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SVSU Zahnow Library Collection Development Policy: Material Formats

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

Collection Development Policy: Material Formats

The library collects a variety of formats including but not limited to: print books, ebooks, electronic databases, online resources, streaming music and video, periodicals, CDs, and DVDs. The library will not collect outdated or hard-to-find formats (such as print indexes, VHS or CD-ROMs).

Databases (including full text, abstract and indexes):

Most periodical content, streaming videos and other online library material are accessed through subscription and purchased electronic databases. Electronic is the only acceptable format. The library does not collect print indexes or databases on disc.

Database recommendations from faculty are encouraged and the library will get product trials whenever possible to gather feedback. Every effort is made to avoid duplication and cost is always a primary decision-making factor. Selection, deselection, and ongoing evaluation of online databases are based on several criteria including: coverage, relevance to curriculum, total usage, price per use, full text coverage, interface design, annual price, ongoing costs, faculty feedback and licensing terms.


Ebooks are an increasingly large part of the library’s book collection. The library has a wide variety of methods to get ebooks including leases, individual purchase, ebook packages and patron driven acquisition (PDA) of ebooks. Many factors are used when deciding between print and electronic. These factors include: cost, preservation, space issues, demand, user preference, and location of the primary user.

Depending on the subject area and request, the library may get an ebook copy instead of a print copy. This is because ebooks tend to be obtained faster, easily searched, require no physical space and sometimes come with unlimited access. Electronic books should be considered when purchasing monographs for the collection including reference materials. Perpetual access to content (i.e., purchase) is preferred over leasing, especially for single title ebook acquisition. The exception to this is highly evolving fields such as: health or computer science where leasing an ebook or collection may be preferred.

Out-of-Print Materials:

Occasionally there is a need to obtain out of print items for the collection to fulfill a need or request. This may be the case with some retrospective purchasing or when trying to acquire a replacement copy. Online book seller sites or similar resources are used to purchase these items. The library may not always be able to get an item because it is unavailable or is too cost prohibitive to order.


Mass market paperbacks are not purchased for the general collection. For academic books the binding choice or format (hardcover, softcover or ebook) is left up to the discretion of the liaison librarian for that subject area. Softcover copies are recommended for print books that are less than 500 pages and may not receive high usage. The paperback version tends to be more affordable and allows the library to purchase additional items.

Periodicals (Journals, Magazines, Newspapers, etc.):

Electronic is the preferred format for individual and package serial subscriptions. Prior to acquisition, a diligent effort must be made to avoid exact duplication of holdings in other electronic packages. Other considerations are: cost, preservation, perpetual access, licensing, relevancy to the current curriculum and availability of usage statistics. Print journal titles will be purchased when a sufficient electronic equivalent is unavailable and the title is needed for curriculum support and funds are available.


The Zahnow Library collects several types of multimedia including: DVDs, CDs and streaming media. If possible, streaming media is the preferred format for audio and video materials. Multimedia purchases must either support student research needs or SVSU curriculum. Book allocation funds can be used to purchase multimedia items as long as they are meeting the selection criteria in the collection development policy. Blu-Rays are not usually collected because they cannot be universally played on some media players and laptops. All multimedia materials MUST be ADA complaint.

Reference Materials:

The reference collection contains both print and electronic materials.  Electronic copies are considered when acquiring new reference materials including any multi-volume encyclopedias, large dictionaries or sets. The library makes every effort to make sure the reference collection is current, easily accessible and diverse.


The library does not typically collect microforms including microfiche. Print or electronic copies of items are preferred. Exceptions can be made if the material is unavailable in any other format.

Foreign Language Materials:

The library collects primarily English language materials. Foreign language materials will be acquired as needed in order to support the curriculum in the Department of Modern Foreign Languages and the English Language Program at SVSU.