Collection Development

Preus Library acquires a wide range of information materials designed to enhance and support the educational mission of the College. The policies below help guide the development of our strategic resources.


This policy is intended to provide a guide for current collection development activities for the Luther College Library, Luther College. Collection development is the systematic, appropriate and timely selection, acquisition, storage, deselection and protection of library materials and information resources for the library. The term “materials” is used to include all items which the library collects regardless of format. The library provides “information resources” which access materials from both local and remote locations. Thus, the library “collection” of accumulated books and information materials exists in an environment that is both print-based and virtual.


The Luther College Library supports the mission of Luther College to be a Christian college of the liberal arts dedicated to faith and learning. It affirms that education is a foundation for leadership and service in church and society. The Library supports the current and anticipated teaching, research and service needs of the College. It also contributes to the cultural and informational resources of the broader community, both that of the surrounding geographic area as well as of the off-site Luther College community.

The collection development program contributes to the mission of the Library by directing the processes of acquiring and providing access to materials and information resources and integrating them into coherent collections. It also directs the growth, maintenance and evaluation of these materials and information resources.

Goals and Objectives

The Luther College Library collects, catalogs and provides materials and information resources which span the spectrum of knowledge inherent in the Library of Congress classification system and reflect the disciplines inherent in the College curriculum. Support of the undergraduate curriculum at the College is the highest priority for selection of Library materials and information resources.

Faculty research needs and cultural, recreational and general information materials are also a priority for developing the collection and information resources within the academic context. Collection strengths as well as current and desired collecting intensity are guided by these goals and objectives. [Ref: Acquisition Standards, p. 8]

Emphasis is on collecting at various levels in disciplines reflected in all academic departments and programs of the College. The librarians attempt to compliment the permanent purchase of comprehensive information resources by providing access on a demand basis to items not held in the local collection through MAGNUS, the Luther College Library integrated online library system. Cooperative agreements and consortial arrangements are made where possible to enhance collection development goals and objectives.

The library endeavors to adhere to the fundamental principal that resources in any format can be searched and retrieved through the online catalog. The development and implementation of an intuitive and coherent design for organizing and presenting both the physical materials and the virtual resources for use is ongoing. The Library intentionally protects readers’ rights by providing access to a variety of materials and information resources which represent a range of perspectives. [Ref: Intellectual Freedom Guidelines, p. 9]

Maintenance of the collection is achieved through standard shelving and storage, the timely resolution of lost and missing materials, deselection and internal transfer of resources and conservation, and preservation and restoration of items. Evaluation of the materials and information resources is a continuing priority in order to maintain standards of quality and excellence for the Library and the academic programs it supports.

Collection Overview

History: Luther College, founded in 1861, organized a library immediately after its founding. The early library collection grew slowly, averaging about 170 books a year for the first 20 years. By 1889, the collection had grown to 6,000 volumes and was located in Main building. The collection was ultimately moved to Koren Library, completed in 1921, which contained 36,000 volumes at the time.

When the collection moved into the current building, Preus Library, in 1969, the number of volumes exceeded 160,000. The library collection totaled more than 340,000 volumes at the beginning of the new millennium. The Library was classified according to the Dewey Decimal classification system during its early years but was reorganized according to the Library of Congress system after 1920. The library was merged administratively with the College’s Computer Center in 1997 to form a combined department called Library and Information Services.

Organization and Structure: Materials in the Luther College Library are organized into the following collections based in one central location, although bibliographic access is available through any site equipped with Internet capability.

Materials Main Collection

  • General
  • Reference
  • Serials
  • Curriculum Library
  • Leisure Reading
  • Media

Special Collections

  • Special Collections (SPECCO)
  • Rare Books
  • DEPO
  • Archives
  • Fine Arts

Functions or Departments

  • Reference (includes interlibrary loan and library instruction)
  • Circulation
  • Technical Services (includes serials, acquisitons, and cataloging)
  • Archives
  • Special Collections

Administration: The Executive Director, librarians and the archivist set departmental goals and objectives, develop policies and procedures and supervise operations. Library staff support acquisition and access activities within the Luther College Library with emphasis on the activities of searching, ordering, claiming, receiving, and processing.

Selection: The Executive Director, librarians and the archivist at the Luther College Library are ultimately responsible for the development and management of the library collection and information resources. All the librarians are responsible for selecting materials for the main collections of the library while acquisitions in the Special Collections areas are managed principally by the Special Collections Librarian and the archivist. Selections are reviewed and evaluated by the librarians working cooperatively with faculty but also welcoming recommendations from students, staff, and other library users. Faculty are expected to recommend materials which will develop their discipline. The archivist is responsible for development and management of the resources in the Luther College Archives.

Fiscal: Administering funds for development and management of the collection and information resources is ultimately the responsibility of the Executive Director of Library and Information Services. The librarians, archivist and library staff participate in management of these funds. The fiscal year for the College extends from June 1 to May 31.

Funds for the library budget are allocated from the College, endowed funds, donations, and book sales. Creation of the library budget is the responsibility of the Executive Director with input from the librarians and the archivist. Standard accounting and bookkeeping procedures are used to administer the funds.

Library funds are allocated within the library budget every fiscal year for each academic department and program at the college. Requests are made by faculty for use of these funds directly to the library liaison for a particular department or program. Fund amounts are adjusted annually after the college budget has been finalized to take into consideration curricular changes, enrollment shifts, and spending patterns from the previous fiscal year.

Ethics: The Luther College Library faculty and staff are guided by ethical principles articulated and adopted by the American Library Association. These principles focus on service, censorship and intellectual freedom, privacy and confidentiality, intellectual property rights, private interests, personal convictions, and excellence in the profession. [Ref: Code of Ethics of the American Library Association, p. 9]

Promotion: The Luther College Library materials and information resources are promoted by the Executive Director, librarians, and archivist through print publications and web development including maintenance of comprehensive, integrated library web pages. A library instruction program provides course-related instruction for classes across the curriculum, senior paper seminars for departmental majors and library instruction for researched writing for first-year students. Resources and guidance are also provided for area high school teachers and classes who wish to use the collections for research assignments. The librarians and archivist teach students, faculty, staff and other users how to identify, retrieve and evaluate appropriate library materials. Ongoing displays and exhibits within the library publicize materials and resources about all the collections. New books are displayed on the main floor of the library to encourage attention. Occasional special events are organized to celebrate milestones and achievements in the library.

Standards and Guidelines

Legal Issues: The Luther College Library strives to abide by national laws and agreements concerning the following legal issues:

  • Copyright regulations
  • Licensing standards
  • Internal Revenue Service regulations

Acquisition Standards: The Luther College Library is guided by the principles endorsed by the American Library Association in the following codes and directives.

Statement of Principles and Standards of Acquisitions Practice. Adopted by the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services Acquisitions Section (ALCTS) February 7, 1994.

Standards for Ethical Conduct for Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Librarians, with Guidelines for Institutional Practice in Support of the Standards. Adopted by the Rare Book and Manuscripts Committee (RBMS), ALA Ethics Committee, ACRL Standards Committee, ALA Standards Committee and the ACRL Board of Directors, 1992-93.

College Library Standards: The Luther College Library is guided by the principles endorsed by the Association of College and Research Libraries, College Libraries Section, in the following directive.

Standards for College Libraries. Adopted by the Association of College and Research Libraries, January 2000.

Information Literacy Standards: The Luther College Library is guided by the principles endorsed by the Association of College and Research Libraries in the following directive.

Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. Adopted by the Association of College and Research Libraries, American Library Association, January 18, 2000.

Intellectual Freedom Guidelines: The Luther College Library is guided by the principles endorsed by the American Library Association and the Association of College and Research Libraries in the following codes and directives:

Library Bill of Rights. Adopted June 18, 1948; Amended February 2, 1961, and January 23, 1980; Reaffirmed January 23, 1996, by the ALA Council.

Code of Ethics. Adopted June 28, 1995, by the ALA Council.

The Freedom to Read Statement. Adopted June 25, 1953; Revised January 28, 1972, and January 16, 1991 by the ALA Council and the Association of American Publishers.

Statement on Labeling. Adopted July 13, 1951; Amended June 25, 1971; July 1, 1981; and June 26, 1990 by the ALA Council.

Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries. Adopted by ACRL Intellectual Freedom Committee June 28, 1999, and approved by ACRL Board of Directors June 29, 1999.

This collection development policy statement is a guideline that is subject to interpretation and revision as the need arises.

Last updated 13 July 2001.

The acquisition of materials is the process of identifying and obtaining by donation, purchase, or exchange materials to add to the holdings of the Luther College Library. Holdings are the total accumulation of materials provided by the library for its users.

Main Collection Policies and Procedures

Main Collection Guidelines

The librarians continually engage in information needs assessment activities that guide their materials selection and aid in developing collection depth and direction. Information needs assessment is an identification of a need that is not fully met by library resources, but wanted and demanded by library users. These needs are met by recognizing the local history and culture, analyzing the service community, and gathering and synthesizing information about the curricular and research needs of the College.

The librarians select materials and information resources for acquisition primarily through evaluation of reviews. Other resources used and analyzed include pre-publication and professional literature, subject-specific journals, bibliographies, core collection lists, publishers catalogs, and information generated from interlibrary loan requests. Software is additionally reviewed by Instructional Technology staff to determine usability, compatibility with hardware, and support needs. Personal examination of materials and recommendations from colleagues and users are also considered. Access is provided through the online catalog, consortia, commercial vendors and the Internet. Librarians determine which materials should be available on-site and which may be obtained through electronic access and resource sharing.

The librarians act as liaisons with each academic department and program at the College. The liaison assigned to each academic area is responsible for meeting with faculty to provide information about collection development activities in the library, assess current and future needs and respond to requests and questions. The liaison also publicizes new services, programs and policies in the library. After requests are received, the liaisons review and evaluate them according to the criteria and guidelines of this policy.

Criteria for Selection
  • Authority of the author
  • Currency considered in tandem with lasting value of the content
  • Appropriateness of content level
  • Strength of present holdings in same or similar subject areas
  • Historic significance
  • Cost
  • Availability
  • Demand
  • Use patterns
  • Format
  • User friendliness
  • Technological capacities
  • Volume
  • Provenance
Guidelines for Selection
  • Current publications are generally a priority for purchase although retrospective purchases are made to fill gaps in the collection.
  • Duplication of materials and information resources is avoided.
  • Textbooks are only purchased when they have earned the reputation as classics in the field or when they are considered the best sources on a particular topic.
  • Government documents are selectively purchased and provided online on the basis of the instructional and research needs of users.
  • Both hardback and paperback books are purchased although paperbacks are preferred where cost is a strong factor for acquisition.
  • Alternate versions of texts (audio editions, large print editions, abridgments, etc.) are not normally pruchased.
  • Standardized tests, career planning materials, reprints, pamphlets, dissertations and catalogs are usually not purchased.
  • English language works predominate although foreign language materials are selectively purchased which support curricular offerings, faculty research interests, and the Norwegian heritage of the College.
  • Commitment is made to collecting priorities which focus on the ethnic, religious and cultural heritage of the College.
  • Media produced in proven formats are preferred for purchase.
  • Books with Decorah and Luther College imprints and books published by the Luther College Press are acquired whenever possible.
Main Collection Areas
  • General materials

The general collection includes materials on all academic subjects, regardless of format, which support the curriculum and academic research needs of the College. New materials comprise the largest percentage of the total annual acquisitions.

  • Reference

The Reference collection consists of print-based and electronic materials which supply authoritative information intended to be consulted for definite items of information rather than read consecutively. The physical collection is kept together for convenience while the virtual resources may be accessed on the Internet from both local and remote sites.

  • Serials

Serials are publications issued in successive parts, usually at regular intervals, which are intended to be continued indefinitely. Print-based and electronic serials are cataloged according to the Library of Congress classification system and shelved throughout the library or accessed directly online. Library liaisons make preliminary suggestions about selection, transfer and deselection of serials representing the disciplines to which they are liaison. These suggestions are reviewed and final determination made by all the librarians. Changes in serials subscriptions are typically initiated during the fall of the academic year.

  • Curriculum Library

Materials in the Curriculum Library support the elementary and secondary teacher education programs at Luther College. These include fiction, non-fiction, textbooks, scores, software and realia. The Senior Reference Librarian and Special Collections Librarian are the primary selectors for the collection. Materials are classified and arranged according to several systems including the Dewey Decimal System.

  • Leisure Reading

The Luther College Library acquires a select group of popular books which are minimally cataloged and intended for leisure reading. Most of the books are acquired through short-term leasing from a vendor but some are purchased or received as gifts. The books are eventually reevaluated by the librarians for addition into the main collection, return to the vendor or deselection. These books are shelved in a prominent area on the main floor of the library to facilitate their use.

Special Collection Policies and Procedures

Special Collection Guidelines

Special collections of the Luther College Library include the following units: Special Collections, Rare Books, DEPO, Archives, and the Fine Arts Collection. The umbrella term “Special Collections” may be defined as those materials with special value which are segregated from the main collection in areas closed to the public. They are intended to augment the curricular and research needs of the College. While all the librarians are responsible for the materials acquired for the Special Collections, the Special Collections Librarian has primary collecting and administrative responsibility for the Special Collections, Rare Books and Fine Arts Collection. The archivist is responsible for the Archives.

Criteria and Guidelines for Selection:

Criteria and guidelines for selection of materials for the Special Collections areas of the library are specified below within descriptions of each area.

Special Collection Areas
  • Special Collections

Materials are selected, through both gifts and purchase, which relate directly to the College such as alumni, faculty, and staff authored monographs and dissertations, publications of the Luther College Press, and Luther College imprints. Books which have Decorah imprints are actively collected. Other materials included are those relating to Norwegian-American and Lutheran church history and materials which are difficult to obtain, valuable, and fragile owing to their format and condition.

  • Rare Books

Materials are selected, through gift and occasional purchase, which are generally not in print and cannot be obtained through the Library’s normal sources of supply. Rarity, reputation of the author, condition, subject matter and provenance are considerations when acquiring rare books.

  • DEPO

The DEPO or “depository” area of the Luther College Library is a storage area of the library for important but infrequently used materials. Condition, age and value are primary considerations for materials designated for the DEPO collection.

  • Archives

The Luther College Archives contains primary source material of enduring value related to the College, its faculty, alumni and founding congregations and institutions of the Lutheran church. General and literary manuscripts are also acquired. Materials in the Archives include handwritten manuscripts, institutional records, personal papers, photographs, media and college memorabilia. Materials are acquired through disposal schedules cooperatively developed with College administrative units. The Archives is directed by the Archives Collection Development Policy and Mission statement.

  • Fine Arts Collection

The College’s Fine Arts Collection is managed with library resources and housed within the library building. Works are acquired through gifts or purchased through specific endowed funds separate from library funds. The Collection is comprised of paintings; drawings; works produced through print, photographic or other techniques which produce multiple originals; sculpture in all media; assemblages; textiles, ceramics; and utilitarian or ritual objects in any medium whose principal value resides in their aesthetic merit. The Fine Arts Collection is guided by the principles articulated in the Fine Arts Collection Management Policy endorsed in 1994.

The Luther College Library welcomes gifts of materials appropriate to the collections. Material is considered to be a gift when title to the property passes from the giver to the recipient without compensation [Ref: West’s Encyclopedia of Law, 2005]. Gifts of extraordinary value are handled on a case by case basis.

When the library accepts gifts, it should be understood that upon receipt Luther College becomes the owner of the material and, as such, reserves the right to determine its retention, location, cataloging treatment, and other considerations related to its use, maintenance or removal. Library staff make every effort to ensure that donors understand these conditions before accepting gifts. If there are questions concerning gifts, final determination rests with the Library Director.

Librarians cannot provide appraisals of materials but will acknowledge receipt of a gift. Appraisals are the monetary evaluation of materials for insurance, tax, or other purposes. Acknowledgement to document a gift typically occurs with an exchange of letters but may also be through a Deed of Gift, or a bequest. The library assumes no responsibility for the use donors make of such acknowledgements. Librarians may provide informed opinion concerning authenticity or market value of books and manuscripts but will make clear that these views do not substitute for professional appraisal nor should they be the sole means upon which donors value their gift. It is the donors‚Äô responsibility to determine the value of their gift(s) and seek an independent appraisal when appropriate. . [‚ÄúSpecial collections librarians must not engage in any dealing or appraisal of special collections materials‚Ķ‚Ä̬†ACRL Code of Ethics for Special Collections Librarians, 2003]. Patrons seeking guidance on the authenticity or market value of books and manuscripts may be assisted by the librarians in the use of appropriate reference tools for these purposes.

Appropriate recognition of gifts retained by the library may be made at the discretion of the Library Director, librarians and archivist. These include affixing book plates or labels for gifts recognizing the donor or providing other pertinent information.

Librarians will promptly notify the Luther College Development Office of gifts received by the library which exceed $500.00. The notification should include the nature and value of the gift, if known. In addition, names of all donors will be forwarded to the Development Office on a regular basis.

Excerpted from Luther College Library Collection Development Policy, Adopted March 2001.

Collection Maintenance

Maintenance of the collection is the ongoing responsibility of the librarians, and library staff and is achieved through attention to the following activities:

Lost Materials: Items lost or reported missing during the academic year are replaced or withdrawn in the fall of the following academic year. A search for the missing material is conducted throughout the year. Shelf reading of the main collection and an inventory of the Reference collection is performed every summer.

Librarians evaluate each lost or missing item according to the criteria and guidelines outlined in this policy. If there is high demand for a missing item, it may be replaced immediately.

Deselection and Internal Transfer: The librarians, in cooperation and consultation with the faculty, are responsible for the deselection and transfer of library materials and information resources. Items may be withdrawn and discarded which are outdated, damaged, inappropriate, or superseded. Items may be transferred to other collections within the library based on the same factors.

The criteria for deselection and transfer are the same as those for selection with the following factors strongly considered:

  • Obsolescence
  • Lack of use
  • Space constraints
  • Format
  • Physical condition
  • Not a “classic” (e.g., not a definitive work of enduring quality)

Preservation, Conservation, and Restoration: The librarians and archivist strive to maintain the physical integrity of the materials through preservation procedures such as proper handling and storage, environmental controls, and a security program. Development of a disaster planning program and ensuring appropriate insurance for the collections is also an ongoing priority. Internal content of materials is sometimes preserved by materials conversion.

Assuring permanent future access to digital materials is also a component of the library’s preservation efforts. Conservation and corrective action for materials is done through treatments and procedures which attempt to maintain the original physical object. Restoration of materials is managed with professional assistance.

Collection Evaluation

The resources acquired and provided by the Luther College Library are systematically evaluated through the following ongoing processes. These objective and subjective measures are utilized singly and in combination:

  • Compiling statistics on holdings
  • Acquiring usage data
  • Checking standard lists
  • Obtaining opinions from regular users
  • Analyzing interlibrary loan information
  • Applying standards
  • Collecting expert opinion
  • Comparing acquisition, holding and use statistics
  • Knowing established collecting policies of other institutions
  • Examining the collections directly