Collection Development



Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC), a two-year institution established as a member of the Virginia Community College System, provides post-secondary, state-supported educational facilities for the cities of Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Waynesboro and the counties of Highland, Augusta, and Rockingham. The student body is multi-cultural and covers a wide range of ages, learning styles, and socioeconomic groups. Its two-year college transfer programs in arts and sciences and in certain pre-professional areas lead to associate degrees and offer courses accepted for transfer to four year institutions. Its occupational and technical programs lead to diplomas, certificates, or associate of applied science degrees. Other programs include developmental work, special training for area industries, continuing education, and community service to groups in the area.   Houff Library’s goal is to provide access to collections sufficient in quality, depth, diversity, format and currency to support the research and teaching missions of BRCC.


The purpose of the Collection Development Policy is to establish guidelines for selecting and maintaining materials. In addition to addressing the initial selection of resources, the policy also covers the associated functions of preservation, removal and replacement.

Materials Selection

The Head Librarian provides final approval for the acquisition of all materials purchased with library funds. The Head Librarian and librarians consult with faculty and staff on selection. Requests from BRCC faculty, staff and administrators, students and the community are encouraged; they are accepted and processed as appropriate.   Houff Library tries to anticipate the educational needs of the central Shenandoah Valley, providing access to information related to the college’s comprehensive programs and services, offering titles to encourage life-long learning and intellectual growth, yet emphasizing general education that is broad based and not bounded by discipline. 

Informational needs of the student body are the top collection priority. These needs are filled according to the following guidelines:

  1. Requests from teaching faculty for resources to support instruction are given the highest priority in the allotment of funds (after constant costs such as serials, continuations and necessary reference updates).
  2. Priority for materials acquisitions follows a five year cycle (especially medicine, science and technology).
  3. Requests from instructors of new courses for which few or no existing resources are available take precedence among faculty requests. Materials to support existing curricula, research and institutional strengths are considered next, and current interest and recreational materials are considered last.


The predominant language of material to be collected will be English. The college offers new but quickly growing ESL courses.  The college also offers beginning Spanish and French, so materials in those languages may be collected as requested by faculty teaching each language.  Foreign language dictionaries are purchased for their value as general reference sources.


Houff Library embraces change by providing access to many of its titles in numerous and varied formats, accessible virtually and physically.  As new technologies appear, they may not be purchased immediately but formats which make information more accessible to larger numbers of users will be considered and evaluated, weighing relative merit, cost, production standards and convenience of use, comparisons with existing formats to make logical decisions based on usefulness.  

Intellectual Freedom

The BRCC’s Houff Library subscribes to the American Library Association's Library Bill of Rights and its various interpretations. The concept of censorship is antithetical to the free pursuit of knowledge and exploration of ideas so necessary in the formation of values and beliefs and is a primary goal of education.

Selection Criteria

The specific criteria used in considering an item for purchase include the following in relative order of importance:

  1. Relevance to user needs at BRCC and/or user requests
  2. Appropriateness to community college learning level
  3. Predicted likelihood of use by students and/or faculty
  4. Authoritativeness, accuracy, and timeliness
  5. Reputation of author and publisher or producer
  6. Positive reviews
  7. Price
  8. Appropriateness of format to need
  9. Organization and style

Periodical Selection

The selection of periodicals involves using the same considerations as with books but in a different order of importance and there are some distinctive features as well. Periodicals in specific subject disciplines are usually selected at the request of teaching faculty. General interest magazines and newspapers are chosen because they appear on a list of basic sources, or are cited in one or more library databases, and requested by users. Price is also a factor in determining which title(s) may or may not be added.

Interlibrary Loan

The existence and increasing ease of use of interlibrary loan has impacted the selection process. In the case of periodicals, a title needed only a few times over the course of several years can be borrowed from another library much more cheaply than it can be purchased. That capability must be weighed against the cost of subscribing to that periodical and balanced by a projected number of uses in order to decide on its selection. Those same variables may be used in considering a book purchase but it is more difficult to gauge projected usage; and one must bear in mind that most libraries will not lend a very new title. If currency is an issue, the library should purchase it.   Houff Library’s participation in the VIVA consortium, and inclusion in a reciprocal interlibrary loan agreement with most of the libraries in the Commonwealth, guarantees the availability of good cooperative resource sharing through lending.

Gift Policy

BRCC is appreciative of community philanthropy in the form of useful gifts to its collection. The librarians would be pleased to consult with donors concerning appropriate selections of materials for Houff Library. 

In considering donated items, the only criterion deleted from the selection list above is cost. All other criteria maintain the same level of importance. Acceptance of donated items from the general public must always be accompanied by the caveat that we reserve the right to use or not use items as appropriate, and donations on which the donor places conditions cannot be accepted.

Librarians will be glad to give donors a receipt for donated items but cannot attach a value to those items.

Removal, Replacement, and Preservation

Collection management must include a program of periodic or ongoing collection review based on space constraints, changing user needs, and deterioration or obsolescence. Deciding what to do with items that have outlived their usefulness or ones which are in poor physical condition is done on a continuing basis. If they are to be preserved, they may be rebound, mended, replaced, or protected in some manner.  Houff Library’s collections do not lend themselves to costly preservation methods or removal to a restricted, environmentally controlled location since the holdings include little that is rare or irreplaceable. If items are to be removed, a librarian evaluates them and decides about replacement.


Weeding the collection, or choosing items for reconsideration, may be done piecemeal or in a more systematic manner depending on available time. Some materials are weeded at the time of circulation if their condition is critical. Others are evaluated as part of inventory or periodic review of particular areas of the collection. A complete cycle of collection review should occur at least every three years.

Removal or discarding

When rebinding and mending are not feasible solutions, a book (or piece of media) may be discarded. Ownership stamps, call number and bar code are removed or obliterated. The bibliographic record and circulation records are updated. Physical disposal of materials purchased with state funds is accomplished in accordance with accepted state guidelines. 

Collection review for the purpose of deselecting items can be done by librarians. Input from faculty members for the discipline involved is sought and recommendations for replacements are encouraged. Responsibility for de-selection ultimately falls to the librarians.

Criteria for Removal

There are other reasons to consider discarding a title besides poor condition, including:

  1. Lack of currency
  2. Failure to conform to program or class needs
  3. No lasting importance; ephemera
  4. Past or projected lack of use based on circulation
  5. Lack of reference, historical or critical value

Curriculum-related media is purchased almost exclusively at the request of faculty. Its removal from the collection also is coordinated with the faculty member for whom it was purchased. As with print formats, there are a number of reasons for performing a collection review and choosing to deselect items in the multimedia collection. The more significant ones, in addition to ones noted for books, include:

  1. Damaged, brittle, or otherwise irreparable media condition
  2. Deteriorated visual or audio quality
  3. Content inaccuracies or irrelevance of themes
  4. Unfairness in racial, cultural, or sex role depiction
  5. Continued relevance to curricular or research needs
  6. Availability and operating condition of equipment on which material is used

A further consideration in this entire process is that if material is not added or removed from a collection, it diminishes the vitality of the collection. It is much more useful to students to be able to go to the shelf and find a small number of well-chosen, relevant items on a subject instead of a mass of useless or outdated material.


When a book is discarded because of its poor physical condition, it should be considered for replacement as Houff Library strives to provide an attractive, accessible, and functional environment for learning and working.  Factors to be considered include:

  1. whether it has been superseded by a new edition or more current information
  2. relevance to student needs
  3. availability
  4. price

Periodicals (serials) Review

Ongoing and continual review of periodicals must be done, and subscriptions may be canceled for some of the same reasons that apply to other materials such as 

  1. lack of space
  2. infrequent use
  3. conversion to another format
  4. obsolescence 
  5. poor condition 

Other considerations include

  1. declining quality
  2. increasing cost
  3. availability of online access