XI. Teaching Materials Center Collection Development Policy

The Teaching Materials Center (TMC) is a specialized education collection within Memorial Library that serves as a resource center and laboratory for working with instructional materials and learning resources. It serves primarily as a preview-review facility for undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty. The objective of the TMC collection is to gather examples of all types of print and non-print media, which represent many producers and a variety of quality. The TMC emphasizes those areas that are in New York's public school curriculum and in which SUNY Cortland offers certification.

The Center's collection provides a sampling of materials for education students and teachers of preschool through twelfth grade. It provides information on how to evaluate and utilize those materials, and contains guidebooks to educational standards, textbooks, educational materials, literary materials for pre-K to grade 12 students, and a cross-section of instructional media that may be borrowed and used in actual teaching situations.

The TMC bibliographer is allocated a portion of the Library acquisitions budget for Education. Selection of materials to be acquired is the responsibility of the TMC Librarian/bibliographer working with the Collections Librarian, as well as consulting with the college faculty. Interested and active faculty participation in checking catalogs, following reviews and making recommendations for purchase is an invaluable aid to intelligent selection. Faculty recommendations will be considered for purchase, depending upon funding, curriculum needs and current holdings. Student suggestions will also be considered.

Purchases in specific disciplines depend upon availability, budget, emphases of the New York State school and SUNY Cortland curricula, materials already in the TMC (both content and type), and accessibility in other facilities in the area. The textbook section of the collection chiefly depends upon complimentary copies from publishers. The Center's budget is not sufficient to purchase texts in a consistent or ongoing basis.

Duplicate copies and replacements of items are rare; rather, funds will be used to obtain a sampling of current materials. Attempts will be made to coordinate the TMC's purchases with that of the main education section in the circulating collection of the Memorial Library. Duplication of materials is to be avoided, whenever possible.

The TMC makes no effort to acquire materials on subjects which are generally within the purview of courses in curriculum; educational administration; and foundations, history, and philosophy of education. These subjects are covered by the resources of the Education Collection of the Memorial Library and are selected by the bibliographer for education.
All materials in the TMC are subject to the policies and procedures of the Library. The Center does not acquire materials to be put on reserve or for anyone's exclusive use. If the faculty's needs for specific materials cannot be accommodated by TMC policies and procedures, the department involved must assume the responsibility for providing the necessary resources. Gifts, however, are accepted, with disposition at the discretion of the TMC Librarian and are subject to the same guidelines as outlined below in Section XIV.

As part of the collection development process, weeding is done on an ongoing basis within the guidelines outlined above.

XII. Gifts

Gifts are important for any library. Gifts of money and materials are encouraged, and to the extent possible, are solicited. The Collections Librarian and Library Director should be contacted as soon as a potential gift is identified. The donor's contact information should be noted and a Gift Acknowledgement Form filled out for monetary gifts.

All gifts of books and other materials will be accepted on the condition that the library may dispose of them as it wishes, or select only those materials that comply with the collection development policy. Criteria for the acceptance of gifts are the same as that for other acquisitions. Special stipulations desired by donors should be carefully weighed against the value of the donation.

The Cortland College Foundation handles monetary gifts to the Memorial Library Gift fund. Institutional Advancement handles gifts consisting of substantial amounts of money. Checks should be made out to the Cortland College Foundation with a note either on the check, or in a separate letter or note, designating the Library as the receiver of the gift.


Supersedes: Collection Development Policy (1984); Proposed Principles for a new Collection Development Policy (1998); and Recommendations of the Virtual Task Force (1998)

Reviewed by the Library Faculty, March 2002