Collection Development Policy
The Ekstrom Library Reference Collection is a core collection of highly used general and specialized sources of information. The purpose of the collection is to provide core resources for fact-finding and bibliographic research which will allow quick and accurate identification of needed information. By separating selected, heavily used materials into a distinct location, convenient for library users at all times, and restricting its use to on-site consultation, users' questions can be answered more efficiently and thoroughly than if the reference materials were available for circulation.
The reference subject specialists will formally review the Reference Collection Development Policy every 5 years.
- Criteria for the Reference Collection
- Subject Scope
The Ekstrom Library has the primary responsibility for serving the entire university community in the Humanities and Social & Life Sciences. In addition, it must meet graduate and faculty research needs. Only the most basic tools, to serve the general undergraduate and answer elementary reference queries, will be provided in those areas which are served by branch or professional school libraries: physical sciences, engineering, law, art, music, and health sciences. Further, the collection should reflect the major thrust of the university's goals: i.e., the urban mission, diversity, and continuing education.
It is assumed that through liaison activities and regular communication channels with the teaching departments the Reference Librarians will keep abreast of specific curriculum needs and program developments.
Sources are included in the reference collection primarily because they provide access to book, report, and journal literature (indexes, abstracts, bibliographies, and electronic databases); provide concise, factual information (directories, almanacs, dictionaries, atlases and statistical compilations), or give general background information on a topic (encyclopedias and handbooks).
Purchase priorities should be: current print and electronic sources which specifically support the University curriculum, new degrees, professional programs, and institutes. The price of materials should be weighed against the degree of need and available funds.
Materials are chosen for inclusion in the reference collection only if they meet the selection criteria based on authoritativeness, currency, comprehensiveness, and ease of use and value to our users. Cooperation is encouraged among the Metroversity libraries; every effort should be made not to duplicate expensive and highly specialized reference materials.
Materials not in Reference:
The following categories of materials are not generally part of the reference collection because they are part of other collections:
- Auction records
- Bibliographic and handbooks regarding the history of printing (These materials will be housed with the Rare Books Collection.)
- Genealogies (This library does not collect genealogies because of the comprehensive nature of the Filson Club and the Louisville Free Public Library)
- University records
(These materials are retained in University Archives & Record Center)
- General Policies
- Approval Plans: Books received on approval plans that are appropriate may be designated by a reference librarian to be located in the reference collection.
- Duplicates: Duplicates within the reference collection are rare. As a rule, any duplicate of a reference book which the Ekstrom Library receives will be put in the general stacks. There are some major tools which duplicate holdings of the branch or professional school libraries because they are the single source for a subject area or because they receive excessive use.
- Electronic Resources: Primary criteria for selection of electronic resources are no different than those for selection of traditional reference materials. Authoritativeness, currency, comprehensiveness, ease of use, and value to users should be the initial screening criteria. However, electronic materials must also meet the standards of selected secondary criteria:
- Access/Networking Capabilities
Resources available to many users simultaneously are preferred over single-user systems. Preference will be given to products accessible on any University campus computer and the computers of authorized users at remote sites.
- Systems and Technical Support
Library systems staff must be able to provide assistance and troubleshoot problems with software. The quality of the technical support from the vendor and their responsiveness to problems must also be evaluated if possible.
- Simultaneous Users
The number of simultaneous users supported by the systems must be sufficient to meet the needs of the University community. The cost per simultaneous user should be considered.
The licensing agreement or contract must be carefully reviewed to ensure that the Library maintains its rights for "fair use" and the resource is accessible to all University faculty, staff, and students.
- Software Requirements
Preference will be given to resources that require minimal special software.
- Language: Priority is given to books in English, but foreign language titles should be included if they are superior to or compliment the English works available.
- New Editions: Each title should be reviewed on an individual basis, and a new edition purchased or standing order placed as needed.
- Paperbound books: Hardbound books are preferred for the collection. However, paperbacks may be substituted if they are the only format available.
- Types of Materials
- Almanacs, Directories, Yearbooks, Annuals: Current editions of sources are kept in Reference, with most earlier editions being housed in the general stacks. Representative encyclopedia yearbooks and some annual review publications are retained to provide a year-by-year historic record as far back as possible. If the title is not to be replaced by any later edition, it should be considered for transfer to the general stacks for historical reference, or withdrawn if not of permanent value.
- Bibliographies - Author: Critical bibliographies of major authors will be in Reference. Most bibliographies of author's works will be in the stacks unless curriculum needs or frequent demand makes their retention in Reference preferable.
- Bibliographies - Subject: Subject bibliographies in high demand and of special current interest are housed in Reference. All others will be kept in the general stacks.
- Biographical Sources: The Reference collection will contain both retrospective and current biographical tools dealing with professional, national and international groups. Specialized dictionaries having relevance to the region and/or curriculum will also be included. Usually only the latest editions of biographical directories will be in reference, the superseded editions being transferred to the general stacks.
- Concordances: Concordances housed in reference should be limited to major works and authors such as the Bible and Shakespeare. Others will be in the general stacks.
- Dictionaries: English language dictionaries kept in reference will include the standard unabridged works; a selection of the most authoritative current general dictionaries; usage, slang, dialect, and etymological dictionaries; and a representative selection of such specialized aids as rhyming, synonym, and pronunciation dictionaries. Representative English/foreign language dictionaries will be kept in Reference with a selection of the most authoritative for the major languages. The major unilingual dictionaries of the major living and dead foreign languages of the world are in Reference, including slang and dialect dictionaries for those languages taught in the university curriculum.
- Encyclopedias: The print reference collection includes the standard adult encyclopedias in English, and usually one new set is ordered annually. There is at least one encyclopedia set in Russian and each of the major European languages.
- Geographical sources: The Reference collection contains authoritative atlases and gazetteers sufficient to cover all areas of the world. Thematic, general world, and regional atlases will be the most recent editions, while the historical atlases should be standard. A small current map collection of major cities is maintained for ready-reference use.
- Handbooks, Companions: These materials should be included in Reference on the basis of the need for coverage within the subject area. They should be authoritative and up-to-date.
- Histories: While monographs and textbooks will be kept to a minimum, there should be a standard history for each major country or region and for Kentucky and Louisville.
- Periodical Directories and Union Lists: Bibliographies of periodicals and newspapers are housed in Reference and should include the major international directories, national bibliographies and union lists.
- Periodical Indexes and Abstracts: Reference will have as many current and retrospective indexes and abstracts within the humanities, social sciences and life sciences as the budget permits. There will not be an attempt to purchase all indexes to general popular literature which can be found at the Louisville Free Public Library. Print indexes to individual periodicals will usually be shelved with the periodical, but Reference will house those of frequent and broad-based usage.
- Plot Summaries: Reference houses standard comprehensive sets of plot summaries, but does not include study guides.
- Sacred Books: The reference collection will include English translations of the sacred books of the world's major religions.
- Statistical Yearbooks: An effort will be made to purchase as many statistical yearbooks of domestic and international statistical sources as the budget allows, and to update them on a regular basis with outdated issues being transferred to the stacks.
- Style Manuals: The reference collection will contain the general standard style manuals and those for specialized areas included in the university curriculum.
- Subject dictionaries and encyclopedias: Reference will keep all standard authoritative subject encyclopedias except those of specialized area served by the professional school and branch libraries. A selection of the most useful and current dictionaries for each subject, including subjects excluded above, should be included for general reference purposes.
- PROCEDURES APPLYING TO THE REFERENCE COLLECTION
- Acquisition of Materials
- Selection Process: All reference librarians participate in selection of reference materials and each has subject areas of responsibility. The Department collaborates on large purchase decisions, electronic formats and major cancellations.
- Ordering Process: A designated member of Reference maintains ultimate responsibility for overall quality and completeness of the reference collection and serves as collection coordinator. Duties will include tracking orders, monitoring fund balances, and serving as liaison with Collection Management.
- Quality Standards: The following guidelines should be considered for all
titles and formats recommended for purchase, in addition to the subject, scope
and selection criteria already discussed:
- Favorable reviews or inclusion in a reputable bibliography
- Reputation of the author and/or publisher
- Currency of the topic
- Relevancy to support of University curriculum
- Collection Evaluation
The collection will be continuously evaluated by each reference librarian through attention to the resources during regular use. Each reference librarian should formally review their assigned subject areas at least every five years.
The collection is regularly weeded of unneeded superceded editions when new editions are received. Inappropriate materials are withdrawn whenever noticed by reference librarians. The formal weeding process shall include an analysis of each title in terms of the criteria for the collection, ordering of more recently published materials when appropriate, and designation of withdrawn items. Since all Reference personnel contribute to selection of materials, there should be a general consensus (though not necessarily unanimous) among reference librarians before major titles are removed from the collection.
GN & SJ 12/01