Serials Collection Development Policy

Periodicals and other continuations represent a long-term commitment on the part of the library. They are costly to purchase, process, house, and maintain. For the last several years the average annual percentage increase for a periodical has fluctuated around 8% and the price of a foreign subscription may double in the space of a year due to the fall of the U.S. dollar. The Libraries must be conservative in adding periodicals whose cost may triple in three years and so careful consideration is important when making a request for a new subscription or when reviewing current holdings.

 I.          Scope of the Collection

The collection consists of all serials (journals, newspapers, indexes and abstracts, standing orders, loose leaf services, etc.) that come at least as frequently as once a year to the Case and Cooley libraries. The collection encompasses paper, digital, and micro formats.

 II.         Responsibility for Selection

Any member of the faculty may request that an item be added to the Libraries collection, but the final responsibility for the collection rests with the Library Periodicals Evaluation Committee, which meets periodically to consider additions and deletions to the periodical collection. New titles will be added as the budget permits. The Committee is comprised of the Head of Collection Development, the Serials Paraprofessional, the Head of the Science Library, and the Head of Reference.  

 III.        Selection Priorities

 1. The library's first priority is to serve the curricular needs of the students. Preference will be given to resources that serve either as required or supplementary readings for courses or that fulfill the general aims of a liberal arts and sciences education.

2.  Only those resources whose level of maturity is appropriate to the needs of the undergraduate student body and the faculty will be acquired.

 3. The purchase of research materials solely for individual faculty or academic support staff will be subordinated to the adequate fulfillment of the first priority of acquiring resources to support the curriculum. The library endeavors to serve the needs of faculty and academic support personnel primarily by providing access to specialized materials through the reference collection. When possible, interlibrary loan or commercial document delivery should be used to fulfill specialized needs. The library will not always be able to meet the needs of all faculty members for their personnel research; but no faculty member should have to depend upon another library for the preparation of lectures and teaching.

4.  The Library also serves the entire college community through the purchase of a few magazines that meet recreational, cultural, and  general information needs.

IV.        General Criteria for Selection

 A)        Our subscriptions are primarily intended to support the educational mission of the University. Titles directly related to the curriculum and useful for specific courses will receive first priority. Periodicals that support faculty research will be supported as the budget allows.

B)        The number of students or faculty who might benefit from a title is a factor in the selection process. Periodicals that will be used in more than one department or that will be useful to both lower- and upper-level students will receive strong consideration.

C)        Requests from new faculty, especially if these represent a new curricular area of focus that a department and the University Administration intends to continue supporting, will receive high priority.

 D)        The Committee will give strong consideration to a periodical that is indexed or abstracted in one or more of our subscribed indexing databases. Indexed titles will be accessible and more likely to be used by the Colgate community.

 E)        Volume of interlibrary loan traffic, an indicator of the degree of demand for titles not owned, will be checked on a regular basis for journal titles that should be considered for acquisition. The Library will monitor the list of journals on the Copyright watch list and will seriously consider ordering a journal if it appears on this list on a consistent basis and if it is more cost effective to own the journal than pay charges related to access and copyright.

 F)        Potential usage will also be measured by citation statistics. The number of times each title has been cited and the number of times articles in each journal are cited will be noted.

 G)        The subscription price of the title will be considered, particularly for titles that are priced in excess of the average cost of a journal. The cost of ownership will be continually weighed against the cost of access.

 H)       As often as possible, sample copies of requested journals will be examined along with reviews.

 V.        Requesting a New Subscription

Prioritized requests that are submitted by a department as a whole or by several members of the faculty will receive a higher consideration than requests by a single individual. This policy is in place to (1) ensure that one professor or one specialized area of interest does not dominate a year's selection and budgetary limits, and (2) avoid duplication of requests and streamline the process.

Requests for new journal subscriptions, with a short explanation as to why they should be acquired, should be submitted to either the Head of Collection Development or the Serials Paraprofessional in Case Library. Complete bibliographic information, publisher's advertisements, and sample copies are all appreciated. The Periodicals Evaluation Committee reviews all requests.

If the request is approved, we will try to begin the new subscription with the first issue of the current volume or the first issue of the next volume. Upon receipt of the first issue of a new subscription a notice will be sent to the selector.

 VI.       Evaluation

New periodicals will be routinely evaluated during the first subscription year and requestors will be asked to help in this evaluation. Departments will be asked to help in evaluating periodical holdings in various subject areas at regular intervals. Journals will be accepted for cancelation up until the end of September in order to allow publisher time to register the termination of our subscription before the new year. Factors to consider in evaluating journals:


  • Extent to which the title supports the Colgate curriculum
  • Number of students and faculty who are likely to use the journal
  • Extent to which Colgate faculty publish in or cite the title
  • Interdisciplinary nature of the title
  • Intellectual level
  • Inclusion on lists of journals recommended by accrediting agencies


  • Current and past price history
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Number of pages and frequency of publication


  • Reputation of editors, contributors, and publishers
  • Reviews of the title
  • Journal ranking studies
  • Quality of paper, print, graphics, and special features
  • Currency and regular publication of issues


In principle, electronic subscriptions to journals and newspapers will be preferred over print when access, usability, licensing, and cost considerations are resolved satisfactory. Reasons for this preference include broad and immediate access, support of users in remote locations or during the hours when the library is closed, availability of simultaneous users of a single article, ease of integration into electronic reserves, simpler copyright compliance for electronic reserves, the availability of usage statistics, cost savings for shelving and binding, and a general (though not ubiquitous) user preference for online access.

  • Format (electronic, print, or microform)
  • Electronic will be the preferred format for selection providing:
    • Price is similar or less than the print subscription (cost of binding or microform purchase should be considered as part of the cost to own).
    • Completeness is similar to the print or the materials excluded have limited research value (e.g., advertisements, job advertisements).
    • Perpetual access is available with a reasonable assurance of continued long term availability (e.g., inclusion within JSTOR collections to which we have subscribed or covered by Portico). Titles with post-cancelation access rights via Portico are preferred. Self-archiving will be the least favored.
    • There are not unreasonable license conditions.
    • Availability of usage statistics (preferably in COUNTER format).
    • The quality of graphics is high enough to support the primary uses of the title.
    • Individual subscriptions to titles will be favored over titles contained within aggregator databases due to their volatility of coverage.
    • There is full-text reproduction (images, graphs, and charts are included).
    • Usability of the digital version is equal to or superior to the print edition.
    • Access control via the WWW and authentication via IP restriction (or acceptable substitute).
  • Print will still be favored for:
    • Popular magazines.
    • Titles with significant costs increases for online access.
    • Titles with limited assurance of perpetual access.
    • License conditions would restrict the usefulness of the title (e.g., provisions restricting use in electronic reserves).
    • Access restriction via username and password only.
  • Print + electronic will be selected if:
    • Cost of print includes online and titles have limited assurance of perpetual access.
    • It is the only subscription model.
    • Titles with rolling back files will not have online access implemented unless there is substantial content.
  • Microform is the least preferred format but is selected when:
    • Cost of binding and storing is prohibitive.
    • Image quality is acceptable to support the primary uses of the title.
    • The format of the material does not lend itself to binding (e.g., newspapers).
    • Space restrictions to shelve bound print is a prime consideration. In such cases, the print will not be bound but discarded upon receipt of the microform.


  • Indexing and abstracting coverage.
  • Availability elsewhere (regional libraries, commercial document delivery).

 VIICommitment to Intellectual Freedom

The Library adheres to the Library Bill of Rights (ALA, 1996). Sections I and II of this state that: "Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval." For more information about intellectual freedom issues see the American Library Association Office of Intellectual Freedom website or the Intellectual Freedom Manual Case Main Z711.4 .I57. 

Access to library materials shall not be restricted because of age, race, religion, national origins, or social or political views.

Updated July 2007