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Collection Development Policy


This collection development policy is designed to provide guidelines to the library faculty regarding the allocation of library resources in the purchase/lease of library materials, whether they are in book, media, realia, microform or electronic format. Materials in the library collection should support the mission statement of the Libraries.


The mission of the PennWest Clarion University Libraries comprised of the Carlson Library on the Clarion campus and Suhr Library at Venango College is to:

  • Assist University undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, and administration in conveniently locating and accessing the University's information resources and those of other sources.
  • Develop and provide timely and responsive services, programs, and tools that facilitate translation of information into knowledge and support research, scholarship, teaching, and learning.
  • Build, select, and preserve, in cooperation with University faculty, a collection of information resources commensurate with the current and anticipated discipline needs of the University's instructional programs and supportive of teaching and learning processes.
  • Contribute to progress of the University and the profession; and participate in addressing the information resource needs of local and rural communities in Pennsylvania.

Penn West Clarion University Libraries are committed to intellectual freedom as a delineated in the American Library Association "Library Bill of Rights" and abide by the copyright laws of the United States.


The Libraries' collection development goal is to select, evaluate, and maintain the information resources most needed to support the University's instructional, research and service mission.

University Libraries' Collection

Within the constraints of budget, space, equipment, availability of materials, and bibliographic access, selection decisions are made to offer as deep and broad a collection as possible in all formats to support University instructional programs. The collection includes information resources delivered electronically from remote sites. Physical collections are housed at Carlson Library in Clarion, Pennsylvania and at Suhr Library, Venango College in Oil City, Pennsylvania.

Materials pertaining to the history of the University may be found in the Archives collection.

Selection Responsibility

Anyone, including students, may recommend materials for selection by the Libraries.

The primary responsibility for selection, however, rests with the teaching faculty and librarians. Collection management in the PennWest Clarion University Libraries is heavily dependent upon a liaison system in which the librarians work closely with representatives of the academic departments to determine how the Libraries can best support the curriculum and research needs of the departments. Faculty members are encouraged to recommend materials that serve to support the courses they teach and supplement the general library collections appropriate to their disciplines and specialties.

The librarians select information resources for specific schools, departments, or programs with which they have liaison responsibilities. The Collection Development Librarian coordinates their efforts and provides collection oversight in subject areas where no liaison is assigned. Funds available for collection development are allocated to address users' needs and are spent in the most cost-effective manner possible.

Cooperative Collection Development/
Resource Sharing

The University Libraries' collections are enhanced by resource sharing and cooperative collection development agreements.

The Libraries belong to some major consortia including:

  • Keystone Library Network (KLN),
  • Pennsylvania Academic Libraries Consortia, Inc. (PALCI)

These entities enable the Libraries to take advantage of group rates for online databases and other resources. They also enable Clarion users to borrow from the collections of some of the major libraries in Pennsylvania, and beyond, because of participation of those libraries in the consortium.

Consortium membership also gives the Libraries the opportunity to make collection development decisions based on the holdings of other libraries knowing that delivery agreements make borrowing rather than collecting a viable option for expensive lesser used materials.

Selection Guidelines

Priorities for additions to the library collections are the following:

    • Materials supporting the curriculum.
    • Standard reference tools.
    • Materials contributing to a balanced collection.
    • Materials supporting research of the PennWest Clarion University faculty, administration and staff.
    • Materials for recreational reading, listening, and viewing.

Books (Print)

To meet the stated goals, representative materials in all areas of knowledge will be collected, when possible, but only subject areas relating to the University's academic curriculum will be developed in depth.

Basic criteria to be used in selecting library books include:

    • Importance of subject matter in relation to the University's educational goals and the curriculum.
    • Timeliness or permanence of the material.
    • The author's reputation and significance as a writer.
    • Authoritativeness as reflected in recommendations by respected authorities or book reviewers.
    • Relative importance in comparison with other similar types of materials on the subject.
    • Clarity of presentation and readability.
    • Reputation and standing of the publisher.
    • Price.

Additional guidelines include:

    • Duplicate copies are purchased only under unusual circumstances determined by circulation or reference statistics. Duplicates which are received as gifts may be added as deemed appropriate by the collection development librarian in consultation with library liaisons.
    • The majority of selections are current publications because of the difficulty and expense of obtaining out-of-print materials. Replacement copies of high-use materials/core items may be sought from out-of print sources such as ALIBRIS.
    • Some selections may be made in anticipation of future needs of departments and the University.
    • Except for selected reference and music sources, materials in foreign languages will generally be collected primarily in support of the classroom curriculum.
    • Materials with an emphasis on local or University related topics will be collected whenever possible.
    • Lost or stolen materials will be replaced, if available and if funds allow. Identical or similar materials may replace lost or stolen material if the original material is no longer available.
    • When there is an option between paper and hardbound copy, the choice is based on expected use, lasting value of content, and cost differential.
    • Cooperative acquisition projects with other libraries are encouraged and supported.
    • In the instances where the cost of an item is high and the demand low, the use of InterLibrary loan, if applicable, may be considered as an option over acquisition.
    • Popular fiction and non-fiction, as well as materials on temporarily popular subjects are collected sparingly. As funding permits, the Libraries selectively will acquire titles included on best sellers lists as well as others which have received positive reviews. The need for other popular materials is addressed through InterLibrary loan.

Electronic Resources
(e.g., e-books and online databases)

Print resources have always been and will continue to be, a proper concern of the library but an increasing amount of information is now being contained in other forms. Non-traditional and distance education students, as well as traditional students, expect access to materials from wherever they are. It has therefore become necessary to spend larger proportions of the Libraries' materials budget for online databases, electronic books and media in varied electronic formats.

Criteria for selection of additions to the Libraries' electronic resources collection are the following:

    • Importance of the subject matter in relation to the University's educational goals and the curriculum. (Pennsylvania education initiatives have mandated an emphasis on mathematics and science in the University curriculum.) The Libraries provide support in those areas as well as business, education, the humanities, nursing, library science and new subject areas as curricular modifications dictate.
    • Relative importance and scope of coverage in comparison with similar resources.
    • Timeliness of the material.
    • Reputation and standing of the producer.
    • Accessibility (off campus as well as on-campus access).
    • Price.

Gift Materials

The University Libraries accept gifts of library materials that are pertinent to the curricular and research efforts of the university. Generally, the same criteria used to determine purchase of materials is used in evaluating appropriateness of gifts for the collection. Some examples of materials which are not considered viable additions to the collection include mass market paperbacks, outdated textbooks, serials to which the library does not subscribe, foreign language materials which do not support the curriculum, religious literature with limited research potential and any materials in poor physical repair or in an outdated format. All large donations of library materials are understood to be made to the PennWest Clarion University Foundation, which acts as a receiver for the libraries. Acknowledgement of such donations is made on behalf of the PennWest Clarion University Foundation. The Libraries incur no obligation for unsolicited donations.

Members of the library staff do not evaluate gift donations in terms of monetary value. Any prospective donor inquiring as to the availability of an evaluation should be referred to a qualified appraiser of library materials. The itemization of donations is not encouraged. It is permissible, however, to acknowledge by item gifts that do not total more than a few titles.

Miscellaneous gifts received by personal donations brought or mailed to the library are referred to the attention of the Collections Librarian who in turn may refer them to the appropriate subject liaison.

The libraries reserve the right to exchange, discard or sell donated material. This should be made clear to all donors. All donors should be informed that questions regarding tax deductions are best referred to the U.S. Internal Revenue Services or personal tax advisor.

The question of processing the arrival of large gifts and similar matters should be coordinated with the Technical Services department.

Juvenile/Young Adult Books

The Juvenile/Young Adult book collection is a representative collection of books recommended for ages preschool through twelfth grade. Materials in the collection are intended primarily to support classes in education, special education, literature and library science classes. A base collection of award winning juvenile/young adult titles is acquired via standing orders and is complemented by other titles recommended in standard review sources.

The library normally acquires at least two copies of those Newbery and Caldecott titles. One copy is purchased for the circulating collection and one for library use only. Generally, one copy is shelved in a locked case in the juvenile area and one in the Juvenile Special collection area behind the circulation desk. If budget permits, and other copies are available, they may be added to the general juvenile collection. Appropriate juvenile/young adult literature in foreign languages relevant to the curriculum is also acquired. K-12 textbooks and teacher editions are purchased on a very limited basis.


The primary focus of the media collection is instructional support rather than general entertainment value. Collection emphasis reflects ongoing changes in curriculum, technology, and format quality. For example, the VHS collection is gradually being transitioned to DVD format for individual titles and the purchase of individual titles has largely been supplanted by subscription to an online database which is broad in subject coverage and offers streaming video capability. Content guidelines follow those of the general collection. "Popular" materials (e.g., novels in audio format and motion pictures on DVD) are purchased only on a very limited basis and when they are determined to support some aspect of the university curriculum.

Sound recordings are included in the media collection and are primarily in CD format. Titles selected support the university curriculum with primary focus on symphonic, opera, musicals, jazz, world music and children's songs. Recordings of dramatic readings, speeches, and poetry are also included. The learning environment and the availability /accessibility of new media technologies will continue to inform collection development decisions.


Serials (also referred to as periodicals, journals or magazines) represent an ongoing funding commitment and, therefore, selection of serials differs from the funding and selection of monographs. Although an increasing number of titles now are acquired as part of database packages, some journal titles as well as serial titles for the reference collection are acquired separately. Because of increasing subscription rates, the ongoing commitment of funds implied by a subscription, and fluctuating library budgets, acquisition of a periodical/serial title requires and receives substantially more consideration then acquisition of a single monograph. Many reference titles are serials and the purchase/frequency of acquisition of those titles is very carefully considered. To insure consistency and currency, standing orders may be placed for high use material but budgetary concerns may require that titles be added on a rotating two to three year basis or be canceled.

The Libraries provide access to the full-text of many national, international; and regional newspapers electronically via databases and Web resources such as the Internet Public Library, but paper editions of local and regional resources remain the only or preferred option for user browsing. Paper subscriptions are acquired very selectively and in most cases have a very short retention period.

As more serials have become available electronically, consideration of the relative advantages of print and/or electronic access is also a factor in the decision process.

Because of limited funds and the availability of InterLibrary Loan, back runs of periodical titles rarely will be purchased. If retrospective holdings are to be purchased, microfilm will be acquired, when available.

Individual periodical title acquisition is also dependent on whether or not a title is already included in one of the aggregate databases accessible to library users.

Some or all of the following criteria are used in evaluation of periodicals for acquisition or cancellation:

    • Support of the present academic curriculum.
    • Collection balance.
    • Availability in an electronic format and ease of user access.
    • Amount of current, or projected future use, of this or other periodicals in a subject area.
    • Reputation of the periodical.
    • Availability of and user access to indexing of the periodical.
    • Cost and availability of funds.
    • Number of recent InterLibrary loans requests for a title not owned.

When ordering a new title, the Serials and Electronic resources librarian recommends whether future issues of the periodical are to be bound, discarded, or obtained on microfilm. The following criteria guide the recommendation to bind back issues or purchase microfilm.

    • Expense.
    • Use.
    • Availability of microfilm.
    • Storage/shelving cost and capacity.

Use of periodicals will be monitored regularly by analysis of in-house and vendor usage statistics and interlibrary loan activity.

Special Collections

In addition to general collection materials, the Libraries collect and maintain materials in various special collections based on a particular content emphasis, format, or security issues. Since very unique criteria apply to special collections materials, separate policies for those collections have been developed and are appended to the general collection development policy. Policies are appended for:

    • Barbara Morgan Harvey Collection
    • Faculty Publications
    • Frederick Douglass Collection
    • Juvenile Case Books
    • Juvenile Special Collection
    • Special Archives Collection
    • Special Collection
*The University Archives policy is available in a separate document.


Generally, textbooks used for university level classes are not purchased with the exception of those which have earned a reputation as "classics" in their field, or when a textbook is the only or best source of information on a particular topic. A very limited number of K-12 textbooks and teacher editions are purchased in support of the Education curriculum and to complement other Juvenile/Young Adult resources.


Ongoing review of the collection and culling outdated, damaged, or well-worn materials is an important aspect of collection development/maintenance.

Weeding the collection occurs on a regular basis. The process for weeding is as follows:

  • Limited deselection occurs on a regular basis as older editions are replaced by newer or severely worn items are brought to the attention of the librarian. For these materials, no departmental review is expected.
  • For major weeding projects, the liaison librarian or collection development librarian or their designee pulls books/media from the shelf if they appear to be in poor repair, out of date, or no longer applicable to the curriculum. E-resources are also evaluated in terms of content, date, and ongoing accessibility for users and relevancy to the curriculum.
  • Materials are then reviewed by the appropriate library faculty member in terms of content, currency, core value, and overall place in the collection. In some instances a newer edition or a replacement copy may be recommended for purchase.
  • When a library faculty member makes the decision to discard materials, the academic departments appropriate to these materials may be notified and asked to review them and give their opinion as to whether the material should be discarded or kept. If the department asks that material be retained, it will be reviewed again and either returned to the collection or replaced with an updated version as appropriate.
This policy is based on collection development polices previously in effect at PennWest Clarion University and a review of collection development policies from other similar colleges and universities.


Barbara Morgan Harvey Collection

The collection serves as the core research collection of the Barbara Morgan Harvey Center for the Study of Oil Heritage located at Suhr Library at the PennWest Venango Campus in Oil City, PA.

Barbara Morgan Harvey and her husband Joseph S. Harvey both came from families with a history involving the early days of oil. Mrs. Harvey's great-grandfather, Gib Morgan, known as "the minstrel of the oil fields," entertained people with his tall tales while working as a drill and tool dresser in the Appalachian oil fields. Mr. Harvey's grandfather, Joseph Seep, was an early oil and banking baron.

Mrs. Harvey developed an avid research interest in the early oil industry and developed an extensive personal collection of related materials. Following her death in 2002, her family donated a collection of nearly 400 books as well as a large collection of photographs, business ledgers, and other historical documents to the Venango Campus. The collection was reviewed and organized by LC classification or archival designations for primary source materials.

The PennWest Clarion University Libraries continue to acquire materials through gifts and acquisitions as appropriate to the collection and as funding permits.

Faculty Publications

PennWest Clarion University faculty publications are actively sought and/or identified through a variety of methods. These include self-identification, library liaison input, faculty tenure and promotion recognition events, the academic excellence series, the faculty author series, and published announcements of faculty publication. When possible, monographs are added to the main collection and copies and offprints of articles appearing in serial publications are collected for the archives. Fiscal considerations preclude comprehensive collection building in this area. Donations are encouraged and appreciated.

Frederick Douglass Collection

Frederick Douglass (1818?-1895)

An eminent 19th century human rights leader, orator, and journalist, Frederick Douglass championed freedom and equal rights for all regardless of race, ethnicity or gender. The Frederick Douglass collection commemorates the life and work of Frederick Douglass with collection emphasis in the following areas:
    • American history during the time of Frederick Douglass; especially in the areas of slavery and the Reconstruction.
    • The life and writings of Frederick Douglass.
    • Books by and about minority authors and themes for children and young adults.

Selection Criteria

In addition to appropriate content as outlined above, materials included in the collection are evaluated in terms of:

    • Timeliness or permanence of the material.
    • The author's reputation and significance as a writer.
    • Authoritativeness as reflected in recommendations by respected review sources or authorities.
    • Relative importance in comparison with other similar types of material on the subject.
    • Clarity of presentation and/or readability.
    • Reputation and standing of the publisher.
    • Price.


Materials will be collected in both print and nonprint formats as appropriate for the content and intended audience.


While all materials acquired specifically for the collection will be identified as "Frederick Douglass Collection", not all will be located in one section of the library. The major portion of the book collection will be housed in an area of Level A of Carlson Library clearly designated as the Frederick Douglass Collection. Media and juvenile/YA books, although part of the Douglass collection, are located with like format materials to enhance user browsing opportunities and to facilitate shelving.

Juvenile Special Collections

Juvenile Case Collection

It is a long standing tradition at Carlson library to collect the annual Caldecott and Newbery Medal award winning titles for addition to the case. Case copies of the award winning titles do not circulate.
Juvenile Special Collection

The Juvenile Special Collection is composed of titles from the original Mary Margaret Butler Collection, which included facsimiles of early and significant books in the history of children's book publishing, as well as more recent titles that represent unusual or delicate formats, highly popular juvenile authors and titles, and materials that exemplify unusual literary and/or artistic merit. Materials for inclusion in this collection are identified by the regular selection process for Juvenile titles, or at point of cataloging. This collection is housed behind the Carlson Library Circulation Desk and titles are available for loan.

Historical Notes

Betty R. Slater Collection

The juvenile collection includes some titles donated in memory of Dr. Betty Slater in the mid-seventies and so designated with name plates. Dr. Slater was a professor in the Education Department from 1963-1977. Following Dr. Slater's death in an automobile accident, her sister, Mrs. Bernice Kain, donated 300 children's books to the University Library. The titles were not housed separately, but incorporated into the general juvenile collection. Many of the titles now have been retired as wear and currency required.

Mary Margaret Butler Collection

The collection was named in honor of Mary Margaret Butler, a librarian in Carlson Library from 1961-1974 who also taught children's literature in the Education Department. Most titles in the collection, initiated in 1984, are Newbery and Caldecott award books. Although the library no longer adds titles specifically to the Butler collection, award books are acquired.

Special Archives Collection (Treasures)

The Special Archives Collection is primarily a safe haven for materials that do not meet the criteria for the University Archives or the general special collection. Criteria for inclusion in this "library use" only collection are primarily replacement value and/or difficulty in securing another copy.

Many materials have been designated as Special Archives Collection items via review of the collection based on dollar amounts generated by a check of sources such as ALIBRIS. Additional titles may be added to the collection based on recommendations by library faculty and staff.

Special Collection - Carlson Library

Materials housed in the Carlson Library Special Collection are not purchased specifically for that collection. Instead, the Special Collection location for titles is designated after they are received in the Acquisitions area. The Libraries do not generally purchase rare books or other types of material which might require extreme special handling, so the special collection is not generally a place where books are housed because of condition or cost. Most titles in Carlson Library's special collection are there because they are "high loss risk" because of anticipated high use or demonstrated loss of books on that topic in the past. Determination of "special collection" status is subjective and at the discretion of library faculty. Topics of titles currently included range from study guides for the PRAXIS to books of monologues for actors.

The Special Collection is housed behind the circulation desk. Most titles in the collection circulate but are not available for InterLibrary Loan.


Last Updated 2/3/23