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Collection Development Policy


The Library of Columbia College Chicago serves the educational needs of students, faculty and staff of the College. With our open access policy and participation in various library consortia and networks, the user population actually served goes well beyond our institutional community.

Columbia's emphasis in arts and communications is reflected by the concentration of materials dedicated to the following subject areas: art, photography, film, music, dance, theatre, television, journalism, and radio. The Library also has a strong supplementary collection to serve the general education requirements of the College.

The collection includes a wide range of materials, including over 290,000 books, over 43,900 magazine and journal subscriptions, over 45,000 digital images, 19,000 films and video-recordings, and over 17,000 sound recordings. Additional collections include: College Archives and Special Collections with pop-up books and those unique in design, Artists' books and materials whose pictorial or textual content require greater security. The library also maintains a collection of film and television scripts, Master's theses, and Archival materials. Numerous electronic database resources are available online via the Internet to Columbia College Chicago students, staff and faculty.


A. Selection

The Library is responsible for managing funds allocated for purchase of library materials and for the internal distribution of such funds. The Library is ultimately responsible for determining what is purchased with library funds, based on need, appropriateness or budgetary constraints. Interlibrary loan or resource sharing, particularly for materials outside of our primary collection areas is considered an appropriate option to purchasing. Demand, relevance, and cost are factors used in determining whether or not an item is ordered for purchase.

Collection development efforts should be made objectively, consistently, and thoroughly. Selection of materials is a cooperative procedure involving librarians and teaching faculty. It is the faculty who shares specialized knowledge with library staff and assures support of specific curricular needs. Student recommendations are given consideration if they meet general academic and / or curricular needs. Other requests may be considered at the discretion of the appropriate selector.

B. Selection Criteria

1. Scope

The scope of the collection is intended to:

support the academic and curricular needs of the College by collecting materials in a variety of formats and making them available for use;
provide a balanced collection in all fields of knowledge relevant to the educational missions of the College; and,
offer items of general educational and cultural enrichment which encourage the intellectual growth of students
Although the primary purpose of the Library is to support the curricular needs of the College, the Library is also sensitive to the research needs of faculty and administrators. Material needed for this purpose can be purchased if it is considered to be of general and continuing interest. Otherwise, every effort will be made to obtain it through Interlibrary Loan or to identify relevant resources in area libraries and information centers. Scholarly works falling outside our collection areas, published or unpublished dissertations or materials of limited interest will not generally be purchased.

2. Relevance and appropriateness

The following criteria are applied to relevance and appropriateness for materials added to the library collection:

contribute to the instructional objectives of the College's educational programs;
permanence or timeliness of the material;
accuracy of the material;
authoritativeness of the material or author;
reputation of the publisher or producer; and,
usefulness of the materials with respect to materials already in the collection.

3. Format

The format of library materials is integral to its use by patrons, usefulness to the collection as a whole and support in the present and future. We recognize that as academic and institutional needs change and technology advances, the library will need to adapt to reflect those changes. Although the print format traditionally has been the dominant format, the acquisition of electronic resources is considered a viable alternative to hard copy under certain circumstances. For information regarding the acquisition of electronic resources, please see the E-Resources Collection Development Policy.

Some resources, by their format, are not readily supplemented by resource sharing opportunities. Thus the development of a strong on-site collection is recognized for specific formats such as slides and digital images, films, videotapes, and other audiovisual media. Materials requiring specific equipment for use will not be purchased unless the Library has the necessary equipment available for users.

4. Language

English language publications are preferred for acquisition, however these exceptions apply:

Books that are primarily pictorial in content (art, photography, graphic design, architecture, etc.) may be purchased without language restrictions.
Foreign language materials may be purchased in other subject areas if there is sufficient demand by students
and / or faculty.
Where foreign language programs exist or are added to the curriculum, materials will be acquired with the assistance of faculty from those departments.

5. Textbooks

The library automatically purchases required textbooks over $40 and a copy is placed on reserve. Due to library space considerations and the nature of textbooks, only one copy will be ordered. Additional copies may be purchased if there is sufficient demand.

6. Categories of materials not acquired or are selectively acquired

In general, the library does not acquire materials for which we lack the appropriate equipment or proper facilities for use and storage. Specific categories follow:

Visual Resources: The Visual Resources Collection is curated by Visual Resources staff. The Visual Resources Librarian is responsible for the selection and maintenance of slides and digital images acquired for the library collection.

Filmstrips: The library does not purchase filmstrips.

16 MM films: the Library due to financial, preservation and maintenance concerns does not routinely purchase Films (16mm). If a film version is required, faculty are referred to the Instructional Media Department for rental options.

Film purchases may be considered if there is no other format available, if used as an example for the study of the film format, and can be used by other faculty or academic departments.

Audiotapes, Phonorecords (33 1/3, 78's 45's, etc): Audiotapes and phonorecords are not purchased for the collection. Existing collections of these material types will be phased out and replaced in CD format where applicable.

C. Selection of serials and indexes

In the selection of periodical titles, preference is given to titles included in published print or electronic indexes. However, selectors may select non-indexed titles if supplementary to a specific discipline or is of general interest.

For reasons of space economy and preservation, retrospective periodical volumes or issues will be acquired in microform when possible depending upon length of run. Relevant periodical titles whose interest is primarily their visual content are bound for permanent retention.


Autographed or signed copies of monographs or other materials will generally not be added to Special Collections unless the item meets one or more of the following conditions:

1. The author is determined to be of literary, artistic or historic significance, and has been or can be verified as authentic.
2. The work itself has increased in value due to the significance of the signature.
3. The work has been acquired specifically because of the presence of the signature.

Works that have been inscribed to an individual or individuals will generally be added to the main circulating collection unless the inscription is to a person of literary, artistic or historic significance. If there is a question regarding location placement of a specific item or items, each will be treated on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the appropriate selector and the Special Collections Librarian.


The Library attempts to acquire and maintain, whether through purchase or donation, present and retrospective works by current Columbia full-time faculty in all formats for use by the College community and as a record of scholarship. These include, but are not restricted to: monographs (works/collections of essays, poems, stories, research), laboratory guides, textbooks, supplemental texts, audio, electronic and visual materials. Works by part-time faculty, visiting lecturers or full-time faculty with prolific publishing histories will be acquired selectively based upon input from the Department Chair and/or the individual faculty member.

Two copies will be obtained as appropriate; one copy for the circulating collection if it falls within the library’s collection development parameters, and a second for the College Archives, regardless of subject matter or reading level. Laboratory guides and supplementary materials will be added only to the College Archives.

Works in which a faculty member is an editor or contributor may be purchased on a case-by-case basis, depending upon its appropriateness for the main library collection. Single poems, essays, chapters, or stories appearing in books or journals will not be purchased or subscribed to unless the entire content falls within collection guidelines. A copy of the individual work is acceptable for placement in the College Archives.


A. Deselecting / Weeding

At appropriate intervals, the collection (or a selected portion of it) is reviewed and weeded of materials by applying selection policies in reverse. Materials judged of no relevance to the collection or value to library users are withdrawn.

B. Replacements

Items that have been officially declared missing (including long overdue materials) for more than one year or are damaged beyond repair may be considered for replacement. First priority is given to reserve requests, required reading from course syllabi and faculty requests. Other items (e.g., "high-use" titles) may be ordered according to the subject selector's judgement.

If an item for replacement is no longer in print, the library will make every effort to acquire it if essential to the collection. If a copy is not available, selectors should seek alternative materials.

C. Conservation/Preservation

Preservation efforts will be made for in Special Collections (i.e., College history, monographs and selected non-book materials, etc.) with the use of special storage boxes and handling methods. Circulating materials are mended or repaired in-house, sent out for binding or replaced as necessary.


The Library of Columbia College Chicago participates in the following library consortia and networks:

  • Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI)
  • I-Share (online catalog)
  • Metropolitan Library System (MLS)
  • Online Computer Library Center (OCLC)
Resource sharing agreements allow Columbia College Chicago Library users to access and borrow material from many other libraries. In addition, membership in LIBRAS and CARLI promote coordinated collection development, encouraging partnerships between libraries to create new and strengthen existing collections.


A conscious effort is made to present all points of view; personal biases and censorship are avoided. Resources shall not be automatically be excluded from the library because of the origin, background or views of those contributing to their creation.