Selection and Acquisitions Policies
I. Statement of the Policy
Mabee Learning Center - OBU
The Mabee Learning Center (herein after called the library) exists for the exclusive use of the students, faculty, and staff, of Oklahoma Baptist University. The library does not stand alone as a separate entity for public service, but as support for the teaching priorities of the university. Abiding by the the governing principles of Oklahoma Baptist University, the library is governed by the same mission and goals statement issued by the university and published in the OBU Faculty Handbook.
The library exists primarily for research and reading by OBU students, faculty, and staff. While it welcomes non-OBU patrons through its doors, it cannot ignore that its first call of service is to the university and its primary constituency, students. Furthermore its principles of intellectual freedom are governed by those that govern the university, and not any other organization, body or group unaffiliated with the governing board of the university.
II. Objectives of Selection
The objectives of selection are those that are driven by the university's pedagogy and only indirectly by other influences. For example, the library will not, as a matter of course, use as a selection device, current best seller lists. Such a list would be used as a selection tool only if a given best seller will satisfy a given pedagogy.
More specifically, the objective of selection is that which drives any Christian university library. The standard library practices and procedures obtain here, but are limited by specific pedagogies. Material selections are made in the following areas: Business, Philosophy, Music, Reference, Religion, Education, Communications, Standing Orders, Applied Ministries, Art, Western Civilization, Modern Language, Nursing, Psychology, HPER, Journalism, History, Sociology, English, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Math & Political Science. The intent of selection is to make the best possible choices among the thousands of academic materials published each year with the library's limited financial means.
III. Responsibility of Selection
The chief responsibility for the collection rests with the Dean of Library Services, appointed faculty library allocation officers and liaison librarians. It is the responsibility of the library to calculate the allocations for books, make recommendations to faculty, make selections in areas where omissions have inadvertently occurred, and route to faculty titles that appear seminal in the various disciplines. It is also the responsibility of the dean to pass on subject specific liaison assignments within the library to various professional librarians. Finally, collection responsibility is shared with faculty in the individual disciplines. Faculty will receive sundry communications regarding possible book selections in their areas of expertise as tailored by their education, their scholarship, their experience, or all three.
Although selection and acquisition of print and non-print materials rests chiefly with the Dean of Library Services, certain other responsibilities apply to the professional staff librarians. It is their responsibility to work with their assigned subject departments to make sure that proper information concerning budget status, new library materials, etc. is passed on to them. Each professional librarian who works at the Reference Desk will also be responsible for the purchase of materials used to answer reference questions.
It is the responsibility of the Acquisitions Assistant to order, process and keep records on all print and nonprint materials purchased by the library. This staff member also holds a chief responsibility in the accounting procedures endemic to this job using the library's current computer system. He or she should alert the Head of Technical Services and the Dean of Library Services any time departmental book funds approach overruns. He or she has the authority to prohibit further ordering by any department when funds are not available. Such action requires, however, immediate notification of the Dean of Library services and the department(s) affected. The Acquisitions Assistant will issue at the beginning of the month of October and February a letter stating the amount of funds still available for the time period (one half due by November 1st and one half due by March 1). The letter in February should state that all departmental ordering will cease on March 1st of each fiscal year. If requested, the letter should provide a complete listing of materials ordered up to that time.
IV. Selection Criteria
Every effort will be made by the faculty and professional staff of the library to identify the level of collection support necessary to maintain the strength of the academic programs on campus. Selection and maintenance of print and non-print materials will be made as expeditiously and frugally as possible. Only those items that achieve a level of excellence while meeting student and faculty demands will be ordered.
A. General Selection Criteria
Selection of print and non-print materials will be made on the basis of at least five factors:
1. Readability of material
2. Recognized scholarship and peer value
3. Cost of the material
4. Suitability to a defined pedagogy
5. Interdisciplinary value of the material
Print materials that aim at graduate or professional levels will be purchased sparingly, except in areas where the University offers a graduate program. The aim of selection and acquisition of materials will be the undergraduate student, including but not limited to students 18-25 years of age. Special effort will be exerted, however, to meet the needs of non-traditional students by making representative selections in various areas.
A1. Multiple copies
The library will not, as a general rule, purchase multiple copies of books. Exceptions to this rule may be granted only by the Dean of Library Services.
It is normal practice for an academic library to refuse the recommendation or purchase request for any college or university level textbook. However, in rare subject areas, a textbook may be the only resource material in print. In such cases, the Dean of Library Services may permit the purchase of such as long as that textbook is not currently required for purchase in a specific class or by a specific professor, as verified by the University bookstore or syllabi. Textbooks offered to the library as gifts will be refused, unless they meet the rare resource material guideline mentioned above.
A3. Ephemeral Materials
The library will also not purchase ephemeral materials, such as pamphlets, tracts, etc. aimed at a very limited audience and which do not meet conventional research and scholarship standards. Exceptions to this rule may be granted by the Dean of Library Services.
A4. Popular Fiction
The library will not purchase popular fiction in most cases. Public libraries were made for just such materials and we should not compete with that ideal except in the case of exceptional modern authors as needed by the curriculum of the University.
Periodical subscriptions may be entered if sufficient funds are available for a continuing subscription to that title. Since periodical subscriptions also encumber the future budget(s) of the Mabee Learning Center, the final decision on periodical subscriptions rests with the Dean of Library Services and the Serials/Government Documents librarian. Changes in periodical subscriptions should be requested on the appropriate MLC form. Subscriptions without academic purpose will not be purchased.
A6. Balanced Treatment of Subject Matter
Balance will be achieved insofar as money makes this possible. In some cases this will mean the purchase of representative materials offensive to some. However, it is not the interest of the library to purchase a 'wide-ranging spectrum of interests, giving rise to the notion that all ideas are good ones, or the notion that morality is a matter of preference, but to provide an adequate sampling of materials that circumscribe a subject as effectively as possible, with a decided advantage given to works that reflect Christian orthodoxy. Works that denigrate Christianity, belittle its followers, or otherwise unthinkingly mock the person and work of Jesus Christ will not be purchased. Works that raise legitimate questions with respect to these issues, however, may be purchased on a case-by-case basis. This is admittedly a fine line that will inevitably engender errors on both sides. The MLC seeks, however, to be a library unlike its secular counterparts: one that is Christian in both its practice and representation.
B. Specific Selection criteria
Materials published with the utmost scholastic principles evident in the authors' undertakings, that meet specified pedagogues as outlined above, and that are readable by undergraduates, will be eagerly purchased. Readability should not be taken to mean simple, simple-minded, or unchallenging. Readability is, thus, a paramount factor. Books well researched yet inscrutably written, will be purchased sparingly, and only in cases where an alternative is not available.
Conversely, materials that are shoddily put together, evince poor proof-reading, are in error in substance or in fact, or attempt to persuade not by evidence but solely by argument, will usually be avoided. In some cases, the Dean of Library Services or the liaison librarian may ask faculty to select a different title if a given selected title is dense or otherwise hopelessly unmanageable by undergraduates.
Bl. Non Print Materials: Audiovisual
For media materials, the standard resources will be used in consultation with the Media Center director, faculty, liaison librarians, and the Dean of Library Services. Videos will be purchased that evidence the highest scholarly achievement available. Videos will be selected with consideration given to the content with respect to its documentation, its production and, if applicable, the acting. Execution of the video will also be examined for its use in the undergraduate educational setting.
Videos that offer poor visuals, have a grainy character, are sophomoric in content or documentation, or are overtly biased will be avoided. Funds used for non-print materials will come out of book budget allocations. In no case will book budget funds be used for media materials that are not cataloged, classified and housed in the library.
B2. Non Print Materials: Recorded Music
In like manner, materials selected for the Listening Lab will also be selected on the basis of the quality of the sound recording, the achievement of the conductor, and composers and orchestras. Recordings of classical music, including opera, motets, lieder and the like, will be the main staple of the Listening Center. Popular music, and other forms of music will be purchased only insofar as they meet a pedagogical need. Because the Listening Center budget shows no signs of ever being anything but barely adequate for our needs, leisure listening materials will not be purchased for student use.
Gift books (not including what are known as genuinely rare books) have long been a problem in modern academic libraries. Not only are they seldomly useful to a collection (the acquisitions policies of a given collection should be formidable enough to have already selected any book a patron might present), they are also costly. Each "gift" book costs the MLC a minimum of $15 (fifteen dollars) to process.
Once into the collection, gift books become primary candidates for early retirement from the collection. Because they are suspect with respect to timeliness, often in marginal condition, and generally (though not always) in need of repair, they fall easy prey to space demands. Thus, what is costly to add soon becomes an additional cost to remove--all for little return.
Patrons are generally looking for a tax write-off when they donate books. Librarians are constrained by law to give no more than a mere numerical accounting of the books received. They cannot pass any judgment on the actual or supposed value of a book donated to the library in which they work.
The library appreciates the public relations value of gift books and is honored by patrons' thoughtfulness in making the gifts. But gift books, in the final analysis, present a severe financial problem to the library. In light of the marginal value of these collections, their costs, the following policy applies:
1. the Dean of Library Services, in consultation with appropriate library or teaching faculty members, will determine the selection of library materials, including determination of what to discard from an existing collection and what to accept or refuse from donors;
2. the Dean of Library Services alone has the authority to engage the acceptance of books donated to the library. All inquires should be directed to him. He, in consultation with appropriate faculty and administration, will view donor collections, to determine what part of the donated collection, if any, will be transferred to the library;
3. all books donated to the MLC become the property of OBU and the MLC in perpetuity, to dispense with as the library deems appropriate;
4. any donor insisting that his donated books be added to the MLC, or makes any other special demands on a library gift collection of any kind, must also contribute an amount equal to the cover the library's cost of acquiescing to those demands. The general principle, however, is that gift materials of any kind are considered part of the total library collection and not a separate, special collection.
In sum, gift books may be accepted only by the Dean of Library Services in consultation with the appropriate faculty member(s). Gift books accepted by others not in accordance with this proviso will not be accepted by the MLC, nor will it become the labor of the MLC to dispose of the collection.
V. Policy on Controversial Materials
Any challenge to a given title, print or non-print, must be read or viewed in its entirety. Challengers making the complaint must fill out the appropriate form available at the reference desk. Challenges to materials may result in the expurgation, labelling, removal, or change of location of a given title, provided the material is successfully challenged (i.e., the material can be shown to be patently offensive and repugnant and in contradistinction to OBU's mission and goal statement).
Materials objected to must be objected to in writing. Materials that are verbally criticized will be ignored unless the challenge form is filled out in its entirety. Library personnel do not think the library's selection process is infallible and they welcome any parties to examine the collection for completeness and accuracy. We remind those who may object to certain materials to remember that this is an academic library and its resources are not intended for use by adolescents. Materials, by nature of the intended audience (those 18 years of age and older), will appear in this collection that are too mature for young audiences. Though the MLC maintains a juvenile reading section, the presence of that collection should not be misconstrued as an advertisement for young readers. Rather, that collection has been built specifically for the instruction of reading and children's literature teachers.
A. Procedures for Dealing with Challenged Materials
1. Library personnel are always to handle each complaint with genuine sympathy and courtesy.
2. Kindly ask patrons to fill out the appropriate challenge form.
3. The Dean of Library Services will review the written complaint and will discuss the matter with the patron.
4. If the patron desires a further review, the matter may be referred to the Learning Center Committee. The Dean of Library Services may also refer the challenge to the Vice-President of Academic Affairs, informing him that there is a challenge to a material and request his/her guidance. If referred to the Learning Center committee, the Dean of Library Services will answer questions of the Learning Center committee but must excuse him or herself from adjudicating the disposition of the challenged material, having once argued the case already. The Learning Center Committee will review the challenge and issue an opinion.
VI. Policy for Collection Maintenance: Evaluation of Existing Materials
It shall be the responsibility of the Dean of Library Services to undertake a review of the collection every ten years. At this time, faculty will be assigned shelves corresponding to their stated areas of expertise. They will be asked to come to the library and earmark books for deselection. Under the supervision of the Dean of Library services and the Technical Services Librarian, materials will be deselected accordingly, pulling all cards and other records related to the deselected materials. Materials will then be disposed of in one or more of the following manners.
1) Placed out for sale
2) Offered to another library
3) Offered for sale to a book dealer
4) Otherwise disposed