Collection Development Policy


  1. Introduction
  2. History
  3. Communities
  4. Authority
  5. Selection
  6. Budgeting
  7. Formats
  8. Accessibility
  9. Decision Making
  10. Technology and Scholarly Communication
  11. Conclusion
  12. Appendices

I. Introduction

The Iowa State University Library acknowledges the importance of collections and access in its mission statement, charging its librarians and staff to “select, organize, present, and preserve information resources for present and future scholarly communities". The purpose of this document is to make the Iowa State University community aware of the ISU Library’s priorities and principles for building and stewarding its collections, and to provide guidance to those responsible for supporting the collections through selection, processing, maintenance, preservation, and administrative activities. This policy is in accordance with the mission of the Iowa State University Library as well as that of the University itself. As University programs and their information needs change, the collection development policy will also change to reflect and meet those needs.

Library Mission Statement

Iowa State University Library aspires to be the first place that people in the ISU community think of when they need information. We are creative partners in learning and teaching, research, and outreach. We select, organize, present, preserve, and promote information resources for present and future scholarly communities. We are active stewards of our rich collections of knowledge, and we provide innovative services in ways that anticipate needs and respect the diversity of community and ideas.

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II. History of the Collection and Collection Development at ISU

The Library was first housed in Old Main and an initial purchase of $2,500 for books for the library was made in 1870 by President Welch. From 1873 to 1877, students in the positions of Librarian and Assistant Librarian staffed the Library. In 1878, J. C. Arthur was appointed Librarian on a part-time basis, in addition to his duties as Demonstrator of Botany and Zoology. Flora Wilson was the first full-time Librarian, appointed in 1894. The Library was moved to Morrill Hall in 1896 and to the Central Building (now Beardshear Hall) in 1913. By this time, only a small segment of the collection was located in the Main Library. Most of the volumes were housed in reading rooms in various campus buildings. In 1925, a new library building was completed and the decision was made to consolidate the collections and house all of the Library's 115,000 volumes under one roof. The new facility was not large enough to allow for adequate expansion and was outgrown in five years, but it was not until 1959 that the Legislature appropriated $1,312,500 to build an addition to the Library. This addition was completed in 1961, with a second addition completed in 1969. A third addition was completed in 1983. In addition to the main library (Parks) there are also the Design Reading Room (established in the Fall of 1978) and the Veterinary Medicine Library was established in the Fall of 1976.

The ISU Library provides comprehensive collections to support research and study through the master’s level in most fields and at the doctoral level in 84 areas of specialization. Especially strong collections in the fields of science and technology are based on extensive holdings of periodicals/serials and monographs. Nationally recognized collections include those in entomology, botany, chemistry, economics, agriculture, engineering, veterinary medicine, and home economics. In addition, the Special Collections and University Archives collects rare books, manuscripts, audiovisual materials including motion picture film, university records, and maintains several thousand significant archival collections. The library collects in most formats and during the past ten years has placed a growing emphasis on electronic formats.

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III. Communities

The Iowa State University community of faculty, staff, and students, including affiliated programs and research institutes, represents the primary user group for the University Library collections. The ISU Library collection development policies support the instructional, outreach, and research objectives of Iowa State University as Iowa’s land-grant institution.

Beyond the University community, the Library also participates in a variety of consortial and cooperative agreements with other research libraries and collections. These include statewide (Regents Institutions Consortium, State Library of Iowa, SILO), regional (Greater Western Library Alliance, formerly the Big 12 Plus), and national (OCLC, Center for Research Libraries) agreements that relate to access and responsibility for cooperative collection development in the interests of the members of each consortium. Through these agreements, Iowa State University enjoys reciprocal access to the collections of other libraries as well as the opportunity to share bibliographic information associated with acquisition, maintenance, preservation, and resource sharing. As a Federal government depository, the ISU Library is a valuable resource for the citizens of Iowa.

Finally, the Library plays a significant role in the larger international community by making its collections accessible to both general and scholarly users beyond our national borders to the outside world. The University Library recognizes its responsibilities to share its resources with the global community.

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IV. Authority


The Dean of Library Services is responsible for overall administration of the Iowa State University Library, including authority over the Materials and Access Budget. The annual allocations of this budget are developed by the Associate Dean for Collections and Technical Services in consultation with the Dean of Library Services and implemented with the Dean’s approval.

Associate Dean for Collections and Technical Services / Subject Librarians

The Associate Dean for Collections and Technical Services develops the annual allocations of the Materials and Access Budget based on the University Library’s strategic plan, the Public Services and Collections operational plan, and the needs of individual programs. Subject Librarians interact regularly with faculty and students in their subjects’ programs, tracking developments and changes in these programs in order to identify specific materials and programmatic funding needs. Subject Librarians, make spending decisions within each of their subject areas for most titles; expensive purchases must be approved by the Collections Coordinator.

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V. Selection

Selection at Iowa State University is performed by Liaison Librarians, who are responsible for the full life-cycle of information, from its point of selection to its possible withdrawal. The Liaison Librarians are in regular contact with members of the ISU community, especially faculty, graduate students and research staff. These interactions allow them to track and act upon the development and obsolescence of disciplines, to understand the interdisciplinary nature of scholarship at ISU, and to examine the balance of ownership and access. Because of the on-going relationships with those who conduct research and advanced instruction, the Liaison Librarians are able to provide research-level information services to their clientele.

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VI. Budgeting

The primary source of funding for Library acquisitions is derived from the Iowa Legislature’s annual budget line devoted to the libraries at the three Regents universities. The base budget for the Iowa State University Library Materials and Access Budget is a line allocation within the university’s General Fund. The President as advised by the Provost makes increases and decreases to the budget lines. This money is then divided into numerous smaller line amounts by the Associate Dean for Collections and Technical Services to support the acquisition of materials for individual subject areas. The Iowa State University Foundation also provides money through gifts from donors.

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VII. Formats

The ISU Library’s overarching collection policy covers virtually all existing formats of recorded information, and has the potential to encompass formats yet to be developed. These formats include, but are not limited to, print resources (monographs, serials, maps, technical reports, documents, manuscripts, dissertations, drawings, prints, photographs), microformats, media (audio recordings, film, multimedia), digital resources (bibliographic databases, images, encoded text, numeric and spatial data), software, and realia. Subject Librarians must be vigilant in exploring the functionality and usefulness of newly developing formats, to ensure that they will be used to make recorded knowledge more readily available to the academic community served by the ISU Library, and to protect the present and future research needs of the academic community in the publishing marketplace.

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VIII. Accessibility

We strive to acquire electronic resources that are accessible for persons with disabilities and all our communities. Toward this end, we make accessibility inquiries and testing a standard part of the selection to acquisition process. We make informed and intentional decisions, as well as communicate with vendors the ongoing need for products that are accessible to people with disabilities and all our users.

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IX. Decision-Making Factors

Subject Librarians consider a range of factors in their decision-making, including program relevance, collection depth, quality, price, and language. Selection decisions take into consideration the attendant factors of staff costs, storage, space, and necessary hardware/software, as well as available resources and collection commitments of other institutions. Each subject area is covered by a collection development policy for that area accessible from the list appended to this document.

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X. Technology and Scholarly Communication

The new technologies that are transforming collection development require a broad view of librarianship. The intellectual resources that make up the collections of the University e-Library are crucial to effective scholarship and learning. Once a database is acquired and made available for remote access, use comes from across the university in ways that often cannot be predicted on a discipline-by-discipline basis. Also, cooperation with other units on campus is essential for the delivery of modern information resources.

The world of scholarly and scientific communication is undergoing tumultuous change. Faculty and students expect to have current, authenticated, and easily manipulated information in textual, graphical, and audio-visual formats available at their workstations, whether on the main campus or at remote locations. Sometimes these expectations are compatible, and sometimes they are not. Publishers are undertaking radical programs that in some cases will bring information to users without the intermediation of libraries or other parties.

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XI. Conclusion

With the library's diminishing ability to own all of the desired information, the economics of access has become a crucial issue. Integrating access as a part of the collection development policy is a modern necessity and provides some decided advantages to the library as an information provider. The developments in electronic information systems have made it possible for libraries to provide awareness of the vast amount of information available for use. While the library cannot hold all of the material relevant to its users in its collection, it can provide access to some of the vast amount of information available for use in other collections. This type of access requires that the library engage in cooperative collection development, resource sharing, and document delivery systems. The trend is toward availability of information in electronic formats. When it is determined that access on demand is more economically feasible in terms of storage, projected use, and cost, this option can enhance the library's ability to expand the information base available to its primary users.

The unique role, the added value, of academic librarians has always been their ability to bring together an understanding of the publishing world with an understanding of the academic enterprise and the local institution, and then to acquire relevant materials and make them available. The new technologies do not change this basic nexus of academic information, but rather help to extend the library’s reach.

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