Reference Collection

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I. Purpose and Program Description

A. Library's Collection Development Objectives

The Reference Collection is a non-circulating collection of materials designed to support the instruction, research, and service activities of the university. The collection is composed of information sources that are most effectively used in the library either because they relate to other library materials or because the Information Services staff needs the material close at hand to respond to information requests. Reference materials are typically consulted for brief, factual data rather than in-depth information and are usually consulted one or a few at a time. Works are chosen for the reference collection in order to supply as much reliable information as possible with a minimum of duplication. Reference material shall be as up-to-date as is necessary for the provision of current and reliable information.


II. General Selection Guidelines

A. Languages: English is the primary language of the collection. Foreign language material is excluded. Key works originally published in a foreign language will be purchased only in English translation.

B. Chronological Coverage: No limitations.

C. Geographical Focus: No limitations.

D. Types of Materials: Reference materials selected will include but are not limited to the following:

1. Almanacs. Standard general almanacs are acquired annually.

2. Atlases. Standard geographic and historic atlases are acquired and updated as newer editions become available.

3. Bibliographies. Standard bibliographies, general bibliographies, and specialized subject bibliographies which can be used for general reference purposes are acquired. Those with narrow subject scope, such as single author bibliographies, may be acquired for the circulating collection. Exceptions may be made for topics in demand or of considerable current interest.

4. CD-ROM Databases. Bibliographic, financial, and other databases on CD-ROM and the necessary computer equipment are acquired as funds permit to enhance the search and retrieval capabilities of the library staff and patrons, however, internet accessibility is the preferred method of access.

5. Collective Biographies. Comprehensive works dealing with professional, national, and international biography, both retrospective and current, are acquired.

6. College Catalogs. To aid students in their choice of graduate programs or summer courses, and to aid faculty or administrators obtain information about other institutions, graduate and undergraduate college catalogs as well as current college directories are acquired. Paper copies of the current catalogs of all Alabama four-year and graduate colleges and universities are acquired. Access to current college catalogs is provided via the Alabama Virtual Library.

7. Company Information. Standard lists of companies, annual or SEC reports, and other sources of company information are acquired.

8. Compilations of Statistics. Collections or compilations of statistics that are not included in the government documents are acquired.

9. Concordances. Only concordances for very important authors and works are acquired for the reference collection; others may be acquired for the circulating collection. Examples of works collected are concordances for Shakespeare and the Bible.

10. Dictionaries. English language, foreign language, and subject dictionaries are purchased, not only for the languages in which instruction is offered, but also for those in which the library purchases materials or which foreign students and instructors speak. Thesauri, usage and grammar books, and abbreviations and acronyms books are also acquired. They are replaced as they become obsolete.

11. Directories. Major directories, both general and subject oriented, are acquired as basic research tools. City directories are acquired for Montgomery only.

12. Encyclopedias. General encyclopedias are updated on a rotating schedule (at least one encyclopedia per year).   Subject encyclopedias are acquired as needed and are updated as new editions become available.

13. Legal Material. In addition to basic legal reference sources, the legal collection contains reporter series and other law sources which support the curriculum specifically for the paralegal programs, business law, and tax accounting. Access to the legal reporters and many legal journals are provided via web-access through Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe, and the Lexis-Nexis paralegal program for access.

14. Indexes. Subscriptions to general and subject indexing and abstracting services and indexes to book reviews and to works in collections are acquired to provide access to journals, newspapers, dissertations, and some books. Standard indexes are kept current and new indexes are acquired when they complement library holdings and meet user needs.

15. Sacred Books. A small collection of major translations of the bible in English, as well as English translations of sacred works significant to other major world religions is maintained.

16. Serials, Book and Library Science Information. Serials directories, union lists, periodical abbreviation lists, style manuals, library directories, and guides to literature are acquired.

17. Telephone Books. Paper copies of the Montgomery phone directory are maintained. Access to other directories is available via the internet, specifically Yahoo’s Yellow Book and People Finder.

18. Vertical File. A vertical file is not maintained.

E. Imprint Date: Emphasis is on current materials, i.e., the current five years for basic titles. Little used titles may be acquired less frequently. Materials older then five years are collected very selectively.

F. Physical Format: Hardbound and paperbound books are collected extensively. Serials periodicals, audiovisuals, microforms and computer software are collected selectively in consultation with the head of Information Services and the head of Collection Development.

G. Treatment of Subject Depth: Most reference materials will be collected at the instructional support level (3a-b) to provide bibliographic and other information to collections in the library and to serve as a basis for using interlibrary loan to access collections in other libraries.

H. Place of Publication: Emphasis is given to materials published in the United States, Canada, and the U.K.. Materials from all other places are collected very selectively.

I. Acquisitions Plans Affecting the Reference Collection

1.) Standing Orders: See separate list in Information Services department for annual renewals.

2.) Approval Plans: None

J. Major Selection Tools and Information Sources: Choice; Library Journal; Sheehy, Eugene P. Guide to Reference Books; American Reference Books Annual; Katz, Bill. Magazines for Libraries; publisher's announcements. Blackwell New Title Announcement slips.

Reference materials are selected in accordance with the AUM Collection Management and Development Policy (see Introduction). Recommendations for purchase of new materials are accepted both from the reference librarians, library subject liaisons, and teaching faculty. Final selection decisions are made by the Head of Public Services. The following principles serve as guidelines for selection:

1. Usefulness of the publication in relation to the strengths and weaknesses of the existing collection and the needs of the university.

2. Favorable reviews or its inclusion in a standard reference collection guides.

3. Reputation of the author.

4. Date of the publication.

5. Price of the publication.

6. Language of the publication.

K. Funding: General library funds are assigned to purchase materials for Reference (account codes 600 and 670). The Information Services staff also proposes other sources of funding for special purposes such as through government or private foundation grants. If they fall within this collection development policy, gifts will be accepted. At the discretion of the library liaisons or the teaching faculty, reference materials may be purchased with departmental collection development funds. All decisions relating to the expenditure of reference funds and the placement of material in the reference collection rest finally with the Head of Public Services.

L. Weeding/Replacement: The reference collection is weeded continuously. As new editions are received, older ones are removed. In general, only the latest edition of a reference work is included in the reference collection. Older editions are transferred to the circulating collection (if the subject liaison concurs) or weeded from the collection.   When appropriate, teaching faculty are invited to participate in the weeding process.

Revised 1/21/97

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