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Collection Development

Appendix Three - Collection Levels

The codes defined below are designed for use in identifying both the extent of existing collections in given subject fields (collection density) and the extent of current collecting activity in the field (collection intensity).

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 collection intensity is that which maintains as "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. Study level. A collection which supports undergraduate or graduate course work, or sustained independent study; that is, which is adequate to maintain knowledge of a subject required for limited or generalized purposes, of less than research intensity. It includes a wide range of basic monographs, complete collection of the works of important writers, selections from the works of secondary writers, as selection of representative journals, and the reference tools and fundamental bibliographical apparatus pertaining to the subject.

NOTE: Some college librarians have expressed a need for further refinement of the "Study level" code for use by librarians without comprehensive or research level collections, to enable them to define their collection policies explicitly enough to meet the needs of network resources planning. We include the following optional subcodes for such institutions.

  • Advanced study level. A collection which is adequate to support the course work of advanced undergraduate and master's degree programs, or sustained independent study; that is, which is adequate to maintain knowledge of a subject required for limited or generalized purposes, of less that research intensity. It includes a wide range of basic monographs, both current and retrospective, complete collection s of the works of more important writers, selections from the works of secondary writers, a selection of representative journals and the reference tools and fundamental bibliographic apparatus pertaining to the subject.

  • 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 BOOKS 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.

NOTE: Some subject fields may be completely out the scope for the library's collections. These class numbers can be lined out in the analysis, or "0" can be used to indicate "not collected".

Taken from "Guidelines for Collection Development". Collection Development Committee, Resources and Technical Services Division, American Library Association. 1979. p. 508.

Compiled by Dr. Janice M. Bogstad, Collection Development Librarian, August 12, 1993

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