Reference Collection Development Policy

Revised December 2008

Table of contents

For all areas not specifically addressed in this policy, please refer to the JMU Libraries Collection Development Policy:


Selection Responsibility

In building and managing the reference collections, JMU Libraries relies on the expertise of its liaison librarians, who are responsible for the full life-cycle of reference collection management from point of selection to withdrawal. Each liaison librarian is responsible for primary selection in one or more subject areas within reference. General reference resources are selected by the reference coordinators at each library.  Liaison librarians interact with departmental faculty in selecting reference materials that reflect and anticipate changing curriculum needs, faculty research interests, interdisciplinary trends, and scholarly communication paths.


Collecting Guidelines

JMU Libraries acquires or provides access to a wide variety of reference resources in print and electronic formats.  In addition to the criteria listed in the JMU Libraries general Collection Development Policy, materials for the reference collection need to have added reference value.  Reference value is defined as those sources that provide background information or that define the research path for users.


Duplication and Electronic Resources

While JMU Libraries normally acquires only one copy of a title, the nature of the reference collection may make duplication of titles necessary.  Ownership of a particular print reference title in one location does not preclude purchasing a second print copy for another location. When material is available in multiple formats, the choice of format is influenced by the needs of the Libraries and its readers (i.e., preference is given to the most easily accessible and searchable format).  In some instances, titles are retained in both print and electronic formats.  In addition to selection criteria for digital formats mentioned in the general Collection Development Policy the following considerations are taken into account for electronic reference materials:

  • Technical consideration
  • Usability of material
  • Equipment
  • Search interface
  • Availability of user support and documentation
  • Potential use in multiple locations
  • Cost effectiveness of access for reference material


JMU Libraries welcomes gifts that enhance the existing reference collection. Selection standards and guidelines for both purchased and donated materials are the same. JMU Libraries reserves the right to decide on the final disposition of gifts. For more information, please refer to the JMU Libraries Gift Policy.


Collection Management

Each library location will develop internal practices related to maintenance of the reference collection.  In addition to selections made by the reference coordinators at each library, liaison librarians select reference materials in their subject areas.


For information relating to replacements, weeding, and preservation please refer to the JMU Libraries Collection Development Policy:

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