Collection Development

collection development

This policy states the guidelines that the Library at St. Mary's College of Maryland uses in its acquisition and maintenance of materials.


Our primary goal is the support of the college's undergraduate academic programs. Institutional goals, as stated in the college catalog include:

As a public college of the liberal arts, St. Mary's College of Maryland aims to educate its students to lead productive and satisfying lives as citizens. To accomplish this goal, the program of study is designed to provide an excellent public general education, to promote competence in at least one academic field, and to help each student develop skills of analysis and expression necessary for a life of value in work and pleasure.

Selection Responsibility

Responsibility for development and maintenance of the library's collection resides with the library faculty liaisons. A librarian works as liaison to each academic division and each cross-disciplinary program. In addition, these librarians are also responsible for managing funds allocated for the Reference collection, the Popular Reading collection, the Maryland collection, and the Library General collection.

Faculty members are strongly encouraged to participate in the collection development process by submitting requests for materials that support the curriculum and research needs of students and which may also support faculty research needs. The librarians approve use of funds and try to insure that the collection remains balanced. Requests from administrative and support staff, and from students, are also welcome, and are reviewed by the same standards as are requests from other sources.

Fund Allocation

The library's budget is divided among allocations for monographs, periodicals, and electronic resources. The monograph budget is divided among the academic divisions/departments, the cross-disciplinary programs, the Popular Reading collection, the Maryland collection, the Enhancement Fund, the Replacement Fund, and the Library General collection. The amount allocated to the academic units is built on a formula that takes into account the number of credit hours in each major, average cost of materials in the field, and circulation. The formula has been approved by the Academic Resource Committee.

Selection Guidelines

The institutional goals provide the framework for selection. The library recognizes its dual responsibility to support both the undergraduate teaching mission of the college and the research needs of the faculty. The library endeavors to provide materials of both types through both acquisition and access (including document delivery) whenever feasible. At a lower priority, the library also serves the entire college community through the purchase of recreational, cultural, and general information materials.

The quality of content and fulfillment of academic curricular needs are the first criteria used to evaluate potential purchases. Specific considerations include:

  • appropriateness of level of content
  • strength of present holdings in same or similar subject areas
  • cost
  • suitability of format to content
  • lasting value of content
  • authoritativeness of author or publisher

Other considerations:

  • Textbooks are not usually purchased.  Exceptions may be made for those which are considered classics in their field or in fields where a textbook may be the best source of information on a particular topic.
  • Duplicates are purchased only under unusual circumstances or in the case of faculty publications (one copy is stored in the Library Board Room).
  • In some instances the holdings of our consortial partners in the University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions (USMAI) may be taken into consideration when making acquisitions decisions.
  • When there is an option of paper or hardcopy, the choice is based on expected use, lasting value of content, and cost differential.
  • Lost or stolen materials are considered for replacement within a year if they are still available.
  • Except for foreign language dictionaries and literature materials, the library acquires primarily English language resources.
  • The majority of selections are current publications (within the past 5-8 years).  The library recognizes the need for retrospective purchases and may devote funds from the Enhancement budget to support such requests, particularly from new faculty members or new academic programs.


The serials collection is an on-going budget commitment for the library and requires its own collection development policy. Please read the Serials Collection Development Policy for information about the library's journal, newspaper and magazine subscriptions.

Non-Print Material

Requests for non-print materials are evaluated on the same basis as are monographs, with special emphasis on the suitability of the format to the content, and on the quality of the production. Non-print materials include VHS, DVD, music CDs, computer software, and electronic online resources. Requests for these materials are managed by the library faculty liaison. DVD has been identified as the default video format type whenever possible (video purchased from Popular Reading Collection funds may continue to be purchased in VHS).  Online sources will be evaluated by all librarians, especially research databases and reference resources.  Many online purchases represent ongoing financial commitments and should be considered in conjunction with anticipated use, budget predictions, relevance to the curriculum, and product evaluation.

Separate Collections

Most materials that are obtained are integrated into the general collection. The major exceptions are described below.

  • Special Collections
    The library maintains two special collections that are separated from the rest of the collection in locked areas. Archival collections of St. Mary's College and a separate serial and monograph collection are housed in the Maryland Room which is kept locked. The serial and monograph collection includes materials focused on early Maryland as well as some other items of rarity or value.
  • Maryland Collection
    This collection is housed near the Reeves-Garner Reading Room. It includes a variety of historical works, state publications, scientific works, fiction,and college-related materials.
  • Popular Reading Collection
    This is a small collection of popular or best-selling books. The collection is housed in the Reeves-Garner Reading Room and is intended to promote and support leisure reading for all members of the college and library community.
  • Non-Print Collection
    The films (VHS and DVD), LPs, computer software, music CDs, and other multimedia materials are housed behind the Circulation Desk for security reasons.


As a general rule the same collection criteria are applied to donated items as purchased items. Read the Gifts and Donations Policy for more information.

Collection Preservation, Maintenance, and Weeding

Preservation efforts in the library are focused on keeping materials in good repair. This includes maintaining even temperatures and humidity control in the building. In addition repairs are made to monographs in-house or by sending them for binding. In some cases monographs may be totally replaced with new copies. Periodicals are bound in-house, replaced with microfilm, or sent for binding. Student workers are taught to handle materials with care which should increase their longevity.

Weeding is an important aspect of collection development in the college library. The librarians work collaboratively to make decisions about withdrawals from the reference collection (for new editions or outdated materials). Some materials are moved into the permanent circulating collection. Other sections of the library are evaluated by the library faculty liaison who selects in that area. Faculty are encouraged to participate in this process by reviewing materials or offering advice on specific items whenever possible.

Cooperative Networks

Collection development plans and decisions have been significantly impacted by the library's participation in a number of library networks.  The library is currently a member of

Intellectual Freedom

The Library at St. Mary's College of Maryland supports the American Library Association's Bill of Rights, its Resolution on Challenged Materials, and its Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries.  The library attempts to purchase materials which represent differing opinions on controversial matters.  Selection is made without bias regarding matters of race, sex, religion, or moral philosophy.