Reference Collection Management Policies

This document describes the policies in place for the reference collection located in the Main Library. Reference collections located in the branch libraries are covered in separate policy statements.

I. Objectives of the Reference Collection Development Policy

  1. To establish guidelines for the subject scope of the reference collection and the types of materials included in it.
  2. To establish guidelines for acquiring new materials and for weeding the collection, ensuring the development and maintenance of a reference collection that will meet the needs of the users.

II. Subject Scope of the Collection

  1. The reference collection provides information sources that will not only support the curriculum, but also meet users’ basic informational needs. In order to discharge the Libraries’ commitment to support the goals and curriculum of the University and honor its commitment to the Tri-College University, emphasis will be placed on materials in agriculture, science, and technology.
  2. The reference collection excludes or has minimal resources in the following fields:
    • Recreation materials on subjects such as bicycling, backpacking and camping.
    • Genealogy, except for works pertaining to general history studies.
    • Children’s literature.
    • Travel and restaurant guides, except as contained in pamphlet files.
    • Hobbies and crafts.
    • Concordances (kept in general book collection; exceptions may be made, e.g., Biblical, Shakespearean).
    • Maps (most are kept in the Map Collection; some may be housed in Reference, but these are not considered part of the reference collection.)
    • National and trade bibliographies.
    • North Dakota regional materials that fall within the scope of the North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies.
    • Foundation and fund raising materials.

III. Size of the Reference Collection
The Research Services Program does not designate an absolute limit on the size of the reference collection. However, prevailing demand, changes in the curriculum, and student enrollment figures in various disciplines serve as guides to the relative growth rates of subject areas within the collection.

IV. Types of Materials Included in the Reference Collection

  1. Almanacs and yearbooks: the collection contains current editions of major publications for the United States and selected foreign countries.
  2. Bibliographies: general bibliographies on broad topics, and of a continuing nature, are included in the reference collection. Those with narrow subject scope, such as single-author bibliographies, are normally kept in the stacks.
  3. Biographies: the collection contains selected comprehensive works dealing with professional, national, and international biography, including both retrospective and current biography.
  4. City Directories: the collection contains the current edition of the Fargo/Moorhead City Directory.
  5. Dictionaries: the collection provides unilingual, bilingual, and polyglot dictionaries in major languages. Bilingual dictionaries are provided for as many languages as possible, including minor ones. The collection also provides specialized dictionaries (for example, covering slang, idiomatic expressions, historical aspects of language, and specific subject areas.)
  6. Directories: the reference collection includes a current edition of major directories in selected subject fields.
  7. Encyclopedias: the reference collection includes a selection of major general encyclopedias in the English language. These will be kept current, with a new edition being purchased every year on a rotating basis, as funds permit. In addition to the general encyclopedias, the collection contains authoritative encyclopedias in specialized subject areas.
  8. Geographical Sources: the reference collection provides selected gazetteers and atlases.
  9. Handbooks: the reference collection should contain current and authoritative handbooks in major subject fields.
  10. Indexes and Abstracts: the reference collection provides as many indexing and abstracting services as possible in fields of knowledge covered by the curriculum, within budgetary limitations. Emphasis is given to agricultural, scientific, and technological materials.
  11. Indexes to Theses: the reference collection provides bibliographic access to theses and dissertations with Dissertation Abstracts International and other sources.
  12. Legal Materials: the reference collection provides minimal legal resources.
  13. Plot Summaries: the reference collection provides major collections of plot summaries.
  14. Sacred Books: the reference collection maintains a collection of English translations of sacred works significant to major world religions.
  15. Style Manuals: the reference collection includes major style manuals.
  16. Telephone Directories: the reference collection contains a collection of North Dakota telephone directories. Directories of other cities are included on a highly selective basis.
  17. Uncataloged Materials: the reference collection contains some materials not included in the online catalog, such as travel brochures.

V. Formats

Reference materials will be acquired in the most appropriate format. Generally, electronic formats will be preferred when the cost is reasonable and/or the electronic format is a significant improvement in quality over others available.

VI. Acquisition of New Reference Materials

  1. The Research Services Program has the primary responsibility for pursuing a systematic and continuous acquisition program for the reference collection. Individual subject librarians may purchase materials for the reference collection at their discretion.
  2. The following principles, not in order of importance, serve as guidelines in deciding which titles will be ordered:
    • Judged usefulness of the publication, considering the existing collection.
    • Strengths and weaknesses of the existing collection related to current needs of the University.
    • Favorable reviews or inclusion in basic reference collection guidelines.
    • Reputation of the author.
    • Currency of the topic.
    • Date of publication.
    • Price of the publication.

VII. Policy Review

This policy shall be reviewed periodically by the Collection Management Coordinating Team.