The Mount Allison Library is facing challenges which are common to most academic libraries. Since the mid-1980s we have seen shrinking funds for purchases, rapidly rising costs of serial publications, and an explosion of available resources coupled with the rapid acceleration in the developments in information technology. This new technology has brought with it immense promise and yet in this period of transition, resources diverted to technological development represent yet another strain on the acquisitions budget.
The convergence of these factors made it obvious that the informal and largely unwritten collection policies which were developed in the past must be examined, improved and recorded. This document is intended to fulfill these purposes by outlining the methods employed, and the criteria applied as we attempt to preserve the strengths of our collections, be responsive to the academic and fiscal realities of the present, and also to build for the future.
While the recent developments in the world of information technology are astounding, the information available in digitized formats is not adequate to the needs of scholarship, and will not be for some years to come. In fact, it has been estimated that by 2015 only 20% of published scientific, technical and medical information will be available in a fully electronic form and that at least 50% of the published output in these subjects will remain in paper form.1
1 AAUC-CARL Task force on Academic Libraries and Scholarly Communication. Towards a New Paradigm for Scholarly Communication, September, 1966, p.7.
Given the location of Mount Allison University and the predominantly undergraduate work done here, it is essential to maintain and develop a large and stable Library collection in traditional formats. At the same time, we cannot ignore new technology. We must utilize it to stay abreast of developing disciplines and new directions in academic work, to take advantage of storage and retrieval capabilities, and to provide access to both locally held and external resources either electronically or through document delivery.
A collections policy provides guidelines to assess and define the types of materials we collect, the ways we can provide for the information and scholarly needs of the community, and the present state of our holdings.
This policy will emphasize the first two objectives. The third objective, a complete analysis of the depth and condition of our present collection, requires time and resources which are not available at present. As a result while this aspect of collection assessment will not be ignored, the major focus of this policy will be to outline the procedures to be followed and criteria to be used when selecting Library materials for addition to the collection.
How A Collections Policy Is Used
1. Guidance for systematic development
A collections development policy serves as a planning tool for librarians, providing the guidance to enable them to develop collections in a systematic and rational fashion, and to make decisions concerning the provision of access to external resources. It provides the criteria for access, selection and withdrawal of materials within the context of each subject area, and within the context of the special collections.
2. University participation
An explanation of the principles followed in selection and the methods of suggesting materials to be acquired for the Library should enable and encourage all members of the University community to participate in the process of building the collection.
3. University budget
The policy provides guidance to University financial planners, enabling those engaged in this process to understand the direction and needs of the Library in the context of the academic goals of the University, and to make provision for the acquisition of and access to needed resources.
4. Allocation of resources for Library materials
A policy which is clear and responsive to the needs of the community enables the Library to allocate its funds equitably and in a fashion which is publicly accountable, within the context of the Library's goals and University's mission.
Mission of the University
The Collections Policy is intended to be consistent with the objectives of the University which are summarized in the mission statement passed by the Mount Allison Senate in October 1990:
Mount Allison's mission is to provide a rigorous, liberal education of high quality primarily to undergraduate students in a co-educational, intimate, residential environment. In providing this education the University chooses to concentrate on a limited number of programmes so as to preserve their quality. The liberal nature of education means both breadth and depth in academic programmes, as well as the development of the whole person through involvement in extracurricular activities such as music, drama, art, athletics, community involvement, spiritual development, university governance and other activities. To support a teaching environment where critical enquiry by both academic staff and students can be encouraged, the University also strives to enhance, advance and transmit knowledge through scholarship, research and creative activity in both theoretical and applied areas. Recognizing its role in the community, the University strives to complement its primary mission of teaching and research by professional and community services through sharing the expertise of its staff, its information resources, and its facilities.