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Collection Building Resources

How Faculty Can Contribute to Collection Building at Bowdoin

The richness of the Library's collection is a direct result of the faculty's long-term involvement in the selection of materials. In support of that involvement, we have created this document to outline the roles librarians and faculty play in building the collection and to describe how we acquire new and retrospective materials. We value your participation.

  • Librarians are responsible for developing a core liberal arts collection and acquiring materials in support of the curriculum and basic research. Every academic department has a research librarian whose role is to support the collection and serve as a resource for faculty in collection-building in that area. The liaison is alert to the changing curriculum and new resources in the field, and, as part of our cooperative collection strategy with Colby and Bates, regularly consults with those colleagues, and selects new materials accordingly.
  • We rely on faculty to help fill in the gaps and keep us up-to-date on the newest—and oldest—research. Are you teaching a new class? Embarking on a new area of research? Talk with your research librarian about the resources you and your students might need.
  • The Library budget supports all of the campus, and faculty requests are drawn from a general pool of funds; there are no departmental budgets. We are committed to supporting your research within our budgetary limitations.
  • New faculty funds are additional funds allocated to new tenure-track faculty to support the purchase of library materials. New faculty typically have a three-year window in which to spend out these special funds. Your research librarian is glad to help you identify appropriate materials.

Please see the Bowdoin College Library Collection Management Guidelines page for a more detailed document outlining the overarching philosophy and guidelines of collection development at Bowdoin.

How We Acquire Books, Journals, and other Materials


The Library acquires books, both print and electronic, in several ways:

  • working with a book vendor, the Colby, Bates and Bowdoin libraries share a collaborative “approval plan” which insures the timely receipt of new books from major academic publishers. Please consult with your librarian liaison if you would like to review the CBB approval plan and/or suggest changes;
  • research librarians routinely order books to supplement the CBB approval plan;
  • faculty requests;
  • e-book packages from publishers and aggregators;
  • demand-driven acquisition, also referred to as patron-driven acquisition, where e-book records are available in our catalog and the Library pays only when a book is used;
  • Interlibrary Loan, an important strategy for providing books which are out of print, expensive, or of narrow interest.

To order books, place your request via the Library Materials Order Form. Or simply mark-up publishers’ catalogs and forward them to Acquisitions, H-L Library. Additional ordering information is here.

For reserve books, please see the Library’s guidelines for ordering books for reserve.


Journals require a continuing commitment of funding, staff time and, for print materials, shelf space. Requests for new journals are evaluated on a case-by-case basis in the context of curricular needs (new or established), faculty research and financial commitment. We consider whether the journal is well-indexed, available in electronic format, and has the potential for wide use. As with monographs, the Library acquires journals in several ways:

  • individual requests from faculty and librarians;
  • cost-effective electronic journal packages from publishers and aggregators;
  • a "pay-per-view" model where the Library pays for a specific journal article only when it is used, rather than subscribing to the entire journal;
  • through Interlibrary Loan.

To request a new journal, please consult with your research librarian or fill out the Periodical Request Form with detailed justification of why we need to have this new journal at Bowdoin.

Databases and Other Materials

All other materials including databases, CDs, DVDs, scores, maps, data sets, images, streaming services, etc., are acquired through a combination of librarian and faculty orders. Faculty may use the Library Order Form or simply e-mail their research librarian with the request. Databases and other expensive products are evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the Library and in conjunction with Colby and Bates. Contact your research librarian with your request.

We welcome your questions and comments. Please contact Marjorie Hassen, College Librarian.