F&M College Library

Collection Policies

Purpose and Philosophy

The primary purpose of the library’s collection is to support the liberal arts curriculum of Franklin & Marshall College. The College Library collects, maintains, and provides access to high-quality and scholarly materials supporting the intellectual and creative pursuits of our students, faculty and professional staff and provides informational and recreational reading material for the College community (the “Browsing Collection”). This policy indicates which materials are selected for inclusion, retention and/or preservation within the collection. It also provides guidance to those who deselect materials from our collections, and is complemented by more specific collections policies. All collection development work is clearly aligned with the strategic goals, objectives and priorities of both the College Library and Franklin & Marshall College. This policy is intended to be fluid and recognizes that formats and technology change rapidly as does the campus landscape and planning.


As with all other library functions, the College Librarian has final responsibility for collection development; in practice this is shared with other librarians and the faculty. Each librarian serves as liaison to academic departments and programs to encourage and facilitate faculty participation in collection development. Liaisons serve as the primary selectors for specific departments, are responsible for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the collection, and selecting or deselecting materials accordingly. Faculty and students; are strongly encouraged to recommend materials and/or submit purchase requests.

Liaisons review and approve requests for major purchases or subscriptions to resources.   Special responsibilities of librarians include: selecting in areas where no present faculty are selecting, identifying and filling weak areas of the collection, identifying materials that are no longer needed, and performing an on-going review of the collection.


When items are no longer relevant to the curriculum, either because they are outdated, superseded or because the curriculum has changed, books, media and periodical backfiles may be withdrawn at the discretion of the librarians. Periodical subscriptions and access to electronic media may be canceled at the discretion of the librarians, normally in consultation with the academic departments concerned. A list of deselection criteria can include:

Multiple copies

Out of scope

Old edition

Old textbook content

In need of repair (will be considered for repair or replacement)

Available as a licensed ebooks

Available “free” online - in the Internet Archive, HathiTrust or other dependable source

Librarians will consult with faculty when a more extensive weeding is needed.

Funding, Budget & Allocation

Funding for the library collection is derived from annual allocations from the College, including endowed funds for library purchases. Donors to the Friends of the Library may specify that their donations be used to purchase library materials in particular subjects. College allocated funds are divided into funds for print and ebooks, ongoing subscriptions to resources, and professional services.

In allocating funds and considering requests, the Library will seek to ensure fair distribution of resources among the academic disciplines, and that the collection develops in close relationship to the College’s curriculum.


The collections of the College Library represent a substantial intellectual effort and economic investment.  The Library is committed to the retention, preservation, and long-term access of the collections they hold in perpetuity, regardless of format. Decisions on the repair of damaged materials and replacement of lost, stolen, or damaged materials are made within the overall context of the Library’s Collection Development Policy and based upon an estimate of potential use, the condition of the materials, and the availability of the information in the same or other formats.  Preservation decisions seek to balance the constraints of cost; historical, aesthetic, and scholarly value; and user accessibility.

The preservation of library material is accomplished through storage under proper conditions, careful handling and housing, the use of security systems designed to eliminate mutilation and theft, commercial binding and rebinding (as needed), refreshment and migration of electronic files, repair or replacement of damaged materials, and the provision of appropriate metadata. The original form of materials of unique aesthetic or historical value should be preserved if possible.  Where cost, scarcity, deterioration, or damage prevent the preservation of original materials, attempts will be made selectively to replace items valuable to the collection in reprinted editions or alternative formats. 

Continuing access to electronic titles cannot be guaranteed once the format in which they are published becomes technically obsolete.  The Library will support and participate in digital preservation in order to address this issue in the longer term.

Collection Guidelines for Content and Format

Censorship/Intellectual Freedom: Intellectual freedom is a core value of the library profession and a cornerstone of democracy. The College Library will not censor any subject or viewpoint and will vigorously resist any censorship attempts. The library firmly adheres to the guiding principles outlined in the American Library Association’s “Library Bill of Rights


Languages: English is the preferred language for materials collected, except for texts of works, especially literary works, originally written in other languages taught at the college.  The Library does not collect translations from English to other languages or works in languages not in the college’s curriculum.  The Library will however purchase or provide access to English/foreign language dictionaries for languages not taught at the college.


Materials Collected: A balance is maintained between books, ebooks and journals and e-resources  - collection of one format should not totally exclude collection of the other format for any discipline. As a partial federal government document depository, the Library collects United States federal documents in areas relevant to the program of the college and makes those materials available to the Lancaster community. Faculty monograph publications will be acquired for the library collection. One copy will be deposited in Special Collections and a second copy will usually be purchased for the general collection.


Materials not Collected: Pamphlets and other ephemeral items will not be collected except for materials of interest to Special Collections. The Library does not collect incomplete bibliographic units, such as single issues of periodicals. Books designed to be used as consumable course textbooks will not be collected. Exceptions are made for standard works in the area or if the texts are the only available source of information in the area of coverage. The Library will gladly work with any faculty member to help them identify or create Open Educational Resources as an alternative to high-cost textbooks. Books that are self-published will not be collected. Rare exceptions might be made for books authored by F&M faculty or alumni. Books intended for juvenile audiences will not be collected unless requested to support a course.


Formats of Materials Collected: The Library will collect materials in the form of books, ebooks, periodicals, electronic resources, streaming media and dvds. The Library will substitute electronic formats for older media and adopt new media. Considerations of cost, medium, equipment needs and ease of use will influence decisions. Effort will always be made to license ebooks with as few digital rights management and interface limitations as possible.


Duplication: Duplicate copies of heavily used materials may be acquired as needed; however, duplication of content, regardless of format, is not encouraged. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.