Library Collection Development Policy

(July 2017)

University Characteristics:

Washington State University Vancouver is a regional campus of Washington State University. Information about the campus, demographics, mission, degrees offered and more can be found at About WSU Vancouver.


While the acquisitions budget is not formulated by program sub-budget, every effort is made to build a collection that equitably supports the varying needs of the students, faculty and staff.  It is very useful and strongly encouraged that faculty articulate their collection needs to their subject librarian.  While it is not always possible to purchase everything that is requested, any and all requests are given serious consideration.

Collecting Levels:

The mission of the WSU Vancouver Library is to provide an environment which cultivates learning and supports the diverse academic pursuits of the WSU Vancouver students, faculty, and staff. The Library provides a collection which supports the WSU Vancouver curriculum, instruction in library and information research methods, and timely access to materials available within the WSU system and elsewhere.

Students in Vancouver share the resources collected within the WSU Libraries. The four campuses cooperatively fund the development of the system's research collection, with a strong reliance on the Pullman libraries collections, which affords Vancouver faculty and staff access to a vast book, journal, and database collection. In many areas, the Vancouver clientele have access to "research level" (B) digital collections. The Vancouver campus librarians complement this general WSU collection by collecting books, journals, videos, and other resources at the "study" level (C1 or C2) to support Bachelors and/or Masters work.

The Library's mission shapes collection development priorities and complements the wider WSU holdings. The priorities that guide decisions are as follows:

  1. Support curricular needs by ensuring a robust and diverse collection of materials appropriate for teaching preparation and student inquiry. Monographs uniquely suited to the campus, a stable collection of databases and journals, and a broad selection of essential reference titles will form the core of the collection. Priority will be provided to refreshing existing collections and building collections that support new programs.
  2. Support the research needs of the campus faculty. Priority will be provided to those research areas unique to the WSU Vancouver campus.
  3. Reflect the university's areas of distinctiveness with resources.
  4. Support campus initiatives.
  5. Collaborate with librarians in the WSU system to ensure that the Vancouver campus needs are considered when making system-wide decisions.

Definitions of collecting levels follow those specified in the Guidelines for Collection Development of the American Library Association / Resources and Technical Services Division (Chicago: ALA, 1979), pp. 3-5. The levels are identified by codes A through E:

A. Comprehensive level

A collection in which a library endeavors, so far as is reasonably possible, to include all significant works of recorded knowledge (publications, manuscripts, other forms) for a necessarily defined field. This level of collecting intensity is that which maintains a 'special collection': the aim, if not the achievement, is exhaustiveness.

B. Research level

A collection which includes the major published source materials required for dissertations and independent research, including materials containing research reporting, new findings, scientific experimental results, and other information useful to researchers. It also includes all important reference works and a wide selection of specialized monographs, as well as an extensive collection of journals and major indexing and abstracting services in the field.

C(1). Advanced Study Level

A collection which is adequate to support the course work of advanced undergraduates and master's degree programs, or sustained independent study; that is, which is adequate to maintain knowledge of a subject required for limited or a wide range of basic monographs both current and retrospective, complete collections of the works of more important writers, a selection of representative journals, and the reference tools and fundamental bibliographical apparatus pertaining to the subject.

C(2). Initial Study Level

A collection which is adequate to support undergraduate courses. It includes a judicious selection from currently published basic monographs (as are represented by Choice selections) supported by seminal retrospective monographs (as are represented by Resources for College Libraries); a broad selection of works of more important writers; a selection of the most significant works of secondary writers; a selection of the major review journals; and current editions of the most significant reference tools and bibliographies pertaining to the subject.

D. Basic level

A highly selective collection which serves to introduce and define the subject and to indicate the varieties of information available elsewhere. It includes major dictionaries and encyclopedias, selected editions of important works, historical surveys, important bibliographies, and a few major periodicals in the field.

E. Minimal level

A subject area in which few selections are made beyond very basic works.

Nature of the Collections:

The collection includes information resources for which the library invests financial resources -- directly or indirectly -- to manage, service, or preserve on behalf of library users, regardless of the location of the content. Collections include resources owned by the library and those accessed in remote locations.

The WSU Vancouver Library collects in many formats. Print and electronic information will coexist for the foreseeable future. There is a sure but steady migration from print to electronic collections where appropriate, especially in the journal literature. In general, only one format is collected and, when an electronic archival copy is available, the electronic format is preferred.

The WSU Vancouver collection was originally developed to support upper-division and graduate courses. As a result, most library materials are targeted to advanced undergraduate reading levels for students in declared majors. Collection efforts in the future will need to balance purchases so that both introductory and advanced inquiries will be met with the WSU Vancouver collection.

In order to maximize access to information, the acquisition of duplicates and textbooks should be a very rare occurrence.

High quality paperbound books are preferred to hardbound books.

Gifts are added to the collection when relevant to the library's collection areas.

Items are weeded from the collection only when necessitated by space constraints. Those items that have not circulated in the previous ten years are candidates for weeding.

The Library strives to maximize buying power by collaborating with consortia and other groups like GWLA, the Orbis Cascade Alliance, the Washington State Cooperative Library Project, and other partners.

Resource Sharing:

Increasingly, active programs of library resource sharing provide access to collections that are not owned locally. Summit, a union catalog and borrowing service of the Orbis Cascade Alliance, efficiently provides books to WSU users from almost thirty academic libraries in Washington and Oregon. Interlibrary loan services increasingly deliver needed resources very quickly, often electronically to the desktop. Strategic library resource sharing is considered as local collecting decisions are made. Cooperative collection development to reduce costly duplication and expand the pool of available resources is important in all disciplines.