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Collection Development Policy



Christa M. Modschiedler
October, 2010

Library of Congress Classes: S, SB, SD, SF, SH, SK 

Brief overview of the collection

History:   Prior to September 1984, the University of Chicago’s agricultural collection was housed in several different locations on campus: Culver Hall and Harper Library until 1969 and the Joseph Regenstein Library Biology Library (1970-1984). Since the merger of the University of Chicago science libraries with the John Crerar Library in September 1984, the John Crerar Library at the University of Chicago is considered the central location for the agricultural collection.  This collection generally includes scientific research and scholarly publications.  Applied research publications are acquired rather selectively.  Agricultural publications are generally purchased in support of current basic research and intended as supplementary materials for current research and for undergraduate and graduate programs.  Since the University of Chicago Library is a depository library, a substantial number of federal and state publications are part of this collection, e.g., U.S. Dept. of Agriculture publications (e.g., environmental impact statements, soil surveys, etc.), land-grant publications, and also Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) & other United Nations publications. 

Broad subject areas emphasized or de-emphasizedMaterials in the following subject areas are being acquired selectively:

  • Agriculture, general
  • Agricultural biotechnology
  •  Agricultural ecology, conservation, etc.  
  • Agricultural history  
  • Agricultural sustainability  
  • Agronomy  
  • Alternative farming systems/farms, e.g., organic & sustainable farming methods; small-scale, diversified  
  • Animal genetics
  • Animal models of disease
  • Aquaculture  
  • Botanical Gardens & Arboreta
  • Comparative medicine/Comparative Pathology  
  • Conservation biology
  • Crop science  
  • Fisheries  
  • Food Science  
  • Forestry  
  • Gardens  
  • History of veterinary medicine  
  • Laboratory animal science & welfare  
  • Locally grown food
  • Plant science  
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Transgenic crops  
  • Veterinary science & medicine (animal care & use; laboratory animals; small animals)  
  • Veterinary public health issues (i.e., veterinary science as it relates to human health, human food safety, and nutrition, etc.)  
  • Wildlife ecology
  • Zoonoses  

 De-emphasized (except for historical aspects) 

  •  Agricultural chemistry
  • Agricultural engineering  
  • Agricultural meteorology
  • Agricultural machinery  
  • Agricultural physics  
  • Angling  
  • Animal science  
  • Animal nutrition  
  • Animals as sources of food  
  • Domestic animal sciences  
  • Farms (machinery, management, etc.)  
  • Fertilizers
  • Food technology  
  • Horticulture  
  • Hunting 
  • Livestock, Livestock Farming Methods
  • Pets, pet care, companion animals 
  • Plant breeding 
  • Plant patents 
  • Poultry 
  • Practical agriculture 
  • Racing 
  • Riding 
  • Seed catalogs & price lists 
  • Soil science 
  • Veterinary Medicine/Large Animals 
  • Veterinary pharmacology 
  • Wildlife management
  • Working and show animals

Description of academic program: While agricultural studies are not necessarily part of the curriculum, the agricultural collection might be called upon to support research and study in other disciplines.  Agricultural publications are generally acquired in support of basic research or as supplementary materials for undergraduate programs.   

•  Audience/Purpose: The agricultural collection serves faculty, students, and staff of the University of Chicago BSD.  Print and digital collections of journals, books, and other information resources are developed to support the research and instructional needs and interests of faculty, students, and staff of the Biological Sciences Division (BSD).   

Collecting guidelines Levels of selection: Comprehensive, research, instructional support, basic information; for a description of these levels, see the general policy statement.

The overall goal is to build a collection to serve the varied needs of the various BSD user groups and to provide information resources that support the BSD research and teaching activities.  However, considering the large number of agricultural publications published worldwide, acquisition of material in this area has always been and will remain highly selective.  Collecting in agriculture is generally at the instructional support level, in a few selected areas (e.g., plant sciences) at the research level. 

•  Types of materials included & excluded:  The agricultural sciences collection contains mainly research journals, monographs, and reference materials.  Undergraduate textbooks are usually only purchased in support of specific courses.  Very few types of materials are excluded altogether.  Even though exceptions are made on occasion, the following types of materials are generally excluded:  Draft environmental impact statements, doctoral dissertations from institutions other than the University of Chicago, Habilitationsschriften, juvenile materials, loose-leaf publications, newsletters, newspapers, patents, pocket-size books, reprints, separately published charts, graphs, maps, and posters, self-instructional texts, most spiral-bound publications, syllabi, and workbooks. 

•   Physical formats included & excluded:  Agricultural sciences information is published in a variety of formats.  The number of relevant agricultural resources published in electronic format is steadily increasing and the selection and purchase of e-journals, electronic backfiles of journals, and e-books is considered a high priority for this collection.  Increasingly, journals are being received in electronic format only and virtually no new print subscriptions are being initiated.  For journals, indexing and abstracting resources, and reference works, web-based electronic format is preferred over print format.  Monographs may be selected in either print or electronic format.  Criteria for format selection for monographs are fully searchable text, availability on established platform, persistent URLs and/or availability of MARC records for access and discovery.  Digital web-based information resources have gained in importance in recent years and are given preference.  Materials in other formats (CD-ROM, DVD, or other audio-visual materials, for example) may be selected and purchased on occasion, but usually only by request to support a curricular need.  Cost is always a consideration.  No formats are entirely excluded, although some formats present significant access and preservation challenges and are avoided when possible.  Web access is preferred over physical electronic media (e.g., CD-ROMS).  Video and audio formats are acquired very selectively, with preference given to the most current accessible technology available (e.g., currently DVD preferred to VHS formats).  Microforms are assessed for readability issues prior to selection. 

•  Publication dates collected:  Emphasis is given to the selection and acquisition of the most current journals and monographs.  Recently published materials are given top priority, and consideration is given to monographs published during the last three to five years.  Older monographs are acquired more selectively as funds allow.

•  Languages:  Even though no languages are generally excluded, the major emphasis is on selection and acquisition of English-language materials.  Very few new foreign-language journal subscriptions are presently initiated and very few foreign-language monographs are being acquired.  Translations from foreign languages into English are selected, but not translations from one foreign language into another, unless of particular significance.  Selections made by the area studies bibliographers may add additional foreign-language materials. 

 •  Geographical range:  No areas are specifically excluded, but materials most frequently selected are agricultural studies about the United States, Great Britain, and Europe.  Selections by several University of Chicago area studies bibliographers add publications from Africa, the Middle East, East Asia, and Latin America. 

•  Chronological Span:  From 1914 to present.  See also History of Science, Medicine, and Technology collection policy statement where no limits on chronological span are imposed.

•  Areas of distinction: The collection contains the backfiles of a number of notable applied science journals, including, for example, the Prairie Farmer, some specialized collections (e.g., Arabian Horses and Tractors), and materials located in the Special Collections Research Center.  

•  Related University of Chicago collections:  The interdisciplinary nature of many of the academic programs and subject areas makes collaboration between the biomedical bibliographer and other University of Chicago Library selectors desirable and often necessary.  Choices that benefit the agricultural collection are also made by bibliographers in other disciplines.