Reference Collection Development Policy

OBJECTIVE: To set procedures for including new material and for weeding the collection of old material so as to ensure the development and maintenance of a complete, current, convenient-to-use, and active ready reference collection.

Subject Scope of the Collection:
        General information sources (almanacs, encyclopedias, etc.)
        Basic and in-depth information sources in the curriculum areas of Auburn University
        Reference sources to support faculty research

Formats of Reference Materials:
Materials added to the reference collection are not restricted by format. Increasingly, materials published formerly in print only are being offered in electronic formats; new materials may be produced in several formats. When selecting a format, consideration is given to any equipment and staff support that may be needed to utilize the information. Care is taken to prevent duplication of information in different formats.

Types of Materials Included in the Collection
Note: A title is not automatically included in reference simply because it fits one of these categories.

Examples of types of materials, regardless of format, include:

  1. Almanacs and Yearbooks
  2. Atlases
  3. Bibliographies. Limited to general bibliographies on broad subjects. No subject bibliographies other than research guides used by librarians or scholars to find sources for conducting research in a discipline.
  4. Concordances to the Bible
  5. Dictionaries
  6. Directories
  7. Encyclopedias-- authoritative specialized-subject encyclopedias are collected selectively.
  8. Handbooks
  9. Indexes and Abstracts
  10. Legal Materials
  11. Plot Summaries
  12. Style Manuals

Criteria for Inclusion of Materials in the Reference Collection

1. The Head of Reference and Instruction has primary responsibility for pursuing a systematic and consistent management program for the reference collection. All subject specialists serve in a selecting capacity for their subject areas.

2. The following principles serves as guidelines in deciding which titles will be included. These guidelines need to be weighted, with more weight being given to items at the top of the list:

a. Judged usefulness of the publication, considering the programmatic needs of the Auburn University curriculum without preference to any one program. Usefulness is balanced against the strengths and weaknesses of the existing collection as measured by frequency of use, demand, or need for a source in the reference collection or at the reference desk because of number of questions asked or answered from it.
b. Authoritativeness
c. Uniqueness of the coverage in the source; the source contains a considerable amount of information not found elsewhere. There needs to be a balance between uniqueness and duplicativeness of information with weight going to uniqueness.
d. Currency or publication date, which varies by discipline/subject area
e. Breadth and depth of coverage
f. Difficulty of independent use by users because of arrangement of information, required interpretation of information, etc. Difficulty should be unrelated to format.

Reference Collection Evaluation

1. Periodic evaluation of the resources already in the reference collection is as important as selection of new materials, since it is a working collection of important, frequently consulted publications. Careful, regular, and systematic weeding removes older, less desirable works from the collection.
2. Many of the same principles and guidelines are followed in evaluation as in selection of new materials. Since each discipline covered by the reference collection requires different types of materials, it is impossible to establish absolute standards to be followed in evaluation. For some disciplines the reference collection should provide current materials only; for others it must also provide retrospective and historical works. However, some general guidelines which should be considered are the following:
significance of the publication
age, currency and accuracy of the publication
availability of a later edition
duplication of the content in more recent works or in another format

3. The reference collection is weeded in two ways: automatic weeding of older editions of a work, and periodic review and weeding of the entire collection.

Periodic Public Policy Review
The Head of Reference and Instruction Services will be responsible for conducting a periodic review of this policy to insure that the scope, formats, types of materials, and criteria used for inclusion and evaluation are still valid and reliable descriptions and measures for reference collection management.

Last Updated: Jul 26, 2011