Collection Development and Materials Selection Policy

Updated: June 2018

Collection Development Defined

Through collections, instruction, facilities, and services, Pierce College Library provides leadership and support for the curricular and intellectual information needs of the college community.

Collection development is the means by which the Library provides organized collections of print and non-print resources that will meet instructional requirements, as well as the cultural and recreational needs of the college community. Collection development is an ongoing process, undertaken by library faculty, with input from discipline faculty, administrators, staff, and students.

Purpose of Policy

This policy is intended to guide the building and enrichment of the collection in accordance with the missions of Pierce College and the Pierce College Library by stating the guidelines and principles with which the process of selecting, de-selecting, materials will proceed. To accommodate change, the policy will be reviewed and revised on a regular basis. This policy will:

  • Ensure that the Library develops a collection that is responsive to the curriculum, balanced intellectually, and responsive to the needs and use patterns of faculty, students, and staff.
  • Provide objective criteria for selection and development.
  • Help clarify to users the philosophy behind and the scope of our collection.
  • Help ensure that available resources are directed with an eye toward those policies, practices and procedures that best enable the Library to support the college mission.
  • Ensure that the Library supports the Library Bill of Rights of the American Library Association and other principles and ideals of intellectual freedom.

The District Role of the Library

Pierce College Library is guided by the “one library, two locations” principle. The Fort Steilacoom and Puyallup campus libraries operate collaboratively and cooperatively; the collections combine to support the entire curriculum and to form Pierce College Library. Funds are maximized through joint collection development, low duplication of circulating titles, daily courier service delivering materials between campuses, rotating standing orders, and full resource sharing.

Users Defined

The students, faculty and staff of Pierce College are the primary users or “patrons” of Pierce College Library. Although some non-students who are residents of Pierce County are granted borrowing privileges, the library collection is not intended to serve the general public. Nor is it intended to fully support the faculty’s individual research projects, nor to provide specific materials to be used exclusively by discipline faculty as an instructional resource. Faculty research is, however, supported by the Library through the provision of services such as interlibrary loan, special databases searching, and reference assistance. Faculty librarians are also available to assist discipline faculty in developing their assignments with Information Competency components.

Cooperation with Other Libraries

Pierce College Library is committed to cooperative efforts with local school, public, and academic libraries in order to maximize the access to materials for our mutual patrons and to reduce unnecessary duplication of materials, thereby reducing costs for everyone.

Current cooperative efforts include:

  1. Community/Technical Colleges: reciprocal borrowing privileges are granted by all Washington State community and technical college libraries to all currently enrolled Washington State community college students.
  2. The Evergreen State College: registered Pierce College students have borrowing privileges at The Evergreen State College.
  3. Western State Hospital: borrowing privileges are granted to all Pierce College students and staff for use of the hospital library. All staff of Western State Hospital are granted the same use of the Pierce College Libraries. Borrowing privileges do not extend to hospital patients.
  4. Interlibrary Loan: Pierce College has endorsed the Washington State Interlibrary Loan Code and provides full interlibrary loan service for all registered students, staff and faculty.

Overview of the Pierce College Library Collection

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 two-year college community. 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.

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 in Standards for Community, Junior and Technical College Learning Resource Programs.

While interlibrary loan and other cooperative agreements may provide some materials needed by the college community, the Library must receive adequate support from the institution to ensure that it 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.

In developing and maintaining the Library's collections, the faculty librarians will be mindful of the tremendous diversity of the college's constituency. Librarians will attempt to meet the information needs of a wide variety of users, considering diversities such as ethnic/racial/national origins, religious traditions, economic backgrounds, sexual orientations, family configurations, ages, political persuasions, disabilities, and learning styles.

Collection Organization

The Library collection shall be organized so as to permit the most efficient access. Special collections within the Library will be kept to a minimum and will be established only after a distinct need has been identified. Special collections shall not be created through labeling; the Library supports the 1990 revision of the Statement on Labeling of the ALA. Decisions regarding special collections shall be made by the Dean of Libraries and Learning Resources and faculty librarians. Special collections currently include Reference, Reserve, New Reader, Early Childhood Education, Paperback, Periodicals, and Audiovisual. Special collections housed in areas of the college outside of the Library will be discouraged so as to maximize college resources and the availability of materials to all students. Such collections must be approved by the Vice President for Learning and Student Success in consultation with the department involved and the Dean of Libraries and Learning Resources.

Circulation policies and procedures and security systems must provide for both reasonable use of materials by individuals and the availability of those materials to other members of the college community who might wish to use them. Extended circulation periods to individual patrons that may effectively result in loss of ownership of these materials, as well as overly restrictive circulation periods that unnecessarily deprive patrons of access to materials, should be avoided.

Materials needed for specific courses can be placed – on a quarter-to-quarter basis – in the Reserve collection by the instructor of record that offers limited circulation. As a general rule, Reference books will not be placed on reserve.

If material is purchased with library funds, it must remain library property and under library control. If material is loaned on a long-term basis, it must be available for immediate recall.


Responsibility for Selection

The Dean of Libraries 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, Multiculturalism, and Responsibility), the Library also purchases materials beyond the academic curriculum that relate to academic success, vocational guidance, and college transfer.
Materials not related to the curriculum and focusing on personal, consumer, and/or recreational interests are minimally collected. More comprehensive collections in these areas are available through resource sharing with local public libraries.

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 Libraries 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.

In order to provide for students' diverse reading levels, print materials with a range of readability levels are sought.

The collection includes some upper-division material for use by more advanced 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 physical format will be selected, considering both the intended use and the cost.
  4. The selection of materials on controversial issues 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. Exceptions may be made when a work is assigned every quarter; or has high demand on both campuses; or is a "classic" 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:

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

  • Availability
  • Space requirements
  • Ease of accessibility by students, e.g. indexing
  • Availability of equipment to read or view, and to print
  • Durability
  • Cost
  • 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:

  • Scholarly Journals – 15 years
  • Popular Magazines – 5 years
  • Other periodicals, including trade journals – 10 years
  • 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" the following will be applied:

  1. The material is such that it can be best presented only in DVD format. It is not, for example, simply a recorded lecture, a series of still photographs, or material which could just as easily be published as a book, unless video is the only format available.
  2. It is issued in a format for which playback equipment is readily available at Pierce College.

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. The Library does not, as a rule, purchase "Talking Book" versions of novels for listening rather than reading except as appropriate in the
New Reader collection.

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, and electronic journals.

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 user-friendly.

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

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 will 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 web-based discipline 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 Libraries and Learning Resources has responsibility for examining contracts and negotiating with vendors. The Library will advise its users to comply with licensing agreements.


Information in any format will always be considered for acquisition and will be judged by criteria such as relevance to curriculum or collection goals, cost, quality, and availability of equipment to access it.

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 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 those learning English as a second language. 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.

Paperback Collection

The library's Paperback Collection consists of donated books, primarily mass-market paperbacks. This collection is intended to meet the recreational reading needs of students. These books are given minimal processing, but are cataloged and included in the online catalog.

Because these inexpensive paperbacks are acquired almost entirely through donations, we make no attempt to have a balanced paperback collection. At any given time it may emphasize science fiction, adventure, or romance, depending on recent acquisitions. Books are selected from gifts to add to this collection when they are appropriate for the reading level and interest of the college community.

The paperback collection is less permanent than the main cataloged collection, and books may be added or withdrawn frequently as their popularity and durability are assessed.

Materials Not Selected

Required Textbooks

Required textbooks are not purchased for the library collection. Gifts of recent texts are 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 second- language learners.

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 upper-level materials or 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 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.

VHS Tapes

VHS tapes are not purchased, unless it is the only format available.


Considering self-published books for the library collection requires an extensive review process by library faculty.  The following criteria will be weighed by librarians to determine whether to add a self-published book to the collection:

  • it is a work that is cited as a reference or regularly used as a source in an academic area taught at Pierce College
  • it is the only book available on the subject
  • the author is regarded by peers as an expert in the subject
  • the book has been reviewed in academic publications or forums
  • the book significantly supports the mission of the College as determined by faculty librarians and the Dean of Libraries and Learning Resources.

Authors of self-published works who would like their works to be considered for the library's collection must include documentation of these criteria in order for their works to be considered for the collection. 
Employee- or student-written self-published works may be considered as donations.


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 Libraries 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.

Collection Maintenance

Systematic and regular withdrawal of materials from the collection benefits the Library by ensuring that the collection accurately reflects the current needs of the college community. Selection and de-selection are two aspects of the same continuous process of collection development and maintenance. Faculty librarians evaluate the collection periodically for library materials that have become obsolete, are physically unusable, or have low circulation. As part of their review, they consult instructors with expertise in the relevant disciplines for advice concerning withdrawal of the material (see later).

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.
  7. Librarians may use the acronym M.U.S.T.I.E. as a guideline when de-selecting: 
M = Misleading, U = Ugly, S = Superseded, T = Trivial, I = Irrelevant, E = Elsewhere.

In examining the collection, faculty librarians periodically reconsider each item to determine whether or not it deserves a place on the shelf. The following categories apply:

  1. Retain.
  2. Withdraw: subject matter out-of-date; no longer consistent with curriculum.
  3. Withdraw and Replace: poor physical condition but the material is still useful; old edition to be replaced with new edition.

Withdrawn library materials are offered for sale or discarded. The Dean of Libraries 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.

Reclassification of Reference Materials

Books are removed from the Reference Collection for the following reasons:

  1. They have been superseded by newer, more up-to-date editions. When the library acquires a new edition of a previously-held title, the older editions are evaluated on an individual basis and retained; reclassified from reference to circulating; transferred to the other campus library; or withdrawn, as appropriate
  2. Their value as ready-reference sources has decreased to the point where they are no longer in constant demand, or they are no longer contributing to the overall comprehensive nature of the reference collection. Books which have been removed from reference but which still retain informational value may be reclassified for transfer to the general circulating collection, or transferred between campuses.

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 Libraries and Learning Resources, and the completed form must be submitted to the Dean of Libraries 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 Libraries 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 Libraries 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;
  • One library faculty member (selected by the Dean of Libraries 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 Libraries and Learning Resources); and
  • The Dean of Libraries 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 Libraries 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.

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. 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 Libraries 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 three years by the faculty librarians 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.