Collection Development Policy

Prescott College embraces a broad mission statement which provides the framework for the library’s Collection Development Policy. It is the mission of the College to educate students of diverse ages and backgrounds to understand, thrive in, and enhance our world community and environment. In order to accomplish this mission, programs in the areas of Environmental Studies, Adventure Education, Arts and Letters, Cultural & Regional Studies, Human Development, and Education are offered to meet the needs of both traditional and non-traditional aged students.

The community served by the Prescott College Library includes resident undergraduate students and limited residency undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students. There are faculty, staff, alumni, and community members from the area.

The curriculum is paradoxically broad and narrow. The strongest subject areas overall are adventure education, education, environmental studies, psychology, art, photography, counseling, psychotherapy, agriculture, religion and general literature. In addition, there are a variety of special programs involving travel abroad, student independent studies, senior & capstone projects, exchange programs with the EcoLeague and CIEL, and other unique circumstances based on the College’s philosophy stressing experiential learning and field studies.

It is the expectation of the faculty that all students graduate with college-level skills of written communication and essential mathematics, strong critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, self-direction in learning, sensitivity to one’s own and other cultures, and a commitment to responsible participation in the natural environment and human community.

It is important to note that Prescott College Library is part of a 40+ library consortium that includes public, academic, school, museum, and special libraries. Members of this county consortium share a common online catalog, participate in joint management decisions, maintain a courier delivery system, and develop joint training programs. It is a culture of sharing. We have agreed to plan and develop our library collections without duplicating holdings wherever it seems reasonable.

Prescott College’s Collection Development Policy is a holistic document intended to be an umbrella guide in the selection of materials added to our library, whether by purchase or through gifts, and to be used as a planning tool in the allocation of College funds. It is a source of information for those outside the Prescott College community on the strengths of our collection and our collecting interests. It thereby assists in resource sharing and cooperative collection development with other libraries. All of these aspects of collection development contribute to the quality of the collection we manage and the resources we make available through access and/or ownership. Collection development, while primarily the responsibility of the librarians, includes the following people directly or indirectly: faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni, publishers, and evaluators (reviewers, editors, contributors to standard source guides, etc.) A collection development policy is an integral aspect of library operations and guides decision making and planning in the short and long terms.

Prescott College Library supports the American Library Association Bill of Rights, Intellectual Freedom Statement and Policies, and Freedom to Read Statement. The library acquires materials that represent differing opinions and collects without censorship in regard to controversial issues. We strive to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, within our budgetary means and with College support.

Overview of The Collection

The primary subject areas collected are those that serve to support the instruction, research and public service activities of the College. Most materials are organized by Library of Congress Classification. Ultimate responsibility for the development and maintenance of the library collection rests with the Library Director, with faculty, students and staff encouraged to recommend appropriate materials for purchase. All collection decisions are subject to the constraints of the library's budget, and follow the guidelines outlined in the Collection Development Policy.

The following formats are collected:

Books, monographs

Acquired with first priority given in support of the curriculum. Paperbacks are acquired when hard copies are unavailable or of a cost as to make the purchase of a paperback copy justified. Consideration is given to expected use, lasting value, and content. Sets are acquired by the library in support of the curriculum based on availability of funds and in comparison to the individual holdings already in the library. Technical manuals are acquired on a highly selective basis with consideration to use, timeliness, and maintenance. Ebooks are also purchased to fulfill the needs of our students, staff, and faculty.


Acquired with first priority given in support of the major areas of the college curriculum. Indexed serials are given the highest priority. Both print and electronic formats are included.


Acquired on a highly selective basis. The goal is to include major U.S. newspapers representing regions of the country, state and local newspapers. English language newspapers are given priority.


The Library acquires books to support undergraduate and graduate research in the curriculum areas. Textbooks are not intentionally acquired.  While textbooks may sometimes be available in the Library because of donations or faculty requests, students should plan to purchase them from the Bookstore or another source.

Dissertations, Theses

The library acquires copies of dissertations and theses completed at the College. Others are selected and acquired with strong recommendation from the faculty. Many dissertations and theses are available through ProQuest.

Audio-Visual Materials

Sound recordings, video recordings, nonprint and multimedia are acquired with priority given to curriculum support.

Web Page

Development of our Prescott College Library web page conforms to all standards described in our collection development policy relating to quality, relevancy to curriculum, and currency.

General Considerations

The goal of the library collection at Prescott College should be quality, not necessarily quantity. For the purposes of collection development this means that the materials ordered should be relevant and appropriate in quantity to each discipline taught, to the level at which it is taught, and to the number of faculty and students that use it. The library should collect the highest possible percentage of materials likely to be used by those working within the College’s current and anticipated academic program.


Emphasis should be placed on the collection of current materials but not to the exclusion of acquiring materials of historical interest pertinent to the curriculum, filling in older materials in new areas of emphasis in the curriculum, or obtaining materials that may have been overlooked or not purchased because of personal biases of staff or lack of funds in the past.


While it is desirable to have complete works of authors, it is not advisable to seek completeness for its own sake especially when many works are available in electronic formats or available at other local libraries.

Cooperative Development

All collection management decisions will be made in the context of cooperation with the Yavapai Library Network consortium. The goal is to build complementary collections to expand the resources available to everyone in our library community.


We must take all possible measures to preserve the materials we need to have available for use, especially those that are packed and taken on field courses.


The Library Bill of Rights statement of the American Library Association is considered part of the College’s Collection Development Policy. We will follow guidelines in ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Manual when responding to censorship accusations.

Collection Maintenance

Collection analysis consists of examining and describing the existing collection so as to understand what now exists and how it is used. The library assesses the usefulness, relevance, and physical condition of its collection on a continuing basis beginning with a yearly inventory and evaluation process. Weeding (withdrawal and disposal of out-of-date and inaccurate material) is a difficult yet essential element of collection development. Many criteria go into deciding whether or not to keep particular books in the collection, but the bottom line is that, per the mission statement of the College, we want to provide the best materials possible for our community, and to do so we must continually review, evaluate, weed, and update. Some criteria to consider:

  • Misleading and/or factually inaccurate information
  • Worn out beyond mending or rebinding
  • Superceded by a newer edition or better source
  • Trivial (of no discernable merit to the collection)
  •  Irrelevant to the needs and interests of the community
  • May be easily located elsewhere in the community
  • Condition—will fall apart when handled
  • Age—is the book still relevant to the curriculum?
  • Frequency of use—when was the last time the book circulated?
  • Intellectual Freedom—all sides of an issue are represented.
  • The item is unique to Prescott College
  • There is a local connection to the author or the book reflects local history
    or information
  • Book has a special feature
  • Book is a classic—important to own even if it is in poor condition
  • If dated, the material reflects the thoughts or style of a particular era or worth looking at for historical context.


The library adheres to U.S. Copyright law and Fair Use Guidelines. A resource collection is maintained in the library as a guide for staff, faculty, and students in adhering to copyright laws and ethics, and relevant copyright information is available on the library’s web page.

Privacy and Confidentiality

Library staff specifically recognizes the confidentiality of information sought or received, and materials consulted, borrowed or acquired by a library user. These materials may include database search records, circulation records, interlibrary loan records and other personally identifiable uses of library materials, facilities, programs or services, such as reference interviews. The State of Arizona Revised Statute 41-1354 (Privacy of user records; exceptions; violation; classification) provides the library’s legal framework for accessing confidential records.

Special Considerations

Multiple copies

Demand, present or anticipated, will be considered in ordering multiple copies. Demand for class use, topical subject matter, classic nature of the title, an author who is part of the community, material to be put on reserve list, or materials frequently taken into the field may be criteria for ordering multiple copies.  Multiple copies may be considered, some to be housed in Prescott, some in Tucson, and some in Kino Bay, when relevant to the courses taught at Kino and when requested by Kino faculty.


Both individual items and collections can be valuable additions to a college library. Guidelines for collection development will be applied to any donor’s gift as well as need for duplicate copies, value of the material, condition, etc. Gift materials will be added under the same criteria that apply to purchased materials. We will not add gift items simply because they are available to us, or because we do not already hold them. We will not accept gifts with conditions attached. The library reserves the right to dispose of unneeded gifts in whatever manner it sees fit. We cannot legally appraise gifts, but will send a letter to acknowledge contents of the gift collection and assist donors in locating prices of donated books.


Materials which have been lost or damaged are replaced on the advice of the librarians. The following should be considered in the decision to replace a volume: continued value of the material, demand, extent of coverage of the subject in the existing collection, availability of newer or better material in the field, cost and appropriateness of replacement rather than rebinding, reserve shelf use.

Selection Tools

Librarians will use appropriate college-level reviewing sources for selection of materials.

Future Considerations

Storage Issues

The Library's space is limited. Therefore, we currently must remove approximately the same number of books each year as we add to ensure adequate space.

Collection Assessment

Needs to be done on an ongoing basis in collaboration with faculty to ensure that library needs are met in all areas of the curriculum. Results of collection assessment will be used to justify library spending.

Consortial Collection Development

We are building our collection in a consortial context. We need to ensure that this is an ongoing process within our network.

Web Page Development

The library web page is integral to offering curricular materials and information in additional formats, and is readily available to the community from on or off campus.

The library’s Collection Development Policy should be examined and revitalized on a yearly basis.


Collection development is a rich and powerful aspect of librarianship. It delineates a course of action and provides the basis for library services. It presents continual challenges to enhance learning in an academic environment. A collection development process can give the library user a feeling of being in a warehouse of useless and outdated information or of vibrancy and excitement to learn new things. And everyone gets to participate. When asked once about what will make states and localities give public support to libraries, Vartan Gregorian (former president of the New York Public Library), responded: “Certainly one place to start is to revitalize the concept of what a library is, what a book is, what reading is….and then to determine the place of technology in promoting the unity of knowledge.” (Library Journal, July 1999, p. 6). Careful attention to what a library collects is an excellent way to revitalize its image and purpose.


Revised July 2016

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