Collection Development Policy

Revised July 2019; link to Guiding Principles document inserted May 2020

Table of contents

Purpose of the Policy

The Collection Development Policy identifies and communicates the long- and short-term collection goals and policies of the general collection at James Madison University (JMU) Libraries. The Policy states the principles and guidelines to be followed by librarians in developing and maintaining balanced collections across disciplines. It also takes into account the mission and goals of the University while being responsive to the changing needs of a dynamic institution. When this policy refers to “collections,” it implies all library resources in the general collectionwhether owned, leased, or borrowed, physical or electronic. The Collection Development Policy will be periodically reviewed in order to ensure that its provisions continue to reflect the current requirements of academic programs, collection needs, and the allocation of resources.

University Profile

JMU is a predominantly undergraduate, public, comprehensive university. The University comprises eight colleges and a graduate school. JMU offers a robust general education core curriculum and more than 130 degree programs. The university mission is to prepare students to be educated and enlightened citizens who lead productive and meaningful lives.

Libraries Profile

JMU Libraries positions campus library operations and instructional technologies together under the same leadership. The mission of the Libraries is to engage with JMU’s diverse communities in their creation and search for knowledge through academic resources, physical and virtual spaces, and educational and research services. The Libraries supports the mission and future vision of the University through its services and collections. Libraries collections and services are contained within a number of facilities across campus, including Carrier Library, Rose Library, the Music Library, and the Educational Technology & Media Center (ETMC). Through collection development, JMU Libraries provides access to appropriate and diverse knowledge that facilitates and promotes scholarly inquiry.

Scope of Collections

To assure the prudent allocation and expenditure of monies for collections and other information resources, the libraries are viewed as a coordinated whole rather than individual or autonomous entities developing collections without regard for need or duplication.

The Libraries is dedicated to providing information for students and faculty at the point of need. In order to support online and distance learning activities, where students and faculty may be located away from campus, the Libraries exercises a preference for selection of and access to digital resources thereby increasing user accessibility, regardless of physical location.

Library collections are substantially supported by electronic resources acquired through the state consortium, the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA). JMU also participates in VIVA collection initiatives and resource sharing, as well, as other cooperative agreements, to maximize purchasing power and leverage information resource holdings across the state.

Collection Priorities and Intellectual Freedom

The library collections will directly reflect and support its mission and the goals of the University. Specifically, the priorities for building balanced collections across disciplines include:

  • providing university-level scholarly resources that support the academic programs and faculty research interests. Collections will reflect diverse viewpoints and areas of scholarship.
  • affirming the Libraries’ commitment to enabling every person to engage in the lifelong pursuit of knowledge by supporting the open exchange of ideas, innovation, intellectual freedom, diversity, and equitable access to information.

In carrying out its collection development activities, the Libraries adheres to the principles expressed in the following statements from the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights.

Selection Responsibility

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

The Collection Development Committee (CDC) plans, organizes, and monitors activities related to all aspects of collection development and management for all types of information resources. The committee is committed to a “holistic collections” model[1] and develops policies and guidelines for collections development, management, promotion, assessment, and preservation accordingly.  The CDC has the primary responsibility for managing continuing expenditure commitments (e.g., periodicals, licensed electronic resources) and makes decisions on major purchases and licenses in response to recommendations from librarians, university faculty, and Scholarly Resources & Discovery. The CDC operates using the Guiding Principles for Collection Priorities.

 Collecting Guidelines

The Libraries adhere to a set of Guiding Principles to facilitate decision-making for collections.

The Libraries collect resources in print and electronic formats, with an emphasis on electronic formats to provide our users the highest degree of access. The Libraries evaluates potential acquisitions on numerous criteria, including but not limited to:

  • quality of material
  • readership level
  • curriculum relevance
  • authority
  • currency
  • language
  • historical value
  • price
  • user demand
  • impact to the entire collection

The Libraries secures access to information through direct licensing from authorized providers and by utilizing connections to free resources. In addition, selection criteria specifically applicable to digital formats will be considered, including but not limited to:

  • Uniqueness and comprehensiveness of information
  • Currency and validity of information and frequency of updates
  • Enhanced content, additional functionality, availability of site license
  • Cost effectiveness of access
  • Archival access
  • Copyright and fair use, including interlibrary loan privileges
  • Confidentiality and privacy provisions for all library patrons
  • Availability of usage statistics based on accepted standards
  • Legal issues, including licensing requirements and restrictions
  • Reliability of vendor or publisher in providing customer and technical support, training, etc.
  • Reputation and authority of publisher
  • Technical support for storage and delivery of locally hosted content.

All acquisitions of resources must adhere to Commonwealth of Virginia and JMU Procurement guidelines and audit requirements.


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

Collection Management

Liaison librarians and the Director of Scholarly Resources & Discovery, with primary support provided by Resource Access and Collection Analytics, will conduct ongoing assessment of the collection to ensure availability of adequate and appropriate resources to support the curriculum.


The Libraries normally will acquire only one copy of a title. Non-circulating titles will be added to the collection in the location where they best serve the needs of the JMU community. Faculty and/or liaison librarians should be prepared to justify requests for duplicate copies.


Lost, damaged, or missing items are not automatically replaced but instead are evaluated based on the collecting guidelines and usage data. If damaged or lost materials in obsolete formats are determined to be important to the collection, the Libraries will attempt to replace such materials. If no exact replacement can be found, a similar but not exact item may be purchased as a substitute.

Withdrawal of Materials

Periodic review and withdrawal of materials from the collection ensures that collections remain both current and authoritative, and match user needs at JMU.

Liaisons will use the following criteria when evaluating material to be deselected:

  1. Collection level: How vital is the item for JMU coursework and research?
  2. Intrinsic value: Is the item a seminal work in its field?
  3. Format: Is the format obsolete?
  4. Duplication: Is demand sufficient for multiple copies of the item?
  5. Physical condition: Can a damaged item be repaired? Should it be replaced?
  6. Research value: Are older materials still valuable for research interests?
  7. Edition: Is the edition of an item held by the library superseded by a newer edition or format (e.g. electronic or online/networked)?
  8. Completeness: Is the item part of a set or series of which the library does not have a complete run?
  9. Uniqueness: Is the item held only by JMU?
  10. Usage: Has the item been checked out frequently or recently?

Withdrawal of library materials must be authorized by the librarians responsible for the portion of the collection containing potential withdrawals and/or the Collection Development Committee. Withdrawals will be disposed in accordance with Commonwealth of Virginia guidelines.

Cooperative Collection Development

The Libraries supplements and enhances its collections through cooperative collection development, resource sharing, and licensing of digital resources. It is essential that institutions share collection resources to ensure broad access to all necessary scholarly resources. JMU Libraries is an active participant in the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA) consortium and fully supports VIVA’s Mission “… to provide, in an equitable, cooperative and cost effective manner, enhanced access to library and information resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia’s non-profit academic libraries serving the higher education community.” VIVA provides core digital resources essential to JMU users. VIVA promotes resource sharing among its members and encourages the quick delivery of infrequently-used materials needed by JMU faculty and students from other institutions of higher learning through the interlibrary loan service. Interlibrary loan is also used to borrow materials from non-VIVA libraries.

[1] Holistic Collections: The development, management, promotion, and assessment of responsive, user-focused collections in all formats and spaces, both virtual and physical, and across all disciplines to meet the evolving needs of scholars and faculty at JMU in accordance with LET’s mission “To engage with JMU’s diverse communities in their creation and search for knowledge through academic resources, physical and virtual spaces, and educational and research services.”

Other Collection Development Policies

Source(s) of Authority: Collection Development Committee, Director of Scholarly Resources & Discovery

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