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Library - Collection Development Policy: Home




The purpose of a collection development policy is to promote the development of the library's collection based on the university's and library's Mission and goals. The policy should explain who is responsible for selecting, ordering, and what different formats and kinds of materials are purchased and included in the collection.

The Collection Development Policy will be reviewed and updated periodically to incorporate changes in the University's curriculum and to reflect how the collection evolves. The Policy will be used as a tool to help build a  collection that meets the educational and research needs of our community.


Fairleigh Dickinson University is a center of academic excellence dedicated to the preparation of world citizens through global education. The University strives to provide students with the multi-disciplinary, intercultural, and ethical understandings necessary to participate, lead, and prosper in the global marketplace of ideas, commerce, and culture.


The mission of the FDU Libraries is to support the goals and academic programs of the University.

In order to provide support to students and faculty in their endeavors to achieve and maintain academic excellence, the Libraries will develop and maintain appropriate collections and services.

Collections will include print, media and digital resources, and will be available on campus and to distance learners through remote access. Collection development will provide service through resources and foster knowledge through information.

Services will encompass both physical and intellectual access to materials, and will include interactive online bibliographic instruction and e- reference, as well as traditional on site Library classes and visits and individualized instruction. The special needs of library users with disabilities, students with learning disabilities, the educationally disadvantaged and multicultural / global students will be addressed.

Library instruction, whether it be online or in person, will be available to all members of the University community, its goal being to empower students to access and communicate information and ideas and to become independent lifelong learners in the electronic age, as well as to achieve specific present curricular objectives.



The basic objective of the Fairleigh Dickinson University Library system is to play its full part in supporting the instructional and research program of the university:

  1. To secure, organize and service books, periodicals, documents, audio and video recordings and other library material used in the instructional and research program.
  2. To provide the physical facilities and equipment that will make possible the most effective use of library resources.
  3. To increase knowledge of basic library resources, print and electronic, by providing guidance in the use of library facilities.
  4. To encourage students to develop the habit of self-education in order that books, other media and libraries may contribute to their intellectual development in future years.
  5. To assist and cooperate with libraries in the community, region, and elsewhere in building total library resources and in making them available to users.

The library is primarily a teaching and research instrument. The professional library staff, administrative organization and building are so planned as to implement teaching, learning and research by the use of all library materials.

Collection Responsibility
The responsibility for collection development rests with the librarians, and some purchases (especially periodical and standing order renewal) should be vetted by the Collection Development Committee. The committee recommendations, as well as faculty input, will be given high consideration in collection decisions; however, the ultimate responsibility still lies with the University Librarian.

The collection development process is a democratic sharing of requests among the professional librarians, with final approval from the University Librarian. The Associate University Librarian for Technical Services vets all purchase requests, including print, serial, and electronic materials. Regular monthly purchases will only be questioned if they do not appear to fit in with this policy. Both print and electronic subscriptions will be renewed after review by the Collection Development Committee.  For more information on specifics of the purchasing process see the library’s document entitled Acquisitions Policies and Procedures.

Intellectual Freedom Statement
In accordance with the American Library Association Library Bill of Rights (Appendix A), the Fairleigh Dickinson Libraries’ collection will attempt to provide for the free exchange of all ideas. The collection will be available to all potential users of the library, and should offer the widest possible range of view-points, regardless of the popularity of these viewpoints, or of the sex, religion, political philosophy or national origin of their authors.

No censorship will be exercised on the basis of frankness of language, or the controversial manner an author may use in dealing with religious, political, sexual, social, economic, scientific or moral issues, as long as the material is appropriate to the Library Mission and supports the curriculum.

Selection Criteria for the Circulating Collection
The quality of content and fulfillment of academic curricular needs are the first criteria against which any potential item for purchase will be evaluated. Specific criteria used in selecting items for the library's collection includes:

  • relationship of the material to the curriculum
  • anticipated use
  • appropriateness of level of treatment
  • strength of present holdings in same or similar subject areas
  • critical reviews
  • cost
  • suitability of format to content
  • authoritativeness of the author
  • reputation of the publisher

Specific Guidelines

  1. GIFTS: The library accepts gifts that support the teaching and research mission of the University and that meet the criteria of the library's Collection Development Policy. Materials which fall outside the library's Collection Development Policy, such as textbooks, popular magazines, mass market paperbacks, unnecessary duplicates, books in poor condition, and self-published items will not be accepted. The golden rule for gifts is: Do not add a gift unless it is something the library would buy. No donated item is ever “free”. Processing costs are the same for gifts and purchased materials.

Upon receipt of gift materials, the library and Fairleigh Dickinson University become owners of the material. The library reserves the right to determine retention, location, cataloging treatment, processing priority and other considerations related to disposition.

The library will provide appropriate acknowledgment of all gifts received, unless the donor prefers otherwise. Bookplates are available for placement in books when appropriate.

  1. ALUMNI GIFTS: The library does not accept alumni publications unless they meet the library’s selection criteria. Alumni wishing to donate copies of their personal works that do not meet the library criteria may contact Alumni Relations about donating.
  2. TEXTBOOKS: Textbooks are not purchased. A “textbook” is defined as the main text assigned for a university course, and are generally works designed for classroom use. Professors are encouraged to place personal copies and/or review copies of course texts on reserve, and the library will catalog and maintain course textbooks donated by professors or students in the reserve collection for the semester that the course is being taught.
  3. PAPERBACKS: The type of binding on a book will not be a consideration in the decision to purchase, except that the Associate University Librarian for Technical Services will exercise judgments of economy when an item is available in both paper and cloth bindings. Relative price when compared to the perceived long-term value and use will be considered.
  4. FOREIGN LANGUAGE MATERIALS: The library shall purchase the foreign language materials required to attain the curricular objectives of the University, or if the item is a work relevant to one of our special collections. However, since most of our students do not read foreign languages easily, a priority will be given to material in the English language unless that material is to be used as an aid in the teaching and learning of foreign languages. In such cases, the library will rely on language faculty recommendations for purchase.
  5. DUPLICATE MATERIALS: One copy of an individual item for the reference and/or circulation collection will be sufficient per campus. Multi-campus purchases will be made on a case-by-case basis. The library will not accept duplicates as gifts, unless it is a special edition going into a special collection, and one copy already circulates. Other duplicates may be added on a case-by-case basis (e.g., if a title is heavily used for a regularly taught course).
  6. FACULTY PUBLICATIONS: If the material fits in with the existing collection development policy, the library may purchase faculty publications or accept them as gifts. Self-published or hybrid/vanity press materials (where faculty pays to publish the item) are not accepted.

Special Format and Collection Statements

The library collection will include all forms of print and non-print materials, excluding those which are fundamentally for classroom use. Materials needed by faculty in their classrooms, department or offices on a permanent basis are not purchased with library funds. Requests for materials that are too expensive for the library budget will be declined and forwarded to the department where the request originated so that alternate funding solutions may be found.

  1. PRINT NEWSPAPERS: Newspapers are not generally added to the collection, as all local papers are currently received, and most others are available electronically. However, this may be reconsidered if a new and important local publication begins circulation.
  2. PRINT SERIALS: In general, the same criteria will apply to the selection of serial titles for the book collection. However, since even a relatively inexpensive journal title represents a continuing expense, titles will be added very selectively. Back runs will be kept for varying lengths of time depending on the title involved. Because of current and possible future budgetary constraints and escalating costs, some titles may have to be discontinued. Every effort will be made to preserve serial titles used for class assignments.
  3. AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS: The library will purchase audiovisual materials needed to support the curriculum or to supplement special programs. Examples of materials purchased include foreign language materials, Freshman reading selections, and the works of artists and contributors presenting at major FDU events. Otherwise selected materials are only added at the request of faculty if it fits the collection development policy.
  4. A collection of DVDs will be maintained, primarily representing films related to curriculum offerings but may also include Academy Award winning films and documentaries. Popular films that are not germane to the curriculum will not be purchased.
  5. The library will not acquire computer software packages due to licensing limitations.
  6. The library will not acquire video games, as they do not fit in with the academic or curricular goals of the university.
  7. OTHER NON-BOOK MATERIALS: The library will not acquire works of pictorial or plastic art, or non-book curriculum materials such as tests, toys, or board games.
  8. ELECTRONIC RESOURCES INCLUDING E-BOOKS: Electronic resources are purchased at the university level, and are subject to the approval of the Collection Development Committee and the University Librarian. In addition to the general selection guidelines, the following criteria will be considered:
  • the usability of the interface;
  • availability of IP-authenticated access;
  • standards-compliance, especially with OpenURL;
  • reliability and responsiveness of the vendor;
  • availability and access to back files in perpetuity;
  • availability and quality of usage statistics.
  1. MANUALS AND WORKBOOKS: The library will not acquire manuals, workbooks, or any other consumable materials.
  2. MICROFORMS: Existing microforms will be kept at the library’s discretion; newer microforms will not be purchased, as electronic copies are the preferred form of access.
  3. MANUSCRIPTS, RARE BOOKS, GENEALOGICAL MATERIALS: Items of this nature, which are already part of the library's collection, were either donated or were purchased in the past from private collections. Manuscripts, rare books, or genealogical material will be purchased as deemed necessary for the library’s special collections.
  • The criterion for placing materials in Special Collections is that the subject content must be unique and relevant to the scope of the collection. For example, the Douglas Lloyd Kahn Photography and Film Collection should only include rare or unique collections of photographs, photographic exhibition catalogs, and historical works on films.
  • The material is usually considered to be a rarity, a unique item, or has greater monetary value that designates it as non-circulating. These materials should only be used in the library with supervision from an archivist or designated librarian.
  • Most collections are historical—nothing is added to them, unless a special gift is made or if there are endowed funds for the collection. Usually an expert in the area of the collection identifies and selects materials for the open collections.
  1. CHILDREN'S COLLECTION/EDUCATION COLLECTION: The library will provide an adequate children's collection of both fiction and non-fiction materials appropriate for preschool through grade six. The collection is intended to support the needs of students studying children's literature and to assist in preparing curriculum lessons for young children. The collection will strive to collect "outstanding" examples of children's literature published each year; examples of genres in the literature; as well as preserving the classics. No attempt will be made to completely acquire series. The Education Collection consists of sample textbooks and classroom materials for use by students in the Education program. Any updates to this collection should be made in conjunction with the Education Department faculty, who provide review copies from publishers.
  2. REFERENCE COLLECTION: The reference collection is a non-circulating collection of materials designated to meet the basic research, verification, location and information needs of the library's patrons in all subject fields. With few exceptions, reference materials are not meant to be read continuously from beginning to end, but contain relatively short and discrete articles or bits of information users will consult, one or a few at a time. Reference materials include, but are not limited to, indexes (both print and electronic), encyclopedias, handbooks, directories, dictionaries and compilations of statistics.

Reference materials shall be as up-to-date as is necessary for the provision of current and reliable information. Print materials that cover the same material as equivalent electronic subscriptions will be cut from annual standing orders unless there is a compelling reason to make an exception. Older editions will not be moved to the circulating collection.

Collection Depth
The library's print and media collection may be separated into several distinct parts; the general circulating collection, the reference collection, the juvenile collection, periodicals, DVDs/audiobooks, and special collections.

The basic Library collection will be made up of the following:

  1. Those items which constitute required, non-textbook reading for courses.
  2. Supplementary and ancillary reading for courses.
  3. A very limited number of items for leisure reading, listening and viewing.
  4. A basic reference collection, with supplementary items for courses.
  5. An adequate collection of print periodicals and their back files.

Collection Depth Levels

LEVEL ONE: MINIMAL/BASIC REFERENCE LEVEL. Only fundamental reference works containing general information on a subject, e.g., dictionaries, encyclopedias, surveys and bibliographies.

LEVEL TWO: SELECTIVE LEVEL. This level includes slightly more than the basic level. In addition to reference works, it would include a small collection of monographs and journals for general coverage on the subject fields.

LEVEL THREE: REPRESENTATIVE/UNDERGRADUATE TEACHING LEVEL: A balanced collection that covers all aspects of a subject field without going into great depth. In an academic library, this would be a collection that can support an undergraduate program in the field.

LEVEL FOUR: COMPREHENSIVE/BEGINNING RESEARCH LEVEL: A large, well-developed collection that includes general and fairly specialized books and journals in the field, some of which are on advanced level. In an academic library, a Level Four collection provides adequate support for a Master's program in the subject.

LEVEL FIVE: EXHAUSTIVE/MAJOR EMPHASIS LEVEL: As comprehensive collection in the field as possible, including highly advanced and extremely specialized materials as well as more general ones, and rare and obscure publications in addition to more common ones. In an academic library, a Level Five collection (with the support of interlibrary loan) can support most doctoral work in the field.

LEVEL SIX: EXTREMELY EXHAUSTIVE/INTENSIVE LEVEL: One of the largest, most inclusive, best developed collections in the world; collections of such scope and importance that they are internationally know, e.g., the Folger Shakespeare Library, American Geographical Society Map Collection, etc.

The library will attempt to meet the guidelines set forth for levels one through four. Level five materials may be added if there is demonstrated faculty or student need. Level six will not apply to the collection at the present time.

In accordance with the above stated levels of collection depth, and due to budgetary constraints, the library will not purchase specialized materials solely for the research of individual faculty and staff members. While it is recognized that the faculty members have research needs, FDU faculty may have to rely on other types of library services to fulfill their needs, i.e., interlibrary loans. Faculty members are strongly urged to distinguish between a research collection and one which is designed to meet the needs of interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate programs. Although attempts will be made to provide on-the-premises research materials for as many faculty as possible, it must be realized that it is impossible for all but the most inclusive and large libraries to support faculty research from their resources alone. The library will attempt to support and subsidize individual faculty and staff members in their research by obtaining materials not found in our collection from other libraries.

These policies and guidelines shall be reviewed periodically and are subject to change or amendment at recommendation of students, staff, faculty or administration, or when the library staff feels that the curriculum indicates a change or amendment is necessary. Recommendations for change will be considered by the Collection Development Committee and the University Librarian with whom the final responsibility and decision rest.

Appendix A: American Library Association Library Bill of Rights




Library Bill of Rights

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

  1. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

  1. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
  2. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
  3. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.


VII. All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use. Libraries should advocate for, educate about, and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information.


Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; January 29, 2019.


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