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Collection Development Policy: Collections


The library has a variety of collections in various special areas.  Brief explanations of these collections can be found below.

Archives and Special Collections

The University Archives and Special Collections is comprised of four components: University Archives and Records; Congressional and Political Collections; Special Collections; and the Pacific Northwest Artists Archive.


University Archives and Records is the official repository for non-current university records relating to the history of the university and its growth since the doors opened in 1844. Holdings include: paper documents, university and student publications; journals; administrative records; photographs; scrapbooks; and audio and visual materials. These records support research about the development of the university and its significant influence in the Pacific Northwest.


Willamette materials include:

  • Photos, letters, documents, and publications related to Willamette’s history.
  • University sponsored publications, which are cataloged and appear in the online catalog.  These publications include the Wallulah, the student yearbook, Willamette University catalogs/bulletins, student and faculty publications, and the Willamette Scene.
  • Publications written by or about Willamette alumni.


The Congressional and Political collection is comprised of the papers of individuals elected to represent Oregon at the state and national level, with an emphasis on Oregon’s fifth congressional district. Our holdings include the collections of U.S Senators Mark O. Hatfield, Bob Packwood, and Gordon Smith and U.S. Representatives Denny Smith, Mike Kopetski, Bob Smith and Darlene Hooley. Also in the collection are the papers Norma Paulus, former Oregon Secretary of State and member of the Oregon House of Representatives.


Special collections is primarily comprised of manuscript collections, diaries, and correspondence with a focus on individuals involved in regional missionary work, settling Salem, developing Willamette University, and alumni.  For more information, see the Rare Books section of this policy. 

Audiovisual Materials

Sound recordings


The library’s collection of sound recordings consists primarily of classical music, jazz, opera, and world music.  We collect representative music of influential composers and musicians.  We do not usually collect the various genres of pop music unless requested by a professor for classroom instruction. The library collects music in compact disk format or electronically through streaming audio; the library does not collect recordings in formats such as LPs or tapes.  


Video recordings/DVD


The library’s collection of video recordings support and enrich the curriculum and include a core of classic motion pictures important to a liberal arts education.  The library purchases representative films of many periods, genres, and countries in an effort to document the history of film.  The library does not usually purchase current popular releases or feature films.  Popular feature films are purchased upon the request of a professor to support classroom instruction or for research.  When possible, the library also acquires some notable award winning films such as the American Film Industries Movie of the Year award winners. 


The library also collects video recordings that support the curriculum and are directly related to classroom instruction.  The library does not have an equal number of video recordings in all departmental areas; not all subject areas are equally suited for video presentation and are not equally represented in the audiovisual market. 


Because of the high cost of many of these video recordings, the library has to place restrictions on such purchases.  When video recordings priced at $300 or more are acquired, the library and the requester’s department will need to share the cost of the film.  When appropriate, two or more departments may share the cost of the items with the library.  If a film will be used infrequently and its cost is exorbitant, interlibrary loan could be a viable option.


A final category of film acquired by the library include video recordings of Willamette events such as the Atkinson Lecture Series, special lectures by Willamette faculty, and various other Willamette sponsored activities.


Criteria for selection:

  • Curricular relevance
  • Technical quality
  • Aesthetic/cultural appeal and value
  • Cost
  • Accuracy/authoritativeness
  • Timeliness of information
  • Interdisciplinary nature
  • Favorable reviews
  • Anticipated use


The library purchases video recordings in DVD format or streaming video when appropriate.  16mm films, laser discs, kits, slides and filmstrips are not acquired or added to the collection but the library continues to maintain its VHS materials although VHS format is no longer purchased.  The library does not rent films or provide off-air videotaping services or duplicating services.

Children's Collection

The Children’s Collection was originally created to support the now defunct Graduate School of Education.  Upon the closure of the program, the collection was reviewed and many items were redistributed to area libraries with programs in education.  A core collection of materials remains and the bulk of this is made up of a sampling of the best of children’s literature, including Caldecott and Newberry Award winners and various other award-winning books.  Other contemporary works of distinction or works related to the Northwest may be acquired as appropriate and as funding allows.  Young adult materials are part of our general collection.


The library subscribes to newspapers to support the educational program of the University, and to support current awareness activities of the Willamette community.  Because of the wide variety of news sources available online and users preference for accessing news electronically, the library only maintains subscriptions in print or online to a few key sources.


Regional, national, and international English language newspapers are chosen based on recognized quality and comprehensive coverage.  Selection criteria include availability of indexing, cost, and holdings of comparable and/or regional educational institutions.  Foreign language newspapers are acquired to meet the needs of language instruction activities at the University.


The library collects and retains newspapers in paper, microfilm, or electronic formats based on the perceived long-term research value of the particular newspaper.  Given space and storage limitations, backfiles of newspapers are generally maintained on microfilm or made available electronically when possible.

Northwest Collection

A gift of some 500 volumes from Nancy B. Hunt in 1997 constitutes the core of the Northwest Collection.  These materials were collected by Mrs. Hunt's husband, Kenneth J. Hunt, a Willamette graduate and sociology major from the class of 1942.  In 2000, the library added a significant number of additional items by purchasing for a nominal price, duplicate copies from Whitman’s Northwest Collection.  For the purposes of this collection, Northwest means Oregon, Washington, and Idaho with a special emphasis on Oregon. 


Materials will be added to this core collection if they have an early imprint date (see the section of this policy covering the Rare Book Collection for further information), if they are a limited or special edition, or if they are in some other way unique or unusual.  The library will collect current Northwest materials of interest as well, but these materials will generally become a part of our circulating collection.  Second copies received as gifts will often be added to the Northwest collection. 


The collection will emphasize:

  • Local and regional history: economic, social, cultural, political, etc.
  • Imaginative literature about the area:  poetry, fiction, etc.


Types of materials:

  • Books
  • Manuscripts
  • Documents
  • Pamphlets
  • Periodicals


Northwest materials are fully classified and cataloged, and appear in the library’s online catalog with the location listed as Northwest.  Every attempt will be made to keep the materials in their original condition when processing the items (e.g., covers will be retained, no labels will be affixed and the materials will not bear an ownership stamp).  Materials in this collection can be used in the building, but do not circulate outside the library.  Items from the Northwest Collection can be used during regular business hours, or through prior arrangement.


Periodicals are defined as journals and magazines that are issued periodically and are expected to continue indefinitely.  Other serial publications, such as most newspapers, annuals, monographic series, and indexes and abstracts, are considered separately.


Periodicals serve as a major source of current information in many academic disciplines, and complement the library's book collection.  Because each periodical title involves a prospective long-term commitment of funds, and because of the increasing cost of periodical subscriptions, acquisition of new periodical titles requires serious consideration.


Development of the periodicals collection is a cooperative activity involving faculty and librarians, with final selection responsibility resting with the librarians.


The primary criterion used to evaluate and select periodicals subscriptions is the title's support of the educational program of the University.


The following additional criteria will be factored into the evaluation process. The list is not in priority order and not all criteria may apply to each title.

  • Accessibility through indexing and abstracting tools available through the library
  • Subscription price
  • Availability through interlibrary loan or other document delivery services
  • Holdings of comparable and/or regional educational institutions
  • Presence on a core titles list for a subject area, or an accreditation list
  • Scholarly reputation and/or reviews from professional literature
  • Use statistics (In-house use and Interlibrary loan requests)
  • Cost per use
  •  Appropriateness for the level of study of the subject at the University (undergraduate, graduate, language of publication).
  • Journal holdings in the collection covering the same or similar subject area


The collection will be examined periodically in order to evaluate its continued adherence to the above criteria.

Rare Books

The Rare Book Collection is part of the University Archives and Special Collections.  It is a collection of rare, antiquarian, or limited edition books that, due to value, age, fragility, or some other special attribute, have been placed in an access controlled environment.


The library does not actively acquire rare book materials.  New acquisitions come through gifts to the library or the University and meet the same criteria as the regular collection.


The following materials should be designated as rare and shelved in the Vault:


Books of value due to early imprint date

  • All books printed before 1640
  • All American books printed earlier than 1800
  • Local history items printed earlier than 1860

Materials whose irreplaceability or uniqueness makes them rare

  • Limited editions (300 copies or less)
  • Association and autographed copies, when by important or local authors
  • First editions of significance

Fragile materials that may not survive in the circulating collection


Rare materials are fully classified and cataloged, and appear in the library’s online catalog with the location listed as Vault or Northwest.  For new acquisitions, every attempt will be made to keep the materials in their original condition when processing the items.  Materials can be used in the library but do not circulate outside the library.  Items from the collection can be used during the regular business week, or through prior arrangement.

Reserve Materials

The Reserve Collection consists of materials that are required by several users for particular courses currently being taught.  The Reserve Collection’s purpose is to guarantee availability of these materials and offer access to as wide a number of users as possible.  Generally, materials are placed on reserve for a semester at a time.  Non-course material, such as accreditation documents, may be placed on reserve as well to offer widespread access to members of the Willamette community.  Physical copies of reserve materials are available at the Circulation Desk.  Reserve materials are listed on the library's homepage under the “Reserves” option.


Materials included in the Reserve Collection are books and audiovisual materials from the library’s circulating collection.  Faculty are welcome to put personal copies of books, journals, study guides, workbooks, audiovisual materials, etc., on reserve as well.  Faculty can place up to 50 items on reserve per class per semester.  Materials excluded from the reserve collection are reference materials and periodicals including newspapers.  Books and videos borrowed through interlibrary loan or Summit may not be placed on reserve either.  The library does not purchase textbooks for reserve.


Electronic copies of journal articles or book chapters are made available through a professor's course page using WISE, the Willamette Instructional Support Environment, a system that provides course sites for official university courses. 

Popular Reading

In the interest of encouraging reading among the entire Willamette community, the library maintains a small Popular Reading Collection. The collection contains a wide variety of materials (fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, biographies, memoirs, young adult, current events, etc.) that the library leases. Many but not all of these titles are ones that we would not typically select for our regular collection. Throughout the year, librarians refresh the collection by selecting new titles from a catalog of recently published titles.  Twice a year (January and June), our Acquisitions Manager runs a report in our LIS on this collection.  The report shows us the number of checkouts each item has had, when it was acquired, and when it was last checked out.  If the title hasn't had many checkouts and/or hasn't been checked out in the last year, then the librarians responsible for selecting titles in this collection decide if the title is appropriate for our general collection or not. If it makes sense to have in our regular collection, the title is added.  If not, it is sent back; a majority of the titles are returned. This collection is under 400 titles at any given time and is funded using restricted funds rather than our regular materials budget.  All titles from this collection are included in the library's catalog.  

Willamette University

Willamette University Libraries

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