Saturday, November 29, 2014

Collection Development Policies And Procedures

इस ब्लॉग्स को सृजन करने में आप सभी से सादर सुझाव आमंत्रित हैं , कृपया अपने सुझाव और प्रविष्टियाँ प्रेषित करे , इसका संपूर्ण कार्य क्षेत्र विश्व ज्ञान समुदाय हैं , जो सभी प्रतियोगियों के कॅरिअर निर्माण महत्त्वपूर्ण योगदान देगा ,आप अपने सुझाव इस मेल पत्ते पर भेज सकते हैं -

Collection Development Policies And Procedures

P- 15. Special and Research Libraries *

By :malhan v,Paper Coordinator

Collection Development Policies And Procedures


This chapter is a brief guide on how to write a collection development policy, making use of the conspectus methodology. The lesson is intended to be of particular value to staff new to collection development and in areas where there is little written tradition of collection development. We hope that it will be of practical use to librarians setting out on the sometimes daunting task of writing a collection development policy.  The objectives are briefly annotated below:

  • to know the importance of collections in any library;
  • to be aware of the different stages of collection development;
  • to have a strong belief for a written collection development policy;
  • to examine what are the features to be included in a written policy;
  • to know how helpful is a written policy for guidance;
  • to be acquainted with IFLA’s document of collection development policy.


Concentration on the collection development is of recent phenomenon if not in Western context but in Indian context. Still in many cases numerous university libraries or public libraries have not thought about the collection development in terms of strategy, fund allocation or proper written policies on this. In case of special libraries, little much has been done as they have less fund and properly to be used by many serious researchers. Fund crisis have made the library owners to think over the budget allocation and its proper utilization. The budget especially meant for collection building is shrinking where as the demand is becoming higher. The haphazard strategy sometimes creates havoc in midterm budget plan so this leads a strategic planning in collection building. Though a recent phenomenon creating a written policy document on collection building has become inevitable in and among the policy makers, the library authorities to go for this official document.

A literature sampling provides a clearer understanding of how collection development and management are understood by practitioners: Simply put, collection management is the systemic, efficient and economic stewardship of library resources (Mosher, 1982 p.45).”  The goal of any collection development organization must be to provide the library with a collection that meets the appropriate needs of its client population within the limits of its fiscal and personnel resources. To reach this goal, each segment of the collection must be developed with an application of resources consistent with its relative importance to the mission of the library and the needs of its patrons (Bryant, 1987, p. 118).”  Collection management is defined as a process of information gathering, communication, coordination, policy formulation, evaluation, and planning. These  processes, in turn, influence decisions about the acquisition, retention, and provision of access to information sources in support of the intellectual needs of a given library community. Collection development is the part of collection management that primarily deals with decisions about the acquisition of materials (Osburn, 1990, p.1).”  Collection development is a term representing the process of systematically building library collections to serve study, teaching, research, recreational, and other needs of library users. The process includes selection and de-selection of current and retrospective materials, planning of coherent strategies for continuing acquisition, and evaluation of collections to ascertain how well they serve user needs (Gabriel, 1995, p. 3).”  

By the 1970s, library budgets in all types of libraries began to hold steady or to shrink. Libraries were unable to keep pace with rapidly increasing costs and growing numbers of publications. Librarians began to look for guidance in how they could make responsible decisions with less money. The goal of comprehensive, autonomous, self-sufficient collections became less realistic. Interest grew in developing guidelines for downsizing serials collections and mechanisms for increasing library cooperation. Collection development policy statements became more common as libraries sought guidance in managing limited financial resources amid conflicting demands.

Library Collections in Special Libraries

Library collection refers to all the documents in terms of its forms quality and quantity available in libraries. By library collection the library is known and the users are attracted by this. Time was there when physical documents were dominating the library collection the users specially scholars from Asian and Indian states migrate the European countries to do research. Now little change has happened as digital resources are the sources which libraries have started surviving with. In case of special libraries the digital resources are probably only resource available on which the researchers mostly depend upon. The reason being access to these resources since its inception the researchers don’t find the time gap to use all these online sources of information. 

Library Collection Development

As library collection is the soul of any libraries, its quality and quantity is also a matter of concern both for the library as well its users. Collection management andcollection development now often are used synonymously or in tandem. Collection development and management are the meat and potatoes of libraries. If you don’t have a collection, you don’t have a library (Johnson, 2009, p. ix).”  Quantification or large number of resources wills definitely increases the value of particular library or information centres. Growth in collection is not an overnight business. Sometimes the libraries grow with scratch to sustain their user’s community, on the other some old institutes have switched over to digital collections to satisfy their clienteles. 


Developing collection development policies are novice phenomena and are becoming mandatory in library and information centres. Even the collection development is sometimes termed as collection management. Collection development policy is an official document in which all the information regarding collection is written an consulted whenever it is needed. By looking at the history of policy document on collection development is not ascertainable as documents are not traceable starting from the old libraries of Alexandria or Nalanda of ancient India. It is also found that in some nations the policy documents on collection development are very new sometimes does not exist at all. From the government point of view it is also not that hospitable to have a official document of this nature. Some library associations especially the role of American library association (ALA) played a tremendous role. Naturally the libraries in USA have started following this. Internationally speaking IFLA has done and created collection development policy but remote evidence for its implementation in and among nations. Some of the literature strongly opines to have a written policy document. In some countries especially in Indian context though libraries spend high budget on their collection building but it is not uniform in every academic years. So in this sense research institutes have faced difficulties but individually these institutes have started making their own a subsequently amending for its betterment.

The policy reflects the mission of the Library and a commitment to intellectual freedom. The policy serves as a blueprint to guide staff in the selection and retention of materials and to inform the public of the principles supporting selection decisions. The Library serves a diverse population possessing an unlimited range of interests and tastes but the Library has limited means and must make choices to serve all said interests. Therefore, the Library partners with other libraries through consortia and organizational commitments in order to expand its capacity to make more information and materials available to citizens than would otherwise be possible. 

Characteristics of collection development policy

  • Collection development policy is an official document
  • This official document may be used as individually
  • A government or a parent body may implement the document for the institutes being governed under its administration
  • Document once made is not static rather amenable to its modification in the form of amendment.
  • Adherence to this document is to be mandate so that its value is retained.
  • Amendment should be flexible so that any changes can be made according to the budget as well the subscription time to time.


Need of this policy document and the procedure to make this has become necessity in modern day’s time. Budget allocations are not improving quantitatively in comparison to its previous years. However, there is stiff growth in the pricing of the resources are currently subscribed to the libraries and the future literature proposed to be subscribed. The print medium resources are losing its popularity especially in research libraries as its online counterpart is gaining the ground. Subscribing these digital versions has become mandatory at the same time budgetary crisis is equally troublesome for the library authorities. So choosing and dropping some resources are found to be options for these libraries. To co-up all these issues and to avoid arbitrary decisions without affecting much to a certain group of users, a written policy was inevitable. So this document can be referred regularly without any bias for any kind of community of users as well a section of resources to be subscribed or not. All these factors have completed the library authorities to create collection development policy. 


Librarians have become increasingly aware of their responsibilities to be attentive to both content and format in selection of library materials. To have a written collection development policy is a must for any individual library or a group of libraries similar in their collections, communities served by them or the common administrative or funding authorities under which they all administered. 

Why a written collection development policy?

The primary task of any library is to collect, select, process and provide access to relevant resources available through libraries. The technological developments have made libraries equipped with modern tools to reach to the users in time. This is possible through acquisition of library resources as quick as possible, probably in sometimes seconds after the inception of the information resources. This implies the collection development policies are significantly empowered the library staff to get ready with the information available for their users. A policy statement is a kind of frame work with certain parameters both for the library collection as well as library staff to work within these frameworks. These statements have many functions beyond merely being a tool of selection of library materials. Additionally it forces the library staff to consider and reconsider the aims and objectives of their parent organization both in long and short terms and also promote them giving priorities to their activities. This policy statements helps in settling the budget matters helps as a channel of communication both within and outside the libraries, collaborates cooperative collection development. It further assists in overall collection management activities including the gifts pour into the libraries selecting and deselecting the other library materials. The primary reasons for having a written collection development policy can be narrated under four broad headings. (IFLA documents referred)


A written collection development policy can help in guiding the library staff to select and deselect the library resources. A general guideline may not be written can help in selecting the resources published by reputed authors or publishers. However, the library staff fails to determine some of the literature produced locally having high values for a particular library collections or particular research by any scholars. This document can very well be used as it covers the selection acquisition, processing retention preservation and weeding in the relevant subjects. As it is a written document which holds a universal character reduces individual and personal bias in the context of collection building practice and reduces the biased responsibilities. The consistency and continuity is made through this policy document also. In a broader perspective it does clarify different level of collections i.e., general, local and mainstream level. The evaluative nature of this document opens up enough space to judge what kind of literature or resources to be subscribed or unsubscribed. The newly recruited staff can also get training by the references narrated in the document in case of absence of old or trained staff. Overall it helps in providing all kinds of information in selection of materials. 

Public relations

As we all know collection development policy is a formal document in all activities related to collection development. Library as an organization, it deals with different types of public; users administrators, sponsors and funding authorities. While dealing with all these above said public it provides guidelines to the library staff to behave with in a more formal way than any personal or individual biasness. A fund giver may be an organization or an individual donor is to be treated in an official way as it is defined in the document. The individual dinner cannot expect any kind of personalized behaviour like of a guest in our home. This is very important aspect of public relations of libraries being an organization. The behaviourial demonstration both as a library staff and its users are to be guided by the written statements in the policy documents. Sometimes this avoids confusion and personalized criticism when any unwanted gifts, pour in and sectarian materials are offensive items forcibly offered to the libraries. 

The wider context

Apart from regular and scheduled role of this policy document it does play a significant in role in much broader context. Sometimes libraries are overburdened in some respects to serve its users, it may join with another libraries or may have alliance with any consortia. In Indian context libraries in big cities can have this co-operation among likeminded libraries to serve together for the betterment of the users in which way they can co-operate for resource sharing locally or by region or by nationally or internationally can be guided by the rules and regulations underlined in the document.

Collection development policy elements

Any document in general and collection development policy as a document in particular contains numerous elements defining the limitations and scope along with generalized statements. Though it varies from one to other but some of the elements are common to be found among similar policy documents in terms of the objectives and the purpose propose to be served.

3.2.1    Introduction
The reason behind writing a collection development policy is to prevent the library activities from biased events or purchasing unwanted or less wanted resources. Further the written policies may support the activities related to the mission of the library. The selection decision concerning both print and electronic resources should be within the limit defined by the document. The initial elements of a collection development policy shall be the mission statement of the library, its objectives and purpose of this policy and the audience to whom it is being addressed followed by it should include brief statements about the community of users description of the different types of programmes the library collection serves, the number of periodicals print volumes electronic resources and language represent should also be part of the document. The budgetary details proposed to be spend, different sources of incoming money and the different agreements involved in the library as organization must be found in this documents.

3.2.2    General statements
The written elements including some general statements are supposed to be in this document what kind of documents in terms of the resource types, formats sources of funding gifts and brands are cumulatively listed in it. At the same time policies regarding maintenance including weeding, discarding archiving of the materials should be the strong points in the policy format. Similar statements about handling the users complaints, limitation and delimitation of collections of specific subjects are all should be part of this general statement.

3.2.3    Narrative statements
Any document is known both by its name and types of languages including tone and prescription. Each organization is unique and the related document meant for those organizations should also be unique in its content and rules and regulations written with its vocabularies. In this sense the policy statements written should reflect that particular library and the specific community it propose to serve.
  • The written statements should be made of special subject or format collections that represent unique materials for which special guidelines apply.
  • The scope of the coverage should clearly be made in terms of the language of the resources collected or excluded specific areas or geographical fields excluded chronological periods covered by the collection in terms of scholarly content included and excluded.
  •  Subject listed should be organized by a standard classification scheme which helps in handling in long list of documents.
  • Other categories of information which were not covered under a given subject or having interdisciplinary nature are to be categorically stated
  • Extra factors highlighting the local importance are to be kept in mind while listing the resources.

3.2.4    Subject profiles
Subject profiles are clearly to be specified why and how certain subjects are highlighted or neglected. It all depends upon the mission of the parent institution and its ethos of which subjects are to be given importance. Citing a case in a medical college resources related to medicines are to be given priority and some fictions of popular nature can also be collected for leisure reading. However, these leisure reading items cannot be given priority to purchase; rather importance is less as compared to the books and medicines.

3.2.5    Collection evaluation methods
Collection evaluation methods are one of the strong elements in this policy document .The library staff are to be cautious while purchasing some materials. In regular case it does not matter much as the book selection procedures are mostly undertaken by the teachers, researchers concern with a specific subject. Sometimes certain documents are overlooked by these recommending people that need to be looked into by the library staff. The factors for these categories are in relation to high cost of the volumes, longevity and layout of the books and sometimes objectionable readings in case of biased from religious community and nation point of view.             Quantitative Measures
Quantitative measures refer to size, age, use, cost and other numeric data related to collection related activities. Some kind of quantitative records are to be maintained in terms of assessing the resources procured, used and also the number of users get benefited by this. So that a judgment can be referred whether the cost invested is worth doing and further may lead to develop those subjects who are demanded more and more by the users. Different kinds of statistical tools are to be clearly mentioned how to find out to trace the result. The basics of average finding, mean, median and mode are some of the primary techniques are proposed in the document to be followed. Qualitative Measures
Contrast to its quantitative counterpart though difficult to measure the qualitative aspect of both resources used and the productivity gained by the users, still quality aspect is considered to be very vital for this collection development related activities. Sometimes judgment for specific resources for particular collection can be judged by outside the library expertise may be through the subject experts. Subscribing the times literary supplement can will be judged by the experts from literary fields. Other options for judgment can also be employed. If particular journal to be retained or subscribed in a particular collection of library can be compared with the similar sections of other libraries also.

3.2.6    Collection depth indicators
Weather the collection is sound, best for use both quantitatively or qualitatively is another cumbersome job for the library staff especially the acquisition librarian. The collection or acquisition department should be committed by the number of resources required, within the time frame of the requirement and the basic goal the collection is proposed to serve is to be considered.

3.2.7    Policy implementation and revision timetables

Once the document is ready with policies to be implemented it should be used as per the time frame is set. The regular implementation business is done at the beginning of the year or academic session. In Indian case it is the 1st of July for implementing any policies. However, there should not be any hard and fast rule for this implementation. The revision through the amendments is notably to be listed in its proper place of the document with various clauses and sub-clauses. Control
Some kind of control mechanism are to be checked and rechecked weather the policies are regularly implemented or not as well as for its future implications also. Revision
The policy document is to be revised with its amendment features. As we said above revision feature is a sound principle of a good collection development policy document, these features need to be their in the document. The revision principles passes through all the hierarchical stages may be written separately in a draft or directly entered into the database maintained by the collection department. Once it is entered into the draft and duly signed by the signatories then becomes the document with its revision. It is to be noted that the revision is made as per the elements intervene in between i.e., reallocating of budgets, surprise budget, combining the expertise activities and reducing the staff etc. 


In this chapter the collection development policy document is described very schematically. The importance of collection itself is highlighted as the libraries are known for its diversified, specified and quantitative and qualitative collections as well. To survive with many successful and unsuccessful factors for smooth functioning of a collection related activities, a uniform rules with its time to time revisions are needed to be followed. Hence a policy document features all the elements and sub-elements concerning collection development activities can be created and implemented regularly in the library. The need of this document is very much warranted to be free from individualized and biased responsibilities for a specific kind of information resources and the library users too. The policy document should have many features with some generalized and specialized features also. Though the policy document has many similar features of one to the other libraries but substantially they share many commonness. This commonness are commonly affect as budgetary inflation, quantitative deteriorating of library staff, de-selection of certain resources and sometimes demands from a specific community of users are some of the common elements. Once the document is ready it is to be regularly implemented with full force from a given time and its flexibility to have its revised features are also to be upgraded from time to time. This document can serve as panacea for smooth functioning fo a library. 


  1. Bryant, Bonita (1987). The organizational structure of collection development. Library Resources and Technical Services, 31: 111-22.
  2. Bryant, Bonita (Ed.). (1989). Guide for written collection policy statements. Collection management and development guides, no. 3. Chicago: American Library Association.
  3. Gabriel, Michael R. (1995). Collection development and evaluation: A sourcebook. Lanham:  Md.: Scarecrow.
  4. Johnson, Peggy (2009). Fundamentals of collection development and management. New York: American Library Association.
  5. Mosher, Paul H (1982). Collection development to collection management: Towards stewardship of library resources, Collection Management, 4(4): 41-49.
  6. Osburn, Charles B. (1990). Collection development and management. In Mary Jo Lynch (Ed.), Academic libraries: Research perspectives (pp.1–37). Chicago: American Library Association.

Further Readings

  1. Ameen, Kanwal (2005). Developments in the philosophy of collection management: A historical review, Collection Building 24(4): 112-16.
  2. Evans, G. Edward (1987). Developing library and information center collections. (2nd  ed. Littleton, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited.
  3. Futas, Elizabeth (Ed.). (1995). Collection development policies and procedures, (3rd ed). Phoenix: Oryx.
  4. Haines, Helen E. (1950). Living with books: The art of book selection (2nd ed.). New York: Columbia University Press.
  5. Jeanne, Sohn (1986). Cooperative collection development: A brief overview.Collection Management, 8(2): 1-9.
  6. Joanne S. Anderson, ed., Guide for Written Collection Policy Statements, 2nd ed., Collection Management and Development Guides, No. 7 (Chicago: American Library Association, 1996), 28.
  7. Lee, J.M. (1979). Collections in librarianship and information science. Drexel Library Quarterly, 15(July), 78-94.
  8. Lockett, Barbara (Ed.). (1989). Guide to the evaluation of library collections. Collection management and development guides, no. 2. Chicago: American Library Association.
  9. O’Brien, Geoffrey (2000). The browser’s ecstasy: A meditation on reading. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint.
  10. Prentice, A.E. (1987). Collection development in schools of library and information science.  Library and Information Science Annual, 3, 3-12.
  11. Tjoumas, R & Horne, R.E. (1986). Collection evaluation: practices and methods in libraries of ALA-accredited graduate library education programs. Advances in Library Administration, 5,109-38.
  12. Via, B.J. (1992). Collection development in support of library and information science education: a study in response to changing curricula. Journal of Education in Library and Information Science, 33(Spring), 91-99.

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