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Collection Development Guidelines

Collection development guidelines defines a library's plan for adding and removing materials.

Collection Development Guidelines

Ray Howard Library at Shoreline Community College

Operational Guidelines and Procedures

Collection Development Guidelines


This collection development guidelines state the guiding principles and procedures under which collection development activities, including the selection, maintenance, and weeding of print, electronic, and media library materials for the Ray Howard Library at Shoreline Community College, will occur. This document is to be reviewed every three years.



The library collection supports the mission of the library and the college. The goal of collection development is to meet the information needs of our students, faculty, and staff by providing access to a variety of relevant print, media, and electronic resources. The collection includes representative and meaningful information resources suitable for a culturally diverse college community. It provides materials that attract and address a variety of learning styles and levels of sophistication.


Intellectual Freedom

Adherence to intellectual freedom is a fundamental tenet of the Ray Howard Library in carrying out its educational mission in a democratic society. The Ray Howard Library firmly endorses the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ (IFLA)Statement on Libraries and Intellectual Freedom As IFLA states and the Ray Howard Library affirms, “Commitment to intellectual freedom is a core responsibility for the library and information professional.”

Collection Development Priorities
The primary users of the Ray Howard Library at Shoreline Community College are its students, faculty, and staff. Sole priority in collection development is given to providing access, both on- and off-campus, to information sources meeting the information needs of these users.

Secondary users, including the general public as well as students from other schools, are welcome to use the Library and access its collection. However the library does not purchase materials specifically for them.

We have a goal of identifying faculty needs and interests as they relate to developing their curricula, purchasing with those in mind, and marketing the existence of those works.  We also have a goal of assessing whether 1) the collection matches the college curriculum; 2) whether the faculty are satisfied with the collection and whether they are using it for developing their materials and curriculum; 3) whether the students are satisfied with it and using it for their coursework; 4) whether the librarians are using the collection development guidelines.

Collection Development Budget
The collection development budget is composed of a general materials budget that pays for monographs, periodicals, standing orders, media, and electronic databases.  It is used to purchase materials housed in or accessed through the library.  This budget is not used to purchase materials for college department or faculty/staff office collections.

Perkins funds may be allocated to the library by the Dean of Professional/Technical Programs. These funds are used to purchase library materials in any format supporting instruction in the professional/technical programs at the college. In the event that the library receives grant funds for collection development, these funds will be used to acquire library materials conforming to the intent of the grant.

Responsibility for Collection Development
The Acting Dean of Social Sciences, Library Technology, Equity & Social Justice, World Languages and Parent-Child Center has overall responsibility for library services, including collection development. The collection development librarian, who reports to the Acting Dean of Social Sciences, Library Technology, Equity & Social Justice, World Languages and Parent-Child Center, has lead responsibility for collection development matters, and actively participates in collection development activities. Each reference librarian has collection development responsibilities, including reviewing and selecting print and media materials; participating in database review and selection, and weeding library collections.  
Reference librarians are responsible for the selection of materials to be added to the library collection. Recommendations for titles to be added to the collection can be made by any member of the college community. Such recommendations should be actively solicited by librarians from individuals with areas of expertise.

Selection of Library Materials

  • Collection levels:  generally, library collection development activities will correspond to developing and maintaining a basic information level collection.  This level is intended to support the basic informational needs of students working on a transfer degree, a professional/technical degree or certificate, and basic education and English language skills.  Specifically, this level is comprised of:

    Collections of general periodicals and a broader and more in-depth array of introductory monographs, reference tools, and media titles that includes:
    • Basic explanatory works.
    • Histories of the development of the topic.
    • General works about the field and its important personages.
    • General encyclopedias, periodical indexes, and statistical sources.
    • Selected specialized monographs and reference works.
    • A limited collection of representative general periodicals.
    • Defined access to appropriate electronic resources.
  • Format considerations of library materials
    Content, not format, is the primary consideration in selection decisions. Format should be considered as a criterion when multiple formats of the same information are available, and when a particular format may have a significant advantage in terms of providing access to the information being made available, such as for off-campus students. The Library will build a significant online collection in recognition of the Virtual College initiative, while maintaining a usable print collection. Format may also be a consideration in terms of technological issues, such as compatibility with existing library equipment and systems. New formats will be considered for the collection when sufficient evidence indicates that a significant portion of the community has the necessary technology to make use of it. Format choices will be made in order to comply with ADA accommodations. No films will be purchased without closed captioning.


  • General Criteria for Materials Selection
    • Anticipated demand for the material.
    • Accuracy and validity of the information.
    • Relevance of the information.
    • Timeliness or permanence of the material
    • Strengths and weaknesses of the existing library collection in the subject area.
    • Cost of the material on a one-time or continuing basis (this includes serials, standing orders, and licensing/subscription costs for materials in electronic formats).
    • Author, publisher, or producer reputation.
    • Accessibility and comprehensibility of the information by the user.
    • Evaluations of the material from standard or knowledgeable reviewing sources.
    • Whether the source is full-text, abstracted, or bibliographic.
    • Whether the material serves disciplines of focus for the Information Literacy Program. 
    • Whether the material serves courses and assignments of the disciplines of focus for the Information Literacy Program. 

Selection Criteria for Website Selection
In addition to meeting the general criteria of materials selection, websites should meet these specific criteria

  • Be freely linkable.
  • Provide content rather than primarily pointing to other sites or advertising/selling products.
  • Provide information about and contact information for the individual, department or institution responsible for the site.
  • Evidence that the site is regularly maintained and updated.
  • Likelihood that the site is stable rather than short-lived.
  • Content is arranged in a logical and accessible manner.
  • Design is clean and enhances the site.
  • Does not require special software or registration to view content.

Selection Criteria for Open Educational Resources (OER)

In addition to meeting the general criteria of materials selection, and in recognition of Shoreline Community College’s intention to use more Open Educational Resources (OER), OER should meet these specific criteria

  • Be licensed under an open license such as Creative Commons
  • Be relevant to disciplines of focus of the Information Literacy Program, their courses, assignments and instructors.
  • Be chosen in consultation with instructors.

Faculty Librarians, as part of their collection development duties, may recommend course-related materials such as OER textbooks to the Instructional Faculty in the subject area for which they collect. 

Selection Criteria for Database Selection
 In addition to meeting the general criteria for materials selection, electronic formats should meet these specific criteria

  • Accessibility by on- and off-campus users.
  • Public service support requirements, such as the need for staff and user training.
  • Compatibility with existing library systems.
  • Technical support by the database producer including user guides, manuals, and training.
  • Searching considerations, including user interface and overall user friendliness in accessing the database.

Specific Types of Materials

  • Gifts: any gifts donated to the library become the property of the Shoreline Community College Foundation, and will not be returned to the donors. Gift books are added to the collection using the same criteria as new materials. Any gifts that are not added to the collection will be disposed of according to Washington State law.
  • Multiple Copies: as a rule, the library will not obtain multiple copies of the same edition of any title.  Exceptions to the rule, based on librarians’ judgment and on a case by case basis, are if the title is expected to have extended heavy use by the library’s primary users or for inexpensive titles for special user populations (e.g. New Readers).  
  • Lost/Missing/Damaged Materials: will not be replaced as a matter of course, but subjected to the criteria established for material selection.
  • Textbooks: the library will not purchase textbooks to support current course offerings. Exceptions may include noteworthy textbooks that provide an overview or insight into a subject area. Under such exceptions, the title is not being considered as a textbook.
  • Bibliographies: the library does not collect these, except as selection aids for collection development.
  • Standing orders: this refers to materials not considered periodicals and received on an ongoing basis. Standing orders are regularly evaluated on the general criteria for selection.  Another consideration is whether lengthening the intervals in which the title is received is a more efficient use of the collection development budget. This should only be done if an increased interval of purchase does not invalidate the timeliness of the material.

Special Collections

In addition to its general collection, the Library has specialized collections of materials. These collections are listed below. All of these collections are subject to the criteria established in these guidelines for materials selection and weeding. Deaccessioning can be considered at the Library Planning Council level.  

  • Books on Tape: is designed to encourage recreational reading. Collection is currently static.
  • ESL Collection: includes grammars and other language learning specific materials, graded Readers with color-coded levels, TOEFL and other test materials, listening materials, and an ESL-specific reference collection with ESL dictionaries and grammar reference materials.
  • Foreign Language: is comprised of donations.
  • Graphic Novels: is designed to encourage recreational reading and to supplement ESL collection.
  • Media Services Collection: consists of a collection of media materials in diverse formats to meet the curricular and informational needs of the college and which support a variety of learning styles.  The Media Collection can consist of titles purchased by the library or subscriptions to databases offering streaming (web-based) media titles.
  • Pamphlet File: contains ephemeral materials (i.e. pamphlets, brochures, periodical articles, etc.) that supplement the other Library collections. Collection is currently static.
  • Map File: is comprised of general and thematic, small- and large-scale maps. Geographic areas are the world, major world regions; countries, the United States, individual states, and the Pacific Northwest. Collection is currently static.
  • Sheet music: resides in file cabinets.
  • Plays: reside in file cabinets.
  • Professional Development Collection: is currently proposed.  It will need additional funding beyond the general materials budget from the Office of Instruction or other campus funds.  It will also need a Task Force of instructional faculty stakeholders to steer building and maintaining a relevant collection. Responsibility for appointing this Task Force lies with the Office of Instruction.
  • Popular Fiction: is designed to encourage recreational reading.
  • Reference Collection: is designed to meet the academic and general information needs of the college community. This is done by making available information sources consistently useful in answering reference questions and designed to be “consulted for bits of information rather than to read consecutively” (International Encyclopedia of Information and Library Science [Routledge, 1997]). For this reason, reference materials do not circulate without permission.
  • Reserve Collection: includes materials with short-term circulation because of expected heavy use. These materials may belong to the library or be privately owned.  Reserves are removed after one quarter unless the instructor requests that they remain.  The Library maintains its Reserve Collection at the Circulation Desk.

Collection Maintenance: Weeding

Weeding refers to the continuous process in collection development in which items in the library collection that are outdated, rarely used, unnecessarily duplicated, no longer covered in the college curriculum, worn-out, or damaged are removed from the collection. Justifications for weeding include maintaining a current, accurate, and useful collection; making the best use of space; improving the appearance and browsability of the collection; identifying materials needing repair or replacement; and getting feedback on the collection’s strengths and weaknesses. Weeding extends to all materials in the library collections.  The current weeding schedule for the general collection provides a timeline and subject responsibilities for weeding activities (see Appendix 2).

  • General Criteria for Weeding:
    • Materials containing outdated or inaccurate information.
    • Materials that no longer meet a curriculum need. This case may arise when a Shoreline Community College program or area of study is de-emphasized or terminated.
    • Materials having little/no circulation that are not considered classics or standard titles in their areas.
    • Use of the material for instructional purposes. Some materials may otherwise qualify for weeding should be kept because they are used by instructors for teaching purposes.
    • Superseded editions of materials not considered classics or needed for historical purposes.
    • Duplicate copies of low-circulating materials.
    • Worn out or damaged materials. This includes materials with broken spines, defaced or faded pages or covers, missing, torn, or brittle pages, etc. If the materials receive reasonable use, they are considered for replacement or repair.
    • Periodicals over ten years old, unless the material has historical value and is specifically chosen for extended holdings by librarians
    • Materials that require equipment that is unreliable, obsolete, or is no longer available.

Subject Area Criteria for Collection Weeding
The following guidelines for broad subject categories are to be used in conjunction with the general criteria for weeding as well as any specific circumstances pertaining to individual subject areas or programs of study offered by Shoreline Community College. It should be remembered that the guidelines stated below are generalizations and that there will be exceptions to them. For example, classics and/or conceptual works in the social sciences, health sciences, technology, business, and applied and pure sciences may have longer lasting relevance or historical value and still be of value beyond the ten year mark. 

  • Technology and Library and Information Science: materials in these areas that are technologically oriented tend to become outdated within three to five years and should be considered for weeding after this time. Other materials that are more conceptual in nature and do not involve specific technology have longer lasting relevance or historical value and may still be of value to the Library collection beyond the ten year mark.
  • Humanities: materials in this area generally do not become outdated, so factors such as circulation statistics, duplicates, and damage take on added significance in weeding.
  • Social Sciences: materials in the social sciences typically become outdated after ten years. An exception to this is in history. History materials usually do not become outdated, but may be superseded by newer editions.
  • Business and Economics: materials in these areas typically become outdated after ten to 15 years and should be considered for weeding after this time.
  • Health Care and Medicine: materials in this area are usually outdated in as little as three to five years and should be considered for weeding after this time.
  • Applied Sciences: materials in these areas tend to become outdated within ten years and should be considered for weeding after this time. An exception is Computer Science materials, which should be reviewed every three to five years.
  • Pure Sciences: materials in this area are usually outdated within ten years, but exceptions to this should be noted, such as in mathematics, which does not become outdated as quickly.

Marketing the Collection

Marketing the collection will be specifically addressed in the Marketing Plan.

Assessing the Collection

The Ray Howard Library will administer satisfaction surveys to the faculty and also to the students every two years.  The Collection Development Librarian will review the College Catalog every two years to ensure that the collection emphasizes current courses and programs.  The Collection Development Librarian will hold a training session Fall quarter in which the budget, timeline, collection plan and subject areas are reviewed. 

Review of the Collection Development Guidelines Statement

The Collection Development Guidelines Statement will be updated or changed as needed to keep it current and completely reviewed every three years by the Collection Development Librarian in consultation with the other faculty librarians.


Date of Adoption:   5/1/13 Updated: 4//20/17
Key Department:    Library Reference Services
Key Person:   Claire Murata,  Librarian


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