Collection Development

Collection Development Principles and Goals
Responsibility for Selection of Library Materials
Selection Criteria
Format and Type
Archives and Special Collections Collection Development Policy
Cooperative Collection Development
Collection Management Department Faculty and Staff
Gift Policy

Collection Development Principles and Goals

The goal of collection development in the Hunter College Libraries is to support the College’s multi-disciplinary and diverse curriculum.  The majority of our collection will always be curriculum-defined with collecting emphases evolving as our programs change.

The Libraries strive to provide the maximum support possible for the College’s academic programs.   This includes supporting the needs of undergraduate and graduate programs, and supporting the academic community in carrying out teaching and research activities. 

Recognizing that no library can supply materials to satisfy the needs of all of its users, the Libraries take into consideration the fact that Hunter College benefits from CUNY open access and the proximity of the New York Public Library collections.

The Libraries recognize its responsibility to support the research needs of the faculty to the extent possible within our financial constraints.  While it is not possible for the Libraries to purchase materials for all of the research projects of all of the teaching faculty, or for in-depth specific theses topics for graduate students, the Libraries will attempt to support this research through interlibrary loan, document delivery and other types of resource sharing. 

The Hunter College Libraries include three branch libraries (The Social Work & Urban Public Health Library, School of Health Professions Library and Zabar Art Library) in addition to the main (Cooperman) library.  The collection principles described here apply to all of the libraries, although specific exceptions may be noted.

Libraries use a variety of codes and labels to describe the relative size and nature of their collections.  Many college libraries use collection definitions which are refinements of the work done by the Research Libraries Group.  Using these criteria, the Hunter College Libraries in general collect at Level 3 Study of Instructional Support Level:

3 STUDY OR INSTRUCTIONAL SUPPORT LEVEL: A collection that is adequate to impart and maintain knowledge about a subject in a systematic way but at a level of less than research intensity.  The collection includes a wide range of basic works in appropriate formats, a significant number of classic retrospective materials, complete collections of the works of more important writers, selections from the works of secondary writers, a selection of representative journals, access to appropriate machine-readable data files, and the reference tools and fundamental bibliographical apparatus pertaining to the subject.  At the study or instructional level, a collection is adequate to support independent study and most learning needs of the clientele or public and special libraries, as well as undergraduate and some graduate instruction. The collection is systematically reviewed for currency of information and to assure that essential and significant information is retained.*

 *Reproduced from pp. 32-33 of the WLN Collection Codes in Guide for Written Collection Policy Statements, 2nd edition. Ed. Joanne S. Anderson, ALA, 1996.

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Responsibility for Selection of Library Materials

Selection of library materials is the scholarly and administrative work of librarians.  The scope, balance and quality of Hunter’s library collections are the responsibilities of librarians in their roles as subject specialists, department liaisons and resource administrators.

  • Subject Specialists: Appointed by the Chief Librarian according to academic background and research interests when possible, librarians are responsible for all aspects of collection assessment, planning and development within designated areas or disciplines.
  • Department Liaisons: Subject specialists work with academic departments, programs and individual faculty to set collection goals toward meeting current curricular and research needs and anticipating future trends in scholarship.
  • Resource Administrators: Subject specialists are responsible for collection decisions that weigh scholarly judgments (collection scope, balance and quality) against available funds.

The Library Collection Development Committee, composed of librarians (elected by the Library Department) and chaired by the Head of Collection Management (appointed by the Chief Librarian), is responsible for developing collection policies and procedures.  This committee also studies various means of assessing the quality and use of all library collections in all formats and media.  The Head of Collection Management is also Hunter’s representative in CUNY and other regional and statewide cooperatives and coordinated collection development planning.

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Selection Criteria

The major factors used in selecting library materials are:

  • Relevance of the subject to the curriculum
  • Appropriateness for the user and potential for use
  • Appropriateness for the entire collection, including filling gaps, and strength or weakness of
  • collection in the same subject
  • Quality, authoritativeness, and accuracy as determined by review sources and bibliographic aids
  • Cost in relation to the budget and to competing sources
  • Reputation of the author and/or publisher
  • Suitability of content to format
  • Inclusion in indexes and bibliographies
  • Timeliness, or permanence, if relevant
  • Demand, as determined by user requests/ILL on the same subject

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Format and Type

All materials purchased with funds from the Library’s acquisitions budget are housed in one of the Hunter College Libraries and are accessible to all Hunter College faculty, staff, and students.


    • Hardcover/Paperbound Books
      Hardcover editions are preferred for books which are expected to be heavily used.
      Paperback editions are preferred when there is a significant price difference between the hardcover and paperback editions, or if a title is expected to have short-term value. Paperbacks may be sent to the bindery before they are circulated to extend their shelf life.


    • Multiple Copies
      The Library’s budget does not allow us to purchase everything needed to support teaching and research, and Library space is always limited; therefore duplication will be held to a minimum. Multiple copies will be acquired for titles in heavy, continuous use, or in heavy use in more than one branch.


    • Textbooks
      College level textbooks of a general survey nature published primarily for classroom use will rarely be selected as library material. Exceptions will be made if faculty request a textbook to be put on reserve for a class. When new editions are acquired, the preceding edition is moved to the circulating stacks and earlier circulating editions are discarded.


    • Workbooks and Manuals
      In general, workbooks, lab manuals, materials in three-ring notebooks, and user manuals associated with a particular task or a particular version of a product will not be acquired. If they are necessary for library research they will be placed on Reserve on an individual basis. Spiral bound material will not be purchased unless absolutely necessary, and if it is possible, the contents will be sent to the bindery.


    • Books with CD-ROMs and diskettes
      Books with accompanying cd-roms and diskettes are selected with the same criteria as regular monographs. The cd-roms and diskettes accompanying stacks books circulate, and the cd-roms with reference books may be used in the Library.


    • E-Books
      E-books are a relatively new format and we have been acquiring them for a few years.  The Library now owns thousands of e-books in most subject categories, although the majority are reference books, or books in the fields of science, medicine or technology, or the social sciences.  Because of industry selling practices, most e-book purchases have been for collections of titles rather than individual titles.


    • Children’s Books
      Children’s books are acquired very selectively to support the education curriculum.


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Other Print Formats

    • Theses and Dissertations
      One print copy and one microfiche copy of all master’s theses that are written by Hunter College graduate students in the School of Arts & Sciences and the School of Education will be cataloged and housed in Archives & Special Collections of the Hunter College Libraries. Master’s theses written by graduate students in one of the Health fields or in the field of Social Work are kept in the Health Professions Library or in the Schools of Social Work and Public Health Library respectively.

    • Musical Scores
      Musical scores are acquired selectively to support music instruction.


    • Maps and Atlases
      Maps are not acquired. Neither are geological series that include maps in pockets as primary materials. Atlases are acquired for Reference.


    • Government Documents
      Hunter College Libraries is not a Depository Library. Government documents that meet the evaluation criteria for all materials may be selected for curriculum support and will be cataloged and integrated into the collection.


    • Curriculum Materials
      Curriculum materials that directly support teacher education are acquired very selectively based on faculty requests. Preference is given to materials used by the New York City Department of Education.


    • Standardized Tests
      Standardized diagnostic and other tests which directly support education and psychology courses will be collected selectively based on faculty requests.


  • Vertical File Material
    The Libraries no longer maintains vertical file material of pictures or other ephemeral material.

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Serials are publications that are issued regularly and are expected to continue indefinitely. They include, but are not limited to, newspapers, magazines, journals, annuals, indexing and abstracting services, and online databases. The format of serials may be print, microform, or electronic. Since serials represent a significant and continuing expense, requests for new serial titles are scrutinized more carefully than is the case with requests for books. Certain subject disciplines rely more upon serial material rather than books and an acknowledgment of this fact is taken into consideration in reviewing serial holdings.

In addition to general collection criteria, periodicals are selected and retained according to the following:

  • accessibility through indexing and abstracting
  • cost
  • availability, either full or partial, in online sources currently subscribed to
  • usage or demand as measured by ILL and document delivery
  • availability at other CUNY libraries

Journals and Magazines

In recent years the Libraries have acquired online access to over 60,000 journals and magazines. In the face of budget challenges, the Libraries are endeavoring to maintain the journal collection to the extent possible in the interest of user preference and collection preservation.  This has resulted in the majority of our current subscriptions being online, with back issues either in a stable digital archive like JSTOR,  in microform, or as bound print issues.

 There have been several reasons for the shift toward electronic access to journals.  In some cases the Libraries have entered into consortial arrangements with other CUNY libraries.  This has enabled us to acquire online access to titles held by other libraries and substantially increase our periodical offerings without incurring additional cost.  In these cases we usually cancel the print versions in order not to pay twice for a title.

In some instances, online access is offered for free or for a nominal charge with the print version.

In other instances, online access to a journal or magazine not previously subscribed to by the Libraries is acquired through our licensing of a periodical aggregator (database).  Almost all user requests are now for online journals and this factor is also driving our selection practices.

The current practice is that requests for new journal subscriptions can only be honored if the requesting academic department is willing to cancel another journal subscription in its subject of equal or greater cost.  Occasionally we are able to acquire new online subscriptions through the swapping of titles held in a consortial package deal, and the Libraries will make every effort to satisfy user requests. Standing Orders
Serial titles that are published annually or irregularly, and monographic series, may be placed on standing order with the publisher or a vendor. These are generally titles that must be kept up to date, or are of lasting value to the collection. Because this is a continuing budget commitment, particular care is taken in making this decision.

Selective monographic serials that were once on standing order are now purchased out of annual subject allocations as the volumes are published and available funds permit.

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Electronic Formats

The Library strives within the confines of the budget to make the most heavily-used resources available campus-wide and from home.

Databases and Internet Resources
The Library’s databases are available through the Library’s web site and  are available off campus through the Hunter College Library proxy server.  Some of the databases are paid for by Hunter College Library, some by CUNY Central Libraries, and some were purchased beginning 2002/2003 FY with the Library’s portion of the Student Technology Fee.  Because of our commitment to off campus access, databases which require user ID’s and passwords are rejected in favor of databases with IP recognition.
Selection decisions for databases may include the following factors:

  • Cost
  • Demand, including suitability to curricular support/uniqueness of material
  • Interdisciplinary coverage and/or contribution to the balance of subject coverage of the title list
  • Quality of search capabilities
  • Linking (if applicable) to full-text journals
  • Comprehensiveness and/or currency, if applicable
  • Duplication of material elsewhere in the collection
  • Licensing restrictions and technical support requirements
  • Ease of use and training requirements for staff and users
Subject websites selected for inclusion on the Library’s web pages are evaluated using some or all the following criteria:
  • They must be free of charge
  • Authorship/authority
  • Publishing body
  • Point of view or bias
  • Currency and/or coverage
  • Accuracy/verifiability
  • Referral to other sources

CD ROMs are seldom, but occasionally, acquired. For databases, the preferred format is online access. Some reference material may be purchased in CD ROM/DVD format if it is deemed preferable to print.

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Audio and Visual Materials

  • Sound recordings
    Music recordings are collected selectively to support the curriculum in compact disc format. Audio books (on tape) were collected in the past but are not collected now.
  • Videos (VHS and DVD)
    DVD’s are acquired selectively to support the curriculum. VHS will be acquired only if DVD's are not available.


Back volumes of many newspapers, magazines and journals are maintained in microform for reasons of space and preservation.

The Library has older microfilm and microfiche collections of non-serial material which may be viewed in the Microforms Room. However, such sets are not currently collected.

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Library materials are mended on the premises, or sent to a commercial bindery, if the bindings are compromised, the covers badly damaged, or pages loose. The paper must be in good condition for an item to be mended or sent to the bindery; if the paper is deteriorating, the item must be withdrawn. The purpose of the library’s mending procedures is to prolong the life of a book on the shelf, not to decorate or enhance the value of a book.

Before an item is mended, it should be evaluated by a librarian to determine if it is worth the time and expense of mending. Items not worth mending include inexpensive paperback editions, duplicate copies and older editions of textbooks.

Oversized books like theses and dissertations, some music scores, and art books are usually sent to the bindery.

Conventionally sized items will be mended to the best of our ability in house. Mending may range from tipping in loose pages to completely reconstructing a book.

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As space is always an issue in libraries, there is a constant need for collection evaluation that supports growth, while maintaining the library’s mission of providing access to a broad range of materials that reflect the current curriculum.

Weeding and withdrawal of materials helps maintain a useful and up-to-date library collection.

The selectors are responsible for weeding the collection in their respective subject areas. When appropriate, they will work together with teaching faculty to make informed decisions about the value of potentially discarded materials.

Materials considered for withdrawal include:

  • Items whose physical deterioration precludes binding or mending
  • Superceded editions
  • Items with outdated or inaccurate information
  • Excess duplicate copies. Generally two copies are sufficient unless a proven demand exists for multiple copies. Classics, and consistently taught literary works, are obvious exceptions.
  • Seldom used titles. Checking the circulation record is advised.
  • Materials which no longer support the curriculum
  • Old textbooks, unless they are considered standards

When identifying materials for withdrawal, the selectors should decide whether or not to request replacements or newer editions when available.

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Archives and Special Collections Collection Development Policy

The division of Archives & Special Collections of the Hunter College Libraries functions as the institutional memory of the College. We are committed to acquiring, preserving, and providing access to the records of enduring value that primarily document the historical development of Hunter College of the City University of New York. The repository collects books and unpublished materials of historical value including records, correspondence, papers, and publications generated by the administration, academic departments, administrative offices, faculty, staff, and student organizations since 1869. Archives & Special Collections consists of two wings and its holdings have been grouped under the following categories:


The archival wing of the repository contains the records of Hunter College presidents;  interdisciplinary records of select administrative offices; annual reports, minutes, correspondence, and memoranda of select academic departments and studies programs; papers of noted faculty; the Alumni Archives; and student materials consisting of club constitutions and by-laws, newspapers, program announcements, memorabilia, photographs, notebooks, scrapbooks, and publications. In addition, the archival wing houses audio and video tapes; course bulletins, institutional publications, yearbooks, commencement programs, and master’s theses written by graduate students in the School of Arts & Sciences and the School of Education.

Affiliated Organizations

In addition to housing institutional records, the archival wing of the repository also houses the records of several organizations that have an historical affiliation with Hunter College. Typical among these are the records of the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 1892-1994; the Records of the Women’s City Club of New York, 1916-2005; the Proceedings of the Board of Trustees of CUNY, 1928-2002; and the Board of Higher Education, 1938-1971 to name a few.

Special Collections

The Special Collections wing of the repository houses rare books, multi volume works, encyclopedias, faculty publications, books greater than 14 centimeters in size, and non-book materials. The bulk of the book collection comprises early English and American literature. Two collections worth mentioning are the Eileen Cowe Historical Textbook Collection and the Muriel Fuller Book Collection. The former comprises historical textbooks in education while the latter consists of juvenile and young adult literature. Special Collections items are non-circulating and can be searched for through OneSearch. The inclusion of books and non-book materials in Special Collections should adhere to the following criteria:

  • Works produced by administrative and academic units of Hunter College.
  • Books written by Hunter College administrators and faculty.
  • Books written about Hunter College administrators and faculty.
  • Books written about Hunter College history.
  • Books written by Hunter College alumni/ae.
  • Representative sample of books containing the Normal College bookplate, stamp, or embossed markings.
  • Books autographed by distinguished authors.
  • Books with imprint dates of 1860 or earlier.

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Cooperative Collection Development

Hunter College Library recognizes that collaboration among libraries maximizes access to research and educational resources. To that end we have been participating with the organizations that follow. Almost all of our electronic resources have been acquired through one of these associations.

  • CUNY Electronic Resources Advisory Committee

All of the CUNY libraries participate in the Electronic Resources Advisory Committee. (ERAC).  This committee evaluates and selects databases that are deemed to be of interest to the largest number of schools.  The ERAC negotiates directly with vendors.  Because ERAC represents over 18 campuses with over 200,000 students, it is able to acquire favorable consortial pricing that would not be available to the libraries individually.

Some of the databases selected by ERAC are paid for by the CUNY Office of Library Services.  These are made available to all campuses.  Others are partially funded by OLS and partially by the individual libraries’ budgets.  A third category of databases are of interest to only a portion of the CUNY Libraries, and in this case the libraries form a smaller consortium.

    The Westchester Academic Library Directors’ Organization is a consortium representing academic, school and public libraries in New York State. WALDO also negotiates with vendors for consortial pricing for databases and then makes these products available for any qualifying library to purchase directly from WALDO. Hunter College Library purchases many products from WALDO.
  • SUNY
    In the past, the CUNY Libraries have been successful in negotiations with a major vendor for combining CUNY and SUNY consortial deals for a large periodical package, so that Hunter patrons would have access to titles not only held by all of the CUNY campuses, but also by the SUNY campuses, at no additional cost.
    The most current collaboration initiatives are coming from the recently created (2003) New York State Higher Education Initiative. NYSHEI is an organization of public and private academic libraries in New York, including all of CUNY and SUNY libraries, Columbia, Cornell and many others. One of NYSHEI’s initiatives is to migrate consortial licensing to a statewide platform, providing the best possible pricing and access for its members.

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Gift Policy

Hunter College Libraries welcomes donations of books and other library materials, as well as monetary donations. Gifts from donors allow us to acquire titles we could not otherwise purchase. We encourage donations of recent scholarly titles, classics in subjects currently taught, issues of journals that fill a gap in our holdings, and any material relating to the history of Hunter College (see Archives/Special Collections policy).

    • Monetary gifts The acceptance of monetary gifts is at the discretion of the Chief Librarian. Such funds will be placed on deposit and expended by the Library in accordance with the terms of the gift.


    • Acknowledgment of gifts The donor will receive a letter of thanks acknowledging the number of books donated. Unsolicited and anonymous gifts or sample copies will not be acknowledged. Appraisal of donated material is the responsibility of the donor; we do not assign value to donated material. Donors may wish to consult IRS Publication 561: Determining the Value of Donated Property at Donors who require signatures on IRS form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, should be aware that the form must be approved by the college legal office, and that this process can take time, and should plan accordingly.


    • Faculty publications Autographed copies of faculty publications which are donated to the library are placed in Special Collections, as are single copies of faculty publications received as gifts.


    • Terms of acceptance All potential gifts will be added to the collection only after the items have been evaluated by the same standards that apply to materials being purchased. The librarian will determine whether items received as gifts should be integrated or discarded, recognizing that all gifts incur processing and storage costs. Accepted donations become the property of the Libraries and the Libraries may keep or dispose of materials at its discretion. Unwanted material may be given to another library, offered to students, sold, or discarded.
      All donated material must be in reasonably good physical condition to be accepted into the collection.
      As a rule, we will not accept added copies of materials already in the collection. Exceptions will be made if the item is expected to be heavily used, is a classic in its field, or would be expensive to replace.
      The Libraries will not accept donated material with conditions or stipulations.
      Gifts are not accepted from religious groups or organizations.


    • Procedures for donating materials Persons wishing to donate materials to the Libraries should contact Clay Williams,

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Collection Management Faculty and Staff

John Pell, Collection Management, 212-772-4168
Malin Abrahamsson, Acquisitions Manager, 212-772-4169
Lisa Finder, Associate Professor, Serials Librarian, 212-772-4186
Kaleena Kam, Library Bibliographic & Acquisitions Facilitator, 212-772-4177