Collection Development Policy

Date Last Revised

1. Introduction

A. Purpose of Policy

The purpose of this collection development policy is to provide the academic community —Towson University faculty, students, administration, staff, and the community-at-large — with an understanding of the scope and nature of the Libraries’ collections.

The policy also serves as a planning tool, which states the priorities that guide the actual selection and deselection of materials in the collection.

B. Description of the Institution

Towson University (TU) began in 1866 as the Maryland State Normal School, evolving, as of 2020, into the research-intensive university that it is today. Currently, TU offers strong professional programs in business, computer and information sciences, education, health professions, and communication along with strong academic programs in the traditional liberal arts, fine arts, and sciences. Beginning in 2000, the University expanded its graduate offerings to include doctoral degrees in Audiology, Information Technology, Instructional Technology, and Occupational Science. Towson University and seventeen other institutions belong to the University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions (USMAI) Library Consortium, governed by the USM Board of Regents.

C. Library Values

Towson University Libraries support and enhance the learning, teaching, and scholarship of the Towson University community, facilitating intellectual inquiry, inspiring innovation, fostering effective collaboration, and creating pathways to lifelong discovery.

Towson University Libraries value the physical, emotional, mental, and academic well-being of our students, staff, faculty, and visitors. We celebrate intellectual freedom; however, we will not tolerate hate speech and other expressions of violence that threaten the safety of our campus community. We invite you to join us in creating an environment that embraces diversity, inclusion, equity, and inquiry.

D. The Priorities for Collection Development

The priorities for collection development are:

  • To develop and make available an instructional collection that serves the curricula and research needs of Towson University undergraduates, graduate students and faculty, as well as interdisciplinary and co-curricular materials.
  • To build an inclusive collection by acquiring materials that represent a diverse range of voices and viewpoints, in order to support emerging scholarship and curricula as well as student, staff, and faculty interests.
  • To consider accessibility, ease of access, and format to meet the varied and changing needs of library users.

The Libraries offer services such as interlibrary loan and document delivery to complement the Libraries’ print and online collections and provide materials necessary for research. In addition, the Libraries will make special provisions to provide research materials for faculty teaching in doctoral programs.

E. Responsibility for Collection Development

The departmental faculty representative is responsible for requesting materials on behalf of their department; however, the liaison librarians, with oversight by the Assistant University Librarian (AUL) for Content Management, will prioritize requests within the budget to build collections that support the curriculum.

All members of the academic community are encouraged to contribute their ideas concerning the nature and content of the collection.

F. Allocation of Funds

Division of the Libraries’ budget for collections is as follows:

  • Funds to purchase materials for academic programs.
  • Funds to purchase materials that cross department subject areas and that promote general knowledge.
  • Foundation money to purchase materials as designated by the donor.

G. Gifts

The Towson University Libraries welcome gifts of new, current material that fit the Libraries’ collection development priorities. The Libraries accept older material selectively and only if the material supports the Towson University curriculum, is in good condition, and can strengthen the collection.

The Libraries do not appraise gifts; however, donors will receive a letter acknowledging the donation. The Libraries ask donors to sign a release form, and affix a gift plate to each donation.

H. Collection Management

  • Deselection

    Deselection, or weeding, is an essential part of the collection development process. Deselection ensures that the collection remains in good physical condition, is up-to-date, and meets the content requirements as set forth in the mission statement. Review of the collection continues on a regular basis in order to determine usefulness and/or the possible relocation or disposal of items.

  • Preservation

    Of equal importance to the selection of materials for the collection is the need to maintain the collection for both current and future use through repair, binding, replacement with new copies, and storage in protected areas.

I. Vendor Relations, Privacy, and Ethics

The Libraries work with a range of vendors to purchase, provide access or borrow physical and digital materials. Although limited by what is available for purchase or subscription, the Libraries seek:

  • To advocate with vendors and consortia partners for policies and shared decisions (such as those regarding collection diversity, accessibility, and user privacy) to be aligned with Towson University Libraries and University missions
  • To encourage vendors to implement best practices regarding accessibility, privacy, and user data. The Libraries give preference, when possible, to vendors with ethical and transparent information and business practices.
  • To promote the creation, discoverability, and use of Open Educational Resources (OER) and open access (OA) materials.

2. General Collection Management and Development Policies

A. Books

Each department receives an annual allocation for the purchase of print and e-books, monographic serials, and audiovisual materials that support the curriculum in that department.

In selecting books, the following policies ordinarily apply:

E-Books: An e-book is an electronic version of a traditional print book that users can read by using a personal computer or an e-book reader. The Libraries will only acquire e-books licensed for institutional use.

Duplicate Copies: The Libraries do not typically purchase duplicate copies, except in the case of citation manuals and materials within the Children’s and Young Adult and Faculty Publications collections.

Textbooks: The Libraries do not purchase course textbooks, which are frequently updated to new editions, from our state-funded budget. The Libraries will purchase supplemental books used in courses if requested by faculty. The Libraries may add to the collection current textbooks that have been donated, if the material supports the curriculum; however, outdated textbooks received as gifts are not added.

Foreign Language: The Libraries primarily collect materials in English; however, we also purchase foreign language materials that support the Foreign Language Department curriculum and the BHI (Baltimore Hebrew Institute) Meyerhoff collection.

Binding: The Libraries typically purchase books in hardback editions. The Libraries acquire paperbacks when a hardback edition is cost-prohibitive or unavailable.

Imprint Variations: The Libraries order materials published in two or more places in the same language in the U.S. edition.

Out-of-Print: If an item needs replacement, the Libraries will typically seek the newest available edition. When a needed title is out-of-print, the Libraries will search the secondary market. For retrospective collections, the Libraries will search the out-of-print market to fill orders for books specifically requested, to replace lost or worn classics, and to build retrospective collections for new programs.

Rare Books and Manuscripts: The Libraries may accept gifts of rare books and special materials that support the University’s mission. See Special Collections and University Archives statement "What we collect."

Self-Published Books: The Libraries may purchase books printed and distributed through self-publishing services when content or perspectives we wish to include are available only in that form. The Libraries may accept gifts of self-published books that support the University’s mission.

Replacement Copies: The Libraries may replace items that are lost, damaged, mutilated, or withdrawn if the books are important to the collection.

Reprints: The Libraries purchase reprints if the original is not available through the normal book trade.

Shared Print Retention Initiative: The Towson University Libraries participate in the Eastern Academic Scholars' Trust (EAST) Retention Initiative, which identifies specific books in the circulating collection the Libraries will retain and not withdraw from the collection: certain exceptions apply.

B. Periodicals

Periodicals include journals, magazines, newsletters, and newspapers. Preference goes to periodicals in electronic formats. The Libraries add new periodical subscriptions selectively; in most cases, this necessitates cancellation of a journal of like value. Departmental budgets may not be used for journal subscriptions.

The AUL for Content Management will do an initial evaluation of periodical requests, in consultation with the librarian liaison from the discipline, and then make recommendations to the Dean of University Libraries. The Dean will approve recommendations for subscription on a title-by-title basis.

Access: Priority goes to e-journals; the Libraries purchase print journals selectively.

Content: Priority goes to titles that support the academic programs at Towson University.

Cost: The cost of the journal should be reasonable in relation to the use it will receive and the cost of similar journals in the same discipline. Open access e-journals are subject to the same selection criteria as purchased journals. If the subscription cost of a journal is high, the Libraries will consider providing access via document delivery or interlibrary loan.

Duplication: Generally, the Libraries do not purchase a paper subscription when a title comes electronically as part of an e-journal collection that provides full-text, up-to-date coverage.

Indexing: The Libraries strongly prefer that periodicals be indexed by an indexing/abstracting tool or e-resource accessible to the TU community.

Binding: Generally, the Libraries bind print periodicals as soon as a volume is complete. Ephemeral titles, such as newsletters that are not indexed, may be withdrawn on a periodic basis rather than bound.

Microfilm: The Libraries replace older issues of some periodicals, primarily newspapers, with microfilm if not easily preserved in paper format.

C. Electronic Databases

The Libraries provide access to electronic databases through a variety of subscription, licensing and purchasing models. The Libraries do not typically own materials within electronic databases.

The AUL for Content Management, liaison librarians, faculty, staff, and students may recommend subscriptions to new electronic databases. Final decisions for database subscription and retention depend on the budget, results of the database trial, cost per use (CPU), and approval by the Dean of University Libraries. The Libraries review database usage and CPU statistics annually.

Trial Period

The Libraries require a trial period or demonstration of an online electronic database before purchasing or subscribing to the product.

The Libraries consider the following when subscribing to electronic databases:

Access: The Libraries give preference to databases that can provide users with comparable ease of access on- and off- campus. The Libraries select products that require a separate login beyond University NetID, or that limit the number of simultaneous users, only when no comparable product with better access is available.

Accessibility: The Libraries give priority to databases that embody accessibility best practices.

Interface: The Libraries give preference to databases that offer both basic and advanced levels of searching, permalinks, and the ability to save accessed material.

Content: Content must support the academic programs at Towson University. If the e-resource provides full-text, images or graphics should be available as well.

Duplication: The Libraries avoid purchasing databases that duplicate coverage. The Libraries make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

Cost: The Libraries consider cost in the context of the above factors. Free and open-access databases are subject to the same selection criteria as subscribed databases.

D. Other Media

The Libraries purchase materials from departmental budgets in the format selected by faculty if the Libraries have the technology to  support it. The Libraries add new formats as they are developed and as demand requires.

Audio Recordings: In addition to streaming audio, the Libraries purchase audio CDs. The Libraries do not purchase long-playing records but does occasionally accept them as gifts.

CD-ROMs: Most CD-ROMS do not circulate. CD-ROMs that accompany books are shelved in the stacks with the book and are subject to regular circulation policies.

DVD and Blu-ray: The Libraries will continue to add DVD or Blu-ray formats as requested by faculty members. DVD and Blu-ray only circulate outside the Libraries to faculty borrowers, with the exception of the Leisure Viewing Collection.

Videocassettes: The Libraries own videocassettes (VHS), but no longer purchase this format. Videocassettes only circulate outside the Libraries to faculty borrowers.