Skip to Main Content
Banner Image
ESR & Bethany Resources
Friends Collection & College Archives
Facilities & Services
Library Home

Earlham Libraries Policies: Collection Development

Collection Development Policy for ESR/BTS

Additional Collection Development Policies

Earlham Libraries Collection Development Policy

This statement outlines the Earlham Libraries collection development philosophy and describes basic responsibilities.

Selection of resources for the Earlham Libraries, while the responsibility of the librarians and archivists, is a community effort that involves faculty, staff, and students. Everyone is encouraged to suggest items for consideration. The involvement of teaching faculty in selecting materials for their disciplines is particularly sought. The selection is done within the restrictions of a materials budget allocated to the libraries each year, plus restricted gift and endowment income funds. Recommendations should be forwarded to the appropriate liaison librarian. Persons making recommendations should indicate whether the item has a first-level (essential), second-level (important, but not essential) or third-level (desirable, but not urgent) priority. The libraries maintain the final authority for collection development decisions.

This statement is supplemented by a Collection Development Policy statement prepared by the Joint Library Committee of Bethany Theological Seminary and the Earlham School of Religion. The Earlham Friends Collection and College Archives have their own policy.

Collection Development Goals

The Earlham Libraries support the mission of the College by developing a collection of information resources, in all appropriate formats, that meet the needs of the students, faculty and staff as they engage in the teaching/learning process. We aim to provide resources for the following:

  • Curriculum Support: The primary purpose of the library collections is to support the academic program of the College. This includes support of students’ course-related research projects and faculty course preparation. Support is also provided for independent studies, faculty/student collaborative research activities, student-initiated courses, and any other academic activities in which students are involved.
  • Other Disciplinary Coverage: Items are also added to the collection to provide a basic coverage of disciplines and subjects outside the curriculum that enhance the liberal arts experience.
  • Faculty Research: Emphasis is placed on supporting research that is closely tied to classroom teaching or student/faculty research.
  • Community General Interest: The collections, in a limited fashion, also support the general interests of the community. For example, the Librararies maintain a print periodicals browsing collection.
  • Additional Resources: The research of students and faculty is further supported by interlibrary loan.

Selection Criteria

Information resources are selected according to the following criteria:

  • Quality: Based on its accuracy, its currency, and its place in the scholarship of the field. In assessing quality, reviews are used along with the reputation of the author/creator and/or publisher.
  • Importance: The "importance" characteristic of a resource calls for a high level of discernment that takes into account a number of factors. Some of those factors include the uniqueness of its contribution to the field, its reputation within the field, and the impact of the material's content on the development of the field.
  • Relevance: The degree of connection between an item's content and the content of the Earlham academic program.
  • Usefulness: How likely is the material to be used given the current and future curriculum? If there is a high probability students and faculty will use an item, then it should be a high priority.
  • Intellectual accessibility: The content of the work should be accessible to undergraduate students. Therefore material aimed exclusively or primarily at research specialists is of lower priority.
  • Cost: See "Budget" section below.

Additional criteria may be applicable for materials in digital format (e.g. databases, ebooks):

  • Usability: The design of digital resources should allow for easy access and navigation by users.
  • Archiving: Permanence of the resource for current and back issues is important.
  • Licensing and user access control: Terms of license agreements, numbers of simultaneous users, and accessibility of the resources to users on and off-campus will be considered.
  • Uniqueness of material: Overlap with existing Earlham collections and the open web will be considered.

Resources Collected

  • Monographs, serials, and periodicals, regardless of format.
  • DVDs and CDs.
  • A wide range of digital resources, including but not limited to streaming audio and video.

Resources Not Collected:

  • We generally do not acquire textbooks, but may do so if it is determined that a given textbook would provide a scholarly introduction to a discipline or overview of subject. Teaching faculty are encouraged to talk to their library liaison if they have questions or requests.


The Libraries' budget for the acquisition of information resources is allocated into a series of program budgets. These budgets serve as guidelines for purchasing and are not absolute limits. If the overall budget funds are exhausted before the end of the year, orders are held until next year. Endowment income funds are reallocated to respond to collection development needs, subject to donor restrictions.


Occasionally we review the collection for materials that have outlived their usefulness and should be removed from the collection. The criteria used for selection are applied in making deselection decisions. The process will be initiated by a librarian and will include consultation with teaching faculty as needed, particularly when a significant and systematic review of a subject area is undertaken. See the Earlham Libraries Deselection Policy.


Gift materials will be considered for accession if they meet the same criteria as those used for selecting materials to purchase. The Libraries reserve the right to make all final decisions on what is added to the collection given the needs and capacities of the Libraries. Items not chosen for accession may be sold, redistributed or recycled at the discretion of the librarians. We are only able to accept clean, unmarked copies and cannot accept materials with any water damage or mold. See the Earlham Libraries Gift/Donation Policy.

Earlham Librarian

Profile Photo
Earlham Librarian

Earlham College • 801 National Road West • Richmond, Indiana 47374-4095