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Library Collections Information: Policies

Collection Policy Intro

The library updated its collection policy during the academic year 2018-19, and the policy was adopted by the Information Services Committee in May 2019. Check out the various tabs in the box below for more on various selected aspects of the policy; to view the full policy, click here.


The library collections at Connecticut College support, and provide a vital basis for, the College’s teaching and research activities. The purpose of the Collection Development Policy is to establish principles and direction for the development and management of the College’s library resources. It is intended to guide librarians and library staff in their work to build and maintain collections, and to serve as a key communication tool for library staff members to work with students, faculty, staff, administrators and other user groups.


Key Overall Points

  1. The primary mission of the College’s library collections is to support the College’s instructional program and undergraduate research. As such, the library primarily collects materials at the Instructional Support level. As a library supporting undergraduate work, comprehensive research collections are beyond the capacity of the library. 
  2. Collection development is a shared task, with the Librarian of the College holding final responsibility for all collections decisions. The Director of Collections & Resource Management is responsible for day-to-day oversight and recommends decisions in consultation with the Serials and Electronic Resources Librarian, Collections & Resource Management staff members, library liaisons, the faculty members of the IS Committee, and CTW partners.
  3. The library maintains a carefully balanced mixture of print and electronic monographic materials and collects packages of monographs in both categories. In making choices about a format, the library considers available space, costs, functionality, the needs of users, the availability of the material, and the library’s broader mission.
  4. The library collects a substantial portion of its monographs through automatic means: either through a print approval plan or through various patron-driven ebook packages. Many additional titles are purchased upon the request of a faculty member. Librarians may still select additional individual titles, but should exercise a great deal of discernment and caution when doing so, and should purchase such titles with gift funds whenever possible. 
  5. The library does not acquire textbooks that students would normally purchase for classes, nor does it acquire supplementary materials, such as workbooks, related media or teacher’s guides. Monographs required for courses may be purchased if they meet the library’s selection guidelines for monographic materials as outlined in the policy.
  6. Collections staff will work with liaison librarians, faculty members, and I.S. Committee members to make decisions about possible acquisition and cancellation of serials (databases and journals). In doing so, staff will weigh possible acquisitions and cancellations holistically with the libraries’ ongoing budget considerations, balancing emerging needs against resources that have declined in usage and/or have high costs per use. Where possible, new subscriptions will be balanced by a comparable cancellation of another subscription in the same subject. Major additions or cancellations will be reviewed by the faculty members on the I.S. Committee each year.
  7. Materials that are openly available (“open access”) may be collected if they meet the same criteria as materials that are available for licensing or purchase. In making decisions about whether to collect openly available materials, library staff will consider numerous factors, including quality, authority, objectivity, duplication, currency, functionality, stability and open access status.
  8. The library maintains a subscription to a provider of streaming video, and this medium has now replaced a significant portion of DVD acquisition activities. DVDs are still acquired selectively and may be purchased to support research and teaching, and/or to maintain a collection of notable films for academic or general viewing.
  9. Collections staff will regularly assess the collection in order to maintain its ongoing vitality and relevance. If and when a deselection project occurs, librarians will consult with relevant faculty members, including those on the IS Committee. Criteria for deselection can include older items, items that have never or rarely circulated, duplicate copies, items superseded by newer editions, items in poor physical condition, items with dated or inaccurate information, and/or materials that do not support the curriculum. Additional criteria might include the availability of candidates for deselection in trusted electronic sources or from partner libraries that offer guarantees of persistent access.    
  10. The Director of Collections and Resource Management, along with the Librarian of the College, will review these policies annually, and work with the IS Committee to approve any necessary changes.

1. Curriculum Support

The primary mission of the College’s library collections is to support the College’s instructional program, which includes the aforementioned Connections curriculum. As such, the library’s goal is to collect materials at the Instructional Support Level, as defined by the Library of Congress ( Library materials are collected to enable students to complete assignments, undertake independent research projects, and develop new insights. 


2. Faculty Research

As a library supporting undergraduate work, comprehensive research collections are beyond the capacity of the library. However, faculty research and publication are not only key intellectual output of the College’s work but is also an important driver of the College’s curriculum. As such,  the libraries work to provide needed materials for faculty research and publication through responses to requests and through interlibrary loan and combined consortial resources. (See Section V, “Consortial and Resource Environment,” for more detail.)

3. Bibliographic Access

To facilitate discovery of materials and resources — including those that Shain Library has not purchased or subscribed to — the library committed to providing as much bibliographical/discovery access as possible. The library will therefore make every effort within its budgetary abilities to subscribe to databases that cover all disciplines represented in the College curriculum. Further bibliographic access is provided by the OCLC Worldcat database and through the Primo discovery interface.


4. General Non-curricular, Staff and Administrative Support

Within the limits of the materials budget, the library will maintain a selection of current literary fiction, poetry, play scripts and popular nonfiction for the use and enjoyment of its patron groups. For these materials, the library will select materials that are judged to have lasting artistic or literary value, or that represent key voices in documenting current events. Further, the library will attempt to provide materials needed by the College’s administrative personnel to meet their professional responsibilities — with the caveat that the library’s first priority is always to provide materials that support Connecticut College’s curriculum directly.

As discussed in the previous sections, Shain Library provides high-quality materials that serve the curricular, teaching and research needs of Connecticut College. A further important guiding factor is found in Section II of the American Library Association Library Bill of Rights: “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.”


Overall Criteria


The following general, overall criteria are considered in making selection decisions:


  • Relevance to the teaching curriculum of the College
  • Lasting value of the content
  • Reviews in the professional literature
  • Reputation and professional background of the author/publisher
  • Appropriateness of the level of treatment, format and language
  • Availability within the CTW consortium
  • Strength of present holdings in the subject area
  • Importance, or potential importance, to the literature of a given discipline
  • For periodicals, indexing in a product owned or licensed by the library
  • Full-text searchability, if applicable to the particular resource
  • Licensing arrangements for electronic resources that enable printing, downloading and interlibrary loan
  • Archival arrangements, for electronic resources
  • Cost

1.Single Titles

Single print titles not part of the above approval plan — or not part of an electronic book package (see the section on Electronic Monographs below) — may be purchased through selection by a liaison librarian or by the director of collections, or upon the request of a faculty member in a given discipline. Because many relevant titles are purchased through automatic print or e-book acquisition, or through direct faculty request — and because both library space and acquisition budgets are ever tighter — liaison librarians should exercise judgment and caution when acquiring print monographs that have not been directly requested. Whenever possible, gift funds should be used to acquire titles that have not been specifically requested for a course or by a faculty member. Individual titles costing more than $200 require approval by the director of collections.

2.Duplicate Titles

The library will not acquire multiple copies of single titles unless, in rare circumstances, more than one title is needed for course reserve. Further, for scholarly monographs, duplication among single titles already held by Trinity or Wesleyan should be avoided except where a faculty member has specifically requested an item to go on reserve, for a specific class. One exception to the latter policy is for contemporary poetry, fiction, plays or nonfiction books relating to current events; for these materials, duplication among CTW libraries is permissible, and the Connecticut College library may purchase one copy for on-campus users.


Shain Library does not acquire textbooks that students would normally purchase for classes, nor does it acquire supplementary materials, such as workbooks, related media or teacher’s guides. A book required for courses may be purchased if it meets the selection guidelines as outlined above, and/or if it provides critical information in the field that is not otherwise available.


Cancellation/Withdrawal Process
Subscription prices for serials increase each year, and as of 2018 library budgets have been either flat or reduced for the past 10 years. This situation necessitates a review of serials, along with probable cancellations, each year.
In the fall of each year, the serials librarian will work with the director of collections to develop both a budget projection for the following fiscal year as well as a list of resources that might be cancelled. In developing this list of resources, the primary criterion will be usage in the prior three years; the lower the usage, the higher the possibility that a resource will appear on the list. Cost per use will be another key factor; the higher the cost per use, the more likely the possibility of cancellation. Other criteria will include overlap with other resources, and continued relevance to the College teaching and research needs. As appropriate, the serials librarian will work with liaison librarians and members of the faculty to refine the list.
Each semester, the serials librarian and director of collections will hold a meeting with the faculty members on the I.S. committee to discuss the budget decisions — cancellations and/or serials acquisitions — that must be made, what further information might be needed from the faculty at large, and how and/or when to communicate any cancellations that might be needed.


Acquisition Process
In conjunction with the cancellation process as outlined in the section above, acquisitions of new titles will be considered each semester. Recommendations for new titles may come from liaison librarians or from faculty members. Following a recommendation for a new title, the appropriate librarian will fill out a form provided by the serials librarian in order to obtain information about cost, coverage, relevance to the College curriculum and other detailed information. In deciding whether to add the resource, librarians in consultation with faculty members in the requesting department will attempt to identify a comparable journal in the same discipline that might be cancelled. Possible acquisitions may also be weighed holistically with the libraries’ budget considerations, balancing emerging needs against resources that have declined in usage and/or present a high cost-per-use scenario. The twice-annual consideration of new serials resources will take place in conjunction with the I.S. committee faculty meetings regarding budget decisions.
Possible new resources may undergo a trial prior to consideration for acquisitions. Trials will be arranged by the serials librarian following provision of specific information by the librarian or faculty member regarding the reasons for the trial, the cost of the resource, the possible need and/or relevance to the curriculum of the resources, and the follow-up plan for evaluation of the trial.



Materials that are openly available, either directly as websites or downloadable through a site’s search engine, may be collected if they meet the same criteria as materials that are available in tangible formats for licensing or purchase.
Librarians or faculty may request that open materials be collected. Following the completion of a request form, collections staff will consider requests twice a year, typically during winter and summer break. In evaluating all such requests for open materials, collections staff will consider all of the following criteria, with special attention given to the fact that the resources are freely and openly available:

• Quality: There is evidence that the information is accurate, complete, and high quality in look and feel;
• Authority: The authorship and credentials of the materials are clear, and linked to a recognized and respected source of information;
• Objectivity: The information is nonproprietary in nature;
• Duplication: Ideally, the material does not duplicate resources that have already been licensed or purchased;
• Currency: The information is reasonably current, and clearly and/or recently updated;
• Functionality: Citations and links are in working order; no additional software beyond a web browser is needed for viewing;
• Stability: There is evidence that the platform hosting the material is stable and will provide lasting access; and
• Open Access Status: The material is open and does not require fees or subscriptions for access.

In addition to monographs, journals and open educational resources (all of which are addressed in previous sections), the library may choose to collect websites and/or digital or emerging forms of scholarship. This includes resources that integrate text, video, animations or working computer code, and/or that incorporate a flow of ongoing user comment. The conversations in the library profession surrounding the collection, description, management and discovery of these materials are only in the early stages. Nevertheless, in the spirit of responsible stewardship of the scholarly record, Connecticut College’s libraries will closely observe trends in this area and take appropriate action so that to whatever extent practicable, the College’s researchers can access and discover born-digital materials. Further, in recognition of the overlapping interests in the area of digital materials, Collections staff will collaborate with Digital Scholarship and Special Collections staff to better understand which materials to collect and make discoverable, and how best to do so.


Shain Library maintains a collection of video materials in DVD and VHS format. Materials in VHS are no longer being collected. DVD recordings are still acquired very selectively, and may be recommended for purchase by a liaison librarian or a faculty member. DVDs may be selected to support research and teaching, and/or to maintain a representative collection of notable films for either academic or general viewing.

In addition to physical documents, as of 2018 the library maintains a subscription to Kanopy, a provider of streaming video. Kanopy provides a wide selection or documentaries and features films, and has replaced a significant portion of the DVD acquisition activities. In general, the library should not purchase DVDs of materials that are available in Kanopy; exceptions may be made in the case of a specific faculty request and/or if streaming is not feasible or available for a particular screening.

Shain Library welcomes gifts of scholarly and rare materials as long as they are appropriate to the collection. In evaluating whether gifts will be added to the collection, librarians will apply the same selection criteria as outlined above. Duplicate copies received as gifts — or materials received that do not fit the criteria — may be offered to CTW partners, or sold or donated to a book dealer. The library does not accept gifts of textbooks, outdated materials, most backfiles of periodicals, or items in poor condition.

Under no circumstances will the library appraise gifts for tax or inheritance purposes. Donors are fully responsible for arranging appraisals and for any costs involved. In most circumstances, donors are also responsible for transporting materials to the library for receipt. Upon receipt of the gift, the library will send an acknowledgment letter with a description of the gift.

Monetary gifts to the library provide an important source of revenue to supplement the annual materials allocation from the College. The library encourages such gifts and acknowledges them upon notification of receipt. Library staff will mark print books purchased with gift funds with a bookplate that indicates the source of the gift and/or a memorial message.

Shain Library’s print and electronic collection will be continually re-evaluated in order to maximize usefulness and relevance to the College’s teaching and research needs. Provisions for serials de-acquisitioning are outlined above. Collection staff, in conjunction with liaison librarians, will also regularly assess the collection in order to maintain its vitality and relevance. If and when a deselection project occurs, librarians will consult with relevant faculty members and the faculty members on the Information Services Committee. 

Criteria for deselection include:

  • Older items that have rarely or never circulated (the principal criterion)
  • Duplicate copies of infrequently used materials
  • Items superseded by newer editions
  • Items in poor physical condition
  • Items with dated or inaccurate information
  • Materials that do not, or no longer, support the curriculum
  • The availability of candidates for deselection in trusted electronic sources or from partners libraries that offer guarantees of persistent access