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Collection Development Policy


The purpose of this document is to communicate guidelines for growing and sustaining the collections of Steely Library.

Collection Scope

Steely Library selects materials for building transdisciplinary collections and provides access to a rich array of resources that serve and support the academic programs of NKU undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty research interests. The Library also provides access to general information sources and selected popular materials to promote learning and literacy. Rather than develop exhaustively in all subject areas, the Library’s philosophy for collection building is curriculum-focused and reflects the University’s disciplinary and institutional priorities.

Collection development decisions can be impacted by institutional budget support, changes in curriculum focus or in degree programs.

Collection Formats

Best practices in academic libraries suggest that digital formats are generally preferred since they can be used at any time and any place and provide more sophisticated search and retrieval options. Some digital formats are licensed and not purchased outright. In general format guidelines are as follows:

E-books –
purchases may vary based on how titles are offered, e.g. in a vendor package, patron demand, etc.
Books –
when print format is best or only option, print will be purchased.
Journals/Continuing cost materials –
these materials are subscribed to electronically, either individually or as full-text content via packages and/or through aggregate databases. Materials that have licensing restrictions, no IP authentication, limited functionality, and offer no institutional usage data will not be considered. Because journals and other ongoing subscriptions represent continuing cost investments, requests for new subscriptions are monitored very carefully.
Newspapers –
because of the availability of current news online, the print newspaper collection is small, consisting of selected titles from the state and region.
Leisure reading collection –
a small number of popular reading books and current periodicals are maintained in print.
Media –
streaming media and music is preferred when feasible; other formats such as cds, blu-ray, and dvds are still acquired. Blu-ray and dvd items must be closed-captioned.

Selection Responsibility

Collection development is the joint responsibility of the instructional faculty and the library faculty, with the ultimate responsibility resting with the Dean of Library Services. A monetary pool is established each academic year to support faculty requests for their disciplines. See request form for non-continuing cost items: Requests for continuing subscriptions, such as journals or databases, require more careful consideration. Because of budget limitations, inflationary increases, and publishing cycles, these requests require that a current subscription of equivalent cost be cancelled before a new subscription can be added. Databases and journals are reviewed on a regular basis for continued cost/use analysis and relevancy.

Collection Management Team

The Collection Management Team, currently chaired by the Assistant to the Library Dean, consists of the Head of Digital Resources, the Research Collection coordinator, the Head of Special Collections & University Archives, and the Associate Dean for Collections. It reviews requests for expensive and continuing cost materials, such as databases and other wide impact purchases. The Team is also responsible for consideration of cancellation when:

  • a resource is no longer relevant
  • a resource is no longer well-maintained
  • it is determined that other sources have better coverage
  • usage data reveals low-use or high cost per use, or has unsustainable cost or other budget issues.

It also has oversight for setting guidelines and policies related to the collections.

Collection Strategy

Specific considerations for acquisition, cancellation, or withdrawal include:

  • Currency of information
  • Quality
  • Scholarly level of treatment
  • Relationship to curriculum or university programs
  • Authority
  • Language (collection is predominantly English)
  • Physical condition
  • Research value or local importance
  • Price
  • Suitability of format to content
  • Copyright compliant
  • Audio-visual materials must be close-captioned
  • Item is accessible to all users

The Library does not generally add the following to its collections:

  • Outdated formats
  • Consumables, such as laboratory manuals, examination review books, programmed texts, workbooks and study guides
  • Vanity press/self-published titles
  • Textbooks in use on campus
  • Duplicates (specialty collections may hold duplicate copies)
  • Items that have been lost, damaged or stolen will not automatically be replaced
  • Dissertations, other than those by NKU graduates (most can be accessed through the Dissertations and Theses database);

Specialty Collections

(These collections may have differing policies related to their unique needs)

Reference Materials –
the Reference Collection is comprised of both web-based sources and a small collection of print subject encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, and other materials that are considered background informational resources and factual sources.
Government Documents –
Steely Library participates in the Federal Depository Library Program, receiving items available from the Government Publishing Office. The Library is also a depository for Kentucky State Government publications. Most government publications are now electronic and available through the library’s web site. Steely Library is also a Center of Excellence for materials from the U.S. Patent Office, American Folk Life Center, and U.S. Small Business Administration. The Intellectual Property Awareness Collaborative (IPAC) is a designated Patent and Trademark Resource Center.
Teaching Resource Collection –
The TRC contains curriculum resources appropriate for use with children and young adults from preschool through grade twelve. The collection is designed to support the teacher training and preparation program of the College of Education. Additionally, the TRC serves the general university community and local educators. Emphasis is on teaching materials published in the last decade.
Special Collections & University Archives –
this department collects unique materials documenting the history and culture of Northern Kentucky University and the northern Kentucky-Greater Cincinnati region, especially its social, business, education, and African-American histories, as well as military history, politics, and Appalachia.

SC&UA will solicit and/or accept the political materials from members of the U.S. House and Senate who represented the people of northern Kentucky.

Special Collections will solicit and/or accept the intellectual/creative output of outstanding university faculty and alumni that meet criteria for these categories. University Archives manages permanent University records.


Steely Library is unable to accept donations of books and other materials. This change in policy is due to space constraints and the high cost of sorting, reviewing, and processing donated material. Alternative places for donations may be local public libraries or used bookstores.

NKU faculty are encouraged to donate signed copies of their works to the Library.

Collection Maintenance

The Library strives to shape its collections to serve current constituents and to help users find relevant information quickly and easily. Items with electronic counterparts are generally removed from the collection.

Weeding and Withdrawal

Procedures are currently under review and revision.

Intellectual Freedom

Steely Library supports the American Library Association Bill of Rights and the Intellectual Freedom Statement:

Revised 8/2019


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