Serials Collection Development Policy

collection development

The serials collection is an on-going budget commitment for the library and requires its own collection development policy. Most of our periodicals are made available electronically through subscription license agreements. Each year, the annual subscription and renewal costs rise at a rate greater than the rate of inflation. The Periodical Price Survey conducted by Library Journal projected a 6 to 7% increase in subscription costs for 2014 and estimated a 6% increase in both 2012 and 2013.

Selecting New Subscriptions

The library subscribes to periodicals that largely support the curricular and research needs of students and faculty.  To recommend a periodical, faculty should consult with their departmental colleagues and librarian liaison to determine if the title is appropriate for the collection and how well it fits the evaluation criteria listed below.  Priority will be given to recommendations from a department or cross-disciplinary program which add value to the collection and support student and faculty research.  It is the best use of library funds to start subscriptions with the intent of maintaining them for the long term.  Recommendations for new subscriptions will be considered as part of the journal collection renewal and review process described below.  Exceptions may be made in cases where a new program is created, a program changes focus, or a new faculty member with new teaching interests joins the College.

The following criteria are used to evaluate a title for new subscription:

  • relevance to the curriculum
  • accessibility through an indexing and abstracting source and/or database to which the library subscribes
  • usage or demand as indicated by past Interlibrary Loan data
  • interdisciplinary nature of the periodical and expected number of students and faculty who may benefit from a subscription
  • subscription cost and projected availability of funds
  • uniqueness of subject coverage
  • reputation of the journal and stability of the publisher or vendor

The Renewal and Review Process

The library strives to support a renewal process that is collaborative, responsive to changing models of scholarly communication, and reliant on usage statistics for data-driven decision making.

The following criteria are used to evaluate if a subscription will be renewed or cancelled:

  • continued relevance to the curriculum
  • adequate usage as indicated by usage data
  • subscription cost and the projected availability of funds

Periodical subscriptions renew annually.  Journal reviews by department will occur on a rotating basis and when practical, will be scheduled in conjunction with departmental program reviews.  These reviews are opportune times to make recommendations for changes to current subscriptions, and consider the long term curricular needs of the department.  We strongly encourage faculty to be involved in the process.  Department chairs can expect to be notified during the preceding semester of an upcoming journal review.  During the review semester, usage statistics will be available early in the semester so academic departments and their librarian liaison can make and share recommendations throughout the semester.  

Due to budget constraints and the ever-increasing cost of subscriptions, the library may not be able to start new subscriptions at the time of a journal review or when a faculty member or department recommends a title.  We welcome recommendations and will do our best to fill as many requests as possible, as funding allows and as guided by the selection process.

A list of all periodical titles recommended for cancellation in a given renewal cycle will be posted on the library’s website.  After the list is posted, faculty members will be notified and given a time frame during which feedback may be provided.  A periodical will not be cancelled without notification to the appropriate academic department(s).

Converting Periodical Subscriptions From Print to Electronic Format

The Library makes most of its periodicals available in electronic format to increase access and meet the expectations of its users.  A few exceptions do exist.  Some periodicals have content (e.g. images and figures) that is better read in print form, or electronic format is only available to individual and not institutional subscribers, or is prohibitively expensive.  All new subscriptions will be in electronic format unless, for one of the reasons above, print is the better option.

The following criteria are used to decide to convert a print periodical subscription to an electronic subscription:

  • accessibility and ease of access for all members of the campus community
  • ease of readability
  • price difference between print and electronic subscriptions


If you have questions about whether a periodical should be converted to electronic format, consult with your librarian liaison