Collection Management Guidelines

Guidelines for Library Collections at VCUQatar

Updated by the Library Staff of Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (Revised February 2016).

These guidelines are taken from and follow as closely as possible the Collection Development Guidelines for Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries (VCU). VCUQatar Librarians appreciate the excellent Collection Management planning model provided by VCU Libraries. Differences in the VCUQatar Library policy guidelines reflect the VCUQatar curriculum and the distinct needs of the local environment.  This document will be reviewed on an annual basis.

Related policies, documents, and missions:

Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar, Mission Statement

The VCU School of the Arts

VCU Libraries

VCUQatar Library Mission Statement

American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights

United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19

Appendices for Materials Library, Innovative Media Studio, and Major Programs (in development):

  1. University Archives
  2. Special Collections
  3. Art History, BA

1. Overview and Purpose

The Faculty Librarians at Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar (VCUQatar), with input and support from the Collection Management Department in VCU Libraries, are responsible for building and managing VCUQatar Libraries collections, in concert with the missions of VCUQatar, The VCU School of the Arts, and VCU Libraries. Central to the VCUQatar Library mission is the goal of carefully building and managing substantive information resource collections that serve the VCUQatar School of the Arts academic programs. Collections may include materials housed in the library or sources located elsewhere to which VCUQatar Library provides access.

1.a. Function of Collection Management Guidelines

A collection guideline is an official statement of the library's goals in building and managing its collections in all subject areas. It is designed to:

  • define the scope of existing collections
  • serve as a collection development planning document by guiding selectors in choosing materials most appropriate to support academic programs in each discipline
  • provide guidelines and criteria for de-selection and preservation decisions
  • promote consistency and continuity in collection management through establishing clear objectives for each librarian who assumes selection responsibilities
  • enable the library to communicate its rationale for managing its collections to the university community
  • equip the library to participate in cooperative collection building and resource sharing arrangements with other libraries by specifying areas of collecting emphasis and de-emphasis
  • ensure its collections remain relevant, current, and accessible

1.b. Goals of the Collection Management Program

Consistent with the mission of VCUQatar Library, the guiding principle of collection management is to develop collections that support the university's academic programs in the arts. Librarian liaisons choose materials that best serve two primary university functions:

Instruction. The collections should include materials that reinforce and enhance the quality of instruction in all courses offered at the university. University faculty should be able to depend on VCUQatar Libraries resources for their curricular and research needs and students should be able to rely on VCUQatar Libraries resources for course-related study and work. Materials should engage the learner and encourage library use and the development of information literacy skills. This is particularly important in Qatar where many students have not grown up with well-developed school and public libraries.

Research and Creative Activities. Because research and creative activities are integral university activities, VCUQatar Libraries should provide resources and services to assist faculty and students in the intellectual inquiry and experimentation that form the creative, design and research process. Researchers, artists and designers should be able to utilize VCUQatar and VCU Libraries to obtain information and media essential to their investigations to support scholarship and creative activities. The VCUQatar library is a unique and important resource for art and design images and information for the art and design community in Qatar and the broader region.

The VCUQatar Library considers resources available from the Qatar National Library, as well as other libraries within Education City, before purchasing library resources that are not central to the VCUQatar curriculum or to the broader needs of arts-related study and research.

2. Materials Budget and Allocation

The ability to attain the library’s collection management goals is chiefly dependent upon funding. VCUQatar Library’s major funding source is annual appropriations by the Qatar Foundation. Appropriate budgeting techniques are used that enable us to monitor all expenditures and manage our appropriation efficiently.

The materials budget is an important tool in apportioning financial resources as equitably as possible. The Library endeavors to allocate funds to every academic and support program in the university at an amount consistent with both the program's curricular level and the cost of materials and the extent of literature in the program's subject area. The Library attempts to establish strong instructional support collections for all disciplines offered with additional support for graduate programs.  The library works closely with campus administration in planning for new programs. It is expected that new programs will be funded appropriately and therefore new programs are supported as funding allows. Support levels will also address specific needs of the Qatar Foundation and the mission of VCUQatar.

2.a. Supplementary Funding

Interested donors may supplement Qatar Foundation funding through contributing monetary grants or endowments to underwrite purchases for the collection. If donors prefer to support particular subject collections, the Library works with them prior to acceptance to define the subject area or areas to which the grant or endowment will apply. Subject areas should be defined broadly enough that grant or endowment income does not exceed amounts adequate to purchase all pertinent materials likely to be available at present or in the future.

While the Library welcomes recommendations from donors or individuals designated by donating organizations, VCUQatar Libraries retains responsibility for the selection of materials purchased with grant or endowment funds. Librarians select these materials in accordance with VCUQatar Libraries collection policies to ensure that purchased items are of appropriate academic or scholarly quality.

3. Role of Library Liaisons

VCUQatar Library employs a librarian-subject liaison model for collection management including acquisition, management, and de-selection of library resources. Each academic program at VCUQatar is assigned a librarian liaison. VCUQatar Faculty Liaison Librarians also consult regularly with Department Chairs and individual faculty regarding acquisitions for new courses and areas of expertise. Purchase requests in support of teaching and research are encouraged and receive a high priority.

The Faculty Liaisons responsible for collection development and management are committed to:

  • Making informed and timely resource selection decisions based on the curricular, academic, and research needs of VCUQatar students and faculty
  • Performing selection responsibilities in a systematic manner that maximizes subject coverage, minimizes gaps, and avoids unnecessary duplication
  • Following a set of quality standards for selection of materials including consultation of book reviews, awareness of predatory journals, professional list recommendations, and more.
  • Anticipating users’ needs
  • Responding to users’ needs
  • Engaging with the complete life-cycle of materials in the library collection including selection, use, storage, preservation, and possible de-accession
  • Basing decisions of selection or de-accession on changes to the art history curriculum as well as continuing evaluation of the collection, including statistical data and library usage patterns
  • Following principles of intellectual freedom as contained in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights

In accordance with VCUQatar Guidelines for Library Collections, as well as the additional guidelines established for their subject area (see Appendices), VCUQatar Faculty Librarians stay informed of current developments in their subject areas including new research and emerging fields of study through regular consultation of book reviews, publisher and bookseller lists, subject bibliographies, annual reviews and other professional development.

4. A Collection of Diversity

To help foster a university environment characterized by a spirit of open inquiry and discussion, and in reflection of the University community’s diversity, VCUQatar Library selects materials so that collections as a whole present a variety of viewpoints and balanced coverage of issues. All VCU Libraries subscribe to the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which pledges us not to exclude materials because of the origin, background or views of their creators (ALA Bill of Rights, 1996, sec. 1).  The philosophy behind the ALA Library Bill of Rights prescribes collections that represent the diversity of knowledge and those who create knowledge.

In addition to these aspects of diversity, the increasing interdisciplinary nature of scholarship requires diverse research approaches and methodologies. Our collections are managed to support the interdisciplinary qualities of study, research, and pedagogy at VCUQatar.

5. Collection Formats

The VCUQatar Library collection represents a diversity of materials that support teaching, learning, and research.  These materials include printed and electronic books, electronic and printed journals and serials, streaming media and media in other formats, electronic resources (databases, images, reference materials, among others), and electronic equipment including iPads and a gaming equipment.  Additional electronic materials are available through the Innovative Media Studio (see Appendix C.).  Below are further considerations for collection format:

5.a. Current and retrospective coverage. Though the Library emphasizes the acquisition of current resources in arts related subject fields, it also endeavors to acquire retrospective works and back-files as needed to strengthen and balance its collections, particularly in disciplines where retrospective materials are of special importance.

5.b. Formats. Information resources are produced in an increasing variety of formats. Collections no longer consist exclusively of print monographs and serials, though these materials remain important. Significant instructional and research tools also include, among other formats, exhibition catalogs (collected as monographs), artists books, architectural, interior and fashion design and industrial design materials, archives, digital images, DVDs, software, games, online databases and other new media appropriate to support the educational mission. VCUQatar Libraries strives to build collections that incorporate all forms of scholarly communication. In each subject field, however, there is an attempt to establish a collection consisting of every appropriate format in a quantity proportional to its value for practitioners of the discipline.

5.b.1. Multimedia. The VCUQatar technology infrastructure supports Region Code 1. DVDs purchased for the library’s collection will be purchased for DVD Region Code 1 or those labeled as “region free”; however, depending upon the importance of a given title, availability of Region 2 only will not militate against the purchase of a DVD.

5.b.2. Theses.  Theses completed in Qatar as a requirement for the MFA degree are made available through the VCU Electronic Theses and Dissertations Archive.

5.b.3. Fiction.  The VCUQatar Library maintains a small fiction collection in addition to its main arts collection.  The focus of this collection is to support literacy and leisure reading.

5.b.4. Children’s Illustrated Books.  The Library has a small special collection of award-winning illustrated children's books to support the course taught in children's book design. This collection supports student and faculty interest in book art, drawing, illustration, graphic design, painting and printmaking. These books are primarily illustrated by award-winning European, American and Australian illustrators. Titles with regional content and interest are also sought. Fiction and non-fiction titles are included. Young adult literature and graphic novels are held in the general collection.

5.b.5. Print Journals and Serials. The VCUQatar Library maintains a collection of print journals and serials in support of VCUQatar’s academic programs and complementary subject areas.  In consideration of physical space and online access, the Library maintains only a limited retention schedule for print journals and serials.  The Library also takes into account the illustrative quality of print journals in an art and design context before making a retention decision.   New journal subscriptions will be initiated at the beginning of each calendar year.

5.c. Geographical Coverage. Most acquisitions focus on publications originating from the United States, Europe and other Western cultures due to the location of publishing centers. There is also an emphasis on publications originating from the Gulf region, the Middle East, Asia, and North Africa when appropriate publications and media are found.  Titles related to Qatar receive high priority. Two copies of titles related to Qatari history, heritage, art and design will be purchased; one copy will be placed into general circulation and one copy will be placed in Special Collections.

5.d. Language. English is the language of instruction at VCUQatar, therefore, collection activity will focus on English language materials. In rare cases non-English language materials may be purchased to support a unique curricular, research or creative need. Transliterated catalog records will be used for any Arabic and non-Roman script materials added to the collection.See Appendix A: University Archives Collection for language guidelines related to Special Collections. 

5.e. Ownership and access. Library collections are composed of resources owned and housed locally, but supplemented by materials accessible from other institutions. VCUQatar Libraries endeavors to purchase materials basic and essential to each discipline in the university curriculum for its own holdings. Budgetary and geographic constraints may necessitate that the Library is dependent upon resources in other locations to augment these holdings. An integral part of the library’s collection management program is an attempt to select access tools and provide services, including formal resource-sharing arrangements, which enable library users to identify and obtain materials held at other sites.

5.f. Editions. The VCUQatar Library does not automatically replace earlier editions of books with subsequent editions. Art and design publications are unique from other disciplines in that information is not generally superseded; however, publications that contain technical information may be replaced by newer editions. 

5.g. Ideological balance. To help foster a university environment characterized by a spirit of open inquiry and discussion, VCUQatar Libraries selects materials so that collections as a whole reflect a variety of viewpoints and provide balanced coverage of issues. This library reflects the principles of open and free access to information as reflected in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19, which states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

VCUQatar respects and is sensitive to the traditions of the local Qatari culture as it provides access to academic ideas and principles to prepare graduates for life in a global society. The goal of the collection is to support the university curriculum by making available a wide range of ideas and images.   As the library balances considerations for respecting local culture with the need to introduce students to new ideas some materials within the VCUQatar collection may not be appropriate for every library user. If any library user is concerned about using the collection in any way they may contact librarians for assistance in finding appropriate choices.  Just as people choose what to watch on TV, or what to access on the Internet, library users also choose what to access in the library according to their needs and values.

6. Collection Evaluation

Considerations in Selection and De-selection

Selection is the process of determining which materials to acquire for the library's collections. De-selection is the removal of materials from the collections because of their condition (see preservation statement below) or because they no longer serve instruction and research programs.

In making selection and de-selection decisions, librarians attempt to insure that library collections as a whole are balanced in several important respects:

  • A collection that focuses on current and anticipated needs of its user groups.
  • A collection that addresses teaching, learning, and research with provision of quality resources across all VCUQatar academic programs and majors.
  • A collection that receives regular statistical analysis through circulation and acquisition reports in order to ensure development and maintenance of a balanced collection.
  • An understanding that the Library reserves the right to decline to purchase any item not consistent with the stated aims of the Library’s Collection Management Guidelines.

7. Consortia Membership

VCU Libraries is a member of several consortia, which enable expanded access to digital resources shared between the libraries in Richmond and the library in Qatar. Additionally, VCUQatar Library may consider individual subscriptions to digital resources that support the curricular and research needs of its constituents. 

8. Gifts and Donations

Materials donated to the library may be a useful component of the collection management program. VCUQatar Libraries accepts gifts in appropriate circumstances.

Whenever possible the Director of Libraries in consultation with appropriate staff will discuss gift collections with donors prior to accepting them. If the gifts appear to be highly duplicative (particularly in the case of serials) or unsuitable for an academic library, the Library may suggest alternative recipients. Gifts are accepted with the understanding that they become the property of the VCUQatar Libraries upon receipt and that the Libraries will make all necessary decisions regarding their retention, location, treatment, and other issues relating to their use and disposition. The Libraries intention in accepting gifts is that they be added to the collection, if needed. Therefore, every effort is made to accept only items appropriate for addition to the Libraries collection. Materials not added to the VCUQatar Libraries collection may be given away or disposed of through charitable organizations or other means.

VCUQatar Libraries does not provide lists or appraisals of donated materials. Librarians and curators select gifts for addition to the collection in consideration of the gifts' physical condition and usefulness. In all cases the Library employs selection criteria stated in the collection guidelines. Ordinarily the Library designates added gifts for inclusion with other materials in established VCUQatar Libraries locations. Separate locations will be created only if the materials are of unique importance or in a format that cannot be readily housed in any existing collection. Instituting a separate location requires the approval of the VCUQatar Director of Libraries.

9. Preservation

The ongoing evaluation of collections is an important component of a comprehensive collection management program. Collections must grow and change to reflect evolutions in both the scholarship of each discipline and the curricular needs of the institution. Systematic evaluation of the collections by means such as use and user studies, shelf list counts, citation analyses, list checking, and other methods is imperative to insure that available resources continue to be of maximum benefit to students and faculty. Likewise serial subscriptions must be regularly reviewed.

Collection assessment may result in the acquisition of additional materials for subject collections judged inadequate to support current academic programs. In the case of serials, titles of diminished scholarly significance or instructional relevance may be replaced by more useful subscriptions. Assessments may also identify materials to be moved to the Qatar National Library, to be deselected (withdrawn), or to be preserved in Special Collections. The following criteria guide librarians in these decisions:

Curricular or program changes. Revision, expansion, or reduction of academic programs may necessitate that materials are no longer germane to the curriculum or of intrinsic scholarly significance and should therefore be withdrawn.

Physical condition. Materials in a state of physical deterioration should be moved to the preservation area for repair or withdrawn.  Insert Replacement in the event of damage.

Usage. Materials in collections for a long period of time with no evidence of recent usage may be candidates for withdrawal. Items of scholarly, historical, or archival value should be retained, however.

Cost. High-cost materials and materials of unique value may be housed in the Special Collections area for their protection. Serials whose prices increase substantially may decrease in value to the library; they should be considered for cancellation (Effective September 25, 2012: Items selected for acquisition that exceed 500 USD must first be approved by Collection Development Committee).

Duplication. Duplicate copies of most items can be withdrawn, except for titles in high demand or at an established risk of loss. Where VCUQatar Libraries owns multiple editions of one title, retaining only the most recent edition may be sufficient. However, care should be taken to retain at least a representative selection of superseded editions of important scholarly texts. All works on or by artists and designers should be retained. Because both shelf space and computer system capacity are limited, it is useful to review all collections periodically to identify materials that can be deselected to relieve overcrowding. The above criteria can also be employed in these reviews.

VCUQatar Library endeavors to extend the useful life of materials in its collection through preservation and conservation.

Preservation. Successful implementation requires tracking of means of control, object location, and agents of deterioration. The quality and physical state of all library materials are evaluated before accessioning to the VCUQatar collection. This applies equally to circulating material, reference materials, digital collections, special collections and archives.

  • Hardcover copy is preferred in acquisitions of general collections and reference materials
  • Collection needs and value of materials will dictate binding of selected print serials. While the library no longer actively binds its serials, exceptions may be approved by the Director of Libraries in consultation with the Collection Management team.
  • Digital assets are purchased with persistence and portability in mind.
  • Acquisitions to Archives and any special collection are quarantined and evaluated for potential threats to collection stability and for special housing needs by the Archives.

The primary goal of preservation is to maintain physical stability and prolong the existence of informational content. Providing an optimum environment is the only way to extend the life and use of an entire collection. Preservation is an active measure to slow or minimize potential deterioration due to relative humidity, temperature, light, and other organisms or conditions including technological obsolescence.

The VCUQatar Archives team will develop and implement Guidelines and procedures in collaboration with other members of staff for preservation and maintaining a stable physical environment for the collection. This will include establishing stability of temperature and environment, cleaning and housekeeping, and proper handling of materials depending on their type and use.

Conservation of General Collections. Conserving aging but still useful materials is a collection management responsibility equal in importance to selecting new materials. Retrospective sources retain their value to the library and their utility to patrons only if maintained in serviceable condition.

The identification of deteriorating materials needing conservation treatment occurs at several points during routine processing or use (cataloging, marking, circulation, or shelving, for example). Periodic review of the collection by selectors is the most thorough means of discovering and correcting preservation problems.

The choice of a preferred conservation method is a decision made by the Archives team in consultation with Director of Libraries and other staff. Minor repairs to library materials are handled internally. Items in exceptionally poor condition may necessitate the purchase of a new copy or by acquiring data in digital formats.

The Archives team also addresses the disposition of materials requiring extraordinary conservation measures.

10. University Archives, Special Collections and Digital Library

The VCUQatar Library maintains the University Archives for VCUQatar, Special Collections and the Digital Library. These collections support the mission, vision and values of the VCUQatar Library.

The VCUQatar University Archives provide an “institutional memory” for the university – its spirit of growth and development, its active campus life and its unique position as a branch campus of Virginia Commonwealth University located in Richmond, Virginia.  Our collection begins with records relating to the Shaqab School of Design Arts, the forerunner of VCUQatar, in 1998, which was the first school at Education City in Doha, Qatar.  The types of materials held are programs, brochures, posters, digital photographs, photographs, videos, newspaper clippings, correspondence and publications.  Material contained in the archives is both physical materials and digital objects.

Special Collections serves as the repository for special collections materials at VCUQatar.  Special Collections consists of the Artists’ Book Collection, Qatar related materials, regional material related to art and history and materials that support the curriculum and research of faculty and students within the academic programs at VCUQatar.  

The Digital Library within the VCUQatar Libraries embodies a variety of initiatives and software products.  There are two components to the Digital Library.  One is the digital aspect of the VCUQatar University Archives.  Much of what is produced by VCUQatar is born digital.  To preserve this born digital material, VCUQatar Libraries maintains the digital asset management tool, LUNA.  The second component is for analog material that needs to be digitized.  This material may be archival or supports the curriculum and research of VCUQatar faculty and students.  These materials are digitized as appropriate under the guidance of the Director of Libraries and the Image Resources/Archives staff.  For further guidelines on digitization, please ask to see the Digitization Guidelines.