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Salem Library: Collection Development Policies

Collection Development Policies

Collection development is a means by which the Library provides collections of information items that meet institutional, curricular, research, and instructional requirements, as well as the cultural needs of the Salem community. The Library serves as the primary resource for all matriculated students in all Salem Academy and College programs, regardless of location. The Library also serves as a repository of historical and archival materials related to Salem’s history and scholarly activities. Librarians serve as liaisons to academic departments and make selection decisions informed by the needs and requests of faculty and students.

General Collection Policy

General Selection Guidelines

  • The intellectual content of a resource must fit within the parameters of this policy and support Salem’s curriculum.
  • Recreational content is collected to a lesser extent.
  • Duplication of essential titles in more than one format may occasionally be desired.
  • Back files of digital resources may be purchased if affordable and deemed beneficial to the collection.
  • Whenever possible, a digital resource must:
    • Support and deliver reliable on-campus and remote access.
    • Meet level AA of the WCAG2 Guidelines and Requirements.
    • Offer high-quality technical support.
    • Be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    • Be compatible and function well across a wide variety of platforms, including mobile devices.
    • Support the Salem login through proxy server (unified institutional login).
  • In general, contemporary materials are purchased more rigorously than older, classical materials.
  • The Library collects almost exclusively English-language materials.

Format of Materials

The Library acquires many formats of monographic, serial, or media materials. Digital versions of resources are preferred as they allow the most flexible use at varied times and locations. Print materials are collected when that is the most appropriate and available format. 

Texts Required for Courses

The Library does not ordinarily purchase required print textbooks, though exceptions may occasionally be made if a text enhances the collection as a whole. Librarians will, however, work with faculty members to identify digital texts to use in their courses. The Library will require unlimited users and DRM free rights if possible. These digital texts may include free open educational resources, eBooks already owned by the Library, or eBooks that should be added to enhance the collection.

Archives & Special Collections

Archives collection development policies can be found on the Salem Academy and College Archives website.

Withdrawal of Materials

Withdrawal of library materials is done on a regular and ongoing basis as part of collection development and maintenance. Librarians may elect to withdraw or cancel materials that have become obsolete, are unusable, are not used, or no longer support Salem’s curriculum.

Collection Disapproval Plan


  • Reduce the overall number of no use titles
  • Minimize the number of low-use copies held in open stacks
  • Assure that deselected content is securely archived in both print and digital form
  • Coordinate deselection regionally and nationally to assure sufficient copies are retained
  • Assure that deselected content remains accessible to users (in the unlikely event that it is wanted).

For each deselection candidate title, we must answer two questions:

  1. Has the content been securely archived? (think national or network level)
  2. Does the content remain accessible to users? (think regional level)

Withdrawal Rules:

  • 0 checkouts, AND published before 1990, AND more than 50 US holdings, AND held by more than 4 NC libraries, AND not a Choice Outstanding Academic Title
  • published before 2000, AND fewer than 3 checkouts, AND more than 3 NC holdings, AND more than 100 US holdings
  • fewer than 5 total checkouts, AND more than 50 US holdings, AND in HathiTrust.

Preservation Rules:

  • fewer than 5 US holdings, OR no other holdings in our state
  • fewer than 10 US holdings, AND not in HathiTrust
  • published before 1875, AND/OR no peer holdings.


  • Recordings – remove duplicate titles
  • Scores – retain at present


  • Works by faculty or other authors affiliated with the institution
  • Gifts from specified donors
  • Historical collections of importance to the institution 
  • Works of other local importance(e.g. geographical or topical focus)

Withdrawal Risk Factor (WRF): A numerical score that indicates the potential difficulty of re-accessing or re-purchasing withdrawn content in the (unlikely) event that it is subsequently wanted. The lower the WRF, the more confident the library can be about discarding the title or copy. The higher the WRF, the more likely it would be retained or stored.

  • 0--No Risk: An identical print version is held by 50 WorldCat Libraries and 3 or more resource sharing partners. Title remains widely available for re-purchase
  • 1--Minimum Risk: An identical or acceptably similar version has been digitized in full text by Google Book, HathiTrust, Open Content Alliance, or similar sources; content is public domain. Title is out-of-print but available via commercial eBook provider(s)
  • 2--Moderate Risk: Variant edition is held by other libraries, available via ILL. Identical or acceptably similar version digitized by Google, HathiTrust or OCA, but content is under copyright
  • 3--High Risk: Identical or substantially similar version is not held in WorldCat. Availability only in another language. Available only in part. No acceptable surrogate exists

Access Cost Factor (ACF): A score that rates the potential cost (in both staff time and cash outlay) of re-accessing or re-acquiring a title. The higher the ACF, the more conservatively the library might act in discard decisions – while bearing in mind that these titles have not been called for in five or more years!

0--No Cost: No such animal

1--Low Cost: Available via ILL or direct borrowing. Identical or substantially similar version available via Google Book Search or Internet Archive (public domain titles only)

2--Moderate Cost: Identical or substantially similar version available via commercial eBook providers (ebrary, EBL, NetLibrary, MyiPublisher, publisher)Print-on-demand version available from Lightning Source. New or used copies currently available on Web markets (Amazon, Biblio, etc.) 

3--High Cost: Title out-of-print; available only at a premium. Title has never been digitized. Available in Special Collections only; restricted resource sharing

Note: The WRF and ACF models are taken from Rick Lugg and Ruth Fisher’s article, “Future Tense – The Disapproval Plan: Rules Based Weeding & Storage Decision”, in Against the Grain, vol. 20 (6) in 2008.

Reference Collection Policy


The Salem Library Reference Collection at Gramley Library is designed to furnish specific information quickly. The collection is designed to support the academic and curricular needs of Salem Academy and College. In most cases these materials are not intended to be read in their entirety. The printed Reference Collection should be as lean and efficient as possible to enable library staff and users to use the collections more effectively.

The librarians will formally review the Reference Collection Development Policy every five years. The ultimate responsibility for policy decisions rests with the Director of Libraries.

Types of Sources:

Reference source types typically include encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, handbooks, yearbooks, biographical sources, directories, atlases, gazetteers, catalogs, bibliographies and indexes. Other source types may be included as needed.

Subject Scope and Criteria:

The collections encompass materials in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and business administration. 

All materials should be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Relevancy to support of Salem’s curriculum
  • Currency and comprehensiveness of the topic
  • Reputation of the author and/or publishers
  • Favorable reviews

Format of Materials:

Print: The purpose of print material will be reserved for items that are considered essential to the Reference Collections but are unavailable in electronic format, not feasible in electronic format  for monetary considerations, more difficult to use in electronic format, or are needed perpetually but not available electronically.

Electronic: Electronic reference sources are the preferred format and will be collected based on the same collection development guidelines as other materials. Electronic resources, in rare instances, may be collected as an “additional” copy of a print resource, but due to budget considerations, will more likely be purchased in place of a comparable print resource.

Acquisition of Materials:

Materials are bought for the collections by either librarian recommendations or faculty requests. Each librarian is responsible for subject areas within their liaison assignment. For larger purchases, librarians should prioritize within their subject area and then discuss with the  Director of Libraries which items should be funded. The Director of Libraries will be responsible for monitoring fund balances.

Disapproval (Weeding):

The collections are regularly weeded of unneeded or superseded items when necessary. These materials can be nominated for withdrawal whenever they are identified by the librarian assigned to that LC Classification or subject area. Other librarians, library staff members and faculty may also suggest titles for withdrawal to the librarian assigned to that subject area. After nomination there should be an announcement and/or discussion with the other librarians and the Director of Libraries before titles are actually withdrawn from the collection.

Collection Evaluation:

The electronic collections will be evaluated by the librarians every three years, while the print collections will be reviewed less often.

LC Classification Assignments:

Elizabeth Novicki, Director of Libraries:

  • A – General Works 
  • T – Technology
  • Z – Bibliography, Library Science, Information Resources (General)

Mary Abernathy, Research & Learning Librarian:

  • G – Geography, Anthropology, Recreation
  • H – Social Sciences
  • J – Political Science
  • K – Law
  • P – Language and Literature
  • Q – Science
  • R – Medicine
  • S – Agriculture
  • U – Military Science
  • V – Naval Science

Donna Rothrock, Archivist and Acquisitions Librarian:

  • B – Philosophy, Psychology, Religion
  • C – Auxiliary Sciences of History
  • D – World History and history of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, etc.
  • E – History of the Americas
  • F – History of the Americas
  • L – Education
  • M – Music and Books on Music
  • N – Fine Arts

Gifts Policy

The Salem Academy & College Library’s collections date back to the institution’s founding in 1772. While the primary role of the collection building is curriculum support, Salem also plays an important role in the preservation of scholarly information and primary sources. The general collection is at the institution’s Gramley Library. In addition to the circulating collection, specialized resources exist in the Archives and Special Collections.

  • The Archives house the official records of the institution as well as other college and academy related material worthy of preservation due to their enduring legal or historical value.
  • Special Collections house manuscripts and rare, valuable and limited edition books or other materials.

I. Guidelines and Goals for Accepting Gifts:

Due to the high costs of managing the gift process, the Library’s goal in accepting gifts is to acquire only materials which are highly relevant to the institution’s needs. All potential gifts will be evaluated in terms of the collection development goals of the Library. These include:

  • Supporting the current and evolving curriculum
  • Supporting the basic research needs of faculty and students
  • Maintaining older collections of depth

II. Process for Accepting Gifts:

  1. The Director of Libraries is responsible for following the Salem Academy & College Policy on gifts of Tangible Property.
  2. All offers of donations to the Libraries are referred to the Director of Libraries or his/her designee. 
  3. In the case of gifts destined for the Archives or Special Collections the Archivist or the Director of Libraries is the primary contact.
  4. Arrangements for all gifts should be made through the Director of Libraries.
  5. The donor will provide a description of any gift before it can be considered. If a collection is offered, either in whole or in part, a full description (including title, author, publication date, publisher, etc.) is extremely useful. In the absence of such documentation, the Library may require on-site evaluation of the collection by library staff before a determination to accept can be made.
  6. The Director of Libraries will acknowledge all donations. The Archivist will send separate acknowledgements for gifts to the Archives and/or Special Collections. Donors who deliver gifts without prior contact with Library staff will receive a copy of the Library’s Donor Record Form as a receipt and interim record of the transfer of ownership.
  7. The Library will not accept gifts on which a donor places restrictions that will negatively affect the use of the materials.
  8. The Library will not accept the following items:
    • Magazines, journals, or newspapers
    • Encyclopedias
    • Anything with an odor or in disrepair
    • Superseded or outdated content
    • Content outside of our collection scope
    • Those that duplicate current local holdings
  9. If, on subsequent evaluation, subject specialists determine material to be inappropriate, it will not be added to the collections, but will be disposed of as described in section IV below.
  10. The Library cannot appraise or assign value to gifts. 
  11. All gifts become property of the library.

III. Process for Evaluating gifts:

  1. All gifts are to evaluated in light of the following criteria:
    • Ability to add depth or breadth to the existing collections
    • Support of overall collection development priorities
    • Relevance of content
    • Physical condition
  2. The Library will not accept gifts when their physical condition does not allow normal library shelving and use. In some rare cases the Library may accept books of sufficiently important content or provenance even if they require professional treatment to protect and preserve them. In these cases, the donor may be asked to provide the resources for this treatment.
  3. Librarians charged with management of specific subject collections, will evaluate gifts accepted for the general collections. They will make the final decision on adding unique or additional copies to the collections.
  4. When specialized knowledge is required to evaluate a gift, library staff may consult with members of the faculty or others with appropriate expertise.

IV. Disposition of Gift Materials:

  1. With the exception of some archival materials, all accepted gifts added to the collection will be cataloged and listed in the Library’s online public catalog.
  2. Since all gift materials that are added to the general collections are shelved in the appropriate subject classification, the Library cannot maintain separate named collections.
  3. Gifts that are not added to the collection may be disposed of in one of the following ways:
    • If it has been arranged in advance, they may be returned to the donor.
    • If of artifactual value, they may be sold to a specialty book dealer, and the proceeds used to support future acquisitions.
    • In cases where other institutions have teaching or collecting goals which the gift more appropriately supports, these institutions may be offered the gift. The first preference is to place the item in one of the member libraries of the Triad Academic Library Association (TALA), to which Salem belongs.
    • All other non accessioned gifts will be sold to Better World Books and the proceeds will be used to support future acquisitions.
  4. Donors who offer items or collections that Salem cannot accept may be referred to other libraries.

Resources Challenge Policy

Censorship of the library’s collections will not be tolerated. As an academic library, we cultivate a collection of resources that are appropriate for the curriculum at Salem and an adult audience. Our collection represents various viewpoints that stimulate intellectual inquiry and foster spirited debate. That said, legitimate complaints about library materials will be reviewed based on the guidelines endorsed by the American Library Associations’ Intellectual Freedom Manual.

Complaints will be handled on a case-by-case basis and can only be made by current students, faculty, and staff of Salem Academy and College. The Salem Library has delegated the responsibility for the selection and evaluation of materials to liaison librarians who specialize in different subject areas and the Director of Libraries. Should a member of the Salem community think that certain material is unsuitable for the library’s collections, the first step is to discuss their concerns with the appropriate liaison librarian and/or the Director of Libraries.

Dr. Donna Rothrock, Archivist & Acquisitions Librarian and Liaison (
Art, Art History, and Design; History; Modern Languages; School of Music; Religious Studies; Teacher Education and Graduate Studies

Mary Abernathy, Research & Learning Librarian and Liaison (
Biology; Business and Economics; Chemistry and Physics; Communication and Media Studies; English and Creative Writing; Exercise Science and Wellness; Mathematics and Computer Studies; Nonprofit Management and Community Leadership; Political Science; Psychological Science; Sociology

Resources Challenge Form

If the issue is not resolved following an informal discussion about the mission of the library and how material supports higher education learning, the library has established formal reconsideration procedures to address concerns about those resources. You must fill out this Challenge Form  and return to Elizabeth Novicki, Director of Libraries, at to initiate formal proceedings. The challenge will then be reviewed by a Reconsideration Committee, comprised of the Director of Libraries, one faculty member, and one student. The committee will review the specific title, speak with the person making the challenge, and then determine if the title will remain in the Library’s collection.

Note: Adapted from the American Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee, revised 7/1/2014.

Popular Reading Policy

The Popular Reading collection is intended to promote recreational reading among students, faculty, and staff and to enhance awareness of selected new books.  This collection is not intended to be a comprehensive collection, but, rather, a small selection of popular works. Students, faculty and staff will be referred to the Public Library and TALA libraries for a larger selection of popular titles. The types of materials purchased for Popular Reading is not limited to fiction and may include  biographies, bestselling nonfiction and other titles pertaining to topics of current interest. These types of materials are generally found on “best seller” lists such as the New York Times.

The Popular Reading collection is a small collection, its size is determined 1) by the space in which it is housed, and 2) by the funding it receives each year. Titles are removed after two years to ensure that the collection is kept current. Exceptions are books in series, the series should be kept intact regardless of publication date. Some titles removed from Popular Reading will be relocated to the Main collection or other location as requested by the Director of Libraries. Other titles will be donated to the “Free Library” on campus or sold to Better World Books to support future acquisitions. As the number of titles is not set, it is not necessary to replace each withdrawn volume with a new volume. Rather, the library buys titles as they are identified as meeting the popular reading needs of our students, faculty, and staff. The review of titles for selection and removal from the collection is performed by the library staff. A review is to be performed annually. Selection of new titles is to be performed three times a year (Fall, Spring and Summer).

Works selected for the Popular Reading Collection should meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Works of a consistently popular author;
    • A consistently popular author is defined as an author whose work is not generally afforded literary acclaim or considered noteworthy, but whose work is enjoyed by a large population of the general public.
    • New works of a popular author may be selected for purchase for the Popular Reading Collection. New works are books published within the last 2-3 years.
    • Old works of a popular author currently in the circulating collection may be moved to the Popular Reading Collection.
  • New fiction titles that have been well-reviewed;
  • Works that provide a variety of social and cultural perspectives;
  • Award-winning young adult fiction titles.

One of the questions that must be decided is how popular or literary the collection will be. The novels that most academic libraries already own are usually far more literary than popular. Whatever the library collects, it should focus on books that the users, not the librarians, consider “great reads.” If the library decides to buy new books for the collection, it has an opportunity to acquire books considered popular. What genres and types of books should be included? Current best sellers, movie tie-ins, and popular genres are obvious starting points for the collection. Nonfiction such as biographies, survival stories, true crimes, contemporary issues, memoirs, and the occult are also popular with readers and might be suitable for a popular reading collection. Many college-age students have grown up with graphic novels, comics, and manga, forms of literature made popular by the digital-age trend of favoring images over text. Duke, MIT, Michigan State, Chicago, UC Berkeley, and Rutgers all collect extensively in these genres (O’English, Matthews, and Lindsay 2006, 175).

Librarians should select from as many categories as the budget allows in order to appeal to a wide variety of student interests. How do you identify these books? Best-seller lists and library catalogues that have popular reading collections will provide a wealth of ideas. The Times Literary Supplement is an important source for books and popular readers’ advisory tools such as Good Reads and Amazon also can provide recommendations and ideas. Other guides to consult include Library Journal and Publishers Weekly.

A wide array of books from the following genres might be considered:

  • Fantasy
  • Romance
  • Thrillers
  • Coming of Age
  • Horror
  • Graphic Novels
  • Comics
  • Humorous Novels
  • Espionage
  • Historical
  • Action and Adventure
  • Science Fiction
  • Biography
  • Memoirs
  • True Crime
  • Mystery and Detection