Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery

Guideline 501 - Collection Development and Acquisitions Guideline

This guideline governs the acquisition and maintenance of all information sources for the Library, including purchases and gifts of materials added to the collection as well as access to machine-readable databases not owned by UMBC.

The Library's mission is to serve the current and anticipated information needs of UMBC's academic programs. This is achieved with on site collections supplemented by access, via cooperative arrangements with other libraries and purchases from database vendors, to resources throughout the State of Maryland and the world.

This mission entails responsibility for identifying the information needs of individuals and organizations and fulfilling those needs by procuring, organizing, managing, preserving and making available library resources, as well as providing access to information resources not acquired for the collection.

Current Use Orientation: Materials are normally selected in anticipation of current use by the library's primary clientele, i.e. the students, faculty, and staff of UMBC. Having a rounded collection representing the full range of human knowledge is not affordable on this campus.

Support of Academic Mission: Materials are normally selected to support the teaching and research needs of the current and near-future academic programs on campus as determined by the current MHEC program inventory and UMBC mission statement. Accordingly, acquisitions in support of the sciences, engineering, mathematics, information and computer sciences, public policy and other selected programs in the arts, humanities, and the social and behavioral sciences at the graduate level are emphasized (see mission statement, p. 3).

A small part of the materials budget supports our library users' information needs outside of the curriculum, in such areas as career and job hunting, personal health, and areas of current broad interest among academics. Recreational reading is minimally supported through acquisition of materials which also have potential academic interest and through gifts. Users are referred to the local public libraries for popular materials which are not of academic interest.

Emphasis on Reference Materials: It is not possible to fully support all research information needs with materials held on campus. However, it is essential that any research project can at least be started using local materials. Therefore, priority is given to the acquisition of Reference materials which are used to begin research projects and locate source materials, including machine readable databases on CD-ROM.

Non-print Media: The library materials budget covers acquisition of non-print media, including audio, video, and software. Exceptions:

  1. Films and language lab materials: these are acquired by the Multimedia Center on its budget.

  2. Computer software housed and used outside of the library.

  3. Fees for access to machine-readable databases not owned by the library. This access is purchased by the library user or out of library operating funds.

  4. Fees for interlibrary loans provided to individual users, even when materials received are eventually placed in the collection. These fees are paid by the library user or out of library operating funds.

Gifts of books and non-print media (in formats collected by the Library) are accepted unless it is established in advance that they duplicate current holdings, are in poor condition, or lack sufficient relevance to UMBC academic programs. Most gifts of journals are declined since they are likely to duplicate current holdings. See "Information for Donors," available from the Collection Management office, for further information.

SELECTION OF MONOGRAPHS (Books and Other non-Serial Publications)

Department and Program Liaisons: While authority and responsibility for selection rest with library staff, faculty members provide suggestions for purchase on department and program allocations, according to their perceptions of current departmental or program needs.

Each department or program selects a liaison. The liaisons take responsibility for the coordination of their department's or programs' ordering activities. The librarian responsible for collection management works with the liaison and reviews selections as well as overall collecting strategy.

Coordination with Acquisitions of Other UMS Campuses: To reduce acquisitions of books already held or ordered by other UMS campuses, a check box has been added to the order form with the text:

check here to order for UMBC even if owned by another UMS library

Orders which do not have a check mark in this box will not be ordered by UMBC. Other means of reducing redundant holdings outside of core collections will be implemented as LIMS develops sufficiently to support them. The goal is to eliminate insofar as feasible redundant holdings in collecting levels 3B and above (see following explanation of these levels). The "core collection" is defined as holdings up through collecting level 3A.

Placement of Orders: Normally, orders must be approved by the appropriate department or program liaison or Chair. They are placed in the approximate order in which they are received by the library. A small portion, under 2%, of orders may be designated as "Rush" and will be placed immediately. All orders for Reserve materials are placed on a rush basis.

Purchases for Reserves are not handled through liaisons; rather, they are ordered by library staff when faculty members submit requests at the Circulation/Reserves Desk for items to be placed on reserve.

Approval Plans: A major portion of book selection is achieved though the use of approval plans, by the faculty library liaisons and the Collection Management Librarian.

Multiple Copies: The library does not normally purchase multiple copies. Exceptions are determined by the Collection Management Librarian. Duplicates from gifts are added to the collection if use of these materials is expected to be relatively high and if the gift is in acceptable condition. Multiple copies may be purchased for Reserves at rate of no more than one copy for each 10 students.

Criteria for Purchase of Specific Formats: The preferred format is hardcover for monographic books. All books purchased should be on acid free paper, if available. Paperbacks are only purchased if a hardcover copy is unavailable. Microform is preferred for journal volumes that have been lost or damaged. Microform is not preferred for monographs except for extremely low use materials, certain research collections, and works not available in paper or machine readable format.

Textbooks: The library does not normally purchase commercial textbooks due to limited institutional availability and prohibitive costs. When undergraduate or graduate course materials, particularly scholarly monographs, handbooks, fiction, musical scores, and media are (1) available through the library’s acquisitions system (GOBI) or for academic library purchase outside GOBI, and (2) fall within disciplinary budget parameters, subject librarians will have the discretion to purchase these items. The library prioritizes accessibility in format selection (e.g. DRM-free ebooks) when possible.

Purchases Over $500: All acquisitions which cost more than $500 must be approved by both the liaison and chair of the requesting academic department or program. Within the library they must be approved by the Director or designee.

Reference works which cost over $500 must be approved by the Reference Librarians in consultation with faculty in related subject fields, and then by the Director or designee.

Ordering Year: The budget cycle requires that orders which are not "rush" orders be submitted by faculty or librarians for ordering before the end of February so that there will be time for all orders to be placed, materials received and invoices paid before the end of the fiscal year.

SELECTION OF SERIALS (i.e. standing orders, journals, magazines, & newspapers)

Selection by Faculty Members: While authority and responsibility for selection rest with library staff, faculty members provide suggestions for subscriptions within budgetary constraints (see above section on "Department and Program Liaisons"). General interest and reference serials are normally selected by Library staff in consultation with faculty. Since subscriptions to serial publications represent ongoing commitments of funds, the Library requires that both the library liaison and the department or program chair approve each new subscription request and each cancellation request, to indicate departmental commitment to the decision.

When new funding is not available to support additional subscriptions, each new subscription request must be balanced by cancellation of subscriptions of equivalent dollar value from the same serials allocation. Monograph funding may not be used to pay for current subscriptions but may be used for backfiles of serials.

Requests for Subscriptions and Coordination with the Acquisitions of Other UMS Campuses: All requests for changes in subscriptions must be submitted to the Serials Librarian who interprets guidelines, protects the interests of other academic programs, and strives to minimize subscription overlap with other UMS campuses.

Normally, subscriptions are entered on a calendar year basis. While new subscriptions can begin at any time, cancellations must be communicated to the vendor well before the beginning of the calendar year. Therefore, if funding for a new subscription comes from cancellations, it may be delayed to the beginning of the following calendar year.


Collecting levels are characterized nationally, by the Research Library Group's Conspectus, quoted here:





Out of scope

The library does not collect in this subject


Minimal Level

A subject area in which few selection are made beyond the basic works. A collection at this level is frequently and systematically reviewed for currency of information. Superseded editions and titles containing outdated information are withdrawn.


Minimal, with uneven coverage

Few selections are made, and there is unsystematic representation of subject.


Minimal, with even coverage

Few selection are made, but basic authors, some core works, or a spectrum of ideological views are represented.

A selective collection of materials that serves to introduce and define a subject and to indicate the varieties of information available elsewhere. It may include dictionaries, encyclopedias, access to appropriate bibliographic databases, selected editions of important works, historical surveys, bibliographies, handbooks, and a few major periodicals. The collection is frequently and systematically reviewed for currency of information.

The emphasis at this level is on providing resources that introduce and define a subject. A collection at this level includes basic reference tools and explanatory works, such as textbooks, historical descriptions of the subject's development, general information about a subject of students enrolled in introductory level courses.

At the advanced level, basic information about a subject is provided on a wider range of topics and with more depth. There is a broader selection of basic explanatory works, historical descriptions, reference tools, and periodicals that serve to introduce and define a subject.

An advanced basic information level is sufficient to support students in basic courses as well as supporting the basic information needs of patrons in public and special libraries.

A collection is adequate to impart and maintain knowledge about a subject in a systematic way but at a level of less than research intensity. The collection includes a wide range of basic works in appropriate formats, a significant number of classic retrospective materials, complete collections of the works of more important writers, selections from the works of secondary writers, a selection of representative journals, access to appropriate machine-readable data files, and the reference tools and fundamental bibliographical apparatus pertaining to the subject.

At the study or instructional support level, a collection is adequate to support dependent study, and most learning needs of the clientele of public and special libraries, as well as undergraduate and some instruction. The collection is systematically reviewed for currency of information and to assure that essential and significant information is retained.

This subdivision of a level 3 collection provides resources adequate for imparting and maintaining knowledge about the basic or primary topics of a subject area. The collection includes a broad range of basic works in appropriate formats, classic retrospective materials, all key journals on primary topics, selected journals and seminal works on secondary topics, access to appropriate machine readable data files, and the reference tools and fundamental bibliographical apparatus pertaining to the subject. This subdivision of level 3 supports undergraduate courses, as well as most independent study needs of the clientele of public and special libraries. It is not adequate to support master's degree programs.
The advanced subdivision of level 3 provides resources adequate for imparting and maintaining knowledge about the primary and secondary topics of a subject area. The collection includes a significant number of seminal works and journals on the primary and secondary topics in the field: a significant number of retrospective materials: a substantial collection of works by secondary figures: works that provide more in-depth discussions or research, techniques, and evaluations: access to appropriate machine-readable data files: and reference tools fundamental bibliographic apparatus pertaining to the subject. This level supports all courses of undergraduate study and master's degree programs as well as the more advanced independent study needs of the patrons of public and special libraries.

A collection that includes the major published source materials required for dissertation and independent research, including materials containing research, new findings, scientific experimental results, and other information useful to researchers. It is intended to include all important reference works and a wide selection of specialized monographs, as well as a very extensive collection of journals and major indexing and abstracting services in the field. Pertinent foreign language materials are included. Older material is usually retained for historical research and actively preserved. A collection at this level supports doctoral and other original research.

A collection in which a library endeavors, so far as it is reasonably possible to include all significant works of recorded knowledge (publications, manuscripts, other forms,) in all applicable languages, for a necessarily defined and limited field. This level of collection intensity is one that maintains a "special collection"; the aim if not the achievement is exhaustiveness. Older material is retained for historical research with active preservation efforts.

UMBC collects at level 3A in the subject areas in which there are undergraduate programs and, to the extent that budgets allow, at level 3B in subject areas in which there are graduate programs. The campus does not now have the resources to collect at level 4, except in a few narrowly defined specialties within subject areas.


The library collection is generally too new to warrant a systematic ongoing weeding program. When the collection size reaches the minimum required by the Association of College and Research Libraries standard, it may then be appropriate to initiate a weeding program; additional staffing resources will be needed for its implementation.


All materials purchased on the library materials budget are housed in the library building. However, it is possible to purchase machine-readable sources which would be mounted elsewhere and accessed in the library through the campus LANs.
Special Collections: The materials may be placed in the Library Special Collections/Photography Collections when they require a controlled environment or special care due to their market value or condition, or because of special preservation concerns. Librarians will place materials in Special Collections regardless of the allocation on which they were purchased.

See separate statements for descriptions of the various special collections.

UMBC Archives: The Library Special Collections is the repository for the UMBC campus archives. Archival materials are sent by campus offices to the Special Collections staff who select and organize it. (see archives guideline 521).
Reference: Reference materials are those resources which are not intended to be read continuously from beginning to end but are consulted quickly by a relatively large number of users for relatively small and discrete pieces of information. Librarians determine what sources are placed in the Reference collection regardless of the allocation on which they were purchased. Reference materials include, but are not limited to: atlases, bibliographies, dictionaries, directories, guides to fields of research, indexes/abstracts, encyclopedias, handbooks, and compilations of basic facts and statistics.

Reference sources do not normally circulate. Superceded editions of reference materials and added copies of some high use sources such as thesauri may be placed in the general circulating collection.


Preventive measures include purchase of books and journals in hard cover editions printed on acid free paper, proper placement of books on their shelves, and care at all stages of shelving. Gifts which present preservation problems to other library materials may be refused. Binding/rebinding of print materials is a form of preservation.

Positive preservation programs are beyond the means of the library budget and staffing; any progress in deacidification or transfer of holdings to more stable media must be accomplished through grant funding.


Stolen, lost and damaged library materials are replaced at the discretion of the Collection Management Librarian in consultation with faculty liaisons and librarians, as appropriate. Books lost and paid for are normally replaced if in print. Books reported missing are reviewed by the Collection Management Librarian and those deemed still useful to the campus are normally replaced after a waiting period of approximately one year, if available. Rush replacements are made at the request of users when interlibrary loan is less viable than replacement.

Damaged materials are repaired, if reparable, rather than replaced. Low use damaged materials are neither repaired nor replaced. They are discarded, left in the collection until destroyed by use (at which time they are discarded), or placed in Special Collections. Decisions are made on a case by case basis. Damaged materials should be given to the Collection Management Librarian for a decision to replace, repair or weed.

Media items will be replaced at the discretion of the Collection Management Librarian in consultation with the Digital Media Librarian.  Lost or damaged items that are only available in formats not preferred for the Library collection will generally not be replaced.


The Library adopts as a guideline the "Library Bill of Rights":

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic practices 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 partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

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

  4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access of ideas.

  5. A person's right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

  6. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

(Adopted June 18, 1948; Amended February 2, 1961, June 27, 1967, and January 23, 1980, by the ALA Council)

At UMBC: Selection and de-selection of library materials shall be made on the basis of interest, information, and enlightenment. No library materials shall be excluded because of their authorship, views expressed relating to race, sex, politics, social issues, or religious beliefs.

Factors such as offensiveness to individuals or groups in the community are not grounds for removing or refusing to add materials to the library collection. Library staff will normally include materials when they serve the campus mission or have potential interest to the intellectual community. Concurrence with or approval of a work's contents are not a factor in this decision.

All requests that materials be removed from the UMBC collection must be in writing. If a challenge is received, the Library Director and the Collection Management Librarian will respond to the challenge within a ten day period. The response shall include an explanation of why the book was selected for the collection and why it is valuable. However, NO ITEM in the UMBC Library should be removed simply because an organization or member of the community wants it to be removed. If the Library Director and Collection Management Librarian judge that the material does not serve UMBC's mission and is not likely to be of interest to the intellectual community, they may remove it from the collection.

Similarly, books presented to add to the collection will be added or declined on the basis of their relevance to UMBC's mission, interest to the intellectual community and technical issues such as availability of space.


With the four exceptions noted in the "General Guidelines" of this document, the Library does not have restrictions on format acquired. However, the Library will not purchase in an unusual format until provisions are made for equipment to use those materials. The special formats normally purchased are treated below:

Audio Materials:

The preferred format for audio materials is compact disc (CD).  The Library is not currently purchasing other formats but may add gift materials as appropriate.

Video Materials:

The Library prefers DVD format.  Other formats may be added on a very selective basis.  The Library does not purchase in film or laser disc format.


The Library does not currently purchase 35mm slides or filmstrips.

Computer Software:

The library collects a limited amount of IBM and Apple microcomputer software but no mainframe software. All software is housed in the Record/Tape collection.

Government Documents:

UMBC is a partial Federal Depository which receives over 40% of the documents available from the U.S. Government. Requests for increases in the scope of the Library's depository selections should be directed to the Government Documents Librarian. Decisions on depository selections are made on the same bases as for other materials.

UMBC is a full depository for State documents.

Normally, federal documents are housed in the Reference room in Superintendent of Documents number order, rather than integrated with the rest of the collection. State documents are also housed in the Reference room according to a similar numbering system.

Manuscripts and Rare Books:

The Library does not purchase manuscripts or rare books. These will be acquired only as gifts and will be added to the collection when they support the campus mission.

Maps and Atlases:

Requests for maps and atlases are treated as monograph requests. Some maps are received as government documents. All maps and atlases are housed in the Reference room.


Pamphlet requests will be treated as requests for monographs. Pamphlets are normally housed separately in the Reference room, organized by subject. Some pamphlets are cataloged and added to the general collection, at the discretion of the Collection Management Librarian.


Photographs are added when they are deemed appropriate to the Library's mission. Department and program allocations are not normally used to acquire photographs. They are accessible through finding lists kept in Special Collections, rather than the public catalog.

Non-Photographic Works of Art:

The Library collects a limited number of posters in support of the Gallery and artists' books in support of Visual Arts. Other works of art are beyond our collecting scope.

Printed Music:

Musical scores are ordered as monographs and integrated into the monograph collection.

Effective 12/18/91, reviewed 12/7/10, moskal, edited 1/14, JH, edited with updated textbook information 6/2/21 LA

Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery . University of Maryland, Baltimore County . 1000 Hilltop Circle . Baltimore MD 21250
(410) 455-2232. Questions and comments to: Web Services Librarian