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Collections Development Policy - Fredericton

May 2003

  1. Introduction
  2. General Principles Governing Collection Development at UNB Libraries
  3. Materials Collected: Content
  4. Materials Collected: Electronic Resources
  5. Materials Collected: Print Resources
  6. Materials collected: Types & Formats
  7. Gifts
  8. Authority, Roles and Responsibilities
  9. Budget
  10. Authority, Roles and Responsibilities
  11. Stewardship: Collection Management & Preservation of Materials
  12. Scholarly Communication
  13. Reporting and Review of Policy
  14. Appendices

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I. Introduction

Intent of Policy
Academic libraries exist primarily to meet the information needs of students, faculty, and researchers. Since commercially-available electronic databases were first introduced at this institution, UNB Libraries have undergone a profound change in the way they fulfill this mission. (See Appendix A for Mission Statement.)
The intent of this policy is to articulate the principles guiding collection development and maintenance at UNB. The policy attempts to outline objectives, assign roles and responsibilities, and address issues ranging from resource allocation to reliance on cooperative arrangements with other libraries.
Definition of UNB Libraries
UNB Libraries refers to the Harriet Irving Library, the Science and Forestry Library and the Engineering Library. This policy applies to these three Fredericton libraries only.
Community Served
Serving both UNB and St. Thomas University (STU), UNB Libraries support the teaching, learning and research activities of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and researchers. Together these groups comprise an on-campus population of close to 11,000+ FTEs, with undergraduates forming the majority. A small but growing number are distance students.
Of the campus population:
  • UNB undergraduates number about 7,000 FTE;
  • STU undergraduates number close to 3,000 FTE;
  • approximately 1,200 UNB students (individuals, not FTEs) are undertaking graduate studies on a full-time or part-time basis;
  • UNB teaching/tenured faculty number about 600 FTE; and
  • STU faculty number about 100 full-time and 80 part-time.
As a comprehensive university, UNB offers a full spectrum of undergraduate and graduate degrees in Arts, Administration, Education, Nursing, Kinesiology, Computer Science, Engineering, Forestry, and Science. (Law degrees are also offered, but the Law faculty is served by a library that operates under the auspices of the faculty and not under the umbrella of UNB Libraries.) STU specializes in the liberal and applied arts and professional programs.
As a public institution, UNB Libraries have an additional mandate to serve as a resource for the wider community.
Description of Existing Collections
Collectively the libraries hold over one million bound volumes, three million microforms, 220,000 government documents, 50,000 maps, 3,300 current print journals and a number of special collections. Each library has a non-circulating Reference collection consisting of dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, bibliographies, indexes and abstracts. Moreover, UNB Libraries make available electronically some 8,000+ electronic journals and over 70 electronic reference sources. These can be accessed from the library web site at Other non-print resources are available for use onsite.
For a more complete description of the collections, see Appendix B.

II. General Principles Governing Collection Development at UNB Libraries

  1. UNB Libraries subscribe to the principles enunciated in the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) Policy Statement entitled “Freedom of Expression in Research Libraries” and the Canadian Library Association’s Statement on Intellectual Freedom. (See Appendix C.)
  2. Given the persistent economic challenges of recent years, UNB Libraries have adopted a collection development strategy that can best be described as informed selectivity in place of comprehensiveness.
  3. As much as possible, resources serving undergraduate students are provided onsite or electronically. This recognizes the nature of undergraduate work which is characterized by numerous assignments on a variety of subjects due within short timelines.
  4. The library recognizes its responsibility to respond to the research needs of graduate students and faculty. It does this, in part through collections development, in part through its commitment to provide access services, including online databases and document delivery.
  5. The decision to purchase any item is governed by cost in relation to value, measured generally as expected use by faculty and students.
  6. Emerging trends are closely monitored in order to harness the benefits of new models of scholarly communication and publishing. (See Sections IV and XII.)
  7. UNB Libraries work in consultation with faculty to ensure that collections reflect both the teaching and research needs of the two institutions served.

III. Materials Collected: Content

Content is the main consideration governing the selection of a particular resource. Content is evaluated against a number of criteria, amongst them:

  • applicability to current academic programs and research;
  • level of scholarship;
  • reputation of the author;
  • reputation of the publisher;
  • language: Most works are acquired in English. Other languages are collected as subject areas warrant; and
  • geographic coverage which is governed by the programs offered.

IV. Materials Collected: Electronic Resources

The selection process for electronic resources is much more complex than that for print where content is often the only concern. Issues which arise when evaluating electronic resources are:

  • licensing terms;
  • technical requirements;
  • user authentication; and
  • stability and ownership of the purchased content.

Agreements that allow for wide use, remote access, printing and downloading, document delivery, creation of course packs, and use for reserves, are given preference.

UNB Libraries have invested heavily in electronic resources and will continue to do so, not to the exclusion of print and other formats, but whenever there is an advantage to be gained. (The potential benefits of electronic resources are outlined in Appendix D.)

Electronic products are regularly reviewed against usage statistics which are taken into account when licenses are renewed. In the case of electronic journals, the cost-per-article viewed or downloaded is measured against the per-article cost of document delivery and the least expensive option is generally given preference.

Free electronic resources are added selectively and are evaluated against the same selection criteria as other library materials. Only materials with substantive content and proven or expected long-term stability are considered.


V. Materials Collected: Print Resources

Despite the rapid growth of electronic publishing, a significant proportion of the world`s intellectual output still appears in print only. Print resources, therefore, continue to be an important part of UNB Libraries’ collections.

Print monographs are almost always preferred over their electronic equivalents although a small number of electronic books (e-books) have been recently introduced. Other collections may be added in time to meet specific information needs.

Many society and other small publishers have not made the transition to electronic publishing and continue to publish exclusively in print. Needed titles from these sources will continue to be acquired.

VI. Materials collected: Types & Formats

The following is a comprehensive list of the types of materials collected. Noted are their attributes and their importance within the spectrum of information resources.

a. Discovery Tools

The universe of knowledge is so vast that it is impossible for a library to own all the materials published in any discipline. Key discovery (abstracting and indexing) tools in all areas of inquiry are therefore a first priority for collections development, with particular emphasis on areas of teaching at UNB and STU. These provide subject access to serial literature and monographs, enabling students and researchers to identify required or desired sources of information which, if not available onsite either in print or electronically, can be obtained through document delivery.

b. Monographs

Monographs are selected primarily, although not exclusively, to serve the curricular needs of the University community. Highest priority is given to the acquisition of monographs in support of undergraduate studies, although higher-level materials are also purchased. As budgets do not allow for in-depth collecting, graduate students and faculty may be obliged to turn to document delivery services to more completely satisfy their requirements.

To compensate for budgetary constraints, gift monies (obtained through capital campaign funds and other donations) are generally targeted to the acquisition of monographs to support new courses and fill gaps in the collections.

Recognizing that the university is a place where students should indulge in a process of discovery that goes beyond strictly meeting course requirements, an attempt is made to purchase additional titles for the purpose of satisfying intellectual curiosity and nurturing an inquiring mind. For example, award-winning titles in all disciplines are purchased selectively whether or not they are required to support a particular course. These acquisitions are generally funded from donations.

The humanities and social sciences tend to rely heavily on monographs for the transfer of knowledge, while the technical and scientific fields do so in a more limited way. It may be impossible due to budget constraints to establish and adhere to firm formulae. However, a balance must be maintained between spending on serials and spending on monographs. In the humanities and social sciences, spending on monographs should range between 30% and 70% of budget, while in the technical and scientific fields, a range of 10 - 30% is normally satisfactory. These percentages are based on historical patterns at this institution and reflect the trends reported by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) in the United States.

Textbooks and related instructional aids are normally not purchased, unless they are to be used as supplementary or collateral reading or are considered a core resource in a given field. For example, classic textbooks in business and the technical and scientific fields have become recognized as standard reference and review sources which should be acquired and retained.

Softcover editions are preferred when available. Binding decisions are made based on expectation of use and the resulting wear-and-tear.

Selections are made from vendor slips, catalogues, reviews, prospectuses, and other sources. Vendor slips are generated from profiles prepared to match curriculum and research interests. Profiles are reviewed and updated as required.

Monographs authored by UNB faculty are generally purchased.

For budgetary reasons, duplication of titles is avoided whenever possible. No more than three copies of a single text will be purchased under any circumstances.

c. Serials

Print serials: As serials imply a long-term and often expensive commitment, sufficient justification is required for the acquisition of a new title. Serials are carefully selected to meet curricular and research needs. Given budget constraints, a current title will generally have to be cancelled to finance a standing order on a new title.

In addition to the general criteria for selection that apply to all content, serials are evaluated against:

All disciplines rely on journal literature for the exchange of information on recent developments and new scholarship, although the technical and scientific fields are particularly dependent on this method of information transfer. Budget allocations in each discipline will reflect this reality, with a higher percentage of funds in the technical and scientific fields being targeted to the acquisition of journals.

Core journals in each discipline will be protected as resources allow, with a review of the core titles occurring on a regular basis to ensure they continue to reflect the teaching and research orientation of each department.

A selection of general interest magazines and newspapers are purchased and made available in the library reading rooms.

Due both to severe space shortage and costs, a print subscription is generally not maintained when a stable electronic equivalent is available.

Electronic journals: The source of an electronic journal is carefully considered in the selection process. Journals for which the publisher is also the online vendor are preferred in that they offer greater guarantees of stability, ongoing access and currency. (Publishers generally own the rights to the titles they publish and therefore have more control over their titles.)

Journals from most aggregator packages (such as EBSCOhost) are less stable: some titles may be embargoed for up to twelve months, others may not provide the complete content of a journal issue, and some may disappear altogether without warning. These will generally not be considered as substitutes for subscribed print journals. Aggregator packages are licensed, however, because they offer the benefit of access to a wide range of both scholarly and general interest journals on a multitude of subjects at an affordable price.

d. Reference Materials

Reference materials relevant to teaching and research at UNB and STU are collected by each Reference area. Emphasis is primarily on discovery tools and general reference books (such as encyclopedias, handbooks and dictionaries), and secondarily on subject bibliographies.

e. Government Documents, Maps and Data

Government publications, cartographic materials and both spatial and numeric data files are acquired through official depository agreements, consortial arrangements, and focused collection activity. The Government Documents, Data and Maps Department handles deposit regulations for federal (DSP) and United Nations publications, as well as the Asian Development Bank and European Communities. Numeric and spatial data collections relevant to curriculum are acquired through consortial arrangements with Statistics Canada (DLI), the Interuniversity Consortium of Political and Social Research, DMTI, and Service New Brunswick.

The Department collects comprehensively in the area of New Brunswick government publications (in all formats and in both official languages) as well as regional government publications. Key print and electronic publications, legislative tools, and cartographic resources are acquired from the federal and provincial departments and agencies outside the region, as well as from other governments and intergovernmental agencies. Maps and atlases relevant to the use of the collection and in support of the curriculum are collected selectively, along with supporting reference tools for all government publications, cartographic materials, and data files.

f. Archives & Special Collections

Books, pamphlets and periodicals relating to New Brunswick in particular, and the Maritime Provinces in general, are collected, as are private, historical and literary papers. Furthermore, in the absence of an official university archives, the department of Archives and Special Collections endeavours to collect and organize as many of the documentary records of the university as space and personnel resources allow.

g. Microforms

In the interest of preservation, space-saving and cost reduction, many types of publications are collected in microform. They include newspapers, periodicals, theses, literary manuscripts and historical records.

h. Dissertations, Theses and Senior Reports

Bound copies of all UNB dissertations and masters theses are collected by the Department of Archives and Special Collections. Microform copies are also collected. Circulating copies are sometimes available for the faculties of Computer Science, Engineering, Forestry and Science in the branch libraries. Senior reports and undergraduate theses are collected selectively based on agreements with individual faculties and departments.

i. Audio-visual Materials

Audio-visual materials are currently collected in a limited way and generally only at the request of the individual department.

j. Children’s Books

Children’s books and critical works on children`s literature are purchased for general circulation to support teaching and research needs of the degree programs in Education at UNB and STU. A separate collections policy governs the acquisition of materials for the Eileen Wallace Children’s Literature Collection.

VII. Gifts

Gifts are subject to the same criteria as purchased material in the selection process. A separate policy exists to address gifts of books and other materials. For details, refer to the University of New Brunswick Libraries' Gifts Policy (Approved May 31, 2002).

VIII. Authority, Roles and Responsibilities

Ultimate responsibility for the development and maintenance of collections rests with the Director of Libraries. In practice, much of this responsibility is delegated to librarians.

The Head of Collections and Public Services manages the Collections Development Department, coordinates the activities of liaison librarians, and chairs the Collections Development Committee.

The primary objectives of the Collections Development Department are:

  • to allocate funding in an equitable manner to support, within available resources, the breadth of programs offered by the University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University;
  • with the help of liaison librarians and faculty, to select materials needed to support these academic programs;
  • to ensure that a balanced collection of relevant materials is maintained for current use;
  • to coordinate collection management functions including planning, analysis and evaluation, and the review of collections for preservation, storage and de-selection;
  • to monitor developments in scholarly publishing, ensuring the phasing in of electronic resources in a manner that supports the requirements of the academic programs, and takes advantage of opportunities in the marketplace; and
  • to participate in collaborative ventures (e.g. consortium purchases and licensing of resources) with other academic libraries, thereby leveraging limited acquisitions funds, to the benefit of the University.

A liaison librarian is appointed for each academic department. The liaison librarian is responsible for developing the library collection in one or more specific areas and fulfills these responsibilities by working closely with faculty and keeping them apprised of collection matters and library issues. Liaison librarians monitor departmental allocations and provide financial information to library representatives as required. Liaison librarians also order materials required to support academic programs, using departmental allocations when necessary, and will especially do so in the event that budget targets are not being met. In the case where UNB and St. Thomas University have parallel departments, the same librarian acts as liaison for both in order to ensure balance in the coverage of the discipline and to avoid duplication.

All liaison librarians are members of the Collections Development Committee. The Collections Development Committee meets regularly to debate issues, review policy and the allocation of resources, select materials, and offer advice to the Head of Collections and Public Services.

Each academic department is invited to name a faculty member to act as the departmental representative to the library. These faculty members work with the librarians to ensure that:

  • collections relevant to UNB and STU faculty and students are developed;
  • the needs of all faculty and students are considered in the selection process;
  • the library is informed about relevant departmental matters (for instance, the hiring of new faculty, the development of new courses and new programs, etc.); and
  • all library services and programs are known and utilized by all those who need them.

Collaboration is encouraged between departmental library representatives serving parallel departments at UNB and STU (for example, History, Philosophy, Psychology) to ensure that resources are maximized and the best possible balance is achieved in the development of collections in those disciplines.

All purchase requests are reviewed for adherence to the collection development principles and guidelines (See Sections II, III and IV.) and must be approved by the appropriate liaison librarian and the Head of Collections Development. Student and staff requests for the acquisition of materials are also welcomed and encouraged and are reviewed using the same criteria as requests from other sources.

Collections development issues are brought before the Senate Library Committee as required or upon request of that group. UNB Libraries also welcome advice from the faculty and departmental library committees.

IX. Budget

UNB Libraries’ collections budget is divided into a number of central funds and some 90 “departmental” funds used to support the various disciplines. Central funds are allocated for the purchase of reference materials, electronic products, various interdisciplinary monographs and serials, as well as to support acquisitions for Government Documents, Microforms and Archives & Special Collections. Central funds also cover the costs of binding, preservation and HST.

Since the late 1980's, the departmental funds have been allocated according to a formula based on the number of faculty, the number of students in given courses, departmental research ranking, average cost of materials for each discipline, and a number of other factors. The formula continues to serve as the base for distributing the budget, but adjustments are made as needed to ensure that essential requirements are covered.

UNB’s fiscal year runs May 1 to April 30. The library budget is distributed during May and June, once the previous year’s financial books are closed and carry-forwards are determined. Library representatives receive a budget package in June or July advising them of both encumbered and unencumbered funds for the current fiscal year.

Departmental allocations are usually divided into two funds, one for books and the other for printed serials. (Electronic journals are generally paid from central funds.) While the total allocation for a department does not change during the fiscal year, the breakdown between books and journals/serials is generally adjusted once the actual costs of serial renewals are known. Fund reports are issued to the library representatives on a monthly basis from October to the end of the fiscal year. These serve as a guide to monies already disbursed, encumbered and unspent.

X. Strategic Alliances, Partnerships and Cooperation

UNB Libraries pursue a policy of close cooperation with other university libraries and resources are often pooled to increase access to information for all. Cooperation can take the form of consortia licensing of electronic products, or the shared storage of collections, or document delivery agreements.

Cooperation occurs at the local, regional, national and international levels to the benefit of library users locally and worldwide, and with technological advances, opportunities for cooperation are multiplied.

Consortia have been particularly effective in driving down the costs of electronic resources. For example:

  • the Canadian National Site Licensing Project (CNSLP) enabled smaller institutions including UNB to provide access to hitherto unaffordable materials, thereby attempting to create a level playing field for students and researchers across the country; and
  • Consortia Canada has taken the lead in negotiating a number of national licenses in which UNB Libraries participate.

Document delivery enables UNB Libraries to provide to its users rapid access to millions of documents not locally-owned. Agreements exist with several institutions including:

  • the University of Alberta;
  • the Canadian Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI); and
  • the National Library of Canada.

While UNB Libraries participate in many cooperative partnerships, it is most important to take note of their involvement in the Atlantic Scholarly Information Network (ASIN). Developed by the Council of Atlantic University Libraries (CAUL), ASIN was born out of a collective desire to improve services to users both locally and regionally by emphasizing and maximizing on regional strengths and by pooling resources. Vision and mission statements as well as guiding principles and strategic action items were adopted by CAUL at its meeting of February 11, 2000. (See Appendix E.)

XI Stewardship: Collection Management & Preservation of Materials

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (10th edition) defines stewardship as “the conducting, supervising or managing of something; especially: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”

UNB Libraries recognize three separate components to the stewardship of their collections:

  1. the maintenance of current collections;
  2. the preservation of the physical item; and
  3. the preservation of the intellectual content, independent of format.

Each of these components is examined below.

I. Maintenance of Current Collections

Location, binding, repairs, the replacement of lost, stolen or damaged materials, and the de-selection of materials are the major concerns in the maintenance of current collections.

Location decisions are based on the type and content of materials and the use that will be made of them. Two broad designations are applied to print materials and other physical formats: circulating (stacks) or non-circulating (Reference, archival and reading room materials, for example). For web-based products, decisions are required as to the best location for easy access from the library web site.

A separate policy exists governing the binding of materials. Not all materials are bound as a matter of course. Softcover monographs are bound if use is expected to be high or if the particular item is too fragile to withstand even minimum handling and use. Serial runs are usually bound, unless a particular item is only kept until the arrival of a microform or electronic equivalent.

For the general collection, most repairs of damaged materials are done in-house. Archival materials or items from the special collections may be sent for repair to an outside expert.

Replacement of lost, stolen or damaged materials is decided on a case-by-case basis. Decisions are based on level of prior use and the continued value of the item in terms of current teaching programs and research.

The de-selection of materials for sale or discard and the identification of materials for storage are a necessary and ongoing part of collection management. No-longer required duplicate copies and outdated editions are routinely removed from the collections. Books in poor condition are also removed and are replaced with newer or sturdier copies, as required. Comprehensive weeding of the entire collection or of a specific section is only infrequently undertaken and decisions are based on established guidelines.

Consultation with faculty will precede the disposal of any serial titles. A list of titles proposed for disposal will be widely-circulated for feedback.

No decision on retention or withdrawal of cancelled or ceased subscriptions will normally be taken before three years have elapsed.

2. Preservation of the Physical Item

Libraries have served from their very beginning as repositories and storehouses for the world’s recorded knowledge. Academic libraries particularly have taken this responsibility as a sacred trust and have generally been very reluctant to discard any materials.

UNB Libraries subscribe to the view that long-term preservation is a shared responsibility of libraries worldwide, with individual libraries or library systems each taking responsibility for a part of the world`s published heritage, in a coordinated way to ensure the preservation of the whole.

UNB Libraries contribute to the preservation effort by:

  1. taking special responsibility for the preservation of materials relating to the history and culture of New Brunswick first, the Atlantic Provinces second, and Canada third;
  2. providing financial support to the New Brunswick Conservation Coop (a program of the New Brunswick Provincial Archives) for the restoration of materials; and
  3. continuing to work with ASIN (See Appendix D.) on a plan for shared regional storage the object of which would be to ensure that one print run of every serial title ever acquired by a member library be preserved within the region for common access.

3. Preservation of the Intellectual Content

Under certain circumstances, local preservation may be limited to the intellectual content and not to the work in its original format. Specific examples would be:

  • New Brunswick and other newspapers that are preserved in microfilm; and
  • when storage space is lacking, journals that are digitized and available in a stable electronic full-text version. (The guidelines outlined in Section VI c would apply.)

UNB Libraries participate both financially and actively in the NB Newspaper Preservation Project that coordinates the microfilming of New Brunswick newspapers.

There is a legitimate concern for the long-term archiving and provision of access to electronic journals and other resources. Several viable preservation models exist today: JSTOR; LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe); society archives such as those of the American Chemical Society; and publisher-library partnerships, such as Elsevier`s agreements with the University of Toronto and the National Library of the Netherlands. UNB Libraries already supports some of these initiatives and will continue to monitor developments in this area, implementing options that are judged to have the greatest long-term potential.

A separate “position paper” on the archiving of electronic resources is being prepared to complement this policy.

XII. Scholarly Communication

UNB Libraries share the concern of academic libraries around the globe that access to information is threatened by the rising costs of journal subscriptions and the increasing commercialization of scholarly publishing. Many initiatives have been launched in recent years to provide alternatives to these trends, from consortium licensing of full publisher lists to the introduction of lower-priced competitor titles in various fields, to the development of institutional repositories of faculty research. Only time will tell how successful these initiatives will be, and particularly how successful will be attempts at open archiving and the creation of new modes of scholarly communication.

While recognizing that some initiatives will not survive, UNB Libraries are committed to supporting the exploration of potentially more cost-effective models for managing scholarly communication in a global environment, to the ultimate benefit of the UNB and STU community.

XIII. Reporting and Review of Policy

Currently the Director of UNB Libraries reports to the University Senate once a year on the state of libraries, their accomplishments, challenges and financial requirements. The Director also provides reports on a more frequent basis to the Senate Library Committee.

The departmental library representatives receive regular written budget reports and annual budget overviews prepared by the Head of Collections and Public Services. An annual fall meeting is held to discuss issues of common concern. Communiqués are occasionally produced and distributed and library news items are posted on the website.

In an effort to better communicate with the university community on collections issues, an annual report will henceforth be produced and made available by the Head of Collections and Public Services. The report will be prepared at the end of each fiscal year and distributed to the Deans and the library representatives in September and posted to the library web site.

XIV. Appendices

(View the Appendices)

  • Approved by the Library Board, February 21, 2003
  • Endorsed by the Senate Library Committee, March 13, 2003
  • Approved by the UNB Senate, November 25, 2003

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