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Collection Development Policy

Date Last Revised

I. 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 Library’s 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 began in 1866 as the Maryland State Normal School, evolving, as of 2018, into the comprehensive university that it is today. Currently it 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 sixteen other institutions belong to the University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions (USMAI) Library Consortium, governed by the USM Board of Regents.

C. Mission of the Library

According to the library mission statement: The Albert S. Cook Library serves as a major intellectual and human development center for Towson University. Its collections and environment stimulate the free exchange of ideas and information.

Cook Library provides major educational, cultural and information services and resources to the University. Our mission is to support the University’s academic programs; facilitate student and faculty learning and research; and provide users with lifelong skills in identifying, locating, evaluating and applying information.

D. The Priorities for Collection Development

The priorities for collection development are:

  • To develop an instructional collection that serves the needs of Towson University undergraduates, graduate students and faculty.
  • To collect materials that cross the lines of traditional academic disciplines, which would support a liberal education and promote thoughtful citizenship.
  • To make available materials needed for research by faculty, students and administrators.

While the library cannot fully support individual faculty research not done at university centers and institutes, the library does offer services such as interlibrary loan, document delivery, and access to online databases that provide materials necessary for research. In addition, the library will make special provisions to provide research materials for faculty teaching in doctoral programs.

E. Responsibility for Collection Development

All members of the academic community – teaching faculty, faculty-librarians, students, administrators and staff - are encouraged to contribute their ideas concerning the nature and content of the collection.

The faculty has primary responsibility for selecting materials that support the curriculum; however, the librarians, with oversight by the Assistant University Librarian for Content Management (AUL), have the ultimate responsibility for the development of the collection.

F. Allocation of Funds

Division of the library’s 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 be used as designated by the donor.

G. Selection of Materials

A faculty member from each academic department serves as a department representative to the library to coordinate purchases in that department’s subject area.

A faculty librarian serves as a library liaison to each department, and participates in the selection of materials. 

Faculty, students, and library staff may recommend materials that cross disciplines or fall outside a specific department. The library purchases these materials as funds permit.

H. Gifts

Cook Library welcomes gifts of new, current material that fit the library’s collection development priorities. The library accepts older material selectively and only if the material supports the Towson University curriculum, is in good condition, and can strengthen the collection.

The library does not appraise gifts; however, donors will receive a letter acknowledging the donation. The library asks donors to sign a release form and affixes a gift plate to each donation.

I. Deselection

Deselection, or weeding, is an essential part of the collection development process to ensure 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. 

J. 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.

The library examines materials for damage and wear during the ongoing collection review and when pulled by Circulation and sent to Content Management for evaluation.

K. Interlibrary Loan/Document Delivery Services

The library’s interlibrary loan and document delivery services exist to support the research needs of Towson’s faculty, staff and students by providing access to items not owned by Cook Library.

Items received through local networks are generally gratis. The library pays any direct fees charged by providers when TU faculty, staff, and graduate students incur the charges for university-related research. For undergraduate students, the library will pay copyright fees up to thirty dollars; the student is responsible for any fees exceeding this amount. Whenever an article is found mutilated in a print journal, a rush replacement is made with no cost to the TU student, faculty, or staff member requesting the article.

The library reserves the right to pass extraordinary charges to the borrower for document delivery or interlibrary loan.

II General Collection Management and Development Policies

A. Books

Each department receives an annual allocation for the purchase of books, monographic serials, and audiovisual materials that support the curriculum in that department. The faculty member who is the department representative coordinates requests for materials from the department to minimize duplication and balance the department’s selection, and sends these requests to the library. The AUL for Content Management and librarian liaisons spend any funds remaining after the library order deadlines have passed. Deadlines are November 15 to spend half the allocated funds and Feb. 15 to spend the remainder of the allocated funds.

In selecting books, the following policies normally apply:

Duplicate Copies: The library does not purchase duplicate or multiple copies

Foreign Language: Books in the English language predominate in the collection. Foreign language material selection supports the Foreign Language Department curriculum.

E-Books: An e-book is an electronic version of a traditional print book that can be read by using a personal computer or by using an e-book reader. The library will acquire only e-books that can be read using a personal computer. 

Binding: The library collects hardbound editions for Reference and Reserves, although the preference is to collect e-books for these sections. Books for the general collection will be acquired in hardback when specified by the selector or, if not specified, when the difference in cost between a hardbound edition and a quality paperback is insignificant. The library also acquires quality paperbacks when a hardback edition is not available. If the library anticipates great demand for the book, the paperback edition is reinforced or bound before placed in the collection. Loose-leaf publications are bound when they are not subject to periodic updating and when the content and physical format warrant.

Imprint Variations: Materials published in two or more places in the same language are ordered in a single imprint with the U.S. edition preferred. 

Out-of-Print: Current titles are given preference when buying books, but the out-of- print market is searched 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 library normally does not purchase rare books and manuscripts; however, the library may accept gifts of rare books and special materials that support the University’s mission. 

Self-Published Books: The library normally does not purchase books printed and distributed through self-publishing services (e.g., CreateSpace, Lulu.com, AuthorHouse, Book Baby, Xlibris, Kindle Direct Publishing, etc.). However, the library may accept gifts of self-published books that support the University’s mission.

Replacement Copies: The library replaces items that are lost, damaged, mutilated, or withdrawn because of wear if the books are heavily used and important to the collection. 

Reprints: The library purchases reprints if the original is not available through the normal book trade. 

Shared Print Retention Initiative:  Cook Library participates in the USMAI Shared Print Collections Retention Initiative, which identifies specific books in the circulating collection to be retained and not withdrawn from the collection.

Textbooks: The library does not purchase course textbooks, whose editions are updated each year. The library will purchase supplemental books used in courses if requested by faculty. Current textbooks donated to the library may be cataloged for the collection if the material supports the curriculum; however, outdated textbooks received as gifts are not added. 

B. Periodicals

Periodicals include journals, magazines, newsletters, and newspapers. Because of the continuing expense of even relatively inexpensive titles, new periodical subscriptions are added selectively, and in most cases require cancellation of a journal of like value. Departmental funds may not be used for journal subscriptions. Preference goes to electronic journals; the library adds print journals very selectively, if at all.

Recommendations may come from Towson University faculty, librarians, staff, or students. The AUL for Content Management will do an initial evaluation of 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.

1. Selection Criteria for Periodicals

The following criteria for adding new periodical subscriptions apply, although exceptions may be made when warranted.

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

Indexing: The periodical must be indexed by an indexing/abstracting tool or e-resource accessible through the library.

Duplication: Generally, the library does not purchase a paper subscription when a title comes electronically as part of an e-journal collection that provides up-to-date, full-text, cover-to-cover access. High-quality journals may be purchased in both print and electronic format if they are core to a program at Towson University. Market forces sometimes compel the library to buy both.

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. Free print and open-access e-journals are subject to the same selection criteria as purchased journals.

Alternative Access: If the subscription cost of a journal is high, consideration will be given to providing access via document delivery or interlibrary loan.

2. Preservation

Binding: Generally, print periodicals are bound 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: Some periodicals, primarily newspapers, are replaced with microfilm if they cannot be easily preserved in paper format because of the quality of paper, awkward size, or difficulty in replacing missing issues.

C. Electronic Databases

Included in this category of resources are bibliographic, numeric, and full-text databases that are readable via computer. 

Usually the library does not purchase electronic databases per se. Instead, access to electronic databases is subscribed, licensed, or paid according to use. In some cases, such as many of the federal government documents in electronic format, access is free of charge. 

Databases are reviewed annually by the library liaisons. New or alternative titles may be recommended by the AUL for Content Management, library liaisons, faculty, staff and students. Final decisions for new titles are dependent on the budget and the results of the database trials. 

1. Selection Policy for New Electronic Databases

The library considers the following factors or questions when selecting new electronic databases for the library.

Content: Does the content support the academic programs at Towson University? Is full-text available? If so, it should be available with full graphics.

Currency: Does the provider update the database often enough to keep the information up-to-date? An exception would be for databases intended to provide retrospective coverage only.

Duplication: Does the content overlap with other resources? The library avoids purchasing databases that duplicate coverage in others. Print materials will normally be canceled when an electronic database covering the same material is added; however, resources that are critical to a university program may be retained in more than one format if content is incomplete in one format or the other.

Use: What is the anticipated size of the user group? The library provides site-wide and remote access to heavily used databases that cross disciplines, if that format is affordable. Low-use or highly specialized databases may be made available by limiting the number of simultaneous users, in order to contain cost. 

Interface: Is the software well-designed in terms of organization, functionality, accessibility and ease of navigation? Patrons should be able to use the database with little or no training. The interface should offer both basic and advanced levels of searching. Patrons should be able to save material accessed by printing, downloading, and/or sending via email. 

Vendor Support: Does the vendor provide training for database users and technical support for troubleshooting database problems in a timely manner?

Cost: Is the product affordable, balancing the amount of use, ease of navigation, importance to academic program, and convenience of access against cost? When possible, the library will save money by buying through a consortium or by purchasing the same product from a different vendor at a lower cost. Free and open-access databases are subject to the same selection criteria as subscribed databases. 

2. Trial Period 

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

3. Access 

When affordable, the library subscribes to e-resources available to Towson University students, faculty and staff 24 hours per day, seven days a week both on campus and remotely. The library prefers that a vendor provide access on campus by IP address rather than by password, and provide remote access via EZproxy. 

D. Other Media

The library purchases materials from departmental budgets in the format selected by faculty if the library has the equipment to support it.

1. Audiovisual Formats

New formats are added as they are developed and as demand requires. All non-print materials are housed in Access Services on the third floor, and include the following formats: 

Audio Recordings: The library owns long-playing records and compact discs. Long-playing records are not purchased, but are occasionally accepted as gifts.
AV Paks: AV Paks include any combination of print and non-print materials or more than one non-print format in a set. 

CD-ROMs: CD-ROMs are housed in Access Services and do not circulate. Those that accompany books are shelved in the regular stacks with the book, and are subject to regular circulation policies.

DVD and Blu-ray: DVD or Blu-ray formats will continue to be added as requested by faculty members. Generally, DVD and Blue-ray discs do not circulate outside the library or campus classrooms, but are loaned to faculty members.

Microcomputer Software: As a rule, the library does not collect software to be used by the public unless it is in CD-ROM format. Software that accompanies a book is usually shelved in the book stacks. The library does not make back-up copies of CD-ROMs.
Videocassettes: Access Services houses videocassettes (VHS) but this format is no longer purchased.  Generally, videos do not circulate outside the library or campus classrooms, but may be loaned to faculty members. 

2. Duplication

As a rule, the library will purchase only one copy of a non-print item.