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Collection Policy for the McKeldin Library Reference Collection

Introduction

The McKeldin Reference collection is managed to serve the needs of the University of Maryland community, its undergraduate and graduate students, its faculty, and its staff. The collection is constructed to serve both on-site and remote users. The higher priority is placed on collecting for on-site use.

McKeldin Reference collects general reference materials and specialized reference materials to support campus programs in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Life Sciences. In areas where branch libraries exist (e.g. Performing Arts, Engineering), those branches are responsible for creating the main campus reference collection for those primary subject areas. However, McKeldin will maintain a highly selective collection of basic resources in these subject areas sufficient to support basic level reference service.

There is no absolute limit on the size of the McKeldin Reference Collection other than those imposed by the physical size of the facility. The collection emphasizes authoritative sources that are likely to be frequently used and should be kept current and wieldy. The goal for collection size is approximately 25,000 volumes.

I. Policy Objectives

  • To delineate both the scope of the McKeldin Reference collection and the types of materials to be included.
  • To provide policy guidelines which will promote the development and maintenance of a comprehensive, current and yet wieldy reference collection.
  • To establish criteria for acquiring and weeding reference materials.

II. Subject Scope of the Collection

The McKeldin Reference Collection supports basic and in-depth reference in the humanities, life sciences and social sciences as well as general reference of a non-subject-specific nature. It also supports basic reference in those subject areas for which the Libraries maintain separate branch libraries: architecture, art, performing arts, chemistry, engineering and physical sciences.

III. Size of the Reference Collection

There is no designated absolute limit on the size of the McKeldin Reference Collection other than that imposed by physical consideration such as a linear feet of shelving available and the growing need to accommodate new technologies. Superceded or unused materials should be weeded on a regular basis. Guidelines to the relative growth rates of subject areas within the collection include prevailing demand, changes in the curriculum, enrollment in the various disciplines served, research interests and availability of material.

IV. Formats of Materials Included in the Collection

McKeldin Reference provides information in many formats including: print, web-based resources, and compact disc. New formats, which become available, will be considered for inclusion on a case-by-case basis.

In general, indexes and abstracts held in paper in the McKeldin Reference Collection will be transferred to the McKeldin stacks if the electronic form of their intellectual content is available within McKeldin. Exceptions to this practice should be based on cases in which the paper format contains significant and unique information, for example backfile or illustrations, or ways of searching that are not available in the electronic form.

V. Types of Materials Included in the Collection

General Guidelines

To be included in the reference collection, materials must meet one of the following criteria:

  • They provide quick answers to factual questions.
  • They serve as starting points for more in-depth research by either providing a general overview of information on a particular topic or by citing the literature on a particular topic.
  • Their use may require special processing and/or the assistance of a librarian, e.g. loose leaf services or non-bibliographic data files.

Specific Material Types

Almanacs and Yearbooks

The most recent edition of general and specialized almanacs and yearbooks pertaining to major areas of campus scholarly activity are maintained in the collection. Yearbooks of encyclopedias are added to the general collections rather than the Reference Collection.

Bibliographies

National bibliographies for most major countries are collected and kept in the Bibliography Area of the Reference Collection (after the Z call number ranges). This area also houses Library of Congress Accession Lists, union catalogs of monographs and trade bibliographies.

Subject bibliographies with narrow scope, such as single author bibliographies are normally selected for the general collections rather than for reference. Exceptions may be made for major literacy authors as determined by the subject selector. More general bibliographies on broad topics are also collected. However, due to the proliferation of bibliographies and their tendency to become quickly outdated, bibliographies are aquired selectively and reviewed frequently.

Web-based bibliographies are also selected and included in the subject collections of electronic resources maintained as part of the Libraries' home pages.

Biographies

Comprehensive works dealing with professional, national and international biography, both current and retrospective are selected. Specialized biographical sources, having very narrow regional, chronological or subject orientation are considered on their individual merits and on their relevance to the curriculum and research. Current membership directories of major organizations in the fields covered are selected. In most cases the Library retains only the latest edition of such directories.

Chronologies and Calendars

Historical chronologies and calendars are collected.

Compendia of Facts

Explanatory compendia of facts, especially in the sciences, are collected.

Concordances

Concordances are collected selectively. Only concordances for major literary authors and the Bible are maintained in the reference collection, others are acquired for the general collections.

Dictionaries

Unilingual, bilingual and polyglot dictionaries for major languages; bilingual/polyglot dictionaries for minor languages; specialized dictionaries (e.g., slang idioms) for English and major dialects, regional variation, slang, synonyms and antonyms are collected. Specialized subject dictionaries of importance to the humanities, life sciences and social sciences are also selected for the collection. While dictionaries may have a long lifespan, current editions are preferred with older editions frequently transferred to the general collections.

Directories

Current editions of major directories in all fields within the humanities, life sciences and social sciences are collected. Geographical scope includes international, national, regional, standard metropolitan areas and State of Maryland directories. City directories are not collected for the Reference Collection. Selected city directories for Maryland are collected by Marylandia for the Maryland Room.

Dissertation Lists

Comprehensive lists of dissertations and theses written in the United States and major countries of Europe are collected. Subject bibliographies of dissertations in specific areas are treated as subject bibliographies and purchased according to curricular and research needs. Lists of dissertations and thesis from individual institutions are not collected.

Encyclopedias

A selection of general English-language encyclopedias, written on the college and research level, are purchased. Major foreign language encyclopedias are also selected. The Reference Collection retains only the latest editions of encyclopedias. Current authoritative encyclopedias in specialized subjects to support research in the areas covered by the unit are also selected.

Genealogical Sources

Only American and major European sources for genealogy, including name lists and definitions of names, are collected selectively as they support campus research and teaching.

Geographical Sources

Geographic sources collected consist primarily of thematic (e.g. historical, social economic) atlases and a limited collection of general atlases (e.g. world atlases) and companion research aids. Topographic maps, atlases, gazetteers, and thematic maps or atlases more appropriately used with topographic materials are in the map collection.

Grant Information

The Reference Collection of the McKeldin Library is the primary campus collection of general grant and funding reference sources. Materials on grants and grantsmanship in fields are collected as well.

Handbooks

Authoritative, current handbooks in all fields of the humanities, life sciences and social sciences are selected for the collection.

Indexes and Abstracts

Indexing and abstracting resources supporting research in the subject disciplines housed in McKeldin are collected. Formats vary considerably and typically online resources are not duplicated in CD-ROM or paper-printed formats. Web-based online resources are generally preferred to CD-ROM or print-based formats because of the broader accessibility offered to the campus community.

In general, indexes and abstracts held in paper in the McKeldin Reference Collection will be transferred to the McKeldin stacks if the electronic form of their intellectual content is available within McKeldin. Exceptions to this practice should be based on cases in which the paper format contains significant and unique information, for example backfile or illustrations, or ways of searching that are not available in the electronic form.

Legal Resources

Legal references sources for the U.S. and Maryland, such as dictionaries, encyclopedias and citators, are selected for Reference as are legal codes such as the U.S. Code Annotated and the Annotated Code of Maryland. Digests and reporters are selected for the general collections. Government Documents maintains collections of Federal documents of a legal nature; the Maryland Room maintains a collection of legal publications from the State of Maryland. Legislative manuals for most states are available via the Statistical Reference Index and its accompanying microfiche.

Library Catalogs

Due to the widespread electronic availability of online library catalogs, print catalogs are not collected.

Periodical and Newspaper Directories

Standard serials directories such as Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory and Standard Periodical Directory are collected. [Union lists of area libraries are collected when available and as appropriate.] Other directories, national and international bibliographies and Union lists of periodicals and newspaper are collected selectively.

Plot Summaries and Explicators

Plot summaries and explicators are collected very selectively.

Quotations and Proverb Books

Current editions of English language compilations of quotations and proverbs, and representative basic titles in other major Western languages are selected for the Reference Collection.

Sacred Books

Key sacred texts of most major religions in both the original language and English translations are collected selectively for the Reference Collection.

Statistical Compendia

Major statistical compendia related to the State of Maryland, the Washington Metropolitan area and the nation at large are collected. General statistical compendia of major foreign countries are also collected as are important specialized sources of statistics in the humanities, life sciences and social sciences. Only latest editions are maintained in the Reference Collection. The Government Documents & Maps collection and Maryland Room serve as the principle depositories of federal and state compendia.

Style Manuals

Major style manuals are selected. Style manuals for a particular journal, learned society or publisher are collected only if they have established a reputation for use by a wide public, e.g. Chicago Manual of Style.

Travel Guides

Travel guides are rarely collected. A special effort is made to purchase material of local interest.

VI. Acquisition of Reference Materials

The subject specialists residing on the Library's subject teams are responsible for selecting to purchase and weed material for the McKeldin Reference Collection for their assigned subjects. The Coordinator for Information & Research Services is responsible for selecting for purchase and weeding the McKeldin Reference Collection for general materials.

Guidelines for Selection of Material

In considering the appropriateness of material for the collection, the following points should be considered:

  • Contribution to support of the curriculum and research needs of programs at the University of Maryland.
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the existing collection. The reference collection should provide a convenient selection of the most authoritative sources for convenience of use. Unnecessary duplication of content should be avoided.
  • Currency of the topic.
  • Currency of publication.
  • Language of the publication.

In most cases the collection emphasizes current, English language material. Emphasis is normally on North America although in certain subject areas other geographic regions are covered.

Sources of Information on New Reference Titles

  • Professional review journals in library and information science; e.g., Choice, Library Journal.
  • Annual Lists such as American Reference Books Annual, Directory of Directories.
  • Publishers leaflets and catalogs.
  • Professional journals in the respective subject areas.
  • For retrospective purchasing, Balay's Guide to Reference Books, Walford's Guide to Reference Material , and other more specialized bibliographies.
  • Approval plan books and forms.

Duplication of Materials

Reference materials are generally purchased as single copies. Materials in the Reference Collection are generally not duplicated in multiple formats unless the formats vary significantly in content or usability. When a current edition is purchased, previous editions are generally transferred or withdrawn. When electronic materials are acquired, materials in other formats are generally transferred or withdrawn. Significant duplication of content within the collection should be minimized, although materials may be chosen for the general collections to supplement or enrich reference holding.

Relationship Between Reference Collections on Campus

McKeldin Reference collects general reference materials and specialized reference materials to support campus programs in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Life Sciences. In areas where branch libraries exist (e.g. Performing Arts, Engineering), they are responsible for creating the main campus reference collection for their primary subject areas. However, McKeldin will maintain a highly selective collection of basic resources in these subject areas sufficient to support basic level reference service.