Resources Management: Collection Development Policy


This document is a statement of policies and practices that guide the development of all the collections of the Post Learning Commons and Drexel Library (hereafter known as the Library). It is intended to serve as a source of information and consultation for all members of the University community.

Library collections are central to the delivery of research and information services at the University. The Library seeks to collect, preserve, and provide access to materials in print and other physical and electronic formats to support the research, teaching, and service mission of the University.

The primary goal in developing library collections is to provide quality support of the University's undergraduate and graduate programs. Understanding that no one library can acquire materials to satisfy all of the needs of its users, the Library is committed to providing access to materials we do not own through resource sharing and cooperative arrangements with other libraries.

The Library's mission supports the University's Mission and Goals Statement, particularly the statement that Saint Joseph's University seeks to instill "in each member of its academic community a love of learning and of the highest intellectual and professional achievement".


The main collections of the Post Learning Commons/Drexel Library consist of printed materials, e-books, e-journals, online databases, microform and audiovisual materials. The University Archives consists of printed materials, photographs, memorabilia, scanned documents and images and audiovisual items. The Special Collections contain the Jesuitica Collection, the marriage and baptismal records of Old Saint Joseph's Parish and other select materials. The Campbell Collection consists of resources targeted to the Food Marketing program. The Curriculum Materials Center consists of children's literature and educational materials to support programs in the Education programs. The Library contracts with a leasing service to provide popular reading books for its users.

Library holdings are cataloged according to the Library of Congress classification system and are accessed via the Library's online catalog.


The selection of library materials is the responsibility of the faculty and librarians. Faculty members are largely responsible for recommending the acquisition of materials in areas in which they teach and conduct research. Any member of the faculty may request that an item be added to the collection.

Participation in the selection process is also the responsibility of the librarians. A librarian will be assigned as a liaison to at least one academic department to coordinate selection in that subject. The role of the liaison in collection development is to serve as a communication link between the department and the Library. Liaisons provide academic departments with information about new acquisitions, services and changes to Library policies. They represent the interests and needs of all colleagues, keep the Library informed of curricular and personnel changes, and assist colleagues in submitting requests for new materials for the Library's collections. The librarian may also need to be involved in weeding materials from relevant collection areas.

The ultimate responsibility for the overall development of the collections rests with the Head of Collection Management. Final decisions on all requests are made after consideration of overall priorities such as funding availability, curricular relevance, user needs, relationship to specific courses, adequacy of resources in particular subject areas, course enrollments, number of majors in an area, projected use of materials, and availability in area libraries. It is to be understood that in this era of fiscal challenges and the escalating costs of electronic resources, the Library's philosophy will be to acquire resources on an as needed basis, rather than a comprehensive or just-in-case basis, and priority will be given to teaching faculty requests.

The library's first priority is to serve the curricular needs of Saint Joseph's University. Preference will be given to resources that serve as required or supplementary readings for courses, support independent student research and assist faculty with the teaching of classes. The purchase of research materials solely for individual faculty or academic support staff will be subordinated to the adequate fulfillment of the first priority of acquiring resources to support the curriculum. The library endeavors to serve the needs of faculty and academic support staff primarily by providing access to specialized materials through the reference collection and via interlibrary loan.


The Library collects all manner of formats and materials which support the University's teaching and research. These materials may be physical (e.g., books, paper journals, microforms and audio or video recordings) or digital (e.g., online access to citation and full-text databases, e-journals and e-books).

The following criteria apply to all purchased materials. Particular criterion may assume greater or lesser importance depending on the type of materials under consideration or the subject matter covered.

  • Curriculum and research need
  • Scope and content - comprehensiveness and depth of coverage
  • Scholarly value
  • Currency and timeliness
    • Computer books, especially computer manuals, published 4 years or before are not selected or purchased
    • Test preparation manuals and other such resources that are revised yearly
  • Relevance to existing collections
  • Physical quality and/or special features
  • Availability of materials through Interlibrary Loan or document delivery
  • User-friendly search interface
  • Suitability for use on available hardware and platforms
  • Consistently reliable response time and overall technical performance
  • Cost - the purchase price as well as any on-going expense of maintaining access or supplemental volumes
  • Mode of access available from the vendor (e.g., Internet, single workstation)
  • Size of the potential audience

Theses and dissertations written by students of Saint Joseph's University are cataloged and added to the circulating collection. The Library has the responsibility of having the theses bound, but the cost is borne by the student. Although the Library does not routinely purchase theses and dissertations written by students at other institutions, a requested title that meets curricular needs will be acquired if possible.

Textbooks currently used in courses at the University are not routinely purchased as students are generally expected to purchase their own copies of these materials. An exception to this policy may be made if a faculty member makes a specific request to purchase a copy of a textbook to be placed on Reserve for a class. Textbooks in general are not purchased unless one is authored by a faculty member and will be housed in the Faculty Authors collection, if it is a reputable standard reference text, or if it is considered to be one of the best sources or is the only source of information on a particular subject.

Foreign language materials, be they in modern or classical language, are purchased to meet curricular needs. Foreign language dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference materials are acquired as appropriate.

Multiple copies - Decisions to purchase multiple copies are based on heavy demand - either present or anticipated - due to class assignments, course reserves, status of a title or author, or high circulation of a title.

Serials - Periodicals and other continuations represent a long-term commitment on the part of the Library. The average annual percentage increase for a domestic periodical has fluctuated around 6 - 8% and the price of a foreign subscription may increase at a greater rate due to the fluctuation of the U.S. dollar. The Library must be conservative in adding periodicals whose cost may increase substantially each year so careful consideration is essential when requesting a new subscription or when reviewing current holdings.

As publishers continue to develop electronic publishing capabilities, an increasing number of journals are available in electronic format, either as an alternative or a counterpart to the print version and some journals are now available only electronically. Users have indicated a strong preference for the accessibility and convenience provided by electronic journals. As a result of these factors, the Library will acquire journals in electronic format whenever possible.

Electronic journal costs already account for the largest share of the materials budget and will continue to grow with inflation and as new titles and/or packages are acquired; therefore, the following criteria will be considering when deciding on the acquisition of a new journal title:

  • Subscriptions are primarily intended to support the educational mission of the University. Titles directly related to the curriculum and useful for specific courses will receive first priority.
  • Requests from new faculty, especially if these represent a new curricular area of focus that a department and the University Administration intend to continue supporting, will receive higher priority.
  • The volume of Interlibrary Loan requests will be used as an indicator of the degree of demand for journal titles not owned and will be checked on a regular basis to identify candidates for possible acquisition. The Library will seriously consider ordering a journal if it is more cost effective to own the journal than to pay charges related to access and copyright.
  • The subscription price of a title will be considered particularly for titles that are priced in excess of the average cost of a journal and the cost of ownership will be continually weighed against the cost of access.

E-resources - Materials or information (other than e-journals) that require computer access constitute the second largest expenditure of the Library's materials budget; therefore, the following criteria will be considered when acquiring them:

  • First priority will be given to those resources which support the curriculum.
  • Second priority will be given to resources which benefit the entire campus, but that are more general in nature (such as dictionaries and encyclopedias and other general reference materials).
  • Consideration will be given to those resources that offer economies of scale by benefiting the most faculty and students.
  • Resources which are critical to the students and faculty in smaller programs, such as Classics and Medieval Studies, will be considered as supporting the first priority.

In addition to paying for these resources, the Library negotiates license agreements that stipulate how and by whom they may be used. These contractual license agreements govern the access, use, and reproduction of these resources. Additionally, the use of electronic resources must meet standards for fair use under copyright law and comply with the University's policy on copyright. In order to inform the University community on permitted and prohibited uses, Licensing and Copyright terms are linked to the online catalog record for e-resources.

Gifts - The Library accepts gifts of appropriate materials if they conform to the same criteria used in the selection of purchased materials. Over the years, the Library's collections have been enriched by such gifts. The Library becomes the owner of the gift upon receipt and reserves the right to determine retention, location and final disposition.

The Library encourages gifts of quality hardbound books in good condition appropriate for a university collection. The Library prefers not to accept titles already owned by the Library, paperbound popular titles, textbooks, books in considerable disrepair, e.g., warped or missing pages; materials in poor condition, e.g., afflicted with water damage, mold or fungi, or substantial dust, or with highlighted or underlined text; back or current issues of periodicals (unless they fill specific gaps in an existing run) or materials determined to be of little or no value to a university collection by the Head of Collection Management. Materials not considered useful are newspapers or newsletters not related to Saint Joseph's University, photocopies, reprints of journal articles not authored by University faculty, or press releases. Materials donated to the Library that cannot be used are sent to Better World Books, donated to other libraries or recycled.

The Library will acknowledge gifts by a letter of appreciation and a list of the items donated, if required, but will not provide an appraisal of value because this would be in violation of current federal tax laws. The Internal Revenue Service considers the Library to be an interested party which, therefore, precludes appraisals made or financed by Saint Joseph's University. For this reason, donors must bear the costs of appraisal.

Books gifted in honor or memoriam of an alumnus or other member of the University community will be given bookplates recognizing the benefactor or honoree as specified by the donor and an electronic bookplate and mention will appear on in the online catalog record.

The Library welcomes monetary donations and uses financial contributions to purchase materials; the donor may request that materials be purchased for a particular subject area.

Specialized gifts - Donated books that are considered rare, e.g., first or limited editions, financially valuable, or autographed copies, will be added to the Special Collections. Donations of this kind should be discussed in advance with the Head of Collection Management so the materials will be handled properly. Special Collections are housed in a separate area of the Library, accessible only to staff. Circulation or use of these materials is by application only (forms are available at the Circulation Desk) and may be denied if use is considered detrimental to the materials.

Donated materials related to Saint Joseph's University, e.g. its history, graduates, and organization, are housed in the Archives collection. These materials may consist of books, yearbooks, programs, memorabilia, press clippings, etc. The items in this collection are not currently included in the online catalog, but are accessible via a Guide to the Archives. Materials from this collection can only be used with permission from an authorized member of the Library staff. Donations of this kind should be discussed in advance with the Head of Collection Management so the materials will be handled properly.

Preservation - The Library uses the services of a commercial bindery to bind periodicals, paperback books, rebind or recase older or damaged books, and tip-in replacement pages when a substantial number of original pages are lost from a volume. Materials in deteriorating condition that are valuable and cannot be replaced or cannot or should not be rebound may be removed from the stacks and relocated to Special Collections to afford them a better measure of protection. Some materials are wrapped in acid-free paper to slow further deterioration.

Some periodical titles originally received in paper are replaced by microform because of frequency of publication or to ensure availability. The current preference for acquiring e-journals instead of print has reduced the need for replacement by microform.

Issues of the school newspaper, The Hawk, are microfilmed for archival purposes. Earlier issues (1903-2002) have been digitized. The Library hopes to microfilm and digitize issues from 2003 to present as funding becomes available. Current paper issues of The Hawk are bound yearly and an electronic version is available online at a hosted site as arranged by the student newspaper staff.

Appropriate measures are taken to preserve important University documents and artifacts in the Archives by photocopying, scanning and by using acid-free paper and storage boxes, velvet wrappings, and other archival-quality products for housing these items. The Library has begun an in-house digitization operation and, in addition to other projects, is scanning and preserving the marriage and baptismal records of Old St. Joseph's Parish.


Weeding or de-selection is an integral part of the collection management process in which items are removed from the collections. It is the responsibility of the Head of Collection Management and the librarian liaisons, in consultation with faculty liaisons as deemed appropriate, to withdraw materials.

Background: The Library's collections have historically been and continue to be built primarily on faculty requests; this applies across all formats - monographs, journals, audiovisual, etc. The monograph budget has never been generous and in recent years has been drastically and negatively impacted by rising costs for purchasing electronic resources. Priority is given to purchasing books requested to be put on reserve or used with a class for a coming academic year and to support new classes, programs or faculty. The emphasis is on books for student use. Some books are acquired that support faculty research, particularly if that research is connected with developing a new course; however, faculty largely need to depend on interlibrary loan or other larger libraries for most research needs. That being said, the subject librarian needs to be aware of faculty research interests so supporting materials are not removed from the collection.

Tools: While we do not actively collect titles included in Books for College Libraries 3 (BCL3) or Resources for College Libraries (RCL), we do try to retain copies already in our collection that appear in those core lists. We have book plates for each so, if you are using these as guides to weeding and find a book that appears in one of those lists, please put one of the appropriate plates on the inside front of the volume and notify the Catalog Librarian to insert a note in the online catalog record; otherwise, please check these sources before withdrawing older materials, particularly those books that still have punch cards in them. Also, suggested core holding lists exist for some disciplines and might be used as guides.

Textbooks: We do not routinely buy or retain textbooks, with the following exceptions: a faculty member specifically asks to have a copy bought to be put on in-Library reserve or a librarian believes there is a need to have an overview of a subject or topic available for students, but that textbook should not be a currently required one.

Duplicates: If we have multiple copies of a work, one copy does not automatically become a candidate for withdrawal nor does the fact that we have an older and newer edition of a work always mean the older can be withdrawn. There is sometimes information in an older edition that does not appear in a revised one that is important for scholars to have access to or a particular edition is considered to be the critical edition of that work. Also, a seemingly duplicate work may have a different editor or translator that the faculty member is particularly interested in. Faculty sometimes request that we purchase 2 copies of a given title because of the number of students who will need to have access to it.

Warning: Do not withdraw a book with the idea of replacing it with a newer edition; the budget is not sufficient to do so immediately. Please do compile lists of new books we should have and we will try to work those into the purchasing queue over time.

Considerations and criteria for weeding the SJU collection:

  • Consider the discipline
    • Is the most critical need in this discipline for current information or are older imprints just as important?
      Example: Biology often needs to be aware of the most current research being done on a particular gene and, thus, relies heavily on journal articles and preprints rather than monographs. Monographs retained in this area should usually be relatively recent ones, unless they provide an overview to a topic that would be useful to students. Historians, on the other hand, depend on information from the past to inform their current work and need monographs spanning centuries as well as journal articles.
    • Consider the cycle on which particular courses are offered.
      Example: The same upper division courses in History are not taught every year, but may only be offered every 2, 4 or 6 years; therefore, just because a book has not circulated for 4 or 5 years does not mean it's a candidate for weeding. In fact, some books may not be checked out at all, but only consulted in the Library.
    • Who are the faculty teaching the courses in this discipline? What assignments do they give? What types of Library materials do they ask their students to use?
  • The following criteria will be used in making such decisions:
    • Damaged or deteriorated physical condition
    • Availability of replacement for a damaged item
    • Unnecessary duplication of volumes or variant editions
    • Obsolescence or inaccuracy of information
    • Infrequency of use
    • Low value to the collection and/or curriculum
    • Incompleteness of holdings of a set or series

The records for weeded materials are withdrawn from the online catalog and the materials are exchanged, donated, sold, or discarded. Any funds derived from selling weeded materials are returned to the Library materials budget for future purchases.


Kristine Mudrick
Associate Director for Resources Management
Saint Joseph's University
Last revision / review:  December  05, 2013