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Library Collection Development - Specific Collections


The reference collection at Hutchins Library supports the information and research needs of a diverse community: undergraduates, teaching faculty, and librarians as well as alumni and community users. Most of the materials acquired support the instructional programs of the college; however, a limited number of materials related to nonacademic subjects, such as career development, travel, etc., are acquired.

The collection reflects the academic program needs of Berea College students, faculty and staff in search of general as well as subject specific information. Specifically, information is available that is useful in 100-level general studies courses in addition to material that supports upper class major studies. The existence of a separate science library does not lower expectations for the development of this area in the Hutchins Library reference collection.

Traditionally, a reference work is defined as a work designed by its content, treatment, or arrangement to be consulted for bibliographic or factual information instead of read continuously for in-depth information. Most of the tools acquired for reference fall under this definition, but items are occasionally acquired for reference, which meet the needs of reference patrons even though these items could also be located by definition in the circulating collection. Conversely, traditional reference materials may be sent to the circulating collection.

The print materials in the reference collection are located on the second floor, near the Reference Desk. The bulk of the collection is located in the reference area, in Dewey Decimal call number order. The Reference Collection is a non-circulating collection.

A small collection of reference sources is shelved in a ready reference section behind the reference desk. This collection contains books that are so heavily used by either librarians or patrons that it is most convenient to shelve them at the desk.

Types of Reference Sources

Almanacs and yearbooks. The most current editions are located in Reference.

Atlases, gazetteers and geographic material. These include state, regional, national and international sources.

Bibliographies. Those located in Reference are appropriate to specific topics and areas of study. Bibliographies relating to individual authors are located in the circulating collection.

Biographical sources. Biographical encyclopedias as well as compiled biographies arranged for specific subjects (e.g. historical, gender, or racial treatment) are located in Reference. Biographies of individuals are located in the circulating collection.

Business information. Handbook of Common Stocks, Standard and Poor’s, and Industry Surveys are examples of standard works located in Reference.

Career opportunities. These materials do not duplicate those that are already being purchased by the Career Development Department unless patron need is clearly established.

Census material. The most recent decennial city and county, agriculture, business and health-related sources are located in Reference.

College Catalogs. Graduate and undergraduate directories and international opportunities as well as sources organized by major are housed in Reference. Individual college catalogs are not collected.

Dictionaries. Dictionaries of languages taught at Berea College as well as selected other languages are located in Reference, as are etymological dictionaries, dictionaries of terms in various subject areas, and specialized dictionaries (e.g., slang and regional or ethnic dialect dictionaries). Quotation sources also fall into this category.

Electronic resources. Electronic reference sources, such as indexing/abstracting databases, full-text databases, and websites, are made available on the Reference area computers and by remote access through the Internet.

Encyclopedias. General encyclopedias include Britannica, Academic American, Americana, and Colliers. These four are updated regularly. Subject-based encyclopedias for the sciences, humanities and social sciences are also located in Reference.

Government sources. Sources containing information about state, federal, and international government agencies as well as local resources are located in Reference.

Grant and Scholarship information. Sources focusing on grant and scholarship information for students and faculty are located in Reference.

Handbooks. Handbooks and guides in various areas (e.g. literature, field identification of birds) are located in Reference. Style manuals are also included in this category.

Indexes. Duplication of print and electronic subject indexes does not occur in Reference unless the Reference staff specifically selects both. (Occasionally both are desired due to ease of access or price considerations.) Electronic access to subject indexes through consortial arrangements or direct purchase by Hutchins Library is preferred to print wherever possible.

Legal and Medical Resources. State and national legal sources and a representative selection of basic medical sources are located in Reference. Electronic supplementation, where possible, provides the most recent and correct information available.

Sacred Books. Various versions of the Bible and examples of the sacred texts of religions other than Christianity are located in Reference. General religious resources (e.g., concordances, dictionaries, and encyclopedias) are also collected.

State and regional sources. These sources especially include Appalachia, women, and African Americans.

Travel guides. Guides are regularly updated to support faculty and student opportunities for study abroad.

Reference Selection Guidelines

Sources selected should be of high quality and appropriate to the needs of Hutchins Library’s patrons. Material should be easy to use, provide comprehensive indexing, and have a user-friendly format. Personal bias and censorship should not be allowed to influence selections. Redundancy and overemphasis in any area to the detriment of other disciplines is to be avoided.

Other criteria include the reputation of publishers, authors, and editors; currency; scope; accuracy; level of writing; uniqueness of coverage; anticipated use; durability; and cost.

Formats for Reference Materials

Books. Most reference books, including oversize books, are kept in the Reference Stacks.

Serials. If the primary purpose of a serial title is to provide current information (e.g. a directory or almanac), and the title is regularly updated, only the most current edition is kept in the Reference Stacks. Older editions are either sent to the stacks or withdrawn. A few serial publications are maintained in their entirety in Reference because they function as a set or because they provide historical data covering a number of years.

Microforms. Presently there are no microforms in the reference collection. In general, online access is preferred over microfilm for reference sources.

Electronic Formats. Reference sources are selected for both content and ease of use/access. Consortial relationships play a major role in the selection of Internet-accessible electronic reference sources. Hutchins Library’s subject bibliographers are responsible for the selection and provision of freely available reference sources on their individual subject guide pages. All Internet reference sources subscribed to by Hutchins Library may be accessed from the Library’s web pages. Electronic journals and other full-text publications that may function as reference sources because they are searchable by keyword may also be featured as reference sources on the library’s web pages.

Criteria for Selecting Reference Electronic Resources

Materials in electronic format are considered for purchase on the basis of their merit.  The same collection development standards apply to both electronic sources and print sources.  Because of cost consi derations, librarians must determine whether choosing electronic format over print will provide some added value to the collection for its patrons. The Coordinator of Reference, in consultation with the reference staff, recommends the format which best serves instructional and research needs in a particular subject area.

Reference Collection Maintenance

Currency is the most important factor in keeping a reference collection useful. When a new edition supersedes an item, the older item should be moved to the stacks or discarded.  The librarian responsible for a particular discipline should review of the collection systematically every year and order whatever updates are appropriate and available.  The Reference Coordinator should do a complete review of the collection every five years.

Responsibilty for Reference Collection

The Coordinator of Reference is ultimately responsible for the development and maintenance of the reference collection.  The Coordinator works with the reference staff and the other librarians to select resources for the reference collection. Specifically, the Coordinator of Reference works closely with the Electronic Services Coordinator to provide a collection with the best possible balance and patron access.

It is the responsibility of each subject liaison to suggest acquisitions, transfers, and withdrawals of reference materials in his/her subject fields. If possible, reviews should be checked for all selections. Good sources of reviews include, but are not limited to, ARBA, Choice, Booklist, Library Journal, American Libraries, authoritative journals within the various disciplines, and reference selection sources such as Guide to Reference Books.