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SVSU Zahnow Library Collection Development Policy: Selection & Materials

This guide contains all of the information and forms regarding the Zahnow Library's collection development and gift policies and procedures.

Collection Development Policy: Selection & Materials

Material Recommendations:

Any user (faculty, student, staff, alumni or public patron) of the library can make a recommendation for the library’s collection. Requests can be made using the online form or by contacting the library liaison in that subject area. All requests are reviewed by the liaison librarian and the requestor will be contacted when a decision has been made. SVSU librarians always use the collection development criteria outlined in this policy when making purchasing decisions.

Selection Criteria:

The Melvin J. Zahnow Library follows several guidelines and criteria when selecting material. The primary objective is that material support the curriculum or coursework at SVSU.

The following criteria is used to evaluate potential print or electronic purchases:

  • Relevance to the curriculum
  • Academic quality and presentation of the content
  • Audience level
  • Timeliness, currency and long-term sustainability of the content
  • Credentials of the author and/or publisher
  • Faculty recommendation
  • Positive review(s) from credible publications or sites
  • Format availability and accessibility
  • Accuracy of the content
  • Duplication of content matter
  • Strength of the current holdings in that subject area
  • Cost and budget
  • Potential usage of the item
  • Aesthetic considerations and other features (such as artistic value and bibliography)
  • Physical quality of the print item (such typography and binding)
  • Documented demand (such as written requests or ILL requests)


Additional criteria to consider for electronic resources:

  • Price and ongoing cost of maintenance
  • Multiple or unlimited user access
  • Agreeable licensing terms
  • Usefulness of the product for multiple programs of study    
  • IP authentication is required
  • Ease of use of the interface
  • No requirements for additional hardware and/or software
  • Compatibility with library services (such as link resolvers and discovery platforms)
  • Availability of a trial period (Beyond 30 days is preferable)
  • Updating frequency
  • Availability of a library administration site with additional features
  • Availability of COUNTER compliant usage statistics



The liaison librarians of the Melvin J. Zahnow Library research and select the new materials for their respective subject areas. A variety of methods are used to acquire materials including: ebook packages, patron driven acquisition (PDA) ebook plans and individual book and ebook selection. Librarians use many evaluation tools and review publications to help find recommended academic content. Some of the publications used are: CHOICE, Publisher’s Weekly, College & Research Libraries and Library Journal among many others. Faculty and student feedback is preferred and encouraged. The purchasing, processing and cataloging of new material is handled by the library’s acquisitions staff and technical services department.


The Zahnow Library does accept some book and monetary gifts. For more information, including what will and will not be accepted, please refer to the library’s gift policy.

Collecting Limitations:

The following types of material are not collected: ¹

  • Textbooks
  • Books of collected articles (unless unavailable elsewhere)
  • Archival and rare book materials (except those deemed highly important to SVSU curriculum or the library’s special collections)
  • Spiral-Bound books
  • Printed proceedings
  • Non English-Language materials (unless relevant to language coursework)
  • Extremely expensive material (unless circumstances dictate)
  • Highly specialized works or publications in fields not taught at SVSU
  • Outdated technological formats including VHS and CD-ROMs
  • Self-published material


¹ Exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis by the Library Director.


Electronic Resources

Zahnow Library acquires and subscribes to many products requiring online access. These products include subscription databases, indexes, reference sources, electronic books (ebooks) and electronic journals (ejournals). Most of these items require a site license, which states the product may be accessed on site (SVSU campus) and usually, remotely (off campus) through a login.

Electronic resources are (by far) the most expensive category of materials in the Zahnow Library budget. Purchasing options can vary from one time payments with ongoing maintenance fees, to ongoing annual subscriptions, or multi-year payments. Subscriptions historically increase over time. Therefore, commitment to an electronic resource can be significant and requires intense consideration.

Open Access:

Zahnow Library supports alternative publishing initiatives and digitization projects that seek to make high quality titles affordable. This includes providing access to titles published as open access and the development of an online repository connecting some of our collections to the local community, to Michigan and to the world. More information on open access can be obtained from SPARC:

University Archives and Special Collections:

The University Archives provides researchers the opportunity to examine primary and secondary source material related to the history of SVSU. The Special Collections at the Zahnow Library contain semi-unique materials that are mostly related to the state of Michigan and the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Some of the current Special Collections include: The Ken Follett Papers, The Michigan Historical Collection, The Flying Melzoras Collection, The Beatrice Roethke Papers as well as several others. To learn more about the University Archives and Special Collections please visit:

University Archives and Special Collections cover three distinct areas:

  • Material connected or related to the history of SVSU
  • Unique or special material collected by the Zahnow Library (such as the Follett Papers)
  • Closed or library use only materials. These items include rare² or highly valuable materials, university capstones, SVSU honors projects, thesis and more.

New material being added to the archives or special collections at SVSU must fit into one of those three categories, meet the collection development policy criteria and be approved by the Library Director before being added to the collection. Exceptions to this procedure are made for materials that are routinely added such as university publications.

² Rare material is defined by the Concise Dictionary of Library and Information Science as, “Any material that is old, scarce or difficult to locate in open or specialized markets… (p. 207).”

Cooperative Collections and Resource Sharing:

Like many libraries, SVSU’s Zahnow Library has a fixed budget and may not always be able to purchase a requested journal, book or database. The library is involved in several programs, services and initiatives that help provide access to additional materials that are not owned by the Zahnow Library. Interlibrary loan (ILL) provides access to journal articles and books that are not in our collection. SVSU participates in MelCat, a state-wide catalog service, allowing resource sharing of books among many Michigan libraries. The library also participates in group purchases and subscriptions through the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services (MCLS). The Zahnow Library is part of the Michigan Shared Print Initiative (MI-SPI) program as well.

Faculty Publications:

The Zahnow Library will make every effort to collect the published works of current SVSU faculty and staff. This will be done through faculty donations and purchasing titles. Course related and out-of-print faculty titles may be kept in archives to help prevent damage and theft.


The library offers faculty both print and electronic course reserves. For more information and instructions about course reserves please visit the library guide dedicated for course reserves. (See:

Popular Reading:

The library maintains a modest sized collection of popular reading materials. This includes: recent hardcover fiction, popular biographies, cookbooks and graphic novels. If you have a suggestion for this collection, please use the library’s online suggestion form. After a period of time these books are either withdrawn or added to the academic collection.