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Library Collection Development Policy


This collection development policy guides the overarching processes of selecting, maintaining and managing collections purchased, housed and made available by Col. Robert H. Morse Library and Richard Black Information Center, insuring systematic, balanced, and consistent development of the collection. In accordance with the mission of the College, the Library seeks to acquire and provide access to resources supporting the learning goals of the College and its academic departments and programs.

Questions about this policy and suggestions for change are welcomed and should be directed to the Director of Library and Archives, Chief Information Officer (ISR), or any member of the ISR Advisory Committee. The Director of Library and Archives and the Chief Information Officer are ultimately responsible for all collection development decisions; which are informed by close collaboration with individuals, groups, and departments across campus and the ISR Advisory Committee.

Intellectual Freedom

The Information Services and Resource Division supports the American Library Association's Library Bill of Rights and Freedom to Read Statement. Our support is evident in our ongoing efforts to purchase materials that represent a range of opinions on both common and controversial matters.



Shaping the intellectual content of the Library's collections is a responsibility shared by the librarians, faculty, staff, and students of Beloit College. In order to provide access to the materials most relevant to the curriculum as well as the teaching and learning goals of a liberal education, faculty recommendations are critical. As libraries face the continually widening stream of available information and materials, the benefits of a collaborative selection process become more keenly appreciated. Without a doubt, this process trains more eyes on the horizon and results in broader discovery of appropriate resources. More importantly, this collaborative collection approach focuses the subject knowledge of faculty on the content evaluation of materials and this expertise improves the content of the collection – the community's resource.

To facilitate this collaboration, each department has a designated liaison librarian responsible for receiving and reviewing faculty submissions, applying collection policy, and selecting materials to complement current recommendations and the existing collections. Further, librarians engage in regular communication with departments, keeping abreast of curriculum changes and consult with faculty to identify and develop relevant and appropriately rich resource pools. Faculty considering significant revisions to courses and department curricula are encouraged to contact their liaison or the Director of Library and Archives prior to submitting course proposal forms so resource availability may be coordinated with new course inception.


All Library material accession decisions, regardless of source or format, shall be assessed on the basis of appropriateness to curricular need. As an institution devoted to undergraduate education, our first priority is to acquire materials supporting current and future academic instruction and inquiry. Resources to support special project and independent student research and materials contributing to the development of a liberally educated person, though not currently part of the curriculum, are collected more conservatively. The Library will work within its means to ensure support for faculty research and course preparation can be satisfied, often through a combination of cooperative lending agreements with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and inter-library loan service.

The following criteria should guide any decision to acquire an individual item:

  • Appropriateness of content for Beloit College's academic uses
  • Relationship to present holdings in the area
  • Authoritativeness of author/creator
  • Appropriateness of cost, considering value and need for the item
  • Reputation of the publisher
  • Sustainability and appropriateness of format
  • Timeliness or permanence of the material
  • Depth and scope of coverage
  • Critical reviews and recommendations based on examination of materials

Beyond these general considerations of intellectual or artistic content, additional collection guidelines apply:

  • Duplication of resources is discouraged, unless a clear need is demonstrated
  • Primary collection language is English, non-English materials are collected as they relate to the academic scope of the College

The following list identifies and defines the major formats represented in the Library's collection, included in the Library's catalog, and for which we accept purchase recommendations:

Books: Where a choice exists, preference may be given to paper bound publications except where use is expected to be high, the content promises enduring value, and where page and/or height dimensions demand a sturdy case. Publishers textbooks assigned as course texts are generally not collected. Textbooks that serve as the best or only source of information and fulfill self-study and reference needs may be added, as resources allow.

Serials/Journals/Periodicals: Subscriptions involve a larger demand on Library resources (e.g. ongoing commitments of funds, binding and other maintenance, shelf space) and are more carefully considered than one time purchases. In addition to the general selection criteria outlined above, serial/journal/periodical decisions also consider inclusion of article content in currently available periodical indexes, availability of complete holdings, and title usage statistics. Requests to add or cancel serial titles, initiated by any member of the academic community, are reviewed annually by the Librarians. Library staff continuously evaluates the most effective means of supplying periodical information to our users and, whenever possible, consults with appropriate campus constituencies during the decision-making process. Where a choice between print and electronic subscription are available, the Library prefers electronic journals when issues of quality, accessibility, completeness, affordability, licensing, and reliability have been answered satisfactorily. Except in special cases, the Library will not maintain duplicate print and electronic subscriptions and will opt to withdraw the corresponding paper back files of journals when electronic versions are available that meet the above criteria. Inter-library loan service provides access to articles in publications beyond the Library's current print and electronic periodical holdings.

Reference collection: A robust collection of print and electronic resources is maintained to support discovery and interpretation of materials within the Library's collections. Additional resources facilitate discovery of content and resources outside of Beloit's collections. The Head of Public Service is primarily responsible for development of this collection.

Audio: The Library maintains a large collection of LP and CD recordings but generally restricts current purchase to CD and emerging digital formats. The audio collection extends well beyond the robust holdings for traditional music studies, providing support for any department or program that employs audio for teaching or learning.

Visual: Current film collections consist of VHS and DVD formats, though the preferred format for purchase is DVD, when available and not significantly more expensive than VHS format. Whenever possible, educational performance rights are to be procured or claimed during purchase to facilitate appropriate, fair-use on campus. Still image collecting consists of 35mm slide sets, and digital image collections.

Juvenile Literature: Serving as a primary resource for the Education and Youth Studies Department, the Library maintains a small collection of award-winning and canonical juvenile and young adult literature.

Newspapers: Print newspaper subscriptions to provide local, regional, and national news coverage as well as foreign titles to support language studies are collected on a highly selective basis. Newspapers are retained in paper form for no more than one year and some are retained as briefly as one month. A number of the Library's electronic database subscriptions complement these print holdings.

Microforms: Due to the compact nature and the stability of micro formats, a selective collection of newspapers and journals is maintained. As with print resources, when a reliable and appropriate digital option is available, it is preferred.

Electronic Resources: are defined as resources that require computer access, including, but not exclusively, serials or collections of serials; bibliographic, visual or numeric databases; reference materials; and monographs. Access formats include but are not limited to online services, compact discs, and DVD's.

In addition to the selection criteria above, preference is given to web-based resources with access via IP address as opposed to individual password authentication.  Other considerations in assessing electronic resource subscriptions include:

  • License should provide access to walk-in users, permission to link resources in course management systems, and the ability to respond to ILL requests.  Licenses should in no way curtail rights granted through Fair Use or other copyright acts.
  • Product interface should be clear, responsive and provide an adequate range of simple to complex search options.
  • Products providing access to full-text content are often preferred over those providing only citation and abstract information.
  • In general, bundled collection packages are preferred to single title additions, as this increases the volume of content available for minimal added cost.
  • We seek products and platforms using COUNTER or other industry standard statistical gathering software to track usage and promote consistency in ongoing evaluation.
  • Where possible, we consolidate with a limited number of provider gateways to assist users and improve search results.
  • Applicability or usefulness of content to multiple fields of study.

The value added nature of many electronic resources is reflected in higher invoice costs.  While funds remain limited, requests for new resources or upgrades to current resources will most often involve the exchange of one service for another.  Division Liaison Librarians and the Director of Library and Archives will open discussions with academic departments, to evaluate options and create an optimal collection of resources to meet teaching and learning needs.

Electronic resources distributed in a physical format (e.g. compact discs, DVD's), intended for stand-alone use, also are reviewed for content, platform compatibility and ease of use. They are cataloged, labeled and shelved, and are therefore searchable in the Library catalog. Items in this category include computer programs, datasets, and government publications. Except in limited circumstances, materials are withdrawn when standard campus computing platforms can no longer access the content.

Free electronic resources and websites determined to have direct applicability to academic disciplines and areas are gathered in a series of subject directories on the Library's web site.  A select number of free electronic resources delivering focused and in-depth content aligned with or complimenting existing physical collections may have bibliographic records added to the Library's catalog. 

Finally, though we strive to provide continuity and consistency in our electronic resource offerings, usage patterns and events beyond the Library's control may result in the termination of a resource and the subsequent re-balancing of our electronic collections.  Notification of a change in license terms or pricing for any purchased or cataloged free electronic resource will result in a reassessment of its value and appropriateness for campus need.  Significant price increases, change in scope, change in content, and the presentation of inflexible licensing clauses may also result in a subscription cancellation. A resource identified as having low or minimal use over time will also undergo a re-evaluation. In cases where access can not be continued, the Library will notify the original requestor and primary user community of the change and encourage their participation in a replacement decision.


At the start of each fiscal year the Chief Information Officer and the Assistant Director are responsible for allocating the materials budget. The allocation process reserves a significant proportion of the book and audio-visual budget for academic department requests. Initial allocations are made to funds representing the academic departments of the college insuring balance in the overall development of the collection. The equation employed in this process incorporates enrollments in introductory and advanced courses (by instructor), average cost of publication (by discipline), and the volume of literature published in a given field. The resulting allocations serve to guide purchases for the annual period in a logical and equitable manner, while maintaining a necessary flexibility.

Special funding accommodations may be possible to develop resources to support new or revised courses, curricular revisions, and other needs. The Library recognizes that new faculty may require special consideration in building the collection in new areas and invites early and ongoing conversations to assess the existing collection and acquire new materials. The Librarians and the Assistant Director welcome the opportunity to discuss unexpected and ongoing needs with faculty and departments.

To assist the process of quality resource discovery the Library provides to departments the individual title reviews published in CHOICE, a publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries. While this resource serves as a primary selection tool, other reviews published in core journals for a discipline are important supporting resources. Discovery and selection of materials by Library staff is further informed by patterns of inquiry at the reference desk, evaluation of ILL borrowing requests, and notable patterns of circulation and other use statistics

Recommendations for materials are invited in any form. Pre-printed order slips are available from the Library; a web submission form is also available.

In order to minimize costs and leverage our resources, Beloit participates in a number of local, national and global consortia. Group purchases under these agreements reduce initial purchase prices and/or annual maintenance fees; but also reduce demand on our administrative functions through standardized and consolidated billing and assistance with contract review.

Collection Maintenance

Reasonable funds and staff time are allocated to care, repair and replacement of damaged or lost collection materials. The review of damaged materials first considers whether the resource is still relevant to the collection scope; if it is not, the item is transferred to the weeding process. If the item remains relevant or has enduring value, the decision will be made to replace or repair the item. Repairs may be made in-house using archival quality glues, papers and backings or outsourced to the Bindery for re-casing or conservation work. The Technical Services Librarian in consultation with at least one liaison librarian shall determine whether an item should be withdrawn.

As with damaged materials, records for lost or missing materials are routinely reviewed and replacements will be sought when the item meets selection criteria as described in this policy. Replacement will be made with an exact, similar, or updated edition, depending on the circumstances. In cases where a similar edition is no longer available, a title of equivalent subject and/or scope will be purchased in its place. To allow Library staff adequate time to search for or recover missing materials, orders for replacement copies may not be generated immediately.

Periodic review of the Library's holdings is conducted to evaluate the health, purposefulness and overall content of the collection. As shelf space is a finite physical resource, the Library's annual additions must be balanced with some deaccession. The ongoing removal, repair or replacement decisions made for damaged, lost and missing materials extend to the review and weeding of the collection; a task performed in a targeted, rotating fashion. To maximize growth opportunity and cultivate a collection particularly relevant to the curriculum, librarians pull, for review, materials that meet one or more criteria:

  • Have another copy, duplicate copy no longer needed
  • Have a later edition of the title, earlier edition no longer needed
  • Have more up-to-date sources for this same information
  • Shows infrequent circulation or no circulation for sustained period of time
  • No longer relevant to the curriculum
  • Have in electronic format

Librarians carefully select materials to be weeded based on knowledge of the curriculum gained from conversations with departments, review of course proposals, and familiarity with current selections trends and further informed by the criteria above. Next, all faculty are invited to review the selected materials to ensure materials identified for weeding are not needed to support the curriculum. As a final step, materials removed from the Library collections are made available, on a first come first served basis, to campus community members.

Materials Acquired Outside of Purchase

Beloit College Library collects a limited number of materials not specifically selected through purchase. Accession, housing and maintenance of materials impose indirect costs on the library collections, thus every gift to a library has a price. Addition decisions for materials acquired outside of purchase are therefore subject to the same general considerations for collection appropriateness and overall usefulness to the college.


Gifts are accepted only when they add strength to the collection and when the donor places no significant limitations on housing, handling, or disposition of duplicate, damaged, or unwanted items. It is Library policy not to provide appraisals of gift items for donors. Donors wishing to have their gifts appraised should seek further information on valuation of donated property from the Internal Revenue Service and their own tax advisor or attorney. All donated items become Library property and accession decisions will be guided by the same criteria applied to other acquisitions. Donations added to the collection are recognized by the use of bookplates stating the donor's name. Unneeded items are disposed of through established and recognized procedures (see review and weeding of collection, above). Prospective donors, particularly those with collections of more than one hundred titles are encouraged to provide a list of potential gift titles allowing Library staff to evaluate the appropriateness of the acquisition. Copies of the Library's Gift Policy are available to interested donors.

Government Documents

A separate policy exists to define and guide Beloit College Library's status as a selective depository for Federal and State government documents (see Appendix A).


The detailed collection policy for the College Archives is published in the College's Administrative Policy Manual.  Briefly, the Archives are the repository for the College's official business and history and include materials relating to significant people and places associated with the College and a component of local life and culture.  The collection is maintained as a resource to the College community and to researchers with an interest in the College, its participants, and the surrounding area. This collection is available for use within the Archives Reading Room, but does not otherwise circulate.

The Archives collection is largely built through transfers of records from campus offices based on established retention schedules. On rare occasions unique or historically valuable materials may be acquired through purchase. Other items and collections are received as gifts.  Gifts to the Archives are governed by the Library's gift policy and also include the transfer of permissions allowing the use and publication of the item in print or digital formats. A directory of major collections is available on the Archives web pages, and a growing collection of finding aides describe, in greater detail, the content of these collections.

Special Collections

Most materials in these collections are cataloged and therefore searchable through the Library catalog.  Many of these items may not be available for loan outside of the Library as the intent is to maintain the collection for posterity as well as to ensure the richness remains available for future scholars. The content comes to us through donations or through purchase. The Library's general criteria for building the collection also apply to Special Collections materials.  

A limited number of named, donated collections are maintained precisely as received.  The collections include:

  • the Horace White Collection of works on the American Civil War and Abraham Lincoln;
  • the Joseph C. Rheingold Collection of Franklin D. Roosevelt and New Deal works;
  • the Irving S. Kull Collection of Woodrow Wilson era works.

Active collecting is currently limited to three collection categories:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection on Non-Violence: a donation from former Library Director H. Vail Deale at the time of Dr. King's assassination is maintained by an endowed fund to support its continual growth.  Additions to this collection meet careful guidelines; the materials must carry the message of non-violence and works by and about Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Henry David Thoreau hold prominence in the collection
  • Beloitana Collection: includes materials by or about College alumni, faculty, staff, and trustees; about the College; and about the local area. The Library budget supports the continued acquisition of works written or edited by current and retired faculty, and current staff. In addition, selected and notable works by alumni of the College may be added at the discretion of the Archivist.  Gifts to this collection are always accepted.  Though the works in this collection do not typically circulate, additional copies of most are available for circulation in the general collection.
  • Rare Books:  are collected on a very limited basis. In addition to original, unique, limited edition, and older works, Beloit College's Rare Books Collection contains a number of reproductions, or facsimiles, of exceedingly rare items. Though not rare in their currently produced form, these items are costly, of artisan quality, and are true enough to the original to be delicate and therefore deserving of additional care in housing.

Evaluation of Policy

Regular evaluation and adjustment of this policy is the responsibility of the Assistant Directory for Library Services, in consultation with the Chief Information Officer, the Librarians, and the Information Services and Resources Advisory Committee.

  • Approved May 2006
  • Additions approved November 2006

Appendix A
Collection Development Policy for U.S. Government Documents


The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance to library staff members about the nature and scope of the U.S. Government Document's Collection at the Beloit College Library in order to assure that the collections:

  1. Are consistent, integrated and balanced;
  2. Meet the needs of both existing and potential users for government information to the fullest extent possible under existing constraints of staffing, budget, and space.

    In addition, it serves to increase the quality of information resources available to the library's community and to outline procedures by which the effectiveness of the collections, vis-a-vis the information needs of the community are regularly evaluated.


    In general, the Library will select material in various formats to serve the needs of its primary clientele, i.e., students, faculty, and staff of the College.  These needs are ascertained by reference to the following indicators:

    1. The Federal Depository Library Manual's "Core Collection for Small and Medium Sized Academic Libraries" should serve as a touchstone for the documents collection;
    2. Items closely related to the curriculum should be selected in anticipation of demand generated by courses;
    3. Notices of new government documents circulated among library staff members and routed to potentially interested faculty members for their comments and suggestions;
    4. Recurring requests for specific documents or particular kinds of information initiated by faculty members or others should be considered for addition to the list of items received;
    5. Journals and other sources that review government documents, e.g., Library Journal, DTTP, Documents to the People, etc. should be reviewed on a regular basis by librarians and items appropriate to the collection should be considered for inclusion if not already received on deposit;
    6. Reference queries should be systematically monitored for evidence of a significant unmet need for government information and, where such evidence exists, consideration given to acquiring such sources as may be available to satisfy the demand;
    7. The annual "List of Item Selections" should be reviewed in the light of demand or lack thereof indicated by the above, and items added or deleted accordingly.

      In order to serve the large user community, selectors will consider many of the same factors - with use appropriate changes – but, in addition, will attend to:

      1. Items that may be of interest to members of the larger community, even without a particular academic aspect;
      2. Requests for information received from (a) individual members of the larger community and (b) other libraries in the local area.

        In particular, the Beloit College Library collects materials from the following Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government as indicated below:

        Heavily* Moderately Light
        • Commerce
        • Congress
        • Education
        • Justice
        • Health and Human Service
        • State
        • Housing & Urban Development
        • Interior
        • Labor
        • Treasury
        • Publications of all other
        • Departments & agencies

        *Relative to amount published by each

        Because of the nature of the Library's parent institution, the Government Documents Collection comprises, in large part, materials that are primary, academic, research-oriented resources rather than those that are strictly practical, derivative, and applied.

        The Library does not purchase documents from commercial sources except very selectively when they are either not available through the depository system or can only be obtained via the latter under an item number that would include a large amount of other material not appropriate to our collection.  Also, certain documents not available through the depository system are, from time to time, purchased from GPO, or requested from one of the Second Congressional District representatives to Congress.  The Library does, however, purchase a number of indices and finding aids for government documents from commercial publishers in order to make materials in the documents collection as accessible as possible to users.


        The Beloit College Library, like most libraries, cannot afford the high cost of processing, storage and service to acquire resources merely to meet single or infrequent requests for government information.  Therefore, the Library's collection development policies for government documents are influenced by the availability of documents from other depositories in the area.  The nearest Regional is the University of Wisconsin Memorial Library in Madison, WI, to which we most frequently resort when we cannot satisfy a request from our own collection.  An excellent statewide inter-library loan system, good transportation between Beloit and Madison, and a very cooperative staff in the University of Wisconsin Library all serve to facilitate use of the Regional's collection.  Documents held by area libraries can be obtained either via ILL or by directing the patron to a specific library in Madison.  In addition, the Rockford, IL Public Library, less than twenty miles from Beloit, and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Library, approximately thirty-five miles away, are partial depositories and their collections are also available to patrons in the area Occasionally users may wish to purchase selected documents and should be directed to the GPO Online Bookstore ( in Washington, D.C.


        Space constraints and good collection management practice dictate that materials which are superseded, obsolete, extremely dated or clearly not used be withdrawn from the documents collection.  The intention of this Library, both in selecting materials for and withdrawing materials from the collection, is to maintain a coherent and vital, but necessarily dynamic collection.  While careful selection is essential to the maintenance of a useful and lean collection, deselect ion is perhaps even more important.  In order to maintain collections that are free of extraneous materials, annual review of the document collection and amendment of selection is mandatory.  Back runs, if any, of items deleted from the list of items received should be considered for withdrawal consistent with applicable GPO regulations.  At the same time, the collection should be surveyed for little used items that can be withdrawn.  Superseded items should, of course, be discarded when the superseding item is received, except in special cases, e.g. Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents.

        • August 1987
        • Revised August 1992
        • Reviewed February 2006