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Library: Reference Collection Development Policy
The Library collects materials in a variety of formats and maintains several collections, attempting to match format with departmental needs and ease of access. The Reference collection is a key component of the library’s collection, as and such, development of that collection should follow the general guidelines set out in the Library's Collection Development Policy Statement. The Reference Collection Policy is aimed at further definition of the collection and key procedures in building and maintaining that resource.
A. Objectives of the Reference Collection Policy.
1. To establish guidelines, as concrete and definite as possible, for both the subject scope of the reference collection and the materials included in it.
2. To set procedures for acquiring new materials and for weeding the collection which will ensure the development and maintenance of a complete, current and convenient reference collection.
B. Subject Scope of the Collection.
1. The Reference Collection provides basic and in depth information sources in the mission areas of this university. The collection also provides selective coverage of subjects of current interest not directly within these academic disciplines.
2. In addition, the collection also provides reference information not directly related to mission areas but which is basic to general knowledge. Examples of this group of information sources may be found in Choice Online, Guide to Reference Books and ARBA.
C. Size of the Reference Collection.
Care should be taken to keep the Reference Collection within the physical constraints of the reference area. Also, the collection should be as lean and efficient as possible to enable effective use. Prevailing demand, fiscal restraint, changes in the curriculum, and student enrollment in various disciplines serve as guidelines to the relative size of subject areas within the collection.
D. Types of Materials Included in the Collection.
A reference book is often defined as “a book designed by the arrangement and treatment of its subject matter to be consulted for definite items of information rather than to be read consecutively,” and a reference collection as a “collection of reference books and other materials in a library, useful for supplying authoritative information or identifying sources, kept together for convenience in providing information service, and generally not allowed to circulate.” (ALA Glossary… 1998) The library’s collection includes primarily print and electronic resources.
Due to budget and space limitations the library generally does not maintain duplicate copies, formats, or resources (i.e. if available in electronic, print is not maintained; different versions of the same electronic content are not purchased). A print edition may be retained alongside an electronic version for these reasons:
a. To serve as a pointer to the electronic version.
b. If the subject liaison believes it is of unusual importance to mission areas and likely to have high use in both print and electronic forms.
E. Selection of New Reference Materials.
1. Liaison Librarians have the primary responsibility for pursuing a systematic and continuous collection development program for Reference within their assigned subject area. A lead reference librarian will have both responsibility for general reference and supporting the other liaisons in reference selection, and will coordinate the development of the reference collection with the Collection Development Librarian. All other members of the library professional staff are encouraged to provide input.
2. The following principles, not in order of importance, serve as guidelines for selection:
a. Judged usefulness of the publication, considering the existing collection.
b. Strengths and weaknesses of the existing collection related to current demonstrable needs of the university.
c. Favorable reviews or inclusion in basic reference collection guides.
d. Potential frequency of use
e. Reputation of the author.
f. Currency of the topic.
g. Date of publication.
h. Price of the publication.
i. Language of the publication.
j. Standing order obligations.
k. Format: electronic is preferred to print, and hardcover to paperback.
3. The budget year extends from June 1 to May 31. Material is ordered and encumbered accordingly.
F. Reference Collection Review Evaluation and Weeding.
1. Regular Evaluation. The reference collection will be evaluated for weeding every four years. Periodic evaluation of the works already in the collection is as important as selection of new materials, since it is a working collection of important, frequently consulted publications. Careful, regular, and systematic weeding removes older, less desirable works from the collection.
2. Principles and Guidelines. Liaison librarians follow the same principles and guidelines in evaluation as in selection of new materials. Some general criteria which should be considered are:
a. Significance of publication.
b. Age and currency of the publication.
c. Availability of later editions.
d. Availability of this edition; e.g., is it still in print?
e. Physical condition of the publication.
f. Duplication of the contents in more recent works.
g. Language of the publication.
i. Appropriateness to the demonstrated needs of the University community; e.g., mission, curricula, reference queries.
j. Standing order obligations, if applicable.
3. Method. The reference collection is managed in two important ways: automatic weeding of older editions of a work and periodic evaluation by liaison librarians.
a. Older volumes of many publications, particularly standing orders such as directories and yearbooks, are automatically removed from the Reference collection according to decisions made at the time of purchase. Standing order titles are also reviewed along with all other reference titles during the continuous Reference review.
b. In conjunction with the review of older volumes, the remainder of the reference collection is also evaluated through the continuous reference review.
Collection Guidelines for Specific Types of Reference Materials
Almanacs and yearbooks: Reference collects current editions of major publications for the United States and for countries and subjects as determined from curricular emphases.
Bibliographies: Those with narrow subject scope, such as single author bibliographies, are normally kept in the Main collection. More general bibliographies on broad curricular topics are included in the reference collection. Exceptions are made for topics included in the reference collection. Exceptions are made for topics in great demand or of considerable current interest.
Biographies: Major universal and national works are included, as are current biographical works such as American Men and Women of Science and a selection of the "who's who" type of materials. Biographical dictionaries having a very narrow, regional, chronological or subject coverage are considered on their individual merits and on their potential usefulness in the Reference Collection. For those titles where the library keeps the entire run, in general the most current is shelved in reference and others in the main collection.
Concordances: Only concordances for very important authors and works are included in the reference collection; others are housed in the stacks. (Examples of works collected are concordances for Shakespeare and the Bible.)
Dictionaries: The reference collection provides monolingual, bilingual, and polyglot dictionaries in major languages. The section also provides specialized dictionaries (for example, covering slang, idiomatic expressions, and historical aspects of language) for English.
Directories: With directory information available online, the library collects selectively. The reference collection may include current edition of major directories in key fields within the mission statement and may contain certain retrospective editions of directories based on demonstrated use. Directories of limited scope or low use will be replaced occasionally rather than regularly.
Encyclopedias: The reference collection includes major general encyclopedias, both single and multi-volume. The reference section will attempt to acquire revised editions of World Book and Encyclopedia Britannica, one per year, on a rotating basis, as funds permit. In addition to the general encyclopedias, Reference collects authoritative encyclopedias in specialized subject areas to support research in mission-related programs.
Geographical Sources: The reference collection provides authoritative atlases, maps, and gazetteers covering all areas of the world; current editions of relevant worldwide yearbooks e.g., Europa, Statesman’s; and current travel guides to support the University’s study abroad programs.
Handbooks: The reference collection attempts to collect current and authoritative handbooks in all mission-related fields. Handbooks shelved in reference should be aimed at quick look-up or data verification rather then in-depth research.
Indexes and Abstracts: Because of the library’s commitment to provide the materials to be indexed or abstracted, the acquisition of an index or abstracting service should be closely related to existing periodical holdings. Electronic access is preferred to print. Print versions of indexes and abstracts are retained only in those areas where the library does not have access to the online version.
Evaluation factors to consider when selecting electronic versions of these resources, in addition to those commonly applied are:
a. Subject coverage. Is the index coverage appropriate to UP’s existing or future mission areas?
b. Level of sophistication. What level of training or education does the index require for the average user? How does the function of the index compare with the counterpart formats? How will users be affected by the difference?
c. Cost. How does cost compare with counterparts in other formats? What is gained or lost for the difference? Is any format noticeably more cost effective than another?
d. Duplication. Will the print based index subscription have to be maintained along with the alternative format? Costly duplication should be undertaken only for unusually compelling reasons and should be avoided whenever possible.
e. Indexes tied to text (e.g., full-text databases). The contents of the text will need to be evaluated along with the index.
f. Index support. How well is the index supported by the periodical collection? Is there a financial commitment for providing additional periodical titles?
g. Vendor. Is the vendor reputable? Is support service prompt and adequate?
Legal Materials: The reference collection includes basic legal resources such as encyclopedias and dictionaries rather than specialized legal research tools.
Plot Summaries: The Collection provides major, comprehensive collections of plot summaries, e.g. Magill’s but not Cliff Notes.
Sacred Books: The reference collection maintains a small collection of major translations of the Bible in English, as well as English translations of sacred works significant to major world religions if compelling reasons are present. Ordinarily, such works are housed in the Main collection.
Scholarships/Grants information: Current information on scholarships and grants, including general handbooks and specialized directories for applicant groups, subject areas, and degree levels is collected.
Statistics: Basic ongoing statistical summary information in both general and mission-related fields will be provided by Reference.
Style Manuals: The reference collection includes major mission-related style manuals.
Telephone Books. The reference collection includes current telephone books for the Portland metropolitan area only.Revised January 2008