Skip to Main Content

Collection Development Guidelines: Home

Collection Development Guidelines


The systematic development of the collection of the Library requires the application of stated acquisitions guidelines. The statement cannot be definitive for all time since a library is not a static institution. Therefore, a document to guide the development of the library's collection must be responsive to change. The Library maintains responsibility for its materials budget. The assignment of allocations to subject areas or academic divisions depends wholly on the availability of funding and demands for resources. The Library must also maintain the flexibility to make adjustments in purchase strategies annually in order to support new and existing curricula and react to changing budgetary conditions.


Library materials will be purchased to support the curriculum of Northwest Arkansas Community College. The following general guidelines describe the criteria for the selecting those materials:

A. Print and Media Collection

  1.  Major emphasis will be on purchasing current books and media, which support the curriculum of Northwest Arkansas Community College and are appropriate for the community college level. Currency, relevance, and accuracy are the three major criteria guiding acquisitions decisions.
  2. Generally the library refrains from purchasing textbooks except with the approval of the appropriate division dean and the Library Director, and any textbooks purchased must be paid for from that department’s designated budget. This includes the purchase of print versions of Open Educational Resources (OER’s) for course reserve, as well. OER’s that are only available online will not be printed, but the library may link to them in the Course Reserves module of the library catalog.
  3.  Multiple copies of titles are not purchased except with the approval of the library director.
  4.  Research or graduate level materials are not purchased due to the limited materials budget. Faculty and staff may borrow library materials through the ARKLink consortial borrowing program or Interlibrary Loan.
  5.  No materials will be excluded from the collection because of the race, religion, nationality or political views of an author, the language, or the controversial content of an item. The endorsement or disapproval of an individual or group will not cause an item to be automatically excluded. The library adheres to the provision of the "Library Bill of Rights" and the "Intellectual Freedom Statement."
  6.  Paperback editions may be purchased for the following reasons:
    • The title is in heavy demand.
    • The title is out of print or unobtainable in sturdier format.
    • The title has never appeared in any other format.
    • The title in the hardbound format is expensive and useful only occasionally; therefore, the paperback edition will fulfill the need.
  7.  To encourage reading, current awareness, and a general appreciation for books, the library provides a collection of popular and recreational reading materials.
  8.  Multimedia resources are purchased to support the curriculum and recreational use. Formats may include: DVDs, streaming videos, e-books, video games, and any new technology format the Library Director approves.

B. Serials Collection

Serials will be purchased for the following reasons:

  • To supplement the book collection.
  • To keep the library collections up-to-date with current thinking in various fields.
  • To provide information not yet available in books because of its currency.
  • To fulfill requests from faculty, staff, and students based on needs, interests, and cost.
  • To fulfill program accreditation standards.

Also, to be considered in the purchase and/or retention of serials will be the number of serials presently received in the subject area, accessibility of content through subscription databases, usage, alternative formats and price. Faculty and staff may submit requests for additional titles and make recommendations for deletions annually. Retention of print serials will be decided on an individual title basis, but will primarily be for 1 to 3 years. Newspapers should be purchased to provide local, metropolitan, national, and international news coverage. Their retention will depend on availability of space and usage. The library does not purchase or maintain microform formats of serials.

C. Electronic Books and Resources

  1.  Purpose: This procedure guides the selection, acquisition and maintenance of electronic books and resources.
  2.  Electronic books and electronic resources are purchased to support the curriculum and instructional programs of Northwest Arkansas Community College.
  3.  Definition: Electronic books are defined as digital copies of books that may also be available in a bound format and shall include versions available to view online or download to a device. Electronic resources are defined as online information resources, including subscription databases, search engines for full text collections, and digital collections of data.
  4.  Responsibility: The selection of electronic books and electronic resources is the responsibility of the professional librarians and trained support staff working in coordination with faculty and staff in other departments of the College.
  5.  Selection: The primary criteria for the selection of electronic products are the extent to which it is relevant to the curriculum; improves the overall library collection; and/or enhances the user's access to information. Other factors considered during the selection process are:
    • Compatibility with existing technology
    • Licensing restrictions and costs
    • Ease of use

6. Evaluation: Electronic books will be evaluated as needed, focusing on the continued relevance of the information or format, in conjunction with the usage statistics by the NWACC community. Electronic resources will be evaluated annually focusing primarily on changes in the databases, cost for the upcoming year, and usage.

D. Streaming Media

E. Gifts

The library accepts gifts with the understanding that items may not be added to the collection. The material will be evaluated by the same standards of selection as those used in the purchase of new materials. Gifts which do not comply with the Library's objectives will be refused. Librarians do not appraise gifts for tax relief or other purposes. The library does not set aside special sections for any gift books or accept books on indefinite loan. The Library reserves the right to discard any and all gift books and serials, and dispose of said items in a state approved method.  

F. Censorship

The selection of library books and materials is based on the library user's right to read and his/her freedom from censorship by others. Some library materials are controversial and may offend some persons. Selections for the library will not be made on the basis of anticipated approval or disapproval, but rather on the merits of the material in relation to the building of the collection, and to serving the interests of the users and supporting the curriculum.

The library holds censorship to be a purely individual matter and declares that while anyone is free to reject for him/herself books and other materials of which he/she does not approve; he/she cannot exercise the right of censorship to restrict the freedom of others.

Selection cannot be governed by the chance that books may come into the possession of minors. Should a patron challenge library materials, that individual will be expected to complete a Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials Form. Upon completion of this form, the college will begin the process described within said document.


Factors to be considered in the decision to withdraw materials:

  1.  Damaged books, books in poor physical condition, and poorly bound books will be discarded. Replacement copies are sought as appropriate and available.
  2.  Titles no longer relevant to current curricular or research needs and therefore not within the scope of the library's current collection development goals may be removed from the collection or (in the case of subscriptions) cancelled.
  3.  Copies or editions of titles may be deselected to minimize redundancy of holdings.
  4.  Old textbooks, old handbooks, and older editions of encyclopedias and dictionaries will be discarded and replaced by later editions, if funds are available.
  5.  Books that are no longer in demand may be de-selected out of the collection.
  6.  Titles that contain obsolete information may be de-selected because the information they contain is out-of-date, invalid, inaccurate, or incomplete.
  7.  Electronic books will be de-selected as needed by NWACC librarians or trained support staff.
  8.  Discarded library materials will be disposed of according to college policies and procedures, and in accordance with Arkansas State law.


NWACC Library's reference collections provide access to information resources that support the academic, research, and public service programs of Northwest Arkansas Community College, with priority given to curricular needs. The primary users of the Reference Collection are the students, faculty, and staff members of NWACC. The collection is developed with the idea that reference materials are consulted for bibliographic and/or factual information and will not be read in their entirety.

A. Criteria for Selection

Selection criteria for the Reference Collection include the following items, not in ranked order:

  1.  The observed strengths and weaknesses of the existing collection.
  2.  Reviews or citations in basic reference collection guides.
  3.  Author and/or publisher reputation.
  4.  Currency of topic.
  5.  Date of publication.
  6.  Cost of publication.
  7.  Availability in digital format.
  8.  Recommendations from the academic community.

Professional literature for reference titles assists librarians in choosing materials for the collection. Sources may include (but are not limited to): ALA's Guide to Reference, Choice, College & Research Libraries News, and Library Journal. Librarians also make notes of titles from annual lists of notable reference titles and publisher catalogs.

B. Types of Materials Selected

  1.  Almanac/Yearbook: A compendia, usually an annual, of statistics and facts, both current and retrospective.
  2.  Atlas: A volume of maps, plates, engravings, tables, etc., with or without descriptive text.
  3.  Bibliography: A list of works, documents, and/or bibliographic items, usually with some relationship between them.
  4.  Biography: The branch of literature concerned with peoples' lives.
  5.  Concordance: An index of all words or the principal words in any work or in the works of a single author, showing location in the text, generally giving context, and sometimes defining the words.
  6.  Dictionary: A book explaining the words of a language, the words being arranged in alphabetical order; it usually gives the orthography, pronunciation and meaning of each word. A dictionary of words in a restricted field of knowledge usually gives only the meaning.
  7.  Directory: A list of persons or organizations, systemically arranged, usually in alphabetic or classed order, giving address, affiliations, etc., for individuals, and address, officers, functions, and similar data for organizations.
  8.  Encyclopedia: A book or set of books containing informational articles on subjects in every field of knowledge, usually arranged in alphabetical order, or a similar work limited to a special field or subject.
  9.  Handbook: A compendium, covering one or more subjects and of basic or advanced level, arranged for the quick location of facts and capable of being conveniently used.
  10.  Index: A systemic guide to the contents of a file, document, or group of documents, consisting of an ordered arrangement of terms of other symbols representing the contents and references, code numbers, page numbers, etc., for accessing the contents.
  11.  Style Manual: A set of rules drawn up by a printing establishment for the guidance of its staff or contributors to ensure that details of typography, spelling, capitalization, punctuation and other matters about which opinions and customs differ, are in accordance with the prevailing practice of that establishment.

C. De-Selection

The Reference Collection is assessed on an annual basis by NWACC Librarians. The Reference Collection follows these general guidelines for de-selection:

  1.  Significance of the publication: If the publication is of significant value in supporting the curriculum of the college and the research needs of library users, it may be retained. If a title is listed in one of the standard "core reference" catalogs, it will be retained.
  2.  Age and currency: Materials 5 years or older are evaluated as to the usefulness of the information for patrons. If a significant portion of information is outdated, the item will be removed from the collection.

V. Course Reserves

The Library's Course Reserves service allows faculty and instructors to make recommended or required course materials in a variety of formats--books, articles, media, and even rocks-- available to their students for use in the library only, or for an abbreviated check out period. These materials are held at the Circulation Desk and are for limited checkout times to allow all students in a particular course to share the materials equitably.

Due to cost, textbooks are by far the most requested item for Course Reserves. Faculty may donate or loan a textbook to the library and we will then make it available to the students for use in the library, or for an abbreviated check out period, usually 1 to 7 days. Faculty may retrieve any items loaned to the library for Course Reserves at any time.

The library will not accept materials labeled “Instructor’s Review Copy” for Course Reserves. Materials not retrieved by faculty in subsequent semesters may be added to the library’s main collection or disposed of in accordance with other library materials according to Arkansas State Law.

Adapted from Horry Georgetown Technical College, August 1st, 2013, updated August 2019