UW Colleges Logo

University of Wisconsin Colleges Libraries
Collection Development Policy

Adopted by University of Wisconsin Centers Library Council 1988 Adopted by University of Wisconsin Centers Senate and Deans 1989
Revised by University of Wisconsin Centers Library Council 1996 Revised by University of Wisconsin Colleges Library Council 2002
Revised by University of Wisconsin Colleges Library Council 2007

The University of Wisconsin Colleges Libraries (UWC Libraries) are an integral part of the educational process in the UW Colleges and the UW System.  The mission statement of the libraries must be interpreted with reference to the select mission and goals statement of the institution.  See Appendix A.

Library Vision and Mission Statement

The vision of the UW Colleges Libraries is to be innovative educational leaders, creating and delivering high-quality, user-focused information resources and services.  The libraries are integral partners in fulfilling the mission of the UW Colleges.  They are the information gateway to the university community, providing resources and services essential for learning, research, and instruction.

Selection Policy

The responsibility for the selection of materials for the libraries' collections lies with all members of the UW Colleges community: faculty, librarians, and staff.  The library staff at each campus acquaints new faculty and staff with general library services and resources, and also promotes input for collection development.  Involvement of faculty and staff in the selection process is critical to building a healthy library collection in support of the curriculum.

The librarians use various standard reviewing tools in selecting materials for the libraries.  These tools are appropriate to academic libraries and generally include sources such as Choice and Library Journal.  Faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to send requests for materials that have been reviewed in their professional journals to the librarians.  Students are also welcome to submit requests for materials that will be useful for their academic needs.  Every effort is made to accommodate requests that conform to stated policy.

Some types of materials and services may not be available at the UWC Libraries.  Patrons who require popular fiction, some popular periodicals, and children's services and collections may find that local public libraries will more effectively meet their needs.

Criteria for Selection

The UWC Libraries will, as first priority, purchase materials in direct support of the freshman/sophomore instructional program.  Factors considered in the selection of materials will include:

1.      Curriculum

2.      Faculty and staff requests

3.      Favorable reviews

4.      Collection balance

5.      Cost

6.      Level/scope

Specific materials selection at each campus library will depend upon the curricular offerings of that campus.  In making selection decisions, consideration of the holdings of other UWC and UW System Libraries will be given in order to provide the broadest access within budgetary limitations, in keeping with the "One System, One Library" theme of the Council of University of Wisconsin Libraries Strategic Directions documents.

Collection Depth

The UWC Libraries' print and electronic collections may be separated into several distinct parts: reference, general circulation, periodicals, and media.

In determining the level of collection development appropriate for the UWC Libraries, the following standard categories have been developed using the Library of Congress Collecting Levels as a guide. (The portions of the Collecting Levels relating to law collections have been omitted from these descriptions as not applicable to the UW Colleges.)

"LEVEL ONE: MINIMAL LEVEL - A subject area in which few selections are made beyond very basic works.

"LEVEL TWO: BASIC INFORMATION LEVEL - A collection of up-to-date general materials that serve to introduce and define a subject and to indicate the varieties of information available elsewhere.  It may include dictionaries, encyclopedias, selected editions of important works, historical surveys, bibliographies, handbooks, a few major periodicals, in the minimum number that will serve the purpose.  A basic information collection is not sufficiently intensive to support any courses of independent study in the subject area involved.

"LEVEL THREE: INSTRUCTIONAL SUPPORT LEVEL - A collection that in a university is adequate to support undergraduate and most graduate instruction, or sustained independent study; that is, adequate to maintain knowledge of a subject required for limited or generalized purposes, of less than research intensity.  It includes a wide range of basic monographs, complete collections of works of more important writers, selections from the works of secondary writers, a selection of representative journals, and reference tools and fundamental bibliographical apparatus pertaining to the subject."

The UWC Libraries will attempt to meet the guidelines set forth for LEVELS ONE and TWO in supporting freshman and sophomore instruction.  The level of collection development achieved for any particular subject may approach LEVEL THREE and will be determined, in part, by the nature of that subject, and also by the curriculum it is intended to support at this institution.

LEVELS FOUR and FIVE do not apply to the collections at this time.  They are:

"LEVEL FOUR: RESEARCH LEVEL - A collection that includes the major published source materials required for dissertations and independent research, including materials containing research reporting, new findings, scientific experimental results, and other information useful to researchers.  It is intended to include all important reference works and a wide selection of specialized monographs, as well as a very extensive collection of journals and major indexing and abstracting services in the field.  Older material is retained for historical research.

"LEVEL FIVE: COMPREHENSIVE LEVEL - A collection which, so far as is reasonably possible, includes all significant works of recorded knowledge (publications, manuscripts, and other forms), in all applicable languages, for a necessarily defined and limited field.  This level of collecting intensity is one that maintains a "special collection."  The aim, if not achievement, is exhaustiveness.  Older material is retained for historical research."

It is recognized that faculty have research needs as well as our students.  While the UWC Libraries are not in a position to purchase materials solely for the research interests of individual faculty and staff members, they will provide timely access to unique, high quality collections and information resources.  Access to online resources such as full-text journal article databases purchased by UW System contributes significantly toward addressing the research needs of Colleges faculty and staff, helping supplement the Colleges Libraries curriculum-focused collections.  Additionally, the UW System Libraries' Universal Borrowing network, combined with extensive interlibrary loan services, provides faculty and staff with excellent access to more advanced research materials.


The following special format statement will apply to the selection and acquisition of materials for UWC Libraries.  Librarians will choose the formats that best meet the needs of their users.  Materials purchased with library funds will be permanently housed in the library.

Electronic Resources - UWC Libraries may license access to electronic resources not held physically on-site. Most licenses will be negotiated for the UW Colleges as an institution, and not for individual libraries, due to a shared budget, proxy server, library catalog and IP range. In negotiating Colleges-wide licenses, every effort will be made to assure in-house usage rights for walk-in patrons, and interlibrary loan rights on the material being licensed.  A form is provided for faculty members who wish to request that an electronic resource be licensed.  See Appendix B.

Government Documents - UWC Libraries may acquire government documents as part of the selection process.  Documents acquired in this manner are generally incorporated as part of the collection or, if the material is brief and/or has immediate, short-term value, added to the Vertical (Pamphlet) File.

Several UWC Libraries have been designated as document depositories in accordance with state and/or federal laws.  Maintenance of these depository collections shall be in accordance with the appropriate state/federal rules and regulations.  Because these collections may be transferable upon termination of depository status, deposited documents should not be integrated into the general library collections unless they can later be identified and returned to the depository collection.

Manuscripts and Rare Books - Because of their research orientation and/or high cost UWC Libraries will generally not acquire manuscripts or rare books.  However, local interest items may be added to a campus library collection.

Maps and other Cartographic Materials - UWC Libraries will acquire atlases and maps as needed.

Media Audiovisual - Media can be grouped in two broad categories: sound recordings (audio cassettes and compact discs) and visual recordings (films, filmstrips, slides, video tapes and digital video recordings).  According to UW Colleges policy, campus libraries are responsible for the acquisition and maintenance of media collections except where a campus has established a separate media department.  See Appendix C.

Microforms - Microform is a generic term that includes microfilm and microfiche.  The decision to purchase microforms in lieu of, or to replace, the print materials is based on cost, local storage needs, and the condition of the original materials.

Pamphlets - UWC Libraries may acquire pamphlets to supplement their book collections as local needs dictate.  The necessity of fully cataloging these more ephemeral items will be considered in balance against the necessity of cataloging more substantial newly-purchased items.

Binding - In selecting the type of book binding, UWC Libraries compare the perceived long-term value and use with cost and available funds.  Selection will be based on individual library needs and availability of a particular item only in either hardcover or paperback binding.

Scores (Printed Music) - Music scores may be acquired by UWC Libraries as needed.

Serials - Serials include annuals, conference proceedings, newspapers, and periodicals in a variety of formats. The same criteria will apply to the selection and acquisition of serials as apply to monographs.  Titles that are indexed in standard print and electronic reference tools accessible by UWC Libraries will be preferred to those not indexed.  The availability of titles with online full text may be considered when making serial collection acquisitions.

Additional Guidelines

Copyright - UWC Libraries will acquire and maintain only materials that comply with U.S. copyright law, Title 17 U.S. Code.

Duplication of Materials - Through the use of Call Slip Borrowing among UWC Libraries and Universal Borrowing between UWC Libraries and other UW System Libraries, most circulating items are readily available to UWC students, faculty and staff within a matter of a few days, reducing the need for heavy duplication amongst library collections.  Some duplication of currently popular titles and classic and standard works in particular fields is a given, but, in general, up to three copies of any individual item in the circulating collection of the UWC Libraries as a whole will be considered sufficient.  In certain areas, such as literature, if duplicates are available through gift sources, or new and authoritative editions are published, they may be added to the collections.  Consideration will also be given to which other UW System Libraries hold certain titles.

Foreign Language Materials - UWC Libraries will purchase foreign language dictionaries and materials to support specific course offerings.

Gifts - The selection of items from donations of books, videos, etc., will be governed by the same criteria that govern the selection of items for purchase, as well as the criteria applied for deselecting materials.  The Library Director will also give consideration to the amount of time necessary to catalog donated items in balance against the cataloging of newly-purchased items.  (For further guidelines on criteria to use in selection of donated materials, please see Appendix D.)  The UWC Libraries reserve the right to dispose of duplicate or unwanted gift material unless prior arrangements with the donor have been made .  Gifts will be accepted and acknowledged in accordance with the current Board of Regents policy. Libraries receiving gift materials cannot provide a monetary assessment to the donor per University policy on gifts-in-kind.  If an assessment of value is needed, it is the responsibility of the donor to procure this before the collection can be officially donated to the UW Colleges.

Selection of Vendors – UWC Libraries will select jobbers, vendors, approval plans, etc., within UW System purchasing guidelines.  Emphasis will be on speed, accuracy, special services, and level of discount.  Libraries will utilize state contractors when appropriate to secure the best prices.

Textbooks - Textbooks are not normally acquired for the regular circulating collection unless they cover an area of interest for which there is little or no general material available.  They will occasionally be purchased for the reserve collection or accepted as gifts.

Collection Assessment

The collections at each UWC Library are assessed on an informal, but regular basis.  The mechanisms that drive periodic assessment include: repeated interloan requests from certain subject areas; new course curricular support; subject searches that reveal excessively high percentages of dated materials; and usage statistics from automated retrieval and indexing systems, or from the online circulation system.

Formal assessment based on national standards has been performed across the Colleges on an as-needed basis, using collection-based data (publication dates, circulation, standards, etc.), client-based data (patron satisfaction, fill rate, etc.), and budget-based data (percentages of total budget going to library, budget compared to Consumer Price Index, etc.).


Deselecting items from the library collection, the process of withdrawing materials, is an integral function of collection development.  While growth is a primary concern, collection use, appropriateness and space limitations are factors that must be evaluated.  To facilitate use and to meet the needs of the faculty, staff and students, deselection is carried out on a continuing basis.

The general criteria for withdrawing materials are listed below.

1.      Mutilated, acid-eaten, mold damaged, and worn materials.

2.      Superseded editions.

3.      Additional copies of materials no longer in heavy use.

4.      Material that is clearly outdated and no longer supports the curriculum.

5.      Lost and long overdue items.

Serials are regularly evaluated.  Some titles may be discontinued due to budget constraints, others so that new and/or more appropriate titles may be added. Titles discontinued due to the former will only be canceled after careful consideration of usage statistics, full-text online availability, and continued usefulness in support of current curriculum.

Materials to be withdrawn may be reviewed by faculty.  The guidelines laid out in the CDC Recommendation on Last Copy will also be considered if the item is the last copy held within the UW System Libraries.  Those items remaining to be withdrawn are discarded in accordance with State of Wisconsin guidelines for disposal of capital property.  See Appendix E.

Intellectual Freedom

In accordance with the American Library Association Library Bill of Rights, the UWC Libraries will attempt to provide for the free exchange of all ideas.  The libraries' collections will be available to all potential patrons and should offer the widest possible range of viewpoints, regardless of the popularity of these viewpoints, or of the sex, religion, political philosophy, or national origin of their authors.  See Appendices F and G.

In the areas where there is disagreement concerning the truth or wisdom of particular ideas, issues, or beliefs, and in the interest of reasonable economy, the libraries will attempt to see that the views of representative spokespersons are included.

No censorship will be exercised on the basis of frankness of language or illustration, or the controversial manner an author may use in dealing with religious, political, sexual, social, economic, scientific, or moral issues.

Persons having concerns about particular items will be asked to fill out a "Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials" form and submit it to the Library Director.  See Appendix H.

In handling criticism of material or attempts at censorship, the librarians will reply verbally or in writing to the person or group, quoting or referring to the above policy.  Persistent or repeated criticism from persons or groups will be referred to the campus dean and/or appropriate committee on each campus.


Appendix A: Select Mission and Goals of the University of Wisconsin Colleges

Appendix B: Online Database—Recommendation for Licensing

Appendix C: UWC Administrative Policy #14

Appendix D:  Criteria for Selection of Donations

Appendix E: Surplus Property Disposal - Non-Vehicles

Appendix F: ALA Library Bill of Rights

Appendix G: ALA Guidelines for the Development and Implementation of Policies, Regulations and Procedures Affecting Access to Library Materials, Services and Facilities

Appendix H: Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials


Last updated August 11, 2011. Comments to the LSS Webmaster.
Library Support Services - 400 University Drive - Fond du Lac, WI 54935