Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: Main Library Reference et. al.

Procedures for Selection of Reference Materials

B) Procedures for selection of reference materials

B1. Fund accounts for Main Library Reference

There are two sets of accounts that pay for reference materials are under the supervision of the Head of Reference Services: 'refmo/refbl' for social sciences and humanities (and often general works) and 'scrmo/scrbl' for the sciences. In current practice, both accounts are managed by a senior collections librarian. Very expensive purchases, including most networked databases, are approved by the Collection Coordinators meeting chaired by the AD for Collections (with input from Systems about technical and licensing issues) and sometimes will tap other accounts. The refmo account purchases books bought for several special collections: travel guides, the career collection, and grants/funding center.

All library bibliographers (with some exceptions for branches) are expected to identify titles for the collection. The Head of Reference Services has the final authority to approve use of reference funds (by delegation, so does the librarian managing the science reference fund).  If space allows, books purchased with other funds can be shelved in Reference.  The Head of Reference Services must approve all print selections for the Main Library Reference Collection since space is limited. 

The Head of Reference Services should make sure that we buy general works, such as language dictionaries, general encyclopedias, and biographical publications. S/he also seeks balance in the collection, buying from lists in Library Journal and retrospectively from annual "best" lists, and filling apparent gaps.

B3. Electronic resources

We offer electronic reference materials in two ways: as stand-alone resources available on one (or a few) PCs in the reference area or as networked resources, preferably available by IP range to the whole campus.   CD-Roms are generally avoided unless absolutely necessary because of technical issues.  Selection decisions for electronic resources not only need to take in to account relevance, use, cost and accuracy, but also acceptable licensing language, compatibility with other software on the campus and library network, the number of simultaneous users, ease of use, the availability of MARC records for the content, archiving for preservation, and the relative advantages of renting vs. buying content (including retention of text if subscriptions lapse).

Michigan State University