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Severn Library Collection Policy (2017)

Severn Library Collection Development Policy


Severn Library is a high-density storage facility near the University of Maryland, College Park, serving the University Libraries and the wider campus community. It provides a secure facility and environmental controls designed to promote long-term preservation of library materials. The main purposes of the Severn Library are to provide long term, secure, environmentally controlled housing for valuable, important and less heavily used research materials; to offer another location to permit repurposing of other Libraries facilities; and to offer high-quality customer service to the campus community, the Big Ten Academic Alliance, and the international community of Inter-Library Loan borrowers at large.

Advantages of Severn Library

The Severn Library has the following advantages over other Libraries facilities:

  • Secure and controlled environment as a closed stack facility equipped with state-of-the-art temperature and humidity controls which will help significantly preserve and prolong the life of volumes that would otherwise be vulnerable to accelerated deterioration.
  • Retrieval of volumes from the Severn Library is frequent, with most items being made available as quickly as those now sent by campus mail to a borrower's campus address or held for pickup at a campus library facility.
  • Because it is a closed stack facility, collections at the Severn Library are much less susceptible to loss, theft or mis-shelving.

Selection Criteria

Identifying suitable materials for housing in the Severn Library is part of a larger process of intelligently shaping the Libraries' collections across all locations, formats and material types in a manner responsive to the needs of current and future users across all disciplines and at all levels. The Collection Development Council recommends the following criteria for selecting library materials to house in the Severn Library:

  • Severn Library’s main purpose is to provide a stable and secure environment for important but less frequently used materials.
  • Materials selected for Severn Library are thoughtfully identified by Libraries’ subject specialists in close consultation with faculty, staff, students and the Libraries’ administration.
  • The application of selection criteria will appropriately vary across academic disciplines, departments, and collections. 
  • Every discipline and collection has appropriate candidate materials.
  • Severn Library accommodates those library materials that most benefit from the facility's optimal environmental and security conditions. In particular, collections from the 19th century warrant both preservation conditions and enhanced security against theft and mutilation.
  • Many of the Library’s rare, unique and archival holdings benefit from being housed in Severn Library.
  • Selection for Severn Library will be done at levels of specificity appropriate to the format and discipline of the materials being reviewed. Wherever appropriate and practical, selection will be done for groups of materials, for example, partial journal backfiles, discontinued journal titles, or infrequently used subsets of a given classification area.  When appropriate, such selections may be done at the level of individual titles.
  • When decisions are made regarding transferring to Severn Library, withdrawing completely, or even acquiring a new item, the availability of the item from the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA), including both the Shared Print Repository (SPR) and UBorrow service, will be considered. 
  • On-campus shelving capability will remain constant or decrease; therefore, selection of appropriate materials for the new facility will be an ongoing responsibility of subject specialists, archivists, curators and other library personnel. This effort will require continuing attention to the identification of appropriate materials for housing at Severn Library, both as existing collections are assessed, and as new material is acquired.
  • As the library system for the flagship research university in the State of Maryland, the Libraries will develop and maintain collections at all of its facilities, including Severn Library, with the goal of providing research level materials to other Maryland schools, including the colleges and university of the University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions (USMAI).

Additional Guidelines

  • Generally, only materials that are cataloged or otherwise described and represented in the University of Maryland Libraries’ discovery systems, will be housed at the Severn Library.  All special collections materials housed in Severn Library will rely on Aeon and ArchiveSpace for access and use. Only materials deeded to the University of Maryland will be sent to the Severn Library. No collections held on deposit will be sent to the Severn Library.
  • All materials housed in Severn Library except codices must be containerized, described, and discoverable.
  •  Items will not move to Severn before withdrawal.  If there is even a remote chance that an item might be withdrawn in the future, it is then not a good candidate for Severn Library. 
  • The Libraries generally do not retain duplicate materials. The number of copies retained in a specific subject area is a matter for the professional judgement of the individual subject specialist in consultation with Collection Development administration. Severn Library will be designated as the "Last Copy" repository.
  • Subject specialists are encouraged to send items in the general collection that are valuable (frequently stolen, frequently defaced, expensive, or difficult to replace) to Severn, which will add security while providing access to the item. Exceptions to the duplicates rule will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
  • Materials in need of preservation treatment (detached or partial covers, loose or torn papers, brittle paper) should not be transferred to Severn Library until they have been assessed and treated by Preservation.
  • Severn Library will not house materials that are available in the BTAA or Center for Research Libraries Shared Print Repository. Additionally, no journals for which UMD has perpetual access online, such as JSTOR titles, will go to Severn Library.
  • If an item is frequently requested from Severn Library, or if faculty advise a subject specialist of its use for teaching, research, or reserves, the item will be transferred back to the appropriate campus library.


Draft - 17 April 2015, Daniel Mack; Revised 15 June 2015. Approved by CDC 21 February 2017, Revised and approved by CDC 22 May 2018.