James H. Thomason Library

Collection Development Policy

I. Introduction: Presbyterian College Community

Presbyterian College, located in Clinton, South Carolina, is a fully accredited, private, residential, baccalaureate institution related to the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college provides a liberal arts education within a community of faith, learning, and intellectual freedom, granting both B.A. and B.S. degrees in 30 majors and 42 minors and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The primary users of Thomason Library are the students, faculty, and staff of the college. Collections, both in print and electronic formats, are developed to support instruction and research. Remote access to electronic resources is provided to the college community when possible.

Secondary users of the library include alumni, neighbors, scholars and others engaged in research. The library's collections are developed for our primary users; other individuals are welcome to use library resources on the premises in a manner consistent with copyright and licensing provisions.

II. Intellectual Freedom

The James H. Thomason Library supports the American Library Association's "Library Bill of Rights," as well as the Association of College and Research Libraries' "Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries." The library serves an adult population of serious students and researchers who require access to books and other materials that represent a wide range of subjects and points of view. As long as materials meet the criteria in the General Selection Guidelines stated below, they will be considered appropriate for the library collections. Some materials nevertheless may seem objectionable to members of the College community. The librarians will consider adding materials if there is a question of failure to represent adequately a point of view. Requests to remove materials representing a particular point of view on controversial or sensitive topics, however, will be denied.

Specific instances of objection to materials within the library should be addressed in writing to the Library Director, who will provide a written response. If an appeal is desired, it may be presented in writing to the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs.

III. Responsibility for Collection Development

The primary purpose of the collections of the Thomason Library is to support teaching, research, and learning at Presbyterian College. While the library professional staff have ultimate responsibility for development and maintenance of the library's collections, the faculty of the academic departments and programs are the most important factor in the collection development process.

Faculty recommendations for purchase of library materials are essential to ensure that the collections fulfill this purpose from three perspectives:

  • Faculty know which library materials they will make use of in their teaching and research.
  • Faculty, through their course assignments, influence the scope of library use by students.
  • Faculty recognize the importance of current research as well as historically important research in their disciplines, and this expertise is important in maintaining a longitudinally sound collection in disciplinary areas.

Thus we encourage faculty to request books, periodicals, videos, DVDs, CDs, and other library materials that will meet these needs. The Library website contains a list of review sources to assist faculty in selection, and provides access to a form to facilitate submission of requests. Faculty may ask the reference librarians to compile a selective bibliography of works on a given topic as an aid in collection development.

Library staff also recommend materials for purchase, usually in response to demonstrated or anticipated demand from students. Library staff are most active in developing the reference collection, media collection, and electronic resources.

Materials purchased with library funds become college and library property and are available for circulation or for use in the library by all library patrons.

IV. Budget

The Library materials budget is divided between the academic departments and the library. Each academic department receives a share of the budget for the purchase of, or subscription to, materials to support its curricular objectives.

Funds not spent by departments by March 15th of a given year revert to the library general fund to be spent at the discretion of the Library Director. Such funds may be used (1) to buy reference books, (2) to remedy deficiencies in particular subject areas, (3) to replace books that are worn out or in need of updating, and (4) to acquire electronic resources.

Faculty requests for purchase received after March 15th will be processed in July unless the items are needed for a Summer term.

V. General Selection Priorities and Guidelines

The James H. Thomason Library acquires materials for its collections according to the following priorities:

  • Providing students with materials supporting their Presbyterian College coursework.
  • Providing faculty with materials supporting their teaching and research activities.
  • Providing the academic community with a wide range of culturally significant and informational material that extends beyond the requirements of the instructional program.
  • Providing faculty and staff with materials to support professional development.
  • Providing the College community with materials for leisure and recreational use.

Recognizing the priorities stated previously, criteria for selection include materials which:

  • Contribute to the development and maintenance of subject collections that support the College curricula.
  • Support instruction-related subject areas or topics for which greater demand exists than the current collection can meet.
  • Provide information that is current and authoritative or otherwise is of substantial interest.
  • Represent the format, treatment, level of difficulty and language that best meet the research, teaching, and learning needs of our students or faculty.
  • Can be acquired at a cost that is reasonable in relation to anticipated use and need.

Materials reported missing from the collection will be replaced promptly if needed for teaching or research. Otherwise, the library does not automatically replace items that are lost or damaged. Criteria for replacement include projected demand, currency, and availability. When there is doubt about replacement, the Acquisitions Department will  consult the original requester, if possible. The cost of replacement for library materials that have been lost or worn out will ordinarily be assumed by the library rather than by an academic department.

VI. Selection Guidelines for Specific Types of Materials

Printed Books

Books will be considered for selection on the basis of recommendations from faculty, library staff, students, and other members of the Presbyterian College community. When a book is available in both hardcover and quality paperback editions, the hardcover edition will be purchased if the book is a seminal work or is expected to receive frequent use, as long as the difference in price is not excessive. Otherwise, the library will purchase a quality paperback edition and reinforce the cover.

Books authored by Presbyterian College faculty are purchased in hardcover when available and are placed in the college archive. When a faculty member donates a copy to the library, a second copy will normally be purchased for the circulating collection.

The library normally will purchase only a single copy of a book, though a standard exception may be made for a book selected for use on course reserve. The library normally will purchase books in the English language, though a standard exception will be made for books in support of foreign language courses. If a new copy of a requested book is not available, a used copy in excellent condition will be sought.

The library does not, as a general practice, purchase textbooks, particularly those in current use for a course. Exceptions include textbooks that are considered to be classic works of their field or that represent the best sources of information on a topic.

The library maintains a collection of reference books that provide discrete information, may require assistance from a reference librarian, and individually may be of use to many people during any given period of time. The reference collection includes encyclopedias, dictionaries, indexes, directories, handbooks, bibliographies, and other books that rarely are read from cover to cover. Many such titles are published in annual editions and thus for the purpose of selection are considered to be "other serials," addressed below. The Reference Librarians have primary responsibility for selecting reference books, in both print and electronic formats, and for keeping the collection up to date.

Reference e-Books

An increasing number of reference works are being published in electronic format as well as in print. The online version normally offers several significant advantages, including simultaneous use by multiple individuals; remote, 24-7 access; and keyword searching. Hyperlinks are often included within the text. In addition, the web-based electronic format can include enriched content and immediately reflect revisions to content.

Thus, if all other factors are equal, the web-based electronic format of reference works will be acquired rather than the print edition. Both print and electronic formats may be purchased in cases where the vendor offers a significant (50% or more) discount with the purchase of both formats, and the title is one that is likely to see significant use in print.

The advantages of the online version of reference works, however, often come at a steep increase in cost. If this is the case, the following factors will determine whether the web-based electronic format or the paper edition will be purchased: (1) advantages offered by the online version, (2) importance of the work, and (3) difference in price.

Special Collections

The library purchases materials and accepts gifts for inclusion in the Special Collections. Our collecting areas include South Carolina history (especially Laurens County) and the Presbyterian Church USA (selectively).

The Russell-Arnold Archives does not represent itself as a research library, however, and inquirers are usually referred to the Caroliniana collection at USC or to other more appropriate repositories when necessary. A detailed collection development policy for Archives & Special Collection follows in Appendix A.

Curriculum Collection

The library maintains a curriculum collection (including children's literature) for the use of the Education Department and its teacher training program, as well as a collection of church-related materials for the Christian Education program. The material is selected by each department and is not intended for use by the general public. The curriculum collection includes state adopted instructional materials used by PC education majors in fulfilling their student teaching and practicum requirements. The Library ordinarily withdraws superseded editions of these materials.

Leisure Reading Collection

The library leases a rotating collection of current fiction and general non-fiction books to support the recreational reading interests of the college community. The leased collection is shelved separately, as the Leisure Reading Collection (LRC), to facilitate browsing. Books in the Leisure Reading Collection may be candidates for purchase, at a modest cost, for addition to the permanent collection when any of the general selection guidelines (see sect. V.) are met. Other factors for consideration include reputation and/or significance of the author, or awards bestowed upon the book.

Leased books that cease circulating are returned to the vendor or purchased for a small fee for inclusion in a library-sponsored book sale.


Serials include periodicals (journals, magazines, newspapers, newsletters) and other categories of continuing publications, such as annuals and monographic series. The library establishes and maintains serial subscriptions and standing orders with great care, since serials tend to involve long-term, often expensive commitments, as well as the significant issues of access, preservation, and storage. Periodicals and other serials should meet the criteria stated previously under "V. General Selection Guidelines." Departments and programs are encouraged to conduct a comprehensive review of periodical subscriptions, standing orders, and serial back files at five-year intervals. Library staff upon request will provide reports to facilitate this review.


New subscriptions to periodicals may be requested at any time. Requesters will be asked to indicate the preferred

  • Coverage - current year, eventual 5-year back file, cumulative back file.
  • Medium - electronic, paper, paper + electronic.

A new subscription request accompanied by a recommendation to cancel a subscription of comparable cost will normally be honored, with possible adjustment to the preferences stated. As protection against imbalances in the subject collection, requests for new subscriptions must have the approval of the chair of the department before they are forwarded to the library.

New subscriptions to periodicals also may be added by the library staff following a year in which the cost of royalties paid for articles obtained through interlibrary loan approaches or exceeds the cost of an annual subscription for a given title.

Other requests will be evaluated in terms of cost, quality, faculty interest, and collection balance. Preference will be given to periodicals that are indexed in one or more of the major periodical indexes, as indexing is an important factor in accessibility. Those approved will be held subject to funding in the next fiscal year.

When requested, the library will purchase the most recent three years or volumes of a newly subscribed periodical if funds are available.

Continuing subscriptions to periodicals will be reviewed at regular intervals to identify titles that have been added to licensed collections or full-text databases, titles for which subscription in an alternative medium might have become preferable, or titles experiencing such low recorded use as to call into question the value of the on-going investment. If an annual increase in the library's materials budget does not keep pace with the increase in the cost of its periodical subscriptions, faculty may be asked to identify for cancellation some titles supporting their academic program.

Back files of periodicals subscribed to in paper will be retained in paper and may be commercially bound for:

  • Core titles in the discipline.
  • Titles for which electronic back files are not available.
  • Titles that experience exceptionally high use with the integrity of volumes maintained.
  • Titles with illustrations (e.g. art journals) that are desirable to maintain in print format.

Electronic Journals

Electronic format has become the medium for periodicals preferred by students, with faculty in many disciplines and programs concurring.

In addition to the evaluation criteria for new subscriptions noted above, the following criteria for electronic journals will be considered:

  • Comparability with the paper publication.
  • Linking capabilities.
  • Archiving policy.
  • Length of back files.
  • Availability of usage statistics.
  • Acceptable terms of access.

There currently are four types of electronic periodical subscriptions: publisher collections, aggregator collections, full-text databases, and individual subscriptions. One of four anomalies about electronic subscriptions may lead the library to maintain a paper subscription as well for a given title in high demand:

  • Some significant content from the paper issues may not be included.
  • The format may be limited to text without graphics, rather than page image.
  • Access to back files may not be guaranteed.
  • The current several months or even few years may be withheld (embargoed) by the publisher.

Some publishers offer online access at no additional cost with a print subscription. If the publisher in a subsequent year applies an additional cost for online access with a print subscription, renewal of the print with online subscription will be subject to available funds.

At the discretion of requesting faculty or library staff, periodical back files in electronic format may be preferred over paper. Subscriptions to electronic back files will be maintained in such instances when there is good reason to believe that access will be stable for the duration required and the cost is reasonable in relation to that for other formats.

Other Serials

The library considers requests for continuing orders for new editions of annual publications that are revised significantly or new titles in monographic series from faculty, library staff, students, or other members of the Presbyterian College community. Such requests are evaluated in terms of the "General Selection Guidelines" and the considerations for serials, both noted previously. Electronic versions of titles in this category may be the preferred format.

Media Materials

Audiovisual materials normally will be considered for selection on the basis of recommendations from faculty, library staff, students, and other members of the Presbyterian College community. The library currently acquires materials in the following audiovisual formats: DVD and CD. VHS videocassettes are purchased only if the title is not available in DVD format. The library's collection of VHS videocassette tapes will be replaced in DVD format as funds allow.

In addition to the "General Selection Guidelines" stated above, the following considerations guide selection of audiovisual materials:

  • A single copy of a work will be purchased in the absence of sustained need for multiple copies.
  • Alternate productions of a work may be purchased with pedagogical reason.
  • Foreign language productions with subtitles are preferred.
  • Expensive films expected to receive rare use may be rented or requested via Interlibrary Loan when available.

The library does not accept for the media collection audio or video recordings that could violate copyright law or policy.

Free Internet Resources

Websites, or separately identifiable components thereof, normally will be considered for inclusion in THOMCAT based on recommendations from professional library staff (primary selectors), faculty, and students. General selection guidelines (section V) and reliability of the site should be considered in the selection of web sites. Those sites that support the programs and curricula of the college will be given priority for inclusion. The librarians will seek to add free electronic alternatives (with all the inherent benefits) to print resources when possible. Examples include historically significant primary source materials, electronic books, federal and state documents).

Selection is based on recommendations from professional library literature, including but not limited to CHOICE Reviews, Library Journal, and C&RL News. Other methods for identification of sites include examination of other library web pages, use of listservs, and searching the Worldcat database.

VII. Gifts

The library welcomes monetary gifts to subsidize the purchase of library materials that meet the selection criteria stated above. Within those criteria, the library will attempt to honor requests of donors to use the gift for purchase of materials on specified subjects.

The library also welcomes the opportunity to evaluate potential gifts of books, periodicals, and other pertinent materials. Those items that meet the selection criteria, are in excellent condition, and, with few exceptions, do not duplicate existing holdings will be accepted. The library retains the right to dispose of duplicates and other materials not needed as it deems appropriate, which may include being passed on to interested faculty, an exchange service, or book sale. The Library Director will determine when gifts that include conditions set by the donor should be accepted. Otherwise, items offered as gifts may be refused.

All accepted gifts are duly acknowledged to the donor or person arranging for the donation. According to current College policy, the library does not provide an appraisal of the items for tax or other purposes. The library will provide a letter listing the amount of a monetary gift or the number of titles or items donated. A bookplate may be added to acknowledge the donor or honor another person as requested.

VIII. Collection Maintenance and Evaluation

The faculty of academic programs are encouraged to evaluate relevant sections of the library collections, use of materials from those sections, and their spending patterns for library materials at five-year intervals. Subsequent consultation with the Library Director may lead to supplementary funding for collection enhancement or additional annual funds to purchase materials in support of a given program should funds become available. Redistribution of existing funds dedicated to an academic program, whether from one title to another or from one type of material to another, also may be possible.

Culling of materials should be considered during such collection evaluation as well. Faculty of academic programs should assist in identifying materials in their areas of expertise that have become outdated, inaccurate, or disconnected from the curriculum. The reference collection is monitored annually for such materials, particularly as new editions arrive. Multiple copies no longer needed, damaged or deteriorated materials, broken runs of dated periodicals available elsewhere, and obsolete media materials also are candidates for removal. Culled materials are officially withdrawn from the collections and sent to interested faculty, an exchange service, or book sale if of general interest and in good condition.


Search Library Catalog


PASCAL Catalog

Journal Finder