Messiah University Library Collection Development Policy

Messiah University Library


The goal of this collection development policy is to guide the Messiah University Library in its efforts to build and maintain a collection of resources that reflects the philosophy and educational mission of the parent institution. This policy is necessary to insure systematic and balanced collection growth. This document recognizes that adequate provision of library resources and services involves both local ownership and access to online and remote resources. Involvement in resource sharing through consortia, networks, interlibrary loan, and other document delivery services fall under the rubric of collection development, and funding for such endeavors must be recognizable as an important and necessary component of the library.

Vision and Mission Statement

Murray Library works to be at the heart of the educational enterprise at Messiah University. The purpose of Murray Library is, first, to participate creatively and responsibly in the larger enterprise of librarianship to select, acquire, catalog, preserve, circulate, provide access to, instruct in the use of, and selectively deaccession that portion of the accumulated knowledge of humankind appropriate to our institution and within the constraints of our financial resources. Second, we exist to share significantly in meeting Messiah University's Undergraduate Learning Objecives by providing appropriate collections, services, and instruction, and by maintaining a facility and environment conducive to learning. We also endeavor to meet responsibly the information needs of university administration, faculty, staff, and community readers.

Although Murray Library supports all the Undergraduate Learning Objecives to some degree, its contributions to developing those abilities which are common to liberal education are especially apparent. Learning to use library resources effectively assists logical, creative, analytical, and synthetic thinking, both concrete and abstract. Beyond that, information literacy aids in an awareness of and commitment to the ethical use of information in the lifelong pursuit of learning.

As students mature as scholars, Murray Library covets its role in helping them attain specialized knowledge and abilities in their areas of study and engage in scholarship in a selected discipline. These library-related themes permeate all seven Undergraduate Learning Objecives. Consideration of the dialectic between these educational commitments and the everyday activities of Murray Library yields rich realization of the centrality of the library to Messiah University's success.

Further, Murray Library's mission is to collaborate with institutional administration in achieving exemplary and intentional institutional support, both conceptually, through an integrated presence in the institution's defining documents, and financially, through strong fiscal under girding. Such support will enable Murray Library to maintain a place at the heart of the educational enterprise, to fulfill the University's educational objectives, and to bring honorable visibility to Messiah University through contributions to the larger scholarly community. 

Liaison Librarian Program

The Librarians and Teaching Faculty share responsibility for developing the library collection. By way of the liaison program, they coordinate their efforts to ensure that the Library collects to meet the needs of the University as a whole, and of the individual departments. All of the librarians, including the Collection Development Coordinator, serve as liaisons to several academic departments. The main responsibility of the liaisons is to maintain communication between the library and the faculty. As the library subject specialists, the liaisons serve as selectors, and assess collection strengths and weaknesses. Liaisons also review gifts, provide advocacy for their disciplines in the Library, study collection use, and understand community needs. Faculty and librarians in different departments may collaborate on collection development in different ways, depending on the needs of the discipline and the resources available. Frequent and open communication is a hallmark of all successful collaborations.

Description of the Library

Patrons. Messiah University Murray Library serves many constituencies. The main patrons of the library are the students at Messiah University; they are typically traditional undergraduate students, but also include some non-traditional undergraduate students, online students, and graduate students. Our collection is also a resource for faculty research, but our resources do not allow us to systematically collect at the "research" level. The library also serves the community; these individual may come from ACLCP and non-ACLCP institutions, Friends of Murray Library, alumni, visiting faculty, clergy, Hoverter students, Pathways Institute, Evangelical School of Theology, area high schools, and other community members.

Retired employees, with a “Retired Employee” ID card issued by Messiah University, will have continued library privileges equal to current employees and have onsite access to databases.  Only retired faculty who have been granted emeritus status have off-campus access to subscription databases (by virtue of their network ID privileges).

Special Collections. The university maintains several special collections, in addition to the main collection to support the curriculum. These include: The Artists' Books collection, Canadian Literature, the Ruth E. Engle Memorial Collection of Children's Books Illustration, and the W. Jim Neidhardt Collection on Religion and Science. See the "Special Collections" supplemental policy for more information.

Budgets. The Library receives two primary funding streams for purchase of materials and access to resources for the Messiah community. The Acquisitions fund is for purchases of materials that the library will own in-house such as books, print periodicals, videos, CDs, etc. The Access fund is for purchasing access to online or remote materials such as subscription databases, ebooks, streaming videos, and single title journals.

Order requests from faculty members may be sent directly to the library or may be channeled through the department chair, as the chair directs. The library exercises its responsibility to consult faculty on unusually expensive items or about requests which seem to fall outside the collection development policy and the departmental subject scope.

All materials purchased with monies distributed from the library are expected to be housed in the library facility.

The librarians are responsible for the overall balance of the collection.

All funds remain under the purview of the library faculty. Librarians may consult with teaching faculty and departments to determine the most appropriate resources for specific disciplines, but the final determination for purchase remains with the library faculty.

Purchases for materials obtained primarily for the benefit of graduate school programs are to come from graduate school library budget lines; they are not to be funded through undergraduate funding.

General Guidelines

Selection Criteria

Relationship to the Curriculum. Responsibility for materials selection is shared by the teaching and library faculties. Department faculty initiate the majority of requests for acquisition. Library faculty work with the departments as liaisons to help maintain collection balance, both in terms of current and retrospective acquisitions.

The overarching criterion for selection is whether a particular resource supports the primary mission of the university: to educate men and women toward maturity of intellect, character and Christian faith in preparation for lives of service, leadership and reconciliation in church and society. This criterion spans a broad range of materials, most of which provide direct curricular support, but some of which extend beyond specific curricular offerings. In addition, some items may be at variance with our faith and lifestyle commitments, but may be included in any subject area if they meet the primary guidelines. Please see the "Intellectual Freedom" section of this policy for information on challenges to materials in the library.

Suggestions for the purchase of library materials from all members of the Messiah Community (including retirees) are welcome.  These are reviewed by librarians in consideration of financial and curricular needs.

Acquisitions Guidelines

The library accepts order requests from faculty and librarians starting on August 1 and it will cease accepting new departmental requests for purchase on April 1 of each fiscal year.  Orders that are not fulfilled within the fiscal year will be returned to the original requestor or liaison librarian for prioritization and reconsideration, with the option to resubmit for the next fiscal year.

The following is the priority for acquisitions for the library collection.

  • Continuations of materials arriving serially or on standing order, including indexing and abstracting services and periodical subscriptions.
  • Materials needed for discrete class offerings, with new courses and general education classes given extra consideration, if necessary.
  • General and specialized reference materials.
  • Outstanding books not initially ordered by the academic departments.
  • Materials to support faculty and administrative research and faculty development.
  • Recreational and inspirational non-fiction and fiction.

Format-specific considerations


  • Generally, good quality trade paperback editions are preferred for physical copies. 
  • Library or hardcover binding is preferred for juvenile books.
  • Out-of-print titles are sought through finding services, but procurement efforts will be abandoned after two reasonable attempts are unsuccessful. The original requestor will be notified at that time.
  • Textbooks are generally not purchased, though some disciplines require their inclusion in the collection if the literature of the field is routinely not disseminated in monographic titles. 
  • Single copies are generally purchased unless librarians determine a need for multiple copies.
  • E-books, if available, may be purchased through approved vendors to provide remote access.
  • When receiving a request for a book that we already have access to through our ebook vendors, we will purchase perpetual rights to the ebook title and not purchase the physical book unless specifically requested.
  • Works in languages other than English will only be acquired when no other comparable source is available in English AND when the use of such a work by our primary user group can be argued.

Reference materials (print and electronic)

Currency: The most recent editions of reference works in the collection will be included in the Reference Collection. Superseded editions will be either weeded from the collection or transferred to the main stacks (circulating collection). This will be decided on a title-by-title basis.


  • There is no specific preferred format for reference materials.  The guiding criterion is that it be the most useful.
  • All purchased electronic reference materials, regardless of format, will be catalogued. Whenever possible, full cataloguing records downloaded from OCLC will be used.


  • Unlike the general collection development policy, multiple copies of style guides, some dictionaries, and thesauri are included.
  • Whenever possible, if another unit on campus already owns an item and library use of said item is expected to be minimal, arrangement should be made with the owner to allow access to occasional patrons. (However, the presence of a reference work somewhere else on campus does not preclude Library purchase of it, if warranted.)

Selection and Acquisition

  • The Public Services Coordinator, in consultation with the other librarians, will select in those areas not specifically falling under the purview of any specific liaison area (e.g., LC classifications A, Z), although other librarians may also select in areas outside of their immediate liaison areas, in consultation with the Public Services Coordinator.
  • Internet resources attached to the Library's website, with the exception of those linked under subject guides (i.e., selected by liaison), are determined by the Reference Group.

Evaluation and Weeding

  • The Reference Collection should be evaluated every time the corresponding section of the main stacks is weeded.
  • The Public Services Coordinator, in consultation with the other librarians, will weed those areas not specifically falling under the purview of any specific liaison area (e.g., LC classifications A, Z). 

Evaluation of Electronic Products

While evaluation of electronic products is an ongoing process, evaluation at regular intervals will be conducted as follows:

  • Electronic products in liaison areas should be evaluated when other reference products in the liaison area are being evaluated.
  • Annually, the Library faculty will review all current electronic subscriptions to recommend their retention or cancellation. Subscription retention will be based on cost, adequacy of coverage, comparative usage, service history, and availability of alternatives.

Treatment of Specific Types of Materials

Atlases: generally, in Reference Collection. A few general world, U.S., and Bible atlases should be housed in main stacks for circulation. Rand McNally Road Atlas: United States: Cycle: annual; standing order

Bibles: In addition to a significant number of versions of the Bible in the main stacks, one copy of each of the major English translations are kept in the Reference Collection. Concordances for these translations are also acquired and housed in the Reference Collection. Selection of materials to be kept in Reference is made in consultation with the Biblical and Religious Studies Department.

Bibliographies: generally housed in the main stacks.

College and Graduate School Directories (e.g., Barron's, Peterson's): The Library does not retain Peterson’s graduate school directories in hardcopy.  The Career Center purchases these.

Commentaries: Several sets of commentaries are kept in Reference. Selection of these is made in consultation with the Biblical and Religious Studies Department.

Concordances: see Bibles


  • English: At least one one-volume, standard English desk dictionary no more than 4 years old will be housed at each of the dictionary stands in the library. Additionally, copies will be housed in the Reference Collection.
  • Non-English: In Reference Collection. In most cases, language dictionaries should include English translations. They will represent all languages for which there is a need/use on campus (that is, in addition to those languages taught by the Foreign Language department, also languages potentially used by international students, music students translating sung texts, etc.)

Encyclopedias: The Library retains one major encyclopedia in print in the Reference section.  Every 5 years, librarians review this and order a newer edition. 

Statistics: In general statistical sources are housed in the Reference Collection. Statistical Abstract of the United States: Cycle: Annual; standing order

Style Manuals:

  • Online versions: Library will acquire the online versions of the three major style manuals (APA, MLA, Chicago)
  • Print versions:
  • APA: One copy of the latest edition is kept at each dictionary stand, one in the Reference Collection stacks, and one at the Reference Desk
  • Chicago Manual of Style: One copy of the latest edition is kept at each dictionary stand, one in the Reference Collection stacks, and one at the Reference Desk.
  • MLA: One copy of the latest edition is kept at each dictionary stand, one in the Reference Collection stacks, and one at the Reference Desk.
  • Turabian: One copy of the latest edition is kept in the Reference Collection stacks, one copy at the the Reference Desk.

Serials (periodicals and continuations)

Subscriptions are an ongoing commitment. Therefore, orders are placed only for titles for which long-term need is projected. Inflation and usage factors will be monitored by library faculty to aid in continuation decisions.  The continuation and renewal of subscriptions will be reviewed by librarians on an annual basis. Review criteria includes cost, yearly inflation, usage, cost per use, and uniqueness or overlap with other resources. 

Indexing in standard services is a crucial consideration in the decision to add a serial title to the collection.

No reimbursements are made for serials acquired through individual or departmental memberships in professional or other organizations. Like all other titles, serials published by organizations are either subscribed to by the library at institutional rates, or received as outright donations in kind.

Titles received in print may also become available through online resources such as subscription databases. Library faculty will monitor online availability to determine when or if cancellation of print titles in favor of exclusive online access is appropriate. Stability of long-term access will be considered. In most cases, digital formats for new periodical subscriptions are preferred.


Database subscriptions or purchase of databases

Requests to evaluate a database for possible purchase, or subscription can be initiated by a departmental faculty member, or by library faculty. A decision to begin a subscription or to outright purchase must be preceded by a trial of the database, and subsequent approval by library faculty. Funds for databases come from the Access budget.

Renewal of Databases

The continuation and renewal of subscriptions will be reviewed by all librarians on an annual basis. Review criteria includes cost, yearly inflation, usage, cost per use, and uniqueness or overlap with other resources.  As the subscription for each database comes up for renewal each year, the Digital Resources Librarian will review the usage for the previous academic year and either renew the resource, or elicit a recommendation from the liaison librarian regarding whether to renew or not. Resources with a more general reference interest are brought to the library faculty for a decision.

Criteria for Selection of Electronic Products

The following are the criteria and questions to be considered when purchasing or subscribing to materials in electronic format. These same criteria should be used in evaluation for weeding as well: 

  • Logon and searching procedures should be simple enough to allow first-time users some immediate success without staff help.
  • Support service must be feasible in terms of library and ITS expertise and staff time.
  • Remote access must be a consideration.
  • The availability of usage statistics from the vendor should be a consideration so that future use can be monitored.


  • How much does it cost?
  • Is that cost reasonable and is the product cost-efficient?
  • How does the cost compare with that of the print version or a print equivalent?
  • Is this a subscription (i.e., an ongoing expense)?
  • Are there start-up and maintenance costs that need to be considered?
  • Have vendor or consortial discounts been explored?

Ease of use

The Library should insure that the software is fairly easy to use and that at least one (but preferably all) librarians can use it as well.

  • Is it well organized?
  • Is it easy to use? If not, is the inconvenience worth it?
  • Are there other comparable products that are more user-friendly?
  • How does it compare in ease of use with the print version?
  • What are the training implications for staff and patrons?
  • How much librarian mediation is necessary for use? 

Access/Restrictions to use

  • Are the terms of the licensing agreement acceptable?
  • How many users can access the database simultaneously?
  • Are there restrictions on use (e.g., downloading, printing)?
  • Are there restrictions on access?
  • Is legitimate use in a license too restrictive when cost/benefit is addressed?
  • Is remote access available to allow students to work from off campus, particularly students in online courses? 

Lease or License Checklist

The Library should ensure that the software is fairly easy to use and that at least one (but preferably all) librarians can use it as well.

  • terms of ownership, including description (if applicable) of what backfiles are being acquired and the ownership of the backfiles
  • definitions of users and/or uses of information
  • check definitions of "authorized user" or "remote access" (the publisher’s definitions may not match the Library’s understanding and may be too restrictive)
  • Remote access should include explicit access for distance learning students, remote campuses, and all members of the University community regardless of physical location.
  • all licensing, usage, or copyright restrictions
  • restrictions on copying, printing, or downloading data from the database
  • restrictions on the method of access
  • note how "simultaneous use" is defined in relation to pricing (e.g., prefer number of "users" to number of "workstations" when measuring use rates)


Unless purchased as historical materials, electronic products should be current and kept up-to-date.

  • Is this a one-time publication or are there periodic updates?
  • If updated, what is the cost and are we willing to make the budgetary commitment to updating?
  • How frequently is it updated?
  • Is the update frequency adequate for the content?


  • Is the product designed for the appropriate intellectual level?
  • Is the content appropriate to our curricula and collection?

Value added of electronic format

  • Is there a print equivalent and is there significant value added in providing the content in electronic format?
  • Does it compliment or replace other print or automated sources?


Anticipated or proven usefulness will be one of the major criteria for purchasing and retaining electronic products.

  • How specialized is it?
  • What is its user group?
  • Will there be/is there significant use?


  • Gifts become the property of the library, which has all rights of disposition.
  • Gifts are acknowledged by the director or his or her designate, but appraisals of monetary value are not offered as case law recognizes this as a clear conflict of interest. 

Collection Assessment

Periodically, the Collection Development Coordinator will analyze the library collection to determine its strengths, weaknesses and areas needing improvement. The analysis will review the age and circulation levels and may also compare the collection to specified core and benchmark collections.

The Collection Development Coordinator will provide collection analysis for specific departments in coordination with the liaison librarian. 


Materials are mended or repaired in-house, sent out for binding, or replaced as necessary.


The librarians regularly evaluate and weed items to maintain the most effective use of the available shelf space. Damaged, worn, and outdated titles are prime candidates for removal from the collection. Library faculty recommend titles for removal after adequate investigation as to their potential continued value to the collection. The library liaisons may work with their respective departments to evaluate materials.

Intellectual Freedom - Murray Library Freedom to Read Statement

Murray Library endorses the Freedom to Read Statement of the American Library Association. In particular, the following tenets need to be emphasized:

  • A quality Christian education requires that students have opportunity to study and gain understanding of a wide diversity of intellectual and artistic viewpoints and expressions, including those that are not in agreement with the Christian faith.
  • The inclusion of a particular work in the Murray Library collection does not imply university endorsement of any portion or all of the content of that work.

Commitment to the above tenets does not, however, suggest that there are no limits to the intellectual and artistic expressions that ought to be included in the Library collection. For example, a work that is exploitative, gratuitous, or unworthy of serious scholarly reflection ought not to be included. Obviously, there will be gray areas where there may not be campus-wide agreement concerning a particular work judged by some to be controversial. In light of that, the following procedures and guidelines will be operative. Since the Library collection is intended to support the instructional program of the university, the faculty will bear primary responsibility for requesting Library acquisitions, keeping in mind the following guidelines in cases of works that may be considered controversial:

  • The work should be integral to the instructional program, providing a resource that is judged to be important for teaching the university curriculum.
  • The work shall be judged to be worthy of serious study and scholarly reflection.
  • The work should provide insight into the human condition, with potential to give students a greater understanding of the world in which they live, in a manner that is not exploitative, gratuitous or sensationalistic.
  • If the work contains materials that may be offensive to Christian sensibilities, the overall educational importance of the work must be more significant than the potential offensiveness of some aspects of it.

The above guidelines are not to be used in any simple check-list fashion since they allow for some differing judgments by persons having equally good intentions. Therefore, legitimate questions may still arise as to the appropriateness of acquisition or maintenance of a given work. In these cases, the faculty member or liaison librarian shall discuss the potential purchase with the Library Director. Based on this discussion, the Library Director shall make a final decision, which shall be one of the following options:

  • The work shall be included in the Library collection.
  • The work shall only be available in a permanent reserve collection in the Library.
  • The work shall not be purchased by the University.

Challenges to Items in the Collection

A question as to the appropriateness may also be raised relative to a work already included in the collection. Such a question may be raised by any member(s) of the university community and shall be directed to the Library Director who shall discuss the concern jointly with the person raising the question (or a representative if a number of people are raising the question) and the Chairperson of the relevant academic department. The issue shall be closed if all three parties agree to one of the following options:

  • The work is suitable for the Library collection.
  • The work shall be moved from the open collection to the permanent reserve collection in the Library.
  • The work shall be withdrawn from the University collection.

If all three parties do not agree to one of these three options, then the person raising the question may appeal the case to a committee consisting of the following persons: Dean of the school of the academic department of the work in question and the Library Committee. This appeals committee shall then take action in the form of a recommendation to the Provost. The Provost shall then make a final decision on the matter, which shall be one of the options noted above.

Revised 2007

Revised April 2019

Revised March 2020