St. Olaf Libraries

Collection Development Policy

This collection development policy lays out guidelines for the continuing development of collections that provide a foundation for the instructional activities of the college, expressed in the St. Olaf College Mission Statement, and the Mission Statements of the St. Olaf College Library and the Bridge Library Consortium.

To foster the development of a coherent, flexible, and balanced collection, the St. Olaf College Library provides substantial support for a dynamic, multi-disciplinary and diverse curriculum.

To provide sufficient depth and breadth of support for the curriculum, and to prepare students for study at the graduate level, the St. Olaf College Library collects in most curriculum-defined areas at the Advanced Study Level as defined in the ALA Guidelines for the Formulation of Collection Development Policies. Collection at this level provides complete collections of the works of all major authors, a wide selection of materials from minor authors, critical and theoretical studies, bibliographic tools, an expansive selection of journals, and the relevant publishing output of English-language university presses.

When possible, the Library will provide sufficient access to large collections of primary materials that will sustain student research. The Library cannot, as a rule, substantially support specialized research of the faculty, unless such material also contributes to other goals of the collection, such as support for curriculum, student research, or the long-term shape and balance of the collection. The Library will strive to make materials that are not in the collection available to researchers through electronic access, interlibrary loan, and other forms of document delivery.

General Guidelines for Collection, Retention, and De-selection of Materials

Most resources will be in English. Exceptions are foreign language dictionaries, encyclopedias, other reference tools, literature and other primary sources in foreign languages taught at St. Olaf College, and other materials necessary to support the curriculum. To ensure that the Library continues to provide a rich milieu for resource-based learning and research into the foreseeable future, the collections will be augmented by new and developing opportunities for access-based electronic information delivery, rather than continued strict reliance on proprietary models.

Because the acquisition of material is driven by curricular interests, there may be gaps in the collection when a new course is taught or as new areas of study enter the curriculum. Faculty should work closely with their Library Liaison and the Head of Collection Development as departments and curriculum evolve. Although the primary goal in developing the collection is acquiring material recently published, the Library will make every effort to fill existing gaps when possible.

Specific Policies and Guidelines

One-time Purchases

Policy statements for one-time purchases are under development.


Continuations include journals and magazines, standing orders, and subscription electronic resources.


St. Olaf College Library’s legacy print collections represent an important aspect of the intellectual activity of the College community since its founding in 1874 and contain historically useful material, often not readily available in the United States. However, judicious de-selection of material is important to keep the Library's collections vibrant and useful, as well as to allow for the housing of new acquisitions.


Critical space and resource constraints have required the St. Olaf College Libraries to tighten the criteria for the types of gifts we can accept. Please take a moment to read through the policy statement below to see if your gift meets our current needs.

Approved by the Library Faculty Committee, May 18, 2011.