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Collection Development Policy: Selection

Responsibility for Collection Development

The librarians at the Mark O. Hatfield Library have ultimate responsibility for collection development.  However, the faculty has a long history of involvement in the collection development process and are active in building the collection.  Depending on the availability of funds, every effort is made to accommodate faculty requests that are within the scope of the collection development policy.  Students and staff are also encouraged to suggest materials for the collection; this can be done through the "Suggest a Title" link on the library's homepage or by contacting a librarian.


Professional supervision of the selection and acquisition of materials is the ultimate responsibility of the University Librarian.  However, the Associate University Librarian for Collections, Teaching, and Research handles day-to-day coordination of the collection development process, monitors funds, and works closely with other appropriate staff.  To aid in the selection process, librarians are assigned primary collection development responsibility for several subject areas.

Liaison Program

Librarians work closely with faculty to develop the collection in a department’s or school’s subject area.  In an effort to facilitate communication and cooperation, formal liaison responsibilities have been established; librarians serve as liaisons between the library and their assigned departments or schools. 


The librarian charged with liaison responsibilities to a department will explain library procedures and facilities to new faculty and notify faculty of new resources in their area. The liaison librarian will discuss library instruction options and collection development issues, and serve as a contact person for the department members when they have questions or suggestions regarding the library.  In turn, faculty members are encouraged to share their class assignments, ideas for new courses, and research needs and interests with the librarian.


From a collection development perspective, this program is a vital way for librarians and faculty to work together to develop the library’s collection.  It allows a formalized mechanism for librarians to consult with faculty about a number of collection development issues such as identifying off-site storage candidates, reviewing the journal collection, or addressing changes in the curriculum or the field.


The library’s primary collection objective is to support the University’s curriculum; we are not a research institute or a library of record so deaccessioning materials is a natural part of the collection management process.  On an ongoing basis, the collection is reviewed and reevaluated and materials may be deselected.  Significant changes within programs or majors, faculty retirements, and space issues may also prompt review of a particular area of the collection.  Selectors are responsible for review and evaluation of the collection in consultation with faculty when appropriate.


Materials are considered for withdrawal in the following circumstances:

  • Superseded publications
  • Duplicate copies
  • Damaged materials
  • Out of date (particularly in certain areas such as the sciences)
  • No longer relevant to the curriculum

Selection Procedures

Selection of materials is made primarily on the basis of electronic notifications generated by the library's primary monograph vendor.  These notifications are triggered from an approval profile that was carefully crafted by librarians and outlines subject areas, types of materials, audience, etc.   Other methods of selection include reviews, subject bibliographies, core collection lists, catalogs, electronic lists, and faculty and librarians’ recommendations.  Scholarly materials that support the undergraduate and graduate curricular needs are given the highest priority in the selection process.  Materials that will help create a well-rounded collection will also be acquired.


Considerations during the selection process:

  • Mission and goals of the library
  • Informational needs of users
  • Existing collections within the library and consortial libraries
  • Existing collections at nearby library
  • Funds available for acquisitions
  • Specific criteria of quality in content, expression, indexing, presentation, printing and format
  • Need for support of degree programs


General criteria to be used in the selection of materials particularly print materials:

Authority and reliability

  • Author’s qualifications, reputation and/or body of work
  • Reliability and reputation of the publisher
  • Usefulness of the material’s content



  • Scope
  • Accuracy
  • Literary excellence
  • Style and readability
  • Originality
  • Targeted audience
  • Timeliness and currency
  • Documentation


Important features

  • Indexes
  • Bibliographies
  • Charts, maps, diagrams, illustrations
  • Binding
  • Paper
  • Typeface
  • Design


Other considerations

  • Inclusion in special bibliographies, indexes, or core lists
  • Favorable reviews in the professional literature
  • Format suitable for intended use
  • Language
  • Relevance to specific curricular objectives

Three Copy Threshold

In 2011 the Collection Development and Management Committee of the Orbis Cascade Alliance implemented a voluntary pilot project encouraging Alliance libraries to use a threshold of three copies when purchasing books.  If three or more Alliance libraries owned a book, that was considered an optimal number of libraries to own that title.  The theory behind the policy is that libraries could easily and expeditiously loan these three copies and libraries could use the money they saved by not acquiring duplicates to purchase less widely held materials. In this way, Alliance libraries could develop a consortial collection with more depth and breadth.  In 2017 these guidelines were reaffirmed and the Hatfield library follows these guidelines when appropriate but with the following exceptions:

  • Local needs take precedence and to maintain a core collection, sometimes titles will be duplicated beyond three copies.
  • At times, geographic distribution of the existing copies may warrant additional copies in light of courier delivery times.  Also, if all the copies are held by Washington libraries, it might make sense for an Oregon library to procure a copy.


The library recognizes the importance of gifts of materials or funds to purchase materials.  Given the increasing demand for new resources and the ongoing struggle to find sufficient funds to purchase these resources, the library relies on generous donors to supplement the efforts of the University to provide a quality library for the Willamette community.


Gift materials must fall within the scope of the general collection development policy in order to be added to the collection; they must meet the same criteria as materials that are purchased.  The library will not accept gifts with conditions as to their disposal or location, unless approved by the University Librarian.  The library cannot provide financial evaluation of gifts. 


The library does not typically add duplicate copies of materials.  If the library has a newer edition of a title or there are newer editions available, the library usually would not add the older edition.  The library is not interested in gift materials that are damaged (torn covers, materials with lots of notes or underlining or stains, etc.), textbooks, journal issues, or most audiovisual materials.  If three or more copies of a particular item are already held by Orbis Cascade Alliance libraries, the library will typically not add a gift copy to the collection.  


Individuals who wish to donate money for the purchase of materials may request that materials be purchased in a certain subject area or in support of a particular school, department, or program.  Librarians, in consultation with faculty, will be responsible for choosing the actual materials.


In dealing with gifts, the library works in conjunction with University Relations.  Large gifts of materials or money for the purchase of materials must be arranged through University Relations.  The library, University Relations, or both will acknowledge donors.  A “Condition of Gift” form is available. 

Willamette University

Willamette University Libraries

Mark O. Hatfield Library
900 State Street.
Salem Oregon 97301
Pacific Northwest College of Art Library
511 NW Broadway.
Portland Oregon 97209