Library Report on Policies Relating to Collections

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Policies and Procedures:

     The library’s collection development policies1 are designed to manage the ongoing development of the collections.  The policy statements define levels of collecting intensity and scope for the library’s collecting activities.

     Collection development in the library is a shared activity with the teaching faculty. Book funds are allocated to the departments to spend, and the library accepts order requests through either the online order form2, printed forms routed to the departments, new title announcement slips, or catalog orders. The interactions between the librarians and the faculty liaisons in building the collection occur on a frequent basis. To involve faculty in the understanding of the collection building process, the dean each year presents the library’s O&M budget and the book budget3 to the members of the Faculty Senate Library Committee. The Committee’s review and approval of the budget has led to a greater understanding of library priorities in support of the academic programs.

     Librarians also contribute to the selection process by identifying titles and utilizing reviews to determine titles to select, in line with the collecting policy for the specific subject area. By contributing in this manner, the librarians ensure that gaps do not occur within the collecting focus and that the selection that goes on falls within the defined collecting level.


Collection Assessments:

     In its process for proposing new courses, the University utilizes a Course Approval4 form which is submitted to the University Curriculum Committee along with syllabi for the proposed course. Among the requirements on the form is that an assessment of library holdings in the area(s) which will support the course.

     Additionally, as programs on campus are reviewed for accreditation, the Library provides information on its strengths and weaknesses to support the program to the affected departments. In conducting these reviews, the librarian(s) who are the subject specialists for the areas meet with the departmental faculty and select a review methodology and implement the review. 

     Every five years, the library’s collecting policy statements are reviewed with the faculty and adjustments are made as necessary.

The adequacy of the institution’s discipline specific collections and resources is evaluated during periodic program and/or school reaccredidation processes.

     The Schools of Business (AACSB), Education (NCATE) and Nursing (CCNE) are fully accredited by external agencies. Within the School of Science, the programs in Public Administration / Political Science (NASPA), Justice and Public Safety’s Paralegal program (ABA), and Medical Technology (CLS) all receive external accreditation. These external accrediting agencies have standards and requirements regarding the adequacy of library collections and services, and other learning/information resources for their discipline specific needs.

     The library provides schools and departments with listings of journals, numbers of books purchased within specific discipline areas, databases with full-text journal articles, and budgetary support when requested for reaccredidation reviews. The library also provides a narrative describing the collection and the services offered by the library for use of the school or department undergoing review. If collections and/or resources are judged inadequate by a review team, then feedback will be offered to the library on the comments from the accrediting agency review. Over the past six years, the library has provided information for an AACSB review, an NCATE review, a CLS review, a CCNE review, an ABA review, and a NASPA review.  No feedback has been provided to the library on concerns about the collections or services, and all programs have received reaccredidation.

     The library is also responsible for providing information on collections to departments and/or schools that are making new program proposals to the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.

The initial approval of new programs by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) requires an assessment of the institution’s library collections and resources as they pertain to the new program.

     Item 10 on the ACHE Criteria for the Evaluation of Proposals for New Programs of Instruction5 discusses the issue of adequacy of resources at the institution that will be used to support the new program. Specifically, the criteria states:

            Resources to Support the Program – Will the level of existing and
            projected resources sufficiently provide for a program of high quality?
            Resources include faculty, staff, equipment, facilities, library materials
            and other learning resources.  What are the costs associated with these
            resources?  Does the expected quality and utility of the program justify
            the cost?

During the approval process, library staff and ACHE staff evaluate the library materials and other learning/information resources and make recommendations to the university to help strengthen the collections in support of the program being considered. In 2005, ACHE approved the joint Masters of Science in Nursing Proposal as a new program. Once the programs are approved by ACHE, the library faculty work directly with the teaching faculty in the discipline to select and acquire the necessary resources to support the program.

Peer Institutions for Comparing the AUM Library

     Instead of selecting specific institutions, the AUM Library utilized the NCES data sets for the Masters Level II academic institutions. These institutions contain a mixture of public and private colleges and universities. As AUM is currently undergoing a review of its peer institutions, it was felt that the comparison by Carnegie Classification was appropriate.
As the influence of technology has served to greatly broaden access to collections, libraries are moving rapidly away from the traditional notion of a book or journal on a shelf being considered the primary means of access. The influence of distance learning has required the inclusion of digital access, with materials available 24/7 access to the students.

Collection Strength: As can be seen from the table below6, the AUM Library is above the peer averages at the comparison group, state level, and national levels in every field except Current Serial Subscriptions. The library provides more print resources per fte than the average of the Masters Level II institutions, and significantly more microform resources. Part of the reason for this is the AUM Library’s status as one of the regional depository libraries for the federal Government Printing office. Up until five years ago, a significant portion of the federal documents were distributed in a microformat. While the current serials subscribed to by the library is 11% below the comparison group average, the Library does provide access to more than 100 databases which provide full-text access to more than 15,000 journal titles.

Table 1 Library Collections 2004 Data


Book, Serial Backfiles, etc.

Books, Serial Backfiles per person enrolled

Current Serial Subscriptions









Group Avg.






State Avg.






National Avg.






Staffing: In comparison with other institutions, the AUM Library is ahead of its comparators in the Masters Level II group in the number of librarians per fte available, but behind the fte averages for the state and the nation.7 In spite of this, the scores and comments provided to the library in the LibQual+™ survey8 indicate overall user satisfaction with the services provided by the library. The LibQual+™ data and the NCES data allow the library to establish benchmarks and target areas for improvement.

Table 2 Staffing



Librarians & Other Professional Staff per FTE

Total Staff

Total Staff Per FTE






Group Avg.





State Avg.





National Avg.





Library Expenditures: While libraries have been migrating to more technology driven access to materials, the AUM Library still retains a significant proportion of print expenditures. As the table below demonstrates, the AUM Library’s expenditures on print materials (books, serial backfiles, etc.), is 92% above the national average. The AUM Library’s expenditures for electronic materials in the 2004 reporting year was only 24% of the national average. However, 2004 reflected a year with limited electronic materials expenditures for the Library. In that year, our significant purchase was to license the EBSCO eBook Collection 4 collection and does not include electronic serials expenditures. In electronic serials expenditures, the AUM Library is less than one percent behind the national average. The AUM Library expenditures per fte are above the comparator group, state, and national averages.

AUM Library Expenditures by Category9

Group Books/Serial Back Files Electronic Materials Current Serial Subscriptions Electronic Serials Total Library Expenditures Total Library Expenditures per FTE
AUM $286,948 $ 3,478 $349,164 $109,648 $1,870,348 $480
Grp Avg.
$ 89,484 $12,728 $137,994 $46,669 $689,342 $297
State Avg. $119,878 $15,674 $310,273 $115,984 $1,095,739 $305
National Avg. $149,725 $14,506 $316,723 $110,133 $1,320,951 $386

The AUM Library expenditure patterns demonstrate that the library matches and exceeds its peers, state peers, and the national averages in almost all categories. The library emphasizes its role as a resource for the students, faculty, and staff of the university.







6 Data is taken from the NCES Library Comparisons for 2004.

7Data is taken from the NCES Library Comparisons for 2004.


9 Data is taken from the NCES Library Comparisons for 2004.

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