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Collection Development Policy for the General Collections

Statement of Purpose
General Collection Development Guidelines
Diversity in Library Collections
Preservation Policy
Policy for the Replacement of Print Materials with Electronic Resources
Deselection and Transfer Policy for the General Collections
Gifts in Kind Policy

Mission Statement of the University of Maryland Libraries

The University of Maryland Libraries enable the intellectual inquiry and learning required to meet the education, research and community outreach mission of the University.


The UMD Libraries develop collections which support the curricular and research programs of the University.  We partner with peer institutions to provide the most complete collections that we can make available to our researchers.  Selectivity and response to specific needs have become the hallmarks of collection building for the 21st century.  The philosophy of collection development that centered on acquiring everything available on locally important subjects has given way to the realization that no research library can obtain comprehensive coverage of multiple disciplines and specializations. Therefore, librarian subject selector liaisons employ specific criteria when evaluating titles to be added or removed from the collections.  These criteria are articulated in the collection development policy.  All collection development policies will be reviewed annually.

Statement of Purpose

The collection development policy states the principles and guidelines that the UMD Libraries follow in the selection, acquisition and preservation of library materials.  The purpose of the policy is to provide consistency among the subject selector liaisons for collection development and to communicate library policy to UMD students, faculty, and staff to support their curricular, instructional, research, and programmatic needs.

General Collection Development Guidelines

The Libraries’ subject selector liaisons select and retain materials for the collection based on the following principles:

  • Support degree programs commensurate with the level of the degree.
  • Support faculty research and identify areas of potential interest and purchase resources which meet the needs of new or emerging areas of research.
  • Evaluate the content of all information resources according to the standards of authority, comprehensiveness, validity, language, time periods and geographical areas presented in the collection development policy subject statements.
  • Generally do not add books to the general collection that have been self-published or published with a  book packager.

Diversity in Library Collections

Recognizing that our collections support the research, teaching, and work of individuals of all ages who represent a multiplicity of racial and ethnic backgrounds, economic and educational levels, and physical and mental abilities, the University of Maryland Libraries build collections that mirror and support this diversity. These collections include materials and resources that reflect a variety of political, economic, religious, social, minority, and sexual issues, and support intellectual freedom by providing free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored. The University of Maryland Libraries Collection Development Diversity Statement provides further guidance as to the diversity goals of the collections in the UM Libraries.

Preservation Policy

The University of Maryland Libraries is committed to ensuring the preservation and long-lasting availability of its research collections and resources in all formats. The Libraries comprehensive Preservation Program as administered by its Preservation Department, provides a wide range of services to care for collections.  Preservation is accomplished through a variety of collection- and item-level approaches and strategies.  Actions are taken to prevent or slow down the deterioration of library materials, improve their condition, or provide access through reformatting to preserve intellectual content and to protect fragile originals. Proper storage environment and housing, careful handling, binding, and treatment of individual items (conservation) are methods used to protect and improve conditions to extend the useful life of materials in original form.  Digitization of materials at risk can prevent further damage from use and ensure that unique content in obsolete formats is not lost.

In accordance with copyright provisions, digitization of paper-based materials and the conversion of media to current formats also provide wider availability and enhanced access to collections and resources.   

The Preservation Department works in close consultation with subject selector liaisons and other Library staff members to identify, assess and prioritize materials needing preservation attention.  Preservation decisions are always made within the context of the Library’s collection development policies, balancing costs and the limitations of resources, historical and scholarly value of the materials, and the needs of users.

Policy for the Replacement of Print Materials with Electronic Resources

The University of Maryland Libraries recognizes the importance of electronic information resources to students, faculty and staff in order to support teaching and research.  Many scholarly journals and increasingly monographs are now exclusively available electronically, and UM users have responded enthusiastically to the increasing number of electronic titles that have been made available through Research Port and WorldCatUMD.
In acquiring electronic access, the Libraries have taken advantage of publishers bundling journals and ebooks into larger collections. As a result, the Libraries are able to offer more full-text journals and ebooks, the content of which would otherwise only be obtainable to users through interlibrary loan. In addition to providing access to more scholarly content, electronic journals and books are available to students and faculty at their desktops, whether they are on campus or off. This access to scholarly literature without the restrictions of time or place is very beneficial.  We expect that our electronic collections will increasingly grow over time.

The Libraries has built its journal and monographs collection, in support of the University’s teaching and research needs, over the course of more than one hundred years. The overall integrity of the collection has always been and remains a high priority and until now print materials were the only available archival resource and rarely discarded.

The following criteria will be used to evaluate journal titles and monographs to determine the suitability of replacing the print with an electronic version:

  1. 1. Completeness of content: The electronic version must be a reliable digital surrogate that includes all articles, letters to the editor, announcements, supplements and conference proceedings that are found in the print copy.
  2. 2. Quality of images, figures and pictures: The pictorial quality in the electronic version must be represented in a legible and desktop accessible format. The images and other graphics should compare favorably to the print version. Three quality designations will be utilized to ensure the image quality is of a reasonable standard to meet the needs of UM users:
    -Acceptable: The quality in the electronic version meets or exceeds that of the print copy;
    -Questionable: The quality may or may not be acceptable. Subject specialists will consult with faculty to make an appraisal.
    -Poor: The quality is unacceptable. The print copy will be retained until the publisher makes improvements to achieve an adequate standard.
  3. 3. Perpetual access: The publisher/vendor must ensure stable, electronic access through an acceptable interface for the entire run of content the Libraries has purchased. If the publisher goes out of business in the future or ceases to support the purchased content, there must be provisions in place for another publisher/vendor or a reputable third party to provide the content. Examples of third parties include national libraries, like the National Library of Medicine’s PubMedCentral, scholarly presses like Highwire Press, or emerging preservation coalitions like LOCKSS and Portico. It will not be acceptable for the publisher/vendor to provide the Libraries a local file of journal content in lieu of access to a hosting site. Journals collected in aggregated databases, like Academic Search Premier, will not be considered an acceptable substitute for a hosting site like JSTOR or ProjectMuse or a journal’s own website.
  4. 4. Access: Access to content must be offered through IP authentication. Remote access must be allowed with standard UM user name and password authentication.
  5. 5. Licensing Terms: The license for electronic resources must allow for simultaneous users, printing of content, temporary or permanent downloading to e-readers and other reasonable uses. The need for proprietary software hosted on the Libraries’ local server to access electronic resources is not acceptable.  All licenses must comply with all State of Maryland mandated legal clauses for contracts.
  6. 6. Usage Data: Vendors should provide regular usage data for the titles that the Libraries purchase. The data should conform to industry standards in order to be useful in assessing the utility of the Libraries’ collections.
  7. 7. Reliability and Technical Support: The speed of loading/accessing the content must meet UM user’s expectations. The publisher/vendor must provide adequate technical support and clear lines of communication to resolve access problems in a timely manner.

Deselection and Transfer Policy for the General Collections

Maintaining the quality and usefulness of the collections is a central goal and responsibility of the Libraries.  Associated with that responsibility is decision-making regarding which materials are accurate, current, and relevant, and which should be deselected or transferred. The deselection of unwanted items and the storage of infrequently used items will relieve overcrowded shelves, increase ease of access and improve the efficiency of retrieving materials.

Library materials will be considered for deselection or relocation from the collection if they fall within one or more of these categories:

  • multiple copies available (trigger: more than one copy, especially with low aggregate circulation)
  • superseded editions, provided that newer editions incorporate important information from earlier editions
  • lack of circulation, when warranted
  • obsolete physical format
  • poor physical condition, or damaged beyond usefulness
  • lacking obvious historical value
  • ephemeral materials that are not easily accessed or bound
  • textbooks (generally not to be included in the collection)
  • paper copy or bound periodicals for which there is a viable online alternative (e.g., LOCKSS or Portico), or which are covered by a more durable format (e.g., microformat or CD-ROM), or for which UM Libraries has cooperative collection agreements.

ACRL Guidelines for Transferring Materials from General Collections to Special Collections

Gifts in Kind

Gifts to the collections of the University Libraries constitute an important and ongoing source of materials that support the teaching and research programs of the University. The donation of books, audio-visual media, archives, manuscripts and a diverse variety of other items in many formats have served as the foundation of some of our major circulating and special collections. In other instances these gifts have significantly enhanced existing purchased holdings and already established collections.

Owing to the large volume of materials received in the past and the need to exercise the highest selectivity in accepting materials most relevant to campus academic needs, we provide the following general guidelines for individuals interested in donating materials to the University Libraries. We reserve the right to accept or decline materials based on these and other criteria that serve the best interests of the University and the library collections.

Every effort is made to accept only items appropriate to be added to the library collections. Items not added may be sold, exchanged with other libraries, or discarded at the discretion of the University Libraries.

Prospective donors of large collections or personal libraries of an academic or research nature should provide a list of items available in advance. Ongoing space constraints do not permit us to keep whole gift collections intact as physically separate or discrete collections within a publicly accessible stack area. The University Libraries also encourage monetary assistance to cover the costs of processing larger collections that are selected for addition. Timely processing and handling of materials requiring special treatment are especially dependent on additional resources.

Desirable Donations:

  • Current academic or scholarly publications, especially those that have appeared within the past three years, in disciplines supported by the curriculum or research of the University
  • Good condition copies of older publications that are not currently held and serve to fill in notable gaps in historic collections. Materials in good condition are clean, with durable bindings, and do not contain loose, brittle, stained, marked, or discolored pages
  • Specialized research materials, including scientific and technical reports
  • Foreign language publications in areas collected by the University Libraries, primarily Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Slavic, Western European languages, and Yiddish
  • One-of-a-kind or rare books, special editions of established works, and other materials that contribute to the subject strengths within special collections, such as university history, Marylandia, historic preservation, and broadcasting
  • Primary source material (e.g., manuscripts and archives)

Out of Scope and Unacceptable Donations:

As a result of the ever increasing costs associated with the short-term and long-term storage of gifts and the associated resources required to sort, review, process, preserve, and maintain materials, the Libraries cannot accept all in-kind donations. The following represent categories of materials that fall outside the collecting scope of the University Libraries:

  • Materials that are not relevant to campus instructional and research programs and collecting areas of the University Libraries (e.g., medicine, law, and nursing)
  • Textbooks
  • Popular trade/mass market paperbacks
  • Popular magazines (e.g., Newsweek, National Geographic)
  • Scattered or single issues of journals, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, etc.
  • Materials in poor condition, including defaced text. Items that show evidence of mold, mildew, pests, significant embrittlement, or disrepair are routinely declined
  • Titles already owned, including journal runs, newspaper files, etc. (unless replacement or additional copies are needed or the copy is a different or special edition that is useful to add)
  • Outdated, superseded titles (e.g., computer manuals)
  • Loose or miscellaneous materials that do not meet the categories listed under desirable donations
  • Bulk collections of materials (collections with a substantial proportion of undesirable materials). Typically these are large collections or personal libraries of general reading titles with marginal or no academic value. Where textbooks and other academic materials are also included, these usually are already more than sufficiently represented in the collections of the University Libraries.

Staff members should refer ALL potential donations to the Gifts-in-Kind Coordinator. This staff member acts on behalf of the Dean of Libraries in recommending to the Board of Regents the acceptance of specific gifts. Gifts are expected to supplement existing collections in support of the University's teaching and research programs as well as to provide the University Libraries with special materials in which there is a scholarly interest. To be accepted, all gifts must fall within the guidelines of the University Libraries' policies pertaining to gifts. In short, all in-kind gifts must be initially reviewed and discussed with the Gifts-in-Kind Coordinator.

Once a gift is accepted, it becomes the property of the University of Maryland Libraries. Unless formally agreed upon in a deed of gift between the donor and the University Libraries, the University Libraries may add gift materials to its collections, or use them for sale or exchange.