Collection Development Overview

Revised July 2018

This is an overview of collection development at JMU Libraries. Visit our Collection Development Policy page for more information.

Collection Development at JMU Libraries

Collection development is the process of planning, building and maintaining a useful, accessible library collection. When this policy refers to “collections,” it implies all library resources, whether owned, leased, or borrowed, physical or electronic.

JMU Libraries is dedicated to providing information for students and faculty at the point of need. JMU Libraries adheres to a “holistic collections” [1] model. To support online and distance learning activities where students and faculty may be located away from campus, JMU Libraries exercises a preference for selection and access to digital resources, thereby increasing user accessibility, regardless of physical location. To assure the prudent allocation and expenditure of monies for collections and other information resources, JMU Libraries is viewed as a coordinated whole.

Our 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 and other cooperative agreements to maximize purchasing power and leverage information resource holdings across the state.

Collection Priorities and Intellectual Freedom

Our collections will directly reflect and support our 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 JMU 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, JMU Libraries adheres to the principles expressed in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights.

Selection Responsibility

In building and managing collections, JMU Libraries relies on the expertise of its liaison librarians, who are responsible for the full lifecycle of collection management from 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, and disciplinary trends.

Collecting Guidelines

JMU Libraries primarily collects resources in print and electronic formats, with an emphasis on electronic formats for journal collections, media collections, and reference resources. JMU 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

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, JMU 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.

Withdrawal of Materials

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

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 foundational 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 Management Committee. Withdrawals will be disposed in accordance with Commonwealth of Virginia guidelines.

[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 JMU Libraries’ 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.”

Source(s) of Authority: Collection Management Committee, Director of Resource Management