Collection Development Policy

I. Introduction

The Columbia College Chicago Library collection supports the learning and instructional needs of the students, faculty, and staff of the College. Library resources assist in the development of the critical thinking skills necessary in pursuit of a well-rounded liberal arts and sciences education. The collection reflects Columbia's emphasis in the creative and media arts, liberal arts, and business, with strength and depth in these subject areas: art, dance, fashion, film, journalism, music, photography, television, and theatre. A core collection serves the general education requirements of the College and promotes lifelong learning.

II. Purpose

The Collection Development Policy establishes a set of guidelines to govern growth and maintenance of the library collection. The document provides the framework for librarians as bibliographers to build a balanced and vibrant collection. The policy defines the scope of the collection, describes types of materials, selection guidelines, and maintenance policies. The policy is evaluated on a regular basis to reflect the changing needs of the College and its curriculum.

III. Scope of the Collection

The library collects books, serials, films, music, scores, and scripts. The collection includes physical and electronic formats; both are necessary for a balanced and relevant collection. Database subscriptions provide users with access to journal articles, streaming films and music, graphics and multimedia, and geographic and demographic data.

IV. Selection

A. General Criteria for Selection of Library Materials

The primary objective of materials selection is to support the instructional programs of the College. The collection should support all concentrations in the academic departments of all schools in the College as well as its special initiatives and programming. The collection should include items of general educational and cultural enrichment which encourage the intellectual growth of students. The library supports faculty research by providing access to materials needed and collecting materials when appropriate and as budget allows.

The following criteria are to be observed in the selection of materials in all formats:

  1. Relevance of subject matter to the current curriculum
  2. Strengths and/or weaknesses of the collection in a particular subject area
  3. Reputation of the author, composer, artist, or publisher
  4. Authoritativeness of the material
  5. Long term value of the material
  6. Currency and timeliness of the material
  7. Sustainability of the material
  8. Availability of funds
  9. Cost, including continuing and indirect costs
  10. Language of materials
  11. Available space

B. Responsibility for Selection

The selection of library materials is made by subject librarians in consultation with faculty. Faculty members are encouraged to recommend materials for areas in which they teach and conduct research, although faculty may request additions to the collection for any area. While faculty recommendations are welcome and necessary, the library staff is responsible for maintaining a balanced collection. Students' requests are welcome and will be filled if the material meets the general selection criteria for the collection.

C. Formats

The library purchases these materials in both physical and electronic formats: books, films, music, music scores, and serials. The same selection criteria are used for all formats with some additional criteria for electronic resources. Materials requiring specific technologies or equipment for use will not be purchased unless the library has the necessary support available for users. The library does not purchase materials for which we lack the proper facilities for use and storage.

Preferred formats

E-books are the preferred format as they support the trend toward digital pedagogy. E-books provide students with greater access than print books. Students can access e-books both on and off-campus, allowing them to use library materials when and where the books are needed. When appropriate and available, the library purchases multi-user licenses for e-books, providing even greater access to frequently used e-books. Perpetual access e-books are preferred to subscription access. E-books also ease the strain on a finite amount of library shelf space.

Print books remain an essential component of an academic library collection. The library has a print-preferred policy in these disciplines: fine and performing arts, photography, graphic design, and literature.

Streaming versions of films and music are preferred over physical formats. Pedagogical changes require students to view films outside of class. Streaming films provide greater access for students. The library purchases physical media when a streaming version is not available for licensing, or when specifically requested by faculty.

D. Language

English language publications are preferred, with the following exceptions:

  1. Books that support the foreign language curriculum.
  2. Books with multilingual text that includes English.
  3. Books that are primarily pictorial in content, regardless of language.

E. Specific Policies and Guidelines

  1. Electronic Resources
    1. Introduction

      Electronic resources are defined as licensed or purchased information resources delivered electronically.

      Due to the ongoing financial commitment associated with electronic resources subscriptions, the Electronic Resources Committee (in consultation with appropriate liaison librarians, library personnel, and faculty) is charged with making purchase decisions based on institutional needs. A major goal of acquiring electronic resources is the provision of access both on and off campus in the most sustainable manner possible.

    2. Selection and deselection criteria

      The annual process for electronic resource selection aligns with the College’s annual budget cycle with new database access beginning with the fiscal year.

      Resources will be licensed or purchased in electronic format if they provide greater accessibility to information over other formats at a manageable cost.

      Considerations for the selection and deselection of electronic resources include, but are not limited to:

      • Content enhancement of the curriculum and pedagogy of the College
      • Redundancy of content with existing resources and availability of alternatives
      • Database trial feedback from faculty and librarians
      • Resource integration with the library discovery system to increase findability
      • Resource integration with authentication systems used by the college and library
      • Usability on a mobile device without loss of content or functionality
      • Pleasurable user experience including intuitive user interface and high readability
      • Accessibility features including but not limited to text to speech options, compatibility with screen readers, and user ability to customize the interface
      • Sufficient usage statistics to support continued subscription (for existing resources)
      • High quality vendor support and training
      • Cost effectiveness and sustainability
      • Availability in the academic library market


  2. Textbooks: The Library purchases all required textbooks that cost $40 or more. E-book editions are purchased when available. Due to space limitations, only one print copy will be purchased unless there is sufficient demand for additional copies

  3. Faculty and Staff Works: The Library attempts to acquire and maintain published works authored or edited by individuals employed at Columbia College Chicago at the time of publication. For book works published in a physical format, two copies are usually purchased—one copy for the circulating collection and one copy for the Faculty/Staff Works Collection. For audio or visual works in which a Columbia College Chicago employee is a primary contributor, one copy will be purchased for our Media Collection.

  4. Periodicals: Periodical subscriptions are reviewed annually for renewal and for retention decisions. In addition to the general selection criteria, the following are considered when deciding to add or withdraw a title:

    1. Availability as part of a database to which the library subscribes
    2. Indexed in a current electronic indexing or abstracting resource
    3. Usage


  5. Gifts: The Library accepts gifts for the collection on a highly selective basis if the material being donated falls within collection development guidelines.

V. Collection Maintenance

A. Deselection

Items which are out-of-date, no longer have curricular relevance, or in poor physical condition will be withdrawn from the collection. Duplicate copies of titles may be withdrawn if a single copy meets user needs.

  1. General collection:
    1. At appropriate intervals, the collection is reviewed and weeded by subject specialist librarians.
    2. The same general criteria used for material selection should also be applied when considering materials for deselection.
    3. In addition, the following criteria should be considered:
      1. Circulation statistics
      2. Availability of a later edition
      3. Duplication of content in more recent works and/or electronic format
      4. Space constraints
  2. Superseded editions of titles received on standing order:
    1. Decision made as new volumes/editions are received
    2. Superseded volumes are usually discarded unless valuable information is not included in the new volume.

B. Replacement Copies

Titles removed from the collection because of damage or loss will be replaced if they meet current selection criteria, have significant use, and are still available.

C. Preservation

  1. The library follows the Society of American Archivists guidelines for preservation of archival and special collections materials and the Library of Congress guidelines for digital preservation of documents, images, moving images, and sound recordings.
  2. Circulating materials are mended in-house or replaced, as necessary.

VI. Resource Sharing

The library participates in the following library consortia and networks, allowing users to access and borrow materials from many other libraries. Consortia memberships also allow the library to license or purchase electronic resources more affordably:

  • Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI)
  • I-Share (Online Catalog)
  • OCLC
  • Chicago Collections Consortium
  • Black Metropolis Research Consortium (BMRC)

VII. Intellectual Freedom and Censorship

To facilitate the widest range of inquiry, Columbia College Chicago Library embraces the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries. The following principles guide the library’s acquisitions of resources.

    • Librarians should develop and preserve the library’s collection without personal bias. Collections should represent a variety of views about topics, whether controversial or not. Good scholarship and intellectual freedom demand that differing viewpoints be available to patrons.
    • License agreements should allow maximum access to materials.
    • Materials should be made available to patrons at no cost to them. Should fees be unavoidable, patrons should bear the lowest possible costs for their materials.

VIII. Reviewing the Collection Development Policy

This Collection Development Policy is reviewed annually for currency.

IX. Comments

Feedback regarding materials in the Collection should be directed, in writing, to the Director of the Library.

Updated: January 2022