Collection Development Policy

A. Purpose

The Collection Development Policy guidelines are intended to clarify for librarians, faculty, students and other interested persons the purpose of the Barnard Library collection and the reasons for the selection or withdrawal of a particular item. This policy addresses all collecting, regardless of format or location within the library.

B. Description of the Barnard College and Barnard Library Mission

Barnard College, founded in 1889, is an affiliate of Columbia University with the mission of providing a liberal arts education to undergraduate women. The affiliation makes library use and library resources equally available to the Barnard College and Columbia University communities. As a result, the Library does serve patrons from Columbia University. However, the Library’s collection is meant primarily to support the Barnard College mission, undergraduate education in the liberal arts, and the Barnard College curriculum.

C. Goals of the Collection Development and Management Program

The Library aims to maintain a collection that is relevant to the current Barnard curriculum and that serves the majority of Barnard College students’ research interests and level of knowledge and learning. The process of collection development includes:

  1. selection
  2. deselection
  3. evaluation

D. Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Issues

The Library adheres to the American Library Association’s policies on intellectual freedom as expressed in the Library Bill of Rights.

E. Collection Overview

1. History:
Early collection development efforts have led to a strong core collection in the social sciences and humanities. Particularly noteworthy is the Library’s collection of first edition English and American novels. The collection is also particularly strong in women’s studies. In the 1980s, librarians evaluated the women’s studies collection and filled in many existing gaps; the Library continues to buy heavily in this area. In 1994/95 the Columbia and Barnard libraries agreed that Barnard would take primary responsibility for collection development in dance. In the sciences, the Library has historically collected at a minimum level on the basis that the majority of science classes do not require textual research but depend instead on readings from textbooks which are purchased for Reserves. The Library continues to rely on its relationship with Columbia to fulfill the research needs of its science majors.

2. Subject areas emphasized in the library are Art History, Dance, American and English Literature, Women’s Studies and Gender Studies. The library also collects Lesbian Fiction (works by lesbian authors or with lesbian characters) and LGBTQ young adult fiction.

3. Collection locations:

  • College Archives are housed in the LeFrak Center, room 114, and are maintained by the Barnard Archivist.
  • The Circulating collection is in long-term storage during the building of the new library and is not accessible, except for 20,000 volumes that are housed in the Milstein Undergraduate Library, Butler 406, 406a and 409.
  • The Media collection is kept at the circulation and reserves desk in the LeFrak Center.
  • The Reserves collection, located at the circulation and reserves desk in the LeFrak Center, is a closed stack collection of material required for Barnard courses and other undergraduate courses taught by Barnard faculty. Material removed from Reserves is evaluated and added to the circulating collection as appropriate.
  • Special Collections are housed in Barnard Archives and Butler Rare Books, and these materials are paged by staff.
  • The Overbury collection, a gift from Bertha Overbury, consists of 3,300 special and first edition books as well as manuscript materials by and about American women authors. Due to construction, this collection is currently in offsite storage. Please contact the Barnard Archives for assistance.
  • The library also has a small collection of rare books. They are housed in Butler Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
  • Zines, a unique collection of self-publications supporting the women's studies collection, are shelved in Archives. When we have a second copy of a zine, it is in available in the zines stacks in the LeFrak Center. These second copies circulate.

F. Organization of the Collection Development and Management Program

  • The Dean of Barnard Library and Academic Information Services provides overall direction for collection development policy.
  • Circulating Collection: (a) A designated collection development specialist oversees selection and management of the major collection areas of the library (see E2). (b) Other librarians contribute in accordance with individual subject expertise. (c) The Director of Collection Services ensures breadth of coverage in all appropriate subject areas. (d) Faculty are consulted and their collaboration in the devlopment of the collection is welcome.
  • Media: Librarians select material based primarily on faculty requests and areas of known interest.
  • Reserves: The Director of Collection Services coordinates the acquisition of material for the Reserves collection. This collection is built entirely upon faculty requests for course-specific material.

G. Management of the Collection: Preservation, Replacement, Deselection

Simple in-house mending and commercial binding and re-binding for high-use and non-replaceable items does take place. Lost items or items in poor physical condition will be replaced (if available in print) after consideration of the following factors:

  1. Was the item frequently used (particularly in the past 5 years)?
  2. Is the item’s content of continuing value? The intellectual worth of an item will be determined by consulting reviews and/or major subject bibliographies.

Similar criteria exist for the deselection of an item:

  1. Was the item rarely used (particularly in the past 5 years)?
  2. Is the information contained within the item out-of-date or no longer relevant to the Barnard curriculum?
  3. Is the item in poor physical condition?
  4. How many copies of the title are available at either Barnard or Columbia?

Faculty are consulted when additional assistance in making a replacement or withdrawal decision is required, i.e. in those subject areas not well-handled by a librarian’s subject expertise.

H. General Selection Guidelines

1. The undergraduate curriculum of the College provides the main guideline for selection of library materials. The Library acquires materials to serve faculty needs only if the materials are appropriate for the undergraduate student body. In other instances the Columbia University Libraries’ research collections and services are available to the faculty. The Library serves the College community by limited purchasing of general interest materials

2. Specific considerations in choosing individual items include some or all of the following:

  • lasting value of the content
  • enduring interest in the subject
  • level of treatment (e.g. “undergraduate,” “upper-division undergrad” or “college level”)
  • strength of present holdings in the same or similar subject areas
  • cost
  • suitability of format to content (e.g. is an item more useful in print or electronically)
  • authority of the author or reputation of the publisher

3. Rules-of-thumb that apply to all acquisition decisions have been defined as follows:

  • Textbooks are normally not purchased, except for the Reserves collection.
  • Duplicates are rarely purchased, except for the Reserves collection.
  • For high-cost/low-demand items, holdings of nearby libraries are considered in determining whether or not to acquire.
  • With the exception for foreign language dictionaries, the library acquires primarily English language reference and research sources.
  • Hardcover binding is preferred for material known to be of continuing interest to the Barnard community, or anticipated to be of high-use. Paperbacks will be purchased when cloth is not available, when the difference in cost between cloth and paper is extreme, and for course reserves. When possible, paperbacks purchased for the main collection will be bound by our vendor before delivery.

4. Faculty and student requests are welcome and the Library will acquire materials that are in accord with the Collection Development Policy.



Last reviewed: 6/3/2016