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Faculty / Librarian Collaboration Toolkit: Collection Development

Investigate and support best practices in faculty and librarian collaboration to more effectively meet local institution and library missions and serve the campus community.

Collection Development

Trends Impacting Collection Development

In the past decade, collection development in academic libraries has changed dramatically and it continues to evolve.  The nature of the changes suggests that collaboration between librarians and faculty in the development of academic library collections is more critical than ever before.  The bullet points below attempt to capture the major trends impacting the changing landscape of academic library collections.

  • “Just in case” to “Just in time” – there has been a shift in emphasis on mode of delivery of information resources to patrons from providing immediate access through ownership  to providing quick access via alternative means.
  • Static or decreasing library acquisition budgets.
  • Space constraints – many academic institutions have aging, crowded library buildings on campuses that may not have the wherewithal to support new construction; in addition, there is an increasing demand for collaborative study and "soft" spaces.
  • Greater emphasis on shared collections/cooperative collection development – but there are few strategic plans in place to provide for this..
  • Ebook aggregators provide access to more books than can be purchased individually but also have a homogenizing effect on the knowledge being disseminated.  (Who decides what books are included?  How do algorithms affect the order in which the books are presented?)  Individual academic library collections appear to be less distinctive.
  • Faculty and students expect faster, easier, and more convenient access to information – this encourages the purchase and proliferation of digitized resources.
  • Greater reliance on resource sharing yet few ebook providers facilitate lending of ebooks.
  • Librarians must set priorities and find creative means to meet faculty and student expectations with a balance of print and electronic resources.  To do this, they must know the specific needs and format preferences of the constituencies they serve. Increased cooperation and collaboration made possible through the development of strong personal and professional relationships between academic librarians and their faculty members is critical to developing and maintaining academic library collections in the 21st century.

Key Findings

  1. Faculty-Librarian collaboration in collection development/curation is desirable.
  2. Librarians should seek to be both friends and (perceived) allies of the faculty they serve.
  3. Librarians can benefit from obtaining and studying course syllabi: much can be learned about how faculty value both the library and research through this process.
  4. Creativity in providing means of access to information can make budget cuts less painful.
  5. Analyzing citations in faculty research output can inform collection development and help insure the library is truly serving its constituency.

Literature Review

Adkins, M. (2018). Recent Research in Religion. Theological Librarianship, 11(2), 16–26.
Busch, H., Nance, J., & Teague, J. (2018). Collaborative Weeding of an Engineering Collection: Two Perspectives. Collection Management, 43(4), 276–282.
Camack, A. (2017). Playing Triple-A Ball with Faculty: Advocacy, Access, and Authority in Liaison Activities. Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, 54(5), 678–679.
Clement, S., Gillespie, G., Tusa, S., & Blake, J. (2008). Collaboration and Organization for Successful Serials Cancellation. The Serials Librarian, 54(3–4), 229–234.
Jankowski, A., Schultz, A., & Soito, L. (2018). Motley Crew: Collaboration across an Academic Library to Revive an Orphaned Collection. Library Resources & Technical Services, 62(3), 114.
Knight, N. (2013). Enhancing access to library resources at Northern Caribbean University through an e-library initiative. The Electronic Library, 31(6), 753–769.
Lukes, R., Thorpe, A., & Lesher, M. (2017). Using Course Syllabi to Develop Collections and Assess Library Service Integration. The Serials Librarian, 72(1–4), 73–76.
Massis, B. E., & Massis, B. (2012). Librarians and faculty collaboration – partners in student success. New Library World, 113(1/2), 90–93.
Murphy, J. A., & Buckley, C. E. (2013). Faculty and Librarian Perceptions of a New Faculty Purchase Program. Collection Management, 38(3), 213–225.
Norelli, B. P., & Harper, T. (2007). The business of collaboration and electronic collection development. Collection Building, 26(1), 15–19.
Powers, B. (2016). Perception Matters: What Message Are We Sending to Faculty with Departmental Book Allocations? Collection Management, 41(4), 221–227.
Sanchez-Rodriguez, N. A. (2018). Mixed methods of assessment: measures of enhancing library services in academia. Collection and Curation, 37(3), 111–118.
Trail, M. A. (2013). Evolving with the Faculty to Face Library Budget Cuts. The Serials Librarian, 65(2), 213–220.
Tucker, C. (2013). Analyzing Faculty Citations for Effective Collection Management Decisions. Library Collections, Acquisitions, & Technical Services, 37(1–2), 19–33.
Vaaler, A. (2018). Sources of resources: A business school citation analysis study. Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 23(2), 154–166.
Yousef, A. (2010). Faculty Attitudes Toward Collaboration with Librarians. Library Philosophy & Practice, 83–96.

Suggested Actions

Librarians should get to know new faculty (as well as established faculty who have not yet been engaged with the library).

  • Invite the faculty member to coffee or lunch or even just to your office for a “get acquainted session.*
  • Create a faculty profile sheet (or use one that’s already been created*).
  • Create a profile sheet for the faculty member at the meeting (or send the form to the faculty member afterwards and ask them to complete it and send it back to you).
  • At the meeting, talk to the faculty member about the library’s collection, especially that part of it that will be of greatest interest to the faculty member.  If time permits, give the faculty member a tour (this can be an online tour or walking tour or both!).
  • Explain to the faculty member the process for ordering materials.
  • The initial meeting also might be a good time to talk about LibGuides and demonstrate how they might be used.
  • Attend (select) departmental meetings to share information about the library and learn about new course offerings and course deletions.
  • Create departmental and/or subject area email distribution lists that will allow you to push out information about new resources to a targeted audience of faculty with potential interest in the subject(s) the resources represent.

Engage faculty in the process of database selection.  This can be done by:

  • Sending out emails announcing trials of databases of potential interest and including links and instructions for logging on.  Also, include the dates of the trial!
  • Creating an online feedback form and directing faculty to it.  It’s a good idea to also provide an option to simply provide email feedback.  Sometimes the online forms/links don’t work for everyone.
  • If it seems appropriate, demo the trial at a faculty meeting.  This should probably only be done if the database will be of interest to all or nearly all attendees.  Be sure to collect follow-up feedback either at the close of the meeting or soon thereafter.
  • Send an email reminder about the trial, its end date, and feedback form a week or so before the close of the trial.

Engage faculty in the deselection of materials whenever possible but be respectful of faculty members’ time.  Invite them to participate in review only of those areas which are of particular interest to them and/or in which they have expertise.  Be mindful of the amount of time the faculty member has to devote to the project and select reasonable call number and/or shelf ranges.  Participation can be solicited in a number of ways, including:

  • Sending faculty author/title lists of little-used materials and asking for recommendations to keep or withdraw (or possibly update!).
  • Pulling items from the shelf (based on circulation, condition, age, etc.) and placing them on a bookcart for later review by a faculty member or members.
  • Reviewing an author/title list with the faculty member in the librarian’s office.
  • Inviting the faculty member to review materials in the stacks with the library liaison.  This can be very beneficial if both parties have the time and inclination as it encourages dialog and improves mutual understanding and appreciation of the point-of-view of both the librarian and the faculty member.  If an active faculty member cannot spare the time, invite an emeritus/emerita if one is nearby.  Often these folks have a wealth of experience and knowledge they are more than happy to share (and they may have more time to devote to the project than faculty who are currently teaching).

Engage faculty in the creation of LibGuides. Until recently, LibGuides have been used primarily to highlight the sponsoring library's holdings (in terms of databases and print and electronic resources) and selected websites.  With the shift in library collection development emphasis from "just in case" to "just in time" and its increasing reliance on libraries sharing resources, LibGuides might also become online recommended bibliographies.  Here's a possible action plan:

  • Librarians should intentionally introduce (new) faculty members to LibGuides during their first year (preferably first semester) in residence, emphasizing that they welcome the opportunity to create one or more for the new faculty members' classes and emphasizing that, ideally, the Guides should be a collaborative effort.  (Sometimes they can even be the end result of a class project.)
  • Often, if asked, new faculty are happy to provide "wish lists" of important resources they would like the library to have for their students.  Many times, budget and space constraints will not allow the purchase of all for the items on the list.  In such cases, recommended lists might be created for the Guides that include links to items owned by the host library and a note indicating interlibrary loan availability (or referencing some outside digital collection, such as Hathi Trust, for those items that the host library does not own.

*See “Faculty Profile Form” tab!

Faculty Profile Form

(Developed by Sheri Stormes, Butler University)

Note to potential user:  I developed this form as an aid to acquainting myself with new faculty.  The idea came from similar forms that were used in our NASM (National Association of Schools of Music) Self-Study Report.  It has been useful in many ways, not the least of which is informing me about who might be interested in what specific topics and resources as I read through various new publication announcements and lists.  It's also helped me to identify who to contact to explore the possibility of incorporating library instruction into targeted classes.  I have used the language information to aid me in referring students to faculty for help with various translations.  (Occasionally, it's helped me with pronunciation and translation issues that come up in languages with which I am less familiar.)  In addition, it aids me in selecting faculty to ask to review items targeted for withdrawal.  It's most effective when completed in person.  That initial personal contact goes a long way in establishing important personal connections between the librarian and the faculty member.






            Academic major:

            Academic minor:

            Languages studied:


            Name of Institution                          Degrees (if any)



COURSES (that you are currently teaching):


COURSES (that you will teach, have taught, or have an interest in teaching):


RESEARCH (topics of interest to you in your personal research):










Best Practices

1. Liaison librarians should make an effort to become acquainted with the faculty in their assigned discipline(s) as early as possible. Familiarity with faculty members’ educational backgrounds, discipline-specific expertise, research interests, courses taught, types of assignments made, etc. is invaluable.

2. The best relationships are personal as well as professional.

3. Librarians should solicit (and facilitate) input from faculty into developing the library’s collection.

4. Librarians should obtain course syllabi from faculty whenever possible – and scrutinize those documents to determine how the faculty member views the library and its services as well as how the faculty member expects students to interact with the library and/or its resources.

5. Librarians should enlist faculty to assist with “curating” the library’s collection while also being mindful of the value of the faculty member’s time. Any solicited participation in assisting with weeding projects should be designed to keep individual faculty member’s time commitment to a minimum.