The collection of the Bowdoin College Library has been developed and maintained across hundreds of years to support the curricular and research needs of the Bowdoin community. Indeed, librarians and faculty have worked together for generations to build the deep and expansive collection that is the Bowdoin College Library today. Ranging from parchment scrolls to data sets, the Library’s collection reflects the diversity of both the intellectual interests of our community and the ever-evolving resources needed to support those interests. Strategies to acquire and maintain these resources necessarily have evolved as well; we are continually adopting new acquisition models to provide the most economical access to needed research materials. Our collaboration with Colby and Bates libraries on the purchasing and retention of materials has proven an important and successful collection strategy, having a tremendous impact on the philosophical and practical aspects of collection development at Bowdoin.
This document outlines the various principles and strategies we use to guide the selection of materials for the Library amidst a dramatically changing publishing environment. In such a context, this document serves only as a guide: directions will vary as we continue to navigate the uncharted waters of collection development in the digital age. We welcome suggestions from the community.
The Library acquires material, regardless of format (books, journals, music, film, etc.) in several ways: through purchase, subscription, or “just in time” models such as pay-per-view. Purchases and subscriptions often are made in collaboration with Colby and Bates. Borrowing materials from other libraries (interlibrary loan) serves as an important, additional access strategy for specialized research. Similarly, the Library facilitates access to collections at other institutions for students and faculty when needed.
In addition to acquiring newly-published materials, the Library supports new curricular areas through retrospective collection development, acquiring previously published, core materials needed for teaching and research in those areas.
Faculty are encouraged to submit requests for new materials that will support curriculum and research needs. We refer faculty to How Faculty Can Contribute to Collection Building at Bowdoin for specific ordering information. In all cases, the Library strives to acquire a diverse and balanced range of materials.
Languages—We acquire materials in all languages that are taught in the curriculum, and generally rely on interlibrary lending for materials in non-curricular languages and specialized foreign-language publications.
Formats—As traditional material formats are supplemented or supplanted by new ones (e.g., cassette to CD to streaming), the Library replaces the older format when appropriate, always preferring only one format, usually the latest, of any individual item.
Gifts—The Library accepts gifts within the limitations of our collection policy and our space considerations. Please contact the Collections Librarian.
The Library acquires books, both print and electronic, in several ways:
Duplication— At the faculty's request, the Library will purchase duplicate copies of books already owned by Colby or Bates or which are already held here in an alternate print or electronic format to support curricular needs.
Binding— Most books are purchased in paperback, and are bound when needed according to the book’s condition. Cloth-bound (hard cover) books are ordered when high use is expected or is the only format available.
Replacements— Missing, lost, or damaged books are reviewed for replacement by collection liaisons. The decision to replace is based on multiple considerations including the nature and cost of the work and the availability of copies at our partner libraries.
Journals require a continuing commitment of funding, staff processing time and, for print materials, shelf space. New journal titles are evaluated on a case-by-case basis in the context of curricular needs (new or established), faculty research and financial commitment.
The Library acquires journals in several ways:
Journal formats—We subscribe to journals only in one format, print or electronic, preferring the electronic format except when color, graphics, and images are superior in print, or when the print artifact itself is of value.
Binding—Back issues of journals are bound when we do not own that content online or the print version is valued as an artifact in itself.
Reviewing Journal Subscriptions— Maintaining a vital and economically viable journal collection for faculty and student research requires ongoing vigilance. Faculty are regularly encouraged to review the journals in their disciplines for continued relevance to their teaching and research.
Databases are acquired based on recommendations from and evaluations by librarians and faculty, and in collaboration and consultation with Colby and Bates. They are typically offered either as a one-time purchase of archival content (e.g. Early English Books Online) or as an annual subscription with content often added and updated on an ongoing basis (Oxford African American Studies Center). As many valuable and sometimes similar products may be published in one year, we often evaluate products together, allowing us to compare and prioritize content. Databases which meet the research needs of multiple departments or disciplines are preferred. Given that the financial commitment required to license or purchase is considerable, the Library usually requests a “trial” from the vendor for the librarians and faculty to review as part of the evaluation process.
Audiobooks— A small collection of fiction and nonfiction audio books are acquired for leisure listening.
Children’s Books – The Library maintains a small collection of children’s books for both curricular and entertainment value.
Data Sets –Data sets that can be made accessible to the Bowdoin community (rather than for individual use) are acquired at faculty request.
Faculty publications/alumni publications—The Library generally collects two copies of faculty publications written during their employment at Bowdoin. One copy is purchased for the circulating collection and is put on display in the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library lobby for five years, after which time it is transferred to the circulating collection. The second copy is purchased for the College Archives. Alumni publications are purchased for the College Archives and additional copies may be purchased for the circulating collection if they are within scope of the curriculum.
Government Documents — The Bowdoin College Library is a selective library in the Federal Depository Library Program. We select approximately 13% of the available items; about 62% of the selected items are online and about 38% are in some tangible format. Digital format is preferred when resources are easily accessible and when the print version does not offer a significant advantage to access or use. Bowdoin College Library is also an official depository for Maine State Documents. Federal and Maine documents are accessible to the general public.
Maps— Maps are added to the collection when needed for curricular use. USGS topographical maps are held in the Hatch Science Library.
Music Recordings—The Library acquires music recordings and music videos on CD, DVD, and through streaming media services in all genres supported by the curriculum.
Newspapers—We subscribe to the major national and foreign newspapers, preferably online if the publisher offers an institutional subscription.
Play Scripts—To facilitate browsing, the latest five years of new play scripts are shelved in the “Display Alcove” in the lobby of H-L Library before being transferred to their call number location in the stacks.
Rare books and manuscript collections: Please contact the director of Special Collections & Archives.
Recreational reading (“Display” books) —Recent books of interest, including books reviewed in the New York Times and other sources, are purchased and shelved in the lobby of the HL Library for a year, then are transferred to their call number location in the stacks.
Reference Works — Dictionaries, encyclopedias, directories, and other reference works are purchased very selectively in the format that best suits the use of that material.
Reserve Materials—See separate policy.
Scores— Scores are acquired by the music librarian and by recommendations from faculty.
In addition, the music librarians at Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin have established a shared print score approval plan with Theodore Front to insure coverage of current editions and editions of music by contemporary U.S. and international composers.
Standing orders/monographic series — Standing orders are essentially subscriptions to a series of books with ongoing cost commitments and so requests for new standing orders are evaluated with the same procedure as new journal subscriptions.
Streaming Media—To provide the convenience of 24/7 access, the Library acquires streaming audio and video according to curricular relevance and content quality, considering also the platform and leasing options available.
Textbooks—The Library does not acquire textbooks (e.g., Introduction to Sociology) for the general collections or for reserve Faculty are welcome to put their own copies of textbooks on reserve for their courses.
Video— The Library collects videos in all curricular areas and prefers acquiring them in one format only. As of this writing, the latest formats available for videos are DVD and some streaming platforms. We buy videos in the Blu-ray format selectively.
To ensure long-term access to the electronic content in which we have invested, the Library maintains memberships in two digital archiving organizations: Portico and CLOCKSS, both of which will provide access to electronic content in the event of a provider's business failure or closure.
To ensure long-term access to print content, the Library is a member of the Five College Library Depository (FCLD) in Amherst, Massachusetts, and the Maine Shared Collection Consortium (MSCC). The FCLD stores print runs of the journals in JSTOR and from selected publishers and societies. Bowdoin patrons may request individual volumes. The FCLD agreement has allowed the Library to free up space for its growing collection by removing long journal runs since they are now securely archived both in print and electronic form.
The Library is also a member of the Maine Shared Collection Consortium, a group of eight libraries working collaboratively to develop strategies to retain, store and preserve print materials held by libraries in the state of Maine. Through a formal agreement, libraries commit to retain certain print titles in their collection and to make these materials available to Maine libraries. These books are requestable by patrons via both CBBcat and MaineCat. The agreement will permit Bowdoin to gain space by withdrawing rarely-used books which are committed-to-retain by another MSCC library.
In a further effort to accommodate our growing collection and to ensure that the most heavily- used materials are available on campus, the Library has moved about 40,000 lesser-used volumes to a storage facility managed by Lyrasis, a national library organization. These volumes are in CBBcat and are requestable, with delivery generally within 24 hours.