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WKU Libraries Collection Development Policy

Adopted: Library Leadership Council, Department Heads, and Dean of Libraries
December 10, 2012; revised September 28, 2015

WKU Libraries Collection Development Policy Committee: Jack Montgomery (Chair), Allison Day, Amanda Drost, and Lisa Miller


Western Kentucky University (WKU) is an educational institution offering comprehensive baccalaureate and specialized graduate research programs. University Libraries develops collections to support the current and anticipated instructional, research, and service programs of the University in an effort to ensure that faculty, students, and other users have access to a broad and diversified range of scholarly resources. We will:

  • foster innovative research and creative thinking
  • integrate artistic and cultural resources
  • provide expert assistance with and instruction for information resources
  • maximize digital technologies and develop networked resources that enhance learning
  • create an exemplary program of outreach to the University community and beyond

Statement of Purpose

The purpose of this collection development policy is to guide the University Libraries in fulfilling its mission by ensuring quality and relevance in the acquisition and retention of materials in various formats. An effective policy reflects the changing vision, goals, and objectives of the University and of the Libraries while continually evaluating resources and services.

The policy will serve as a framework for collection decisions in an environment of increasing costs, advances in information technology, proliferation of electronic publishing and multiplication of digital information choices.

Collection Development Criteria

The mission of the University Libraries is to support the quest for knowledge, understanding, creativity, and innovation. As such, the University Libraries strives to identify appropriate resources for research and instruction, and to acquire or to provide access to them at levels appropriate to the scope and depth of University programs. Selections should:

  • support academic programs at all levels, from core curriculum to graduate and professional programs, with special attention to required or suggested resources for course assignments and research projects
  • support the independent and research needs of WKU students and faculty
  • support the administrative information needs, library staff development, and institutional research projects
  • provide access to high-quality digital resources for all members of the WKU community
  • support information mastery and lifelong learning interests for the WKU community-at-large

The collection should then reflect a commitment to:

  • the representation of a variety of viewpoints
  • objectivity and accuracy of library holdings
  • consider professional reviews or recommendations in the selection process, as well as considering the reputation of authors or publishers
  • the collection of a wide variety of formats appropriate to subjects

The University Libraries supports principles outlined by the Library Bill of Rights (American Library Association), the Freedom to Read Statement (American Library Association and Association of American Publishers), and the Freedom to View Statement (American Film and Video Association).

Selection of Materials Procedures for the University Libraries (with the exception of Special Collections)

Selection of materials is completed in several ways:

  • Subject librarians serve as liaisons to WKU’s academic departments and programs. Additionally, specific university programs have library representatives. In collaboration, the subject librarians and library representatives build the collection based on curricular and research needs.

    Several subject areas have developed systematic acquisition plans. These plans provide expeditious and efficient acquisition of materials from a vendor.
  • Suggestion forms are available to encourage ideas from all patrons.

For these procedures, final acquisitions authority resides with the professional judgment of the subject librarian or the Coordinator of Collection Services.

Considerations for the various formats

The University Libraries collects bibliographic materials, e-books, full-text files, numeric data files, and graphic and multimedia files as appropriate to the collection criteria.

Courseware and instructional programs are usually not collected. In general, databases that allow users only to access journal articles and other online documents are considered for purchase by the Libraries. Software that allows users to manipulate data should be considered for purchase by the requesting academic department or Information Technology. WKU Libraries does not acquire site licenses to software or courseware for the purpose of distribution to users within the University.

Whenever possible, University Libraries is committed to electronic formats that will provide the best access for all users, on campus and remote.

Printed monographs (books, documents)

  • inclusion on course reading lists
  • the need for materials in the subject area
  • reference queries and faculty and student requests
  • interlibrary loan requests
  • faculty selection for new and existing courses as a part of the new course proposal program

Printed serial subscriptions

  • publisher type and reputation
  • importance in subject discipline (inclusion in standard bibliographies and guides)
  • peer reviewed status (for scholarly journals)
  • inclusion in major indexing/abstracting services
  • number of current subscriptions in the subject area
  • usage of current subscriptions in same subject area based on shelving statistics
  • interlibrary loan services statistics showing requests (or lack thereof) for title

Serials and Microform back files

The same criteria used for printed subscriptions apply; electronic journals and microform back files will be preferred when available due to cost effectiveness, lack of space and potential use. Library users prefer downloading or printing articles from digital journal collections to using microfilm (or even print) formats.

Audiovisual media

The audiovisual collection of WKU Libraries is intended to support research, programs, and curricula. Television series fall outside the normal definition of film and video; therefore, WKU Libraries can only consider such series that are directly tied to the curriculum and requested through formal channels by a professor. All collection suggestions are subject to budget considerations. Two criteria are used to evaluate audiovisual media for the collection:

  • Is the item intended for frequent use as in classroom viewing or course assignments?
  • Is the material of specific interest to the research and program needs of faculty and the curricula?

Electronic (digital) resources (see Appendix A)

The University Libraries acquires electronic resources to support instruction and research. Subject librarians and the Electronic and Continuing Resources Committee make cost-effective and appropriate purchase decisions. While general criteria (as stated in the Collection Development Policy) apply to the selection of most electronic titles, the management of this format is more complex. Issues to consider that are not associated with traditional formats are:

  • differences in mode of access (networked access/remote, networked access/campus, networked access/library, stand-alone, etc.) and pricing options (subscription, network costs, by the search, fee/subsidized/free to users, etc.)
  • authorization of remote users (by IP address, password, etc.)
  • hardware and software required to operate or access electronic formats
  • impact on the library departments (staff and user training, documentation, and troubleshooting; especially with services accessed outside of the library)

For General Policies & Procedures – See Appendix A, Electronic and Continuing Resources Committee (ECRC): General Procedures
When a digital subscription provides a high quality product to more users at a cost comparable to the print alternatives, the digital resource is preferred. The choice of electronic only is preferable to dual electronic/print subscriptions at additional cost. Other factors considered are:

  • the reputation of the vendor for reliability and technical support
  • quality of content
  • user interface (ease of searching and retrieving documents)
  • cost vs. value, including relative merits of corresponding print or microform options
  • potential use by many students and faculty
  • licensing, copyright, and archival rights issues
  • subscriptions available through consortial arrangements are preferred over local subscriptions because of pricing and technical support
  • Electronic Resources Collection Development Policy guidelines

Supporting Hardware/Software

The availability of appropriate hardware and software should be considered during the selection process. In most cases, the University Libraries will not select an electronic title for which it will not provide hardware and software for access.

Level of Access and Associated Services

WKU Libraries will support several levels of access, with associated levels of service, to electronic materials. The goal is to provide the widest possible affordable access to students, faculty, staff and the growing community of online and distance learners in the greater WKU community.
To determine the level of access, the Collection Services Coordinator and Electronic Resources Librarian will consult with the requestor to consider the anticipated use (user population, extent of use, type of use, etc.) and the associated costs (price, hardware and software, training, etc.).

License Agreements

The University Libraries purchases access to or data from publishers who require signed license agreements. When negotiating license agreements, it keeps the interests of the user in mind and does not purchase titles where the restrictions on use would seriously impede research or be impossible to enforce. The Electronic Resources Librarian coordinates the review of license agreements and submits the signed license agreement as part of the ordering procedure. The University Libraries will try to negotiate agreements with vendors to override limitations to concurrent users for hands-on training purposes.

Consortial Purchases

When advantageous, the University Libraries will participate in consortial agreements (such as KYVL) for access to electronic resources.

Implementation and Support

Implementation and support of networked electronic titles is a shared responsibility of the Collection Services Coordinator, the Electronic Resources Librarian and the Library Systems Office.

Library Materials Budget Allocations

The Collection Services Coordinator, in collaboration with library liaison faculty, allocates the library materials budget to departmental and area fund codes based on the yearly library materials budget from the University.
Factors considered in the allocation may include (but are not limited to):

  • average cost of materials for a given subject area
  • use of existing resources in relevant subject disciplines
  • presence of graduate programs
  • history of expenditures for a given subject
  • new programs or revision of existing programs
  • academic levels – undergraduate/graduate/faculty research percentage of total enrollment head count (FTE)
  • accreditation criteria and schedules
  • distance education and internet courses
  • relative importance of publication formats for the discipline (e.g. serials vs. monographs
  • importance of availability of electronic information resources
  • interlibrary loan statistics

A substantial portion of the library materials budget is reserved for:

  • serials (print) subscriptions and standing orders for annual publications and monograph series
  • electronic subscriptions, including back files when available
  • reference materials
  • selection of items for the circulating collection by the librarians

These factors will be criteria for selection decisions and for allocation of funds for each academic program/discipline area. The allocation process will take into account needs for information resources in all formats. Collection reviews and allocation distribution for colleges and departments will reflect the ongoing costs of print and electronic subscriptions in relevant subject areas. Profiles will be reviewed annually or when new or changed programs and courses are proposed.

General Collecting Limitations

The University Libraries provides access to a wide variety of formats from print to electronic. However, the following materials are not routinely acquired:

  • duplicate titles except where electronic and paper coexist
  • textbooks or other course materials
  • obsolete media formats
  • foreign language materials not supported by the curriculum
  • materials outside of the current curriculum

The University Libraries maintains memberships in regional and national organizations to provide resources not available locally. The interlibrary loan program is one example of our resource sharing programs.


The University Libraries has a responsibility to acquire a collection which supports the University’s programs. Materials, whether purchased or given, should meet the goals and objectives of the collection development criteria. The University Libraries reserves the right to keep or dispose of any gift materials. We will not provide any appraisal of gifts; the Internal Revenue Service regulations do not allow our libraries to do this.

Selection of Materials Procedures for the Special Collections Library

The department head of Library Special Collections is responsible for the general coordination of the Special Collections Library collection development activities. The library acquires the following:

  • materials that support teaching and research at WKU
  • materials that build on existing strengths in the collection
  • new collections in anticipation of changing academic needs and interests
  • materials that are unique and seldom found in other library collections

The Special Collections Library evaluates potential donations of materials by accession committees comprised of departmental faculty who may consult with resource specialists, departmental liaison librarians, and WKU faculty.

Gifts-in-kind to the Special Collections Library are tax-deductible and should be directed to the department head. Gifts should meet the criteria set by accession committees. Upon acceptance, donors must sign a deed of gift to complete the donation. Disposal of any gift materials are subject to the terms of the deed of gift. 
A small portion of the University Libraries’ book budget is used to purchase some publications and to maintain serial subscriptions.
The University Archives is responsible for the permanent retention of university records as defined in the Kentucky State University Model Schedule. The Archives also accepts donations in multiple formats from faculty, staff, students and alumni of WKU.

Collection Assessment, Weeding and Withdrawal

Collection assessment is conducted by subject liaison librarians. Basically, the same criteria used for initial selection apply to evaluation of existing resources:

  • quality/authority of authors and publishers
  • currency, when applicable
  • requirements for program accreditation or inclusion on course reading lists
  • inclusion in authoritative, current bibliographies (e.g., Annual Reviews)

Additional criteria for de-selection or retention of existing resources include:

  • condition
  • record of past use (checkouts, re-shelving statistics, electronic resource usage statistics)
  • estimates of future use
  • space considerations (duplicate copies of low-use items will be withdrawn)
  • electronic access

Collection assessment of the Special Collections Library is conducted by Special Collections library faculty and is subject to the terms of any pertinent deeds of gift.

TopSCHOLAR© Institutional Repository

An institutional repository is an online locus for collecting, preserving, and disseminating, in digital form, the intellectual output of an institution; particularly a research institution. 

TopSCHOLAR® is a digital archive, as well as a new discovery path for primary research and creative works at WKU. Each deposit receives a permanent URL that one can copy into an email, vita, or elsewhere and open at the document level. WKU faculty, staff, and faculty-sponsored students are encouraged to publish in TopSCHOLAR®. TopSCHOLAR® also provides a system for launching new publications and capturing conference presentations. For details please see TopSCHOLAR©’s homepage at

Appendix A

Electronic and Continuing Resources Committee (ECRC) General Procedures

ECRC committee members:

Coordinator, Electronic and Continuing Resources (Laura DeLancey)

Coordinator, Collection Services/Acquisitions (Jack Montgomery)
Coordinator, Systems (currently Nelda Sims)
1 Librarian, Public Services (currently Carol Watwood)
1 Librarian, Special Collections (currently Nancy Richey)
Serials Accounting Specialist (Tracy Bryant)

Procedure for New Resource Requests

New resources are proposed using a PDF form, available online at Suggestions for new resources are normally produced by subject librarian/liaisons, but may also come from department heads, the library dean or patrons. The form may be printed and filled out by hand or may be filled out electronically and saved. The completed form is then sent to the Electronic Resources Librarian, either as an electronic document or in print.

Proposals must be received by the Electronic Resources Librarian no later than 1 week before an ECRC meeting, to allow time for processing. The Electronic Resource Librarian sends this document to the Serials Accounts Specialist, where it is checked for accuracy of information (pricing, publisher, etc.) and processed for presentation to the Electronic and Continuing Resources Committee. It is then returned to the Electronic Resources Librarian.
At the meeting, proposals are passed around to committee members for examination. Committee members may make comments or voice opinions about the proposals. No actual vote is taken on proposals; decisions are driven by a consensus.

Individual members initial approved proposals. The completed proposals are handed to the Serials Account Specialist to begin the activation process.

The Serials Account Specialist makes the initial arrangements for new accounts, with input as needed from the Electronic Resources Librarian and others.

Contracts and legal agreements must be approved and signed by the WKU legal department.

Once an account is created and active, the Electronic Resources Librarian arranges the creation of URLs and access codes for online access of the resource.

Bibliographic entries and Electronic Journal Management entries are completed by Serials Associates. Catalog entries are completed by the TOPCAT Systems Librarian.

ECRC Meetings: Current Practices

Librarians requesting new resources are invited to attend ECRC meetings in order to explain their request, and in the interest of transparent decision making.

The results of the committee meetings are emailed to the committee members, the library department heads and the library dean. Items of particular interest may be promoted via blog posts, email distribution, or through other channels as appropriate.

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 Last Modified 9/28/15