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Reference Collection, University Library

J. Kessler, Bibliographer

I. General Purpose

The Reference collection is selected and acquired to support the research, teaching and information needs of the University at Albany community with emphasis placed on support of the academic programs in the social sciences and humanities at the main campus. This policy offers guidelines for the acquisition, retention, and scope of materials housed in the collection. The Reference collection includes sources that index or summarize information usually contained in the general circulating collection. All formats will be considered for inclusion in the Reference collection. The Reference collection is non-circulating.

Usefulness to reference librarians and to members of the University community is the principal criterion for inclusion of materials in the Reference collection. Highly esoteric, narrowly focused, and seldom used sources should not ordinarily be included in the collection, even though they may be arranged in a reference type of format. In order to provide accurate and current information, reference sources are continuously withdrawn and updated.

This Collection Development Policy also applies to the Libraries' web-based Reference Collection, the contents of which reflect the research, teaching and information needs of the University Library as well as the Dewey and Science Libraries. Sites are primarily selected which are academic in nature. Overly commercial sites are excluded as well as those which duplicate the content of the Libraries' subscription databases. Subject areas not related to the University Curriculum are normally not included although a selection of recreational sites are also offered. An effort is made to make this collection usable by limiting the number of web titles on any given subject. An effort is made to exclude titles which substantially duplicate other web-site sources already contained in this collection.

II. Subject and Language Modifiers

Languages: Sources in all languages are considered, reflecting the variety of academic interest at the main campus.

Geographical Areas: Worldwide.

Chronological Periods: Pre-history to the present.

III. Description of Materials Collected

The Bibliographer for the University Library's Reference Collection makes decisions concerning selection, retention, and location of materials, in both hardcopy and electronic format, consulting with other bibliographers as appropriate. The Bibliographer consults with counterparts at the Dewey and Science Libraries when necessary, concerning the purchase of expensive and/or electronic resources in order to avoid the duplication of purchases.

Types of Materials Collected:

Almanacs, Annuals, and Yearbooks. Generally only the latest year is placed in the Reference collection. Foreign country almanacs are designated "latest issue in Reference." Earlier issues are sent to the general stacks of the University Library. Exceptions are made for backfiles of encyclopedic yearbooks and some annual review publications of a bibliographic nature.

Completed sets of the World Almanac and Statistical Abstract of the United States are retained in the Reference collection.

Bibliographies. Bibliographies that are general in nature and cover broad topics are housed in Reference. Single-author bibliographies and others that are narrow in scope are housed in the circulating stacks. Exception will be made for those bibliographies on topics in great demand or those of major literary figures, such as Shakespeare.

Only the latest year of United States and foreign trade bibliographies are retained.

Biographical Sources. Major international works, major national works and current biographical works (Who's Who) of every country from which they are available are retained in the Reference collection. Specialized dictionaries are considered on their individual merits and degree of use. Usually the most recent editions of biographical dictionaries are maintained in the Reference collection.

Concordances. Only concordances to the Bible and Shakespeare are kept in Reference.

Dictionaries. Most unilingual, bilingual and polyglot dictionaries for major languages are placed in Reference. Some local and regional language dictionaries are only housed in the general collection and are usually designated "building only." Historical dictionaries and specialized dictionaries, such as dictionaries of slang and subject dictionaries, may also be included in the Reference collection depending on their degree of use.

Directories. The Reference collection contains the latest edition of various types of directories which support Albany's academic programs and meet general information needs. Directories are acquired selectively. Older editions of some directories are shelved in the general collection.

Encyclopedias. Major foreign language encyclopedias and the latest significantly revised editions of all major English-language encyclopedias, both single-volume and multi-volume, are housed in the Reference collection. Selected earlier editions of some foreign language encyclopedias are housed in the general collection. An attempt is made to update the general encyclopedias on a yearly rotating basis. The latest editions of frequently-consulted, single-subject, encyclopedias are maintained in Reference. If an older edition is considered to have significant value, it may be retained in the Reference collection beyond its period of currency.

Geographical Sources. A representative collection of major comprehensive atlases, gazetteers, and bound maps are included in the Reference collection including historical atlases, sources on major countries of the world and those sources which meet state and local information needs. Highly specialized sources will not ordinarily be included. Superseded editions of some atlases are housed in the general collection.

Handbooks, Manuals and Guides. A selection of up-to-date handbooks, manuals, and guides which meet general information needs or relate to the University's academic disciplines are retained in Reference. Amount of use is a key consideration in determining which titles are placed in the Reference collection and which are placed in the general collection.

Indexes and Abstracts. The Reference collection includes indexing and abstracting services relevant to the teaching, research, and general information needs of the University community. Many of these are provided in electronic format.

Services. Looseleaf services on taxation, law and business are subscribed to and maintained in the Reference collection.

Law. The collection contains a selection of statute and case law for the United States and New York State.

Other Materials:

Telephone Books. Selected current telephone books are maintained in the Reference Collection including a large collection for New York State. Other U.S. and foreign directories are provided in electronic format.

College Catalogs. The collection includes a select hardcopy collection of local and regional college catalogs. Access to U.S. and foreign catalogs is provided electronically.

Ready Reference. A small number of materials within the Reference collection have the special designation, "Ready Reference," because they receive such frequent use and it is convenient to have them near the Reference Desk. Ready Reference materials which frequently disappear are housed in the Reserve Reading Room. Some titles are duplicated.

IV. Subject and Collection Levels [Collection Level Descriptions]

Reference materials on all specific academic subjects are collected at the same level as indicated in the University Library's collection policy statement. General information reference tools are acquired selectively.

V. Other Significant Collections and Resource Sharing

Reference materials in library and information science, public administration and policy, social welfare and criminal justice are collected at an Intensive Level at the Dewey Graduate Library as well as science, mathematics and technology titles at the Science Library. These resources are not duplicated at the University Library. Some materials are duplicated in the general areas of the sciences, social sciences, and general reference, as are certain law titles.

The University Library Reference collection is the major comprehensive reference collection in the Capital District. The New York State Library is another major resource and contains additional reference sources not collected at the University Libraries, e.g. genealogy.

VI. Internal Notes

Most purchases for the University Library's Reference collection are firm orders or standing orders. Very few sources are purchased through an approval plan. Books that do arrive on an approval plan or through the Government Publications unit are referred to the Bibliographer for Reference. All items ordered are subject to periodic review and will not automatically be placed on standing order. Many widely used reference sources are available from online services or through the Internet. In some cases, it is appropriate to rely on access to these materials rather than purchase these materials for the permanent collection.

VII. Weeding of the Reference Collection

Weeding of the Reference collection is a continuous process based on the above policy.

January 2004

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