Collection Development and Materials Selection Policy

Updated: January 2022


Pierce College Library provides leadership and support for the curricular and information needs of the college community through its selection and development of its materials collection.  This process supports the mission, vision, values and core themes and follows the priorities set by the college. Selections support the curricular and intellectual needs of the college.

Underlying Principles

Purpose of Policy

This policy states the guidelines and principles for the process of selecting, maintaining and de-selecting materials to build and enrich the library collection.  This policy shall ensure a collection that:

  • supports the college mission, vision, values, and core themes
  • is responsive to the curriculum
  • is balanced intellectually
  • is responsive to changing needs and use patterns of users
  • provides objective criteria for selection and development of our collection
  • clarifies the philosophy behind and scope of our collection development
  • supports the Library Bill of Rights of the American Library Association and other principles and ideals of intellectual freedom.

Collection Development Defined

Collection development is the ongoing process by which library faculty provide organized collections of and access to resources that will meet the instructional requirements as well as the cultural and recreational needs of the college community. The Pierce College Library provides leadership and support for the needs of the college community through its collections and through instruction, facilities and services.  Developing the collection is done in collaboration with discipline faculty, administrators, staff, and students.

Collection Development Diversity/Inclusion Statement

Pierce College’s mission statement expresses the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Library supports this mission and defines diversity as a variety of characteristics that include but are not limited to ethnicity, gender, race, age, sexual orientation, physical abilities, socioeconomic status, and religion. Our commitment to diversity means making all who interact with the Library feel welcomed and respected, which is challenging because we recognize that even educational institutions reproduce hierarchical systems that exclude, marginalize, or oppress nondominant groups. Because these systems perpetuate the very inequities we believe education should eradicate, the Library seeks to disrupt this cycle as it intersects with information and learning. In that regard, our teaching promotes respect for diversity and inclusion by instilling the critical faculties students need to identify and respond to exclusionary structures and narratives produced by the dominant culture. In doing so, we strive to empower every student to develop their own critical consciousness and potential for transformation of self and society.

District Role in the Library

Pierce College Library is guided by the “one library, multiple locations” principle. This district vision of the library means that there is one collection that supports the entire curriculum while divided between multiple campus libraries that operate collaboratively and cooperatively. This one library principle allows the maximization of funds through a full sharing of resources, joint collection development, reduced title duplication and standing orders rotation, as well as courier delivery between service locations.

Scope of Users Role in Collection Development

The students, faculty and staff of Pierce College are the primary users or “patrons” of Pierce College Library collection. Some borrowing privileges may be granted to users outside this primary charge through our circulation policies, but the library collection is not intended to serve the general public nor to fully support individual faculty research projects or be the exclusive source of specific materials used exclusively by discipline faculty as an instructional resource.


Pierce College Library expands the scope of its collection through cooperative efforts with local school, public and academic libraries and other state institutions. Accessibility through these efforts should be considered during the selection process since these collaborative efforts allow maximum access to materials with reduced duplication, thereby reducing costs. These agreements do not negate the need for the collection, which will be the primary resource for the majority of the college's information needs. Materials for which there are legitimate recurring needs should be purchased by the Library and must receive adequate support from the institution.

These agreements are developed and maintained through the Dean of Library and Learning Resources and the faculty librarians and accessed by patrons through library circulation services.  Common forms include but are not limited to:

  • Reciprocal borrowing privileges between all currently enrolled Washington State community and technical college libraries, other select universities, and state institutions in the local area.
  • Interlibrary loan programs through Washington State Library Services and other standardized contract services made available to all patrons.

Overview of the Pierce College Library Collection

The Library will strive to meet or exceed accreditation standards in regard to collections as set forth by the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Standards, Guidelines, and Frameworks.

The Library's collection consists primarily of materials carefully selected to support the college curriculum. The collection represents the depth, breadth, varying perspectives, and historical and current treatments of subjects taught in, and of interest to, a community college with programs including high school completion and English language learning as well as certificate programs and associate’s level courses up to a Bachelor of Applied Science. Additional materials are collected to stimulate intellectual curiosity; to provide cultural, educational, vocational, and recreational enrichment; and to satisfy needs for information of local interest.

Collection Organization

Library materials are organized based on accepted industry standard of classifying and cataloging to provide easy access and retrieval of materials.  We are guided by the Library of Congress to organize library materials enhanced by other standards and practices for specialist topics and formats.

Placement of materials is as important as their selection and must provide for both reasonable use of materials by individuals and the availability of those materials to other members of the college community. Material purchased with library funds must remain library property and under library control. Extended circulation periods to individual patrons effectively result in loss of ownership of these materials. Similarly, overly restrictive circulation periods unnecessarily deprive patrons of access to materials and should be avoided.

Special Collections

Special collections within the Library are kept to a minimum and are either permanent or temporary and established only after a distinct need has been identified. Permanent locations are determined by the faculty librarians with approval of the Dean of Library and Learning Resources. Temporary locations are used to support the instructional needs of the college through the technical services librarian with consultation of affected departments. Special collections are not to be located outside the library because this limits access by others who might need the resources.

Since special collections eliminate or greatly reduce circulation periods, special consideration should be given to choosing the permanent location, and placement in the least restrictive location should be selected. The library does not purchase materials for placement in temporary locations but, under special circumstances, can consider placement to our regular circulating collection with instructions to move it to a temporary location once received.

Current special collections include Reference, New Reader, Early Childhood Education, Paperback, Periodicals, and Audiovisual. Reserve, New Book Shelf, Display.


Responsibility for Selection

The Dean of Library and Learning Resources has final authority on the selection, development and maintenance of the collection, and authorizes the faculty librarians to carry out these obligations. These duties are fulfilled in accordance with the objectives and criteria defined in this policy. As curriculum is the most important influence on the development of the collection, it is imperative that librarians obtain suggestions and advice about materials selection from faculty and administrators and keep abreast of all changes in college curriculum. Instructors are encouraged to recommend materials consistent with their curricular offerings, and for considering and arranging for collection support when the college institutes new programs. Recommendations are always welcome from students, faculty, staff, and community members. Faculty librarians remain current with curricular changes by regularly attending division meetings, consulting with other faculty members, and reviewing all course changes and proposals approved by Learning Council.

Collection Development Priorities

In establishing priorities for collection development, first consideration is given to instructional materials directly supporting course and program goals. Attention is paid to the connections between and interdependence of disciplines, and discrete areas of study within disciplines.

Initiating collections in response to new curriculum depletes resources available for existing instructional collections and programs. Such impacts should be carefully considered when developing new programs and additional funding for new programs will be requested from the appropriate department.

Collection development takes into account instructional techniques, course goals and publishing patterns in disciplines and occupational programs. Depth and breadth of collections are in part driven by student/faculty participation in resource-based teaching and learning.

Mindful of the Pierce College mission to provide a holistic education, as evidenced by its adoption of the five Core Abilities (Effective Communication, Critical, Creative and Reflective Thinking, Information Competency, Intercultural Engagement, and Global Citizenship), the Library also purchases materials beyond the academic curriculum that relate to academic success, vocational guidance, college transfer, global citizenship, and intercultural engagement. Materials not related to the curriculum and focusing on personal, consumer, and/or recreational interests are also collected to support our students’ complete selves.

While relevancy to the College mission is the most important criterion in the development of the Library collection, practical considerations such as budget and space constraints do impact decision-making.

General Selection Criteria

Selection is made on the basis of reviews from professional journals; recommendations of faculty, students, and staff; current and retrospective bibliographies and lists of notable books; and other sources such as publishers' catalogs. Final selection decisions are made by the Dean of Library and Learning Resources and faculty librarians. Funds are not strictly allocated among the various academic divisions, although equity among programs is sought while giving consideration to the fact that costs of materials across disciplines are not equal.

Collection deficiencies receive priority in selection and are determined by considerations of unmet needs, collection use, course offerings, and collection balance.

Pierce College offers degree programs ranging from general education to undergraduate degrees. As such, the Library will purchase materials to reflect the diverse reading levels of our students.

The following criteria will be used for materials selection, as applicable:

  1. Materials shall support, and be consistent with, the general educational goals of the college and the objectives of specific courses.
  2. Materials shall meet high standards of quality in content and presentation.
  3. The most appropriate format will be selected, considering both the intended use and the cost.
  4. The selection of materials will be directed toward representing the full range of perspectives. The selection process aims to build a collection that reflects the experience and voices of diverse populations, as well as a wide range of human cultural practice and social expression.

Multiple Copies

The library does not normally purchase multiple copies of a circulating title, though we may purchase a title in both print and electronic form for accessibility purposes. Exceptions may be made when a work is assigned every quarter, has high demand on both campuses, or is likely to get heavy use. Whenever possible, added copies are purchased in paperback editions.

Criteria for Specific Formats

Print Periodicals

Journals, magazines and newspapers are purchased or accepted as gifts for one or more of the following reasons in order of priority:

  1. To keep the Library's collections up-to-date with current information regarding the various subjects studied through Pierce College's instructional programs.
  2. To provide material not available in books and other media.
  3. To keep faculty and administration aware of recent developments in their fields.
  4. General reading.

Due to the expense of serials, and the commitment the college extends when adding a new subscription, special attention will be given to optimal placement when selecting and housing periodicals.

In addition to the general criteria for selection of all materials, individual periodical titles are chosen and retained according to the following criteria:

  1. Availability
  2. Space requirements
  3. Ease of accessibility by students, e.g. indexing
  4. Availability of equipment to read or view, and to print
  5. Durability
  6. Cost
  7. Availability of full text in existing periodical databases

Newspapers are purchased to give local, regional, national and international news coverage.

Periodical Backfiles

Retention of periodical backfiles is based on the following criteria:

  1. Scholarly Journals, popular magazines, and trade journals – 5 years
  2. Newspapers – 3 months

Exceptions are made for individual titles. Periodical titles that have ended their publication run, or have been canceled by Pierce College faculty, will be retained five years post-cancellation.


In addition to the standards set forth in "General Selection Criteria", DVDs will only be purchased if Closed Captioning is included.  

Audio Recordings

Audio recordings are added to the collection when their formats offer distinct advantages over print format (e.g. poetry read aloud by the poet; an interview with an author; foreign language instruction; music instruction, and notable speeches), or in the case of offering more accessible materials to our community.

Electronic Resources

Electronic resources are increasingly available as a means of providing wide access to materials beyond the Library’s physical location. Electronic formats include networked databases, electronic journals, and streaming media.

General Selection Criteria for Electronic Resources:

The Library collects electronic resources according to the General Selection Criteria. In addition, criteria specific to electronic formats are applied. When making collection decisions, faculty librarians consider whether the electronic resource

  • provides information not available in print;
  • enhances and complements the existing collection of print and other materials;
  • is relevant to Pierce College users;
  • provides wider accessibility under copyright law or the licensing agreement;
  • can be permanently retained;
  • is compatible with existing hardware at Pierce College; and
  • is WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) compliant.

Criteria for Specific Electronic Formats

In addition to the general criteria in the paragraph above, electronic resources are purchased or posted on the Library’s web page in accordance with criteria specific to each format.


  • coverage and scope of databases
  • availability of full-text documents
  • user-friendliness of interface and search capabilities
  • availability and ease of downloading and printing information
  • accessibility from locations outside the library and off-campus

Electronic Journals

The Library provides access to various electronic journals via the Internet. Access is enhanced by including links to the journals from Pierce College Library’s web page. If an electronic journal is free, inclusion criteria follow the General Selection Criteria for electronic resources. If the journal requires a paid subscription, it is chosen using the following additional criteria:

  • wider access at a reasonable price compared to the print version
  • availability of full-text current and back issues
  • ease of downloading and printing
  • length of retention period
  • interoperability with electronic resource management tools such as discovery services and link resolvers

Electronic Books (eBooks)

The Library provides access to eBooks via networked databases and those freely accessible via the Internet. eBooks may be purchased by subscription (renewed annually) or by perpetual access (ownership), based on the following criteria:

  • wider access at a reasonable price compared to the print version
  • ease of downloading and printing
  • modality of the program the book supports

Streaming Media

The Library provides access to streaming media, including videos and music, via networked databases and those freely accessible via the Internet. Streaming media may be purchased by subscription (renewed annually) or by perpetual access (ownership), based on the following criteria:

  • wider access at a reasonable price compared to the hard copy
  • ease of viewing/listening
  • compatibility with hardware and media players
  • compliance with copyright law

Because of the costs associated with leasing streaming media, titles will be purchased based on anticipated use and interdisciplinary application with titles that will reach the most students being the highest priority. Annual subscriptions to streaming media titles will be continually evaluated. If a title no longer supports the Pierce College curriculum, it may be dropped.

Internet Resources

The Library offers unrestricted access to the Internet. In addition, the Library provides links to selected Internet resources, and purchases rights to them if necessary, through subject and course research guides.

Licensing of Electronic Resources

The Library complies with licensing agreements, and negotiates with vendors when necessary for broader access and other benefits. The Dean of Library and Learning Resources has responsibility for examining contracts and negotiating with vendors. The Library will advise its users to comply with licensing agreements.

Special Collections

Reference Collection

In addition to the standards set forth in "General Selection Criteria," books are selected for the reference collection with the intent of providing a comprehensive store of information on as wide a range of subjects as possible, including topics not represented in the general collection.

Classification of material within the reference collection is the responsibility of the faculty librarian in charge of Technical Services.
Books are classified in the Reference Collection for the following reasons:

  1. Their organization and format are such that they are especially valuable as sources of ready information.
  2. The demand for them is so great that they must be available in the library at all times.
  3. They are so rare, expensive, or vulnerable to damage that they should not be circulated.

Reserve Collection

Library- or faculty-owned materials may be placed in the limited-circulation Reserve Collection for student use in a specific course or quarter at faculty request provided that copyright regulations are adhered to. Other materials may be placed in the Reserve Collection due to very high monetary value, high use or risk of theft or mutilation. In all cases, faculty librarians make the final determination as to titles suitable for Reserve classification. Reference materials are not normally placed on reserve.

Early Childhood Education Collection

The Early Childhood Education Collection consists of picture and chapter books for children birth through age 8, and a representative selection of titles from the genres of children's literature that meet the curricular needs of the Early Childhood Education program. It includes materials such as board books, song books, poetry, nonfiction, concept books, and fiction.

New Reader Collection

This collection includes a variety of materials designed to meet the needs of newly literate adults and English Language Learners (ELL). Popular materials are collected at a range of levels of difficulty and are intended to encourage reading and foster language development. Although not a primary focus, some instructional materials and level-appropriate reference sources (e.g. dictionaries) are collected. Multiple copies may be purchased for titles in this collection.

Materials Not Selected

Required Textbooks

Required textbooks are not purchased for the library collection. Gifts of recent texts may be accepted and added to the collection if deemed potentially useful to students.

Materials Used in Classes

The Library does not normally purchase lab manuals and textbooks students are expected to purchase, or reference material necessary for classroom instruction. Nor does it collect books with formats unsuitable for multiple use – such as those with perforated tear-out pages or workbooks designed to be written in – except for test guides and certain materials intended for English Language Learners (ELL).

Serials Not Indexed

As a rule, the Library does not subscribe to periodicals not indexed in library-owned periodical indexes. However, when there are few indexed titles in a field, exceptions may be made.

Graduate Level Research Materials

Since the primary goal of the Library is to meet the curricular needs of Pierce College students, the Library will not attempt to acquire a comprehensive collection of graduate- level materials to meet faculty research needs. Such needs are usually met through interlibrary loan and referral to colleges and universities nearby.

Obsolete Media

Phonograph records, VHS tapes, and other infrequently-used media are not purchased when there is no equipment to access them, and when cheaper or more readily available formats replace them.


The library will follow similar criteria to the General Selection Criteria when determining whether to add a self-published book to the collection.
For example:

  • it is a work that is cited as a reference or regularly used as a source in an academic area taught at Pierce College
  • the author is regarded by peers as an expert in the subject, or offers a perspective not found in traditional publishing
  • the book may have been reviewed in academic publications or other forums
  • the book significantly supports the mission of the College as determined by faculty librarians and the Dean of Library and Learning Resources.


Gifts of books and other materials are accepted under the following conditions:

  1. All gift materials received by the Pierce College Library become the property of Pierce College. No materials received as gifts are returned to donors. If the donors of gifts of exceptional value so desire, they may be identified on mounted bookplates.
  2. No special collections will be established except in accordance with the established collection development policy.
  3. The Pierce College Library has the right to dispose of any gift materials which are not selected for addition to the library collection. Such disposition shall be in accordance with Washington State Law, and may include transfer to other libraries, sale, or discard. The Dean of Library and Learning Resources or his/her designee shall make the final determination as to the disposition of all gift materials.
  4. Gift materials shall be selected for addition to the collection according to the standards set forth above under “General Selection Criteria.”
  5. The Library will not add instructor edition textbooks to the circulating or reference collections in accordance with the First Sale Doctrine.


Employee- or student-written works may be considered as donations. Employment by or attendance of Pierce College does not in itself qualify a book for purchase by the library.

Collection Maintenance

Systematic and regular withdrawal of materials from the collection benefits the Library by ensuring that the collection accurately reflects the needs of the college community. As part of their review, they consult instructors with expertise in the relevant disciplines for advice concerning withdrawal of the material

Books and materials selected for removal must meet at least one of the following conditions before being discarded:

  1. The material has been infrequently used for an extended period of time.
  2. There is other material in the collection that fulfills the same need more adequately.
  3. The physical condition of the material is such that it cannot be utilized, and repair would be impractical.
  4. The age of the material is such that it is not useful for either current or historical purposes, or is no longer within the scope of the current collection development policy.
  5. Duplicate copies of the title exist, and use does not mandate retaining more than one copy.
  6. The material supported a course/curriculum no longer offered at the college and does not meet the needs of any other course/curriculum.

Librarians may use the acronym M.U.S.T.I.E. as a guideline when de-selecting:

  • M = Misleading, *Material deemed “misleading” may include works inseparable from hate speech, propaganda, and other works minimizing or falsifying the experience of systemically nondominant groups.
  • U = Ugly - Material with so much wear and tear as to make it unlikely the book will be used.
  • S = Superseded - Items such as new editions that update previous works, in cases where the older version has no value.
  • T = Trivial - Material that is of too light in nature to be of use in an academic library.
  • I = Irrelevant - Items that do not have any relationship to the curriculum.
  • E = Elsewhere - Items that already exist in another location or format and so are superfluous.

Withdrawn library materials are offered for giveaway or discarded. The Dean of Library and Learning Resources or her/his designee shall be the sole judge of the final disposition of discarded materials, in full compliance with Washington State law.

Procedure for Review of Library/Media Center Material

Since free access to information is essential not only to education but to our democracy, the Library upholds the principles of the American Library Association's Freedom to Read Statement and makes every effort to provide materials representing all points of view, including those which are unpopular or unorthodox. To quote directly from the Library Bill of Rights, "Censorship should be challenged by libraries in the maintenance of their responsibility to provide public information and enlightenment." This responsibility also entails establishing formal procedures for persons or groups wishing to request reconsideration of any material in the Library collection.

Should a Library user encounter material he or she feels is objectionable, the user has the right to complete a “Statement of Concern Regarding Library Resources” form [Appendix C]. The form may be obtained at the reference desk or from the office of the Dean of Library and Learning Resources, and the completed form must be submitted to the Dean of Library and Learning Resources.

No material will be withdrawn, removed, or undergo a change in location or status until the entire review process is completed.

The patron's request will be received by the Dean of Library and Learning Resources, who will review the request with the faculty librarians and prepare a written response that includes an explanation for the decision to retain, withdraw, or relocate the material in question. The explanation may include how the material relates to the educational goals of the college and the Library/Media Center, criteria used for selection of this and similar items, published reviews, and/or patron requests for and use of the material. Copies of the response will be submitted to the Vice President for Learning and Student Success.

Within three weeks of the postmark of the response from the Library/Media Center, the complainant may forward a written appeal to the Dean of Library and Learning Resources. The Dean will then, within two weeks of receipt of the appeal, establish and call the first meeting of an ad hoc Review Committee, whose members will be:

  • Two tenured faculty selected by the President of Pierce College Federation of Teachers (with at least one from the subject area of the material in question);
  • One Instructional Dean selected by the Chancellor of Pierce College or designee;
  • One library faculty member (selected by the  Dean of Library and Learning Resources) who is responsible for materials selection in the subject area of the material in question;
  • One student (selected by Student Government);
  • One librarian from the community (selected by the Dean of Library and Learning Resources); and
  • The Dean of Library and Learning Resources.
  • The chair will be selected by the committee.

The Committee will review the written request and the response, and will read, listen to, and/or view the material in question in its entirety. The library faculty member will provide information to the Committee, which may include:

  • Collection objectives that are met by the material;
  • Reviews from professionally recognized sources;
  • Statements by instructors whose students use or may use the material; and
  • Any other information that could assist in defining the purpose or value of the material.

The Review Committee may rely on any resources of the college in arriving at a decision, taking into consideration the intellectual freedom documents of the American Library Association and Washington Library Association found in the appendices of this policy. The Committee may interview any other individuals, including the complainant, as well as seek counsel and advice from the Office of the Attorney General.

Within 45 days of receipt of written appeal, the Committee will reach its decision with four or more concurring votes of the seven Committee members, and will forward the written decision and all documentation to the Dean of Library and Learning Resources for action. The committee chair will notify the complainant in writing of the decision of the Committee and ensure the appropriate action has been complied with. Copies will be forwarded to the Chancellor of Pierce College or designee.

Within two weeks of notification of the Committee's decision, the complainant or a dissenting member of the Committee may forward a written appeal to the Chancellor of Pierce College or designee. Appeal decisions will be based on the material included in the file.

Material that has undergone a review may not be re-challenged for one calendar year from the date the Review Committee's recommendation is sent to the Dean of Library and Learning Resources.

Periodic Review

Since Pierce College is a dynamic institution, the Library's Collection Development and Materials Selection Policy must be responsive to change. Therefore, this policy will be reviewed every six years by the faculty librarians as part of Pierce College’s regular assessment cycle and revised accordingly.

Saving Clause

Nothing contained in this policy shall conflict with the laws of the State of Washington or Pierce County, Washington, or with any policy established by Pierce College or the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

Appendix A: Pierce College Mission Statement

Appendix B: Pierce College Library Mission Statement

Appendix C: Statement of Concern About Library Resources

Download a PDF of this policy and form for filing a concern about library resources.