Collection Development Policy

The Library’s collections are primarily built and maintained to support the curriculum of Elizabethtown College.

At a broad level, our approach is to collect or provide access to resources which reflect the best scholarship in the academic fields covered by the College curriculum. At a narrower level, we acquire resources to support our courses and student research.

Our collections have a depth that reflect the age of the institution. The context in which they are built reflects changing trends in academic libraries where we see:

  1. A shift from physical collections to an overlapping mix of physical and online resources.
  2. The ability to acquire a growing number of items “on demand” long after publication.
  3. The ready availability of materials at other libraries through resource sharing networks and agreements.
  4. Increased collaboration between libraries in collection building, digitization, and retention projects.
We expect these trends to influence our acquisition and retention decisions, format preferences, and the need to acquire secondary materials. We do not see these trends changing the need to have a core undergraduate collection readily available for student use, nor removing the need to provide the reference sources, research tools, and guidance to identify the world of resources available beyond our library.

Day to day management of collection development is overseen by our Collection Development Librarian, under the policies and direction set by the Library Director/College Librarian. The Collection Development Librarian evaluates and selects most new material, evaluates usage, monitors costs, tracks faculty needs, and draws attention to issues needing further discussion.

The faculty at Elizabethtown College, and academic department chairs in particular, have a long history of involvement in shaping our library’s collections. To support this the Library will continue to actively solicit faculty input on new materials, collection reviews, and our outcomes.

Our librarians on staff, through their department liaison assignments and subject expertise, support a key third part in evaluating and promoting use of our library’s collections. This includes helping to identifying unmet needs, reviewing our existing collection, and serving as additional channels for faculty feedback.

Our criteria for reviewing possible additions include:
  • Relevancy to our current curriculum
  • Level of academic scholarship
  • Currency, timeliness, or enduring value of content
  • Recommendations and reviews
  • Accessibility of content
  • Cost in relation to potential use
  • Language
Requests for highly specialized materials such as those supporting faculty or graduate research will often be redirected toward interlibrary loan.
  • Alumni publications: Will only be added if they have relevance to our curriculum.
  • Archives and Special Collections: Items may be added to the main collection that reinforce or support these collections.
  • Back files (online): Includes packages of books, journals, newspapers, etc.  Review using general selection criteria. Can overlap existing physical content if part of a deliberate reformatting strategy. Preference toward purchase, but pay special attention to any annual maintenance fees.
  • Church of the Brethren:This is an area of historic strength that is developed outside of specific academic department needs. Actively acquire published annual conference minutes, directories, as well as historical, biographical, and institutional materials that support our special collections, Archives, or the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies. Use judgement with practical theology.
  • Databases: Selected based on uniqueness of content, relevance to curriculum, cost, and expected use. These should be regularly reviewed based on cost and use.
  • Duplicate copies: Normally avoided but exceptions can be made for titles with heavy use, special topics, and intentional overlap with Archives or special collections.
  • Ebooks: Purchased as individual titles on request, or if there is a known need for remote or concurrent use.  The majority of our ebooks are acquired as subscription packages or archival back files meeting our general selection criteria.
  • Faculty publications: Academic publications written while at Elizabethtown are added unless the contribution is a minor portion of the whole (e.g. an article in an encyclopedia) or due to cost.
  • Government documents: For U.S. government publications, identify and catalog online content relevant to our curriculum. Print may also be added for core material. Decisions on state and local documents are made on a case by case basis.
  • Juvenile books: Focus on award winning children’s books to support early childhood and primary education courses. Supplemented by faculty requests.
  • Newspapers (current): Purchased to support current event assignments and general reading. Prefer online format if we can provide institutional access, but may acquire print due to cost or online access restrictions.
  • Paperback books: Typically preferred over hardcover if there is a significant difference in cost.
  • Periodicals: Electronic format preferred, but only if it allows IP based institutional access.  Print may be acquired for titles of general interest, graphical content, or when the print issues themselves have an identifiable value.
  • Recreational reading: Generally not added unless it also overlaps an academic collecting area or can be part of our popular reading display.
  • Reference: Electronic format preferred if available, unless there is a sizable price difference or justification based on how it will be used.
  • Scores: Additions made through faculty requests.
  • Sound Recordings: Curricular collection. Our current format preference is either compact disc or audio streaming through a supported media platform.
  • Standing orders/monographic series: Use the standard selection criteria. Subject to periodic review.
  • Textbooks: The library does not acquire textbooks, although faculty may place personal copies on reserve for specific courses.
  • Video Recordings: Curricular collection. Our format preference is DVD (NTSC Region 1), or video streaming through a supported media platform.
  • Circulation activity and recent interlibrary loan requests
  • Choice Reviews
  • Resources for College Libraries
  • Commercial vendor profiles of new publications
  • Other academic reviews
  • Holdings at other libraries in the region
Priority is given to core resources and materials that support multiple disciplines. The remainder is reviewed based on course enrollment and departmental need. In areas of high expense, high inflation, or declining enrollment, the Collection Development Librarian will work with the corresponding academic department chairs to identify possible adjustments.
Our collections are reviewed on a rotating basis based on age, content, condition, and usage. Within our physical collections worn materials are repaired or replaced, gaps in subject areas identified, and obsolete and unwanted materials deaccessioned. Media items in obsolete formats are replaced or withdrawn based on curricular need. Print periodicals and microforms are reviewed for retention based on condition and local ownership of, or access to, secure online back files (e.g. JSTOR, Wiley, GPO, etc.).

Ongoing expenses for databases, subscriptions, and standing orders are reviewed for cost, usage, and ongoing relevance.
The Library welcomes both financial and material donations to build our collections beyond what is possible through our normal College appropriations. Inquiries about financial gifts ranging from one time donations to new endowments should be directed to the Library Director/College Librarian. For donations of physical materials, please contact our Collection Development Librarian or Archivist as appropriate.

Books and other materials for our main collection are happily accepted if they are in good condition and fall within the scope of what may be appropriate additions to our collection. For large collections, we may either ask for a title list or request to see the materials before accepting the gift. All donations become the property of the Library, with the understanding that we may dispose of materials we chose not to keep.

Gifts to Archives and Special Collections have additional considerations. Please contact our Archivist for details.
Policy last updated: October 30, 2018