Collection Development Policies

Mission Statement

  • To provide resources and services designed to support the institutional, research, and public service programs of the University.


  • The purpose of this statement is to establish written guidelines for the continuing growth and maintenance of the collections of Steely Library.
  • One of the Library’s primary objectives is to develop a collection of materials which will best satisfy the needs of the University community in carrying out the institution’s mission: to offer associate, bachelor’s, graduate, and professional programs addressing the educational needs of a large and diverse population. Through such programs the University educates students to be productive citizens and prepares them for careers and life-long learning. As an educational, cultural, and social center, the University stimulates economic development and fosters the academic, artistic, and personal freedoms vital to a free society. The Collection Development Policy was written to clarify the general policies of the library with regard to the principles used in selecting and acquiring materials for study and research.
  • This document is not intended to be inflexible and is subject to review, revision, and interpretation at all times by the library faculty.


  • The Library’s goal is to ensure that the Collection Development Policy supports the instructional programs of the University. Library materials will be acquired in accordance with the following priorities, ranked in descending order of importance:
    1. Materials needed to support the undergraduate programs of the University. Since the curriculum is primarily undergraduate and has general studies requirements, more emphasis is placed on selecting undergraduate materials. Special consideration may be given to programs that are new or judged to be inadequate in library holdings.
    2. As graduate programs are developed, more emphasis will be given to support their research needs.
    3. Materials needed to support cooperative programs with other universities or libraries.
    4. Works in fields not directly related to University programs but which are of such utility and significance that no university library should be without them.
  • The library supports faculty research needs through SourceFinder, document delivery, and consortia services. The faculty is encouraged to include funding for library materials in their research grant proposals.

Responsibility for Selection

  • Collection development is the joint responsibility of the instructional faculty and the Library faculty, with the ultimate responsibility resting with the Associate Provost for Library Services. Academic departments are allocated a portion of the materials budget each year to recommend the purchase of titles pertinent to their fields.
  • Library faculty are responsible for the overall balance and quality of the collection. They are also responsible for the development of general and multidisciplinary works, as well as contributing to disciplines or programs for which they serve as liaisons. Liaisons serve as communication links between the Library and the instructional faculty and assess collection strengths and weaknesses. Please see the library’s home page under "Information for Faculty & Staff" for a complete description.
  • Requests for materials from students and staff are encouraged and are reviewed by the same standards as all other requests.

Fund Allocation

  • Each year, in consultation with the University Library Advisory Committee, the Associate Provost for Library Services determines the allocations in the library’s materials budget. Funds are targeted for continuing subscriptions and the remaining funds are divided among academic departments according to a formula. Factors that affect the amount of money distributed include credit hour production, number of courses taught, and the average cost of materials in the department’s subject areas.
  • Some funds are reserved for use at the discretion of the Associate Provost for Library Services and the library faculty.
  • Faculty and the administration are reminded that library support is an additional cost that must be considered when implementing new programs or courses.

Selection Guidelines

  1. Specific considerations in choosing individual items include the following:
    • Currency of information
    • Appropriateness of level of treatment
    • Uniqueness of content or treatment
    • Strength of present holdings in same or similar subject areas
    • Suitability of format to content
    • Cost
    • Quality of scholarship
    • Authoritativeness of the author
    • Reputation of the publisher
    • Lasting value of the content
    • Quality of physical product
  2. Other guidelines also observed:
    • Textbooks will not be purchased unless they have significant reference value, their usefulness extends beyond that of the typical textbook, or they cover an area of interest for which no other general resources are available. Textbooks currently in use on campus will not normally be considered for purchase.
    • Duplicates are purchased only under special circumstances.
    • Holdings of libraries or consortia with which Steely Library has cooperative agreements must be considered when making selection decisions. Consortial or system agreements may override local decisions.
    • In the event of a lost or damaged item, the responsible patron must pay the replacement charges. The Library cannot accept a substitute as purchased by the borrower.
    • Books that have been lost or stolen will not automatically be replaced. Titles will be evaluated by the appropriate liaison, and a replacement decision will be based upon such factors as the material’s currency, relevancy, usage and the existence of similar publications in the collection.
    • Dissertations are generally not purchased, but may be pursued through SourceFinder.
    • As technology changes, formats that cannot be readily accommodated by the Library will not be purchased. Additionally, as more desirable formats are identified, the Library will withdraw the obsolete formats and seek replacement with alternative formats as appropriate.
    • Materials purchased with library funds will be housed in the Library.
    • The Library will abide by all licensing restrictions as required by publishers or vendors.


  • Since a serial subscription is an ongoing financial commitment, requests for new subscriptions have their own selection guidelines.
  • In times of financial exigency a new serial subscription will not be entered unless another subscription of similar expense can be cancelled. Faculty members who wish to request the addition of a new subscription will be asked to review existing subscriptions in their subject discipline to identify a current title that might be discontinued.
  • Back files of serials will be purchased when deemed necessary or as the budget permits.
  • Single issues will generally not be purchased.
  • If a new subscription is available in both print and electronic formats, electronic format will be preferred.
  • Electronic access is the preferred format for the retention of newspapers and periodicals, except when they are unavailable. Other archival formats will be considered in special circumstances.
  • Other criteria used in evaluating titles for acquisition or cancellation include:
    • Support of present academic curriculum
    • Strength of the existing collection in the title's subject area
    • Present use of other serials in this subject area
    • Projected future use
    • Cost
    • Reputation of journal and the publisher
    • Inclusion in a reliable indexing source
    • Number of recent SourceFinder requests for this serial

Student Theses

  • Steely Library collects and catalogs all student theses granted by the University. Students electronically transmit their theses to ProQuest following the procedures developed by the Graduate Office. After ProQuest enters the theses in their dissertations and theses database, ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, Steely Library receives a microfilm copy that is maintained in Special Collections and Archives in order to comply with the state's records retention policy. Steely Library catalogs the theses and directs users through the bibliographic record to the database for access.

Specialty Collections

  1. Media Collection
    • In addition to Steely media, which includes but is not limited to audio-visual material, compact discs, videos, and digital resources, this area houses the media collection of the Greater Cincinnati Library Consortium (GCLC). GCLC materials are purchased twice a year and requestors must include complete ordering information. Media requests are evaluated by the same criteria as other materials and by the Library’s ability to provide the equipment and support required to use the material.
  2. Special Collections & Archives
    • Special Collections & Archives collects unique and rare materials documenting the history and culture of this geographic region. It is also the repository of official and permanent records at Northern Kentucky University. The department also collects materials relating to faculty research.
    • Primary collection emphasis is given to Northern Kentucky University, northern Kentucky region, Ohio River Valley, and Slavery and the Underground Railroad.
    • Secondary emphasis is given to the state of Kentucky, the Appalachian region, and military history.
    • Special Collections and Archives will solicit and/or accept the political papers of retiring members of the U.S. House and Senate who represented the people of Northern Kentucky. Special Collections will also solicit and/or accept the papers of retiring Kentucky State Senators and Representatives providing that they were members of the Northern Kentucky delegation and were in leadership positions at the time of their retirement. Leadership positions include Senate President, Speaker of the House, Majority/Minority Caucus Chairs (both houses), Majority/Minority Whips, and Floor Leader. Exceptions may be made under extenuating circumstances.
    • Genealogical material is not actively collected. Donors of these materials are referred to their local county historical society or public library.
  3. Government Documents
    • Steely Library participates in the Federal Depository Library Program, receiving approximately 65% of the items available from the Government Printing Office. The Library is also a depository for Kentucky State Government publications.
  4. Learning Resource Collection
    • The LRC contains curriculum resources appropriate for use with children and young adults from preschool through grade twelve. The collection is designed to support the instruction program of the College of Education. Additionally the LRC serves the general university community and many local educators. Emphasis is on teaching materials published in the last decade. Selection criteria for purchases and gifts are the same as for the general collections.


  • Gift materials are accepted in accordance with the same criteria used for purchased materials and with the understanding that they may be disposed of if they do not meet these criteria. The Library cannot accept gifts under restricted conditions. The Library has no responsibility for the donor’s monetary valuation statement for tax or other purposes. Letters of acknowledgement will be sent to donors who provide their address on a gift form.
  • NKU faculty are encouraged to donate signed copies of their works.

Collection Maintenance

  • Materials in the collection are not always retained indefinitely. The primary collection areas, books and serials, consist of a core collection of materials most likely to be needed and used by students, faculty, and staff. The core collection consists of standard works of proven scholarly value, other materials identified as having probable use, and current acquisitions. Materials not falling within the core collection criteria are subject to weeding.

Ownership of Library Materials

  • Materials purchased with library-allocated funds are owned by and will be housed in the Library. Library funds will not be used to acquire materials for the exclusive use of any individual or group. Personal, office, or departmental collections must be purchased from their own funds. Gifts or materials acquired through grants will be treated as if purchased with library funds.

Intellectual Freedom

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

Rev. 08/04

Steely Library phone number:  859.572.5457