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Collection Development Policies: Selection

Policies shaping the way the Library acquires and manages materials in its collection.

Method of Selection

Criteria used for selection of materials (not in rank order):

  • Reputation of author/creator.
  • Significance of subject matter.
  • Accuracy of information and data.
  • Literary merit or artistic quality.
  • Importance to total collection.
  • Potential or known use to patrons.
  • Appearance in important bibliographies, lists, and review media.
  • Authoritativeness of publisher or producer.
  • Readability and clarity.
  • Scarcity of material on subject.
  • Physical condition/technical quality.
  • Representation of various interests and viewpoints.
  • Availability of material elsewhere in the region or within SUNY.
  • Appropriateness of format to purpose.
  • Date of publication.
  • Price.

Selection Aids

Regularly consulted selection aids include:

  • Choice
  • Library Journal
  • New York Times Book Review
  • Publisher's Weekly

In addition, the following are consulted or scanned:

  • Trade and professional publications
  • Exchange lists
  • Publishers catalogs/ads
  • Web-based resources such as H-Net
  • SUNY Catalog
  • WorldCat

Further selections are made from reference interactions, interlibrary loan requests, visits to libraries and bookstores, personal contacts, advertisements, mass media, and other sources.

Attempts are made to seek out small press publications, especially when these sources are the best for specialized and technical materials.


Priorities of selection shall be assigned on the following basis:

  • Where financial constraints exist, curriculum related materials will be purchased prior to general interest materials.
  • Selection shall focus on materials published or produced within the last five years, with preference given to the most current materials.
  • Selection will be made based on information from all available sources including but not limited to reviews and publishers' catalogs and ads.   
  • Retrospective collection building will be done as necessary—to fill in gaps in the collection, to accommodate new courses or programs, and to meet instructional needs.
  • As we endeavor to be good stewards of the funds entrusted to us, the Library will prefer free and low-cost versions of material when available.

Materials to Be Collected

Van Wagenen Library routinely acquires the following:

  • Standard books of general reference.
  • Reference books useful for specific fields covered by the curriculum.
  • General books/audiovisual materials
  • Books/audiovisual materials for each curricular field.
  • Books/audiovisual materials concerning important fields not covered by the curriculum.
  • Books/audiovisual materials for leisure reading/viewing/listening.
  • General and standard technical periodicals.
  • Periodicals for each curricular field.
  • Electronic resources for general research and which support specific areas of the curriculum.

Materials in the following formats are actively acquired:

  • Books (print and electronic)
  • Documents
  • Periodicals (print and electronic)
  • Electronic research databases
  • DVDs

Special Situations & Formats

Technological Innovations

The Library will avail itself of products and services pertaining to new technologies as they develop and are deemed appropriate.

Materials to be Excluded

The Library does not purchase consumable materials. It also will not purchase materials to be housed in campus offices, labs or departmental libraries. These materials should be purchased by the office or department involved.


Since it is the purpose of the Library collection to supplement and augment the curriculum, most textbooks adopted for class use will not be purchased. Requests from faculty members that a required text be purchased and put on reserve for a class will be taken under consideration. Textbooks may sometimes be purchased when they supply information in areas in which they may be the best, or the only, source of information on the subject.

Duplicate Copies

Multiple copies of titles will be purchased only in response to unusual demand. Use of the course reserve service is suggested as an alternative to multiple copy purchase. Preference is given to acquiring another title on the same topic rather than purchasing an additional copy. Circulating books will be scanned to determine which subjects are in high demand.


Materials that are lost or damaged will usually be replaced if there is still a need for the materials and if they are in print. Faculty will generally be consulted about the advisability of replacing specific titles in the technical areas.

Out-of-Print Materials

If an item is reported as being "out-of-print," the requester is notified and asked if the item is essential to the collection. Efforts to obtain materials on the out-of-print market shall be made if it is decided that the material is of enough importance to justify those efforts. If originals are not available or are too expensive, materials may be acquired in another suitable format.


In many cases, the hardcover edition of a book will be purchased. Paperbacks may be acquired if: 1) there is a significant price difference in the two editions; 2) the anticipated use of the books will not be heavy; 3) multiple copies of a title are needed; and/or 4) no hardcover edition is available.

Foreign Language Materials

Emphasis will be placed on materials in the English language. Foreign language materials will be acquired on a limited basis to meet the curricular and continuing education needs of our patrons.

Accessibility of Materials

The Library will make every reasonable effort to acquire resources that are universally accessible, and will consult with campus offices dealing with accessibility issues to meet the needs of users.

Level of Materials Acquired

Most materials acquired will be at the undergraduate level. Some higher level graduate materials will be purchased to support cooperative acquisition programs and the upper division requirement of the baccalaureate programs. In addition, a limited amount of money is spent each year on professional materials which aid instructors in their teaching. Other research materials should be requested through interlibrary loan.

Recognizing the fact that not all of our students are capable of performing at the college level, some materials may also be purchased at lower reading levels.

Accommodation of New Programs

New course/curriculum proposals must be signed by the appropriate liaison librarian or the Dean of the Library to ensure adequate supporting resources. When a new course or program is established, attempts should be made to establish acquisitions priorities and to set aside additional funds for purchase of an initial collection.