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III. Policies: Humanities and Social Science Reference

  • Subject name: Humanities and Social Science Reference
  • Subject abbreviations: REF
  • Subject Specialist: Gabrielle Wiersma
  • Other subject responsibilities: Economics, General Collection Development
  • Address: 184 UCB
  • Phone: 303-492-4316
  • Email: gabrielle.wiersma@Colorado.edu

Objectives of the Humanities and Social Sciences Reference Collection Development Policy

This policy is designed to establish:

Guidelines to ensure effective development and management of an active electronic and print reference collection in the humanities and the social sciences.


Guidelines for priorities, subjects, scope, and format of titles in the reference collection.


Procedures for the ongoing selection, evaluation, transfer, and deselection of reference

I. Purpose:
The Reference collection strives to provide access to information resources that support the curriculum and research needs of students, faculty, and staff at the University of Colorado. The collection also serves as a research resource for residents of Colorado.

A. Curricular emphasis:
The Reference collection supports instruction and curriculum in the humanities and social science disciplines at the University of Colorado. Those disciplines include the following departments and programs:

1. Humanities
Classics, Comparative Literature and Humanities, East Asian Languages and Literatures, English, Film Studies, French & Italian, Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures, History, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Spanish and Portuguese, Theatre and Dance.


2. Social Sciences
Anthropology, Communication, Economics, Education, Environmental Studies, Ethnic Studies, Geography, International Affairs, Journalism and Mass Communication, Linguistics, Political Science, Sociology.


3. Special Studies Programs
Asian Studies; Honors; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Studies; Museum and Field Studies; Peace and Conflict Studies; Program for Writing and Rhetoric; Teacher Licensure Programs; Women’s Studies; Center for British and Irish Studies; Program for Central and Eastern European Studies; Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies.

B. Other Considerations:
The reference collection is non-circulating (although online materials may be accessed anytime). Items from this collection may not be checked out, except in rare cases where approval is given by a Reference supervisor. Special circulation is available only to faculty, graduate students, and library faculty/staff.

II. General Collection Guidelines:

A. Criteria for Inclusion in the Reference Collection:
The ALA Glossary of Library and Information Science defines a reference collection as a “collection of reference books and other materials in a library, useful for supplying authoritative information or identifying sources, kept together for convenience in providing information service.” Only items that provide 1) brief, factual data or 2) citations or other means of finding information in another published source, will be added to the reference collection. Resources which require that the user do extensive reading, analysis, or contemplation will not be considered for the reference collection. The reference collection is NOT be the default location for all items that bear the words "dictionary," "encyclopedia," "handbook," "directory," or any other typical reference terminology. Many of these items are often more appropriate for the circulating collection.


Selection of materials for inclusion is based on:

1. Collection Need
This is determined by the current strengths and weaknesses of the existing reference collection, heavy patron use of an item currently in the circulating collection, and/or the subject specialist’s determination that the item has worth as a primary resource for answering frequently occurring reference questions.


2. Authority
Subject specialists evaluate the credentials of the author(s)/editor(s) and/or publisher for authority on the subject.


3. Unique coverage
The item contains a considerable amount of information not found elsewhere in the reference collection or easily found online. If the information contained in a potential reference item is already present in the collection, the item may not be added.


4. Currency
With the sole exception of items retained for their value as historical documents, reference items should provide the most up-to date information available.


5. Breadth and Depth of coverage
Items that provide the greatest breadth and depth of information will have priority in selection.


6. Ease of independent use
Arrangement of information within an item should facilitate non-guided use and include, if possible, an index and table of contents.


7. Longevity
The projected length of time that the material will remain current and useful will be affect inclusion in the reference collection.


8. Cost
Cost is measured against the above criteria to ensure that an item’s worth validates the funds spent on it.

B. Methods of Acquiring Materials:
Materials are acquired as Firm Orders (as informed by patron request and agreement of subject specialist for Reference, selection by subject specialist for Reference, or by suggestion of another subject specialist), via Approval Plan (for US and British imprints: Ingram-Coutts), and Donations/Gifts. Gifts in kind are accepted according to the needs of the collection.


C. Areas of Reference:
The physical collection of the Humanities and Social Science Reference Collection is divided into the following sub-locations:

1. College and Career Information Center (REF DEPT EDUDIR)
This specialized collection meets the college planning and career guidance needs of students.


2. Ready Reference (REF DEPT RDYREF)

Ready Reference titles are those items that have been identified as being excellent resources for answering frequently-asked reference questions and meeting other immediate information needs.


3. Reference CD-ROMs (REF DEPT CD-ROMS)
The reference collection houses a thinning number of reference CD-ROMs that cover the humanities and social sciences as well as general topics. CD-ROMs may only be used in the Reference Department on a dedicated computer. Subject specialists are discouraged from selecting materials in this format due to access and hardware issues.


4. Reference Indexes (REF DEPT INDEX)
Primary repository for the print indexes and abstracts to periodical literature in the social sciences and humanities.


5. Reference Microforms (REF DEPT MICROFICHE)
A static and limited collection of reference materials available on microfiche. A microfiche reader is available near the collection to allow for access.


6. Reference Stacks (REF DEPT STACKS)
Primary repository for the print reference collection.


7. Reference Telephone Directory
This uncataloged collection of telephone books includes only current directories for local and state areas.


8. Scholarships, Grants, and Foundations Center (REF DEPT GRANTS)
Primary repository for resources on identifying and obtaining grants and scholarships for research and study.

D. Languages:
English is the primary language of the collection. Titles in a foreign language are selected only if they are superior to, complement, or cover an area not covered by the English works available. Important reference works in the major languages of study at the University of Colorado, Boulder (e.g., encyclopedias, dictionaries, and foreign national bibliographies) are collected.


E. Chronological Guidelines:
All time periods of study are included.


F. Geographical Guidelines:
Materials are selected by topic of study and not geographical location of publication, in that all areas relevant to the University of Colorado's learning and research processes are included in the collection.


G. Treatment of Subject:
The focus of the Reference collection is the humanities and social sciences. In general, the reference collection policy is to collect reference material that is consistent with the established collection development guidelines for the individual subjects. Scholarly and authoritative information works, appropriate for both undergraduate and graduate study and research are collected.


H. Choice of Formats:
Due to access concerns and space limitations, electronic materials have priority whenever possible, and may replace print items. In most instances, print items with an online counterpart will be removed from the collection (moved to the circulating collection or withdrawn). If a reference work exists in electronic format, printed versions are retained in the collection only if the print version contains content (graphs, charts, illustrations, etc.) which have been omitted from the online version, the print title remains very high-use and is frequently consulted, and/or the printed version offers significant advantages over the electronic version, such as ease of use or more complete content. Consideration is given to the cost differences between formats when making selections.


I. Types of Materials:

1. Almanacs, annuals and yearbooks
The latest editions are selected for the collection. The geographic and subject coverage of these materials reflects and supports the teaching and research trends in the humanities and social sciences.


2. Atlases
A representative collection of the most current major, comprehensive world atlases is maintained.


3. Bibliographies
The reference collection houses the national bibliographies of major countries studied at the University of Colorado. General bibliographies on broad topics are included in the reference collection as well. Those with a narrow scope, such as single author or subject bibliographies, may best serve patrons in the circulating collection.


4. Biographical directories
Major universal and national works are included, as are current biographical works and a selection of the "who's who" type of materials. Biographical dictionaries with a narrow, regional, chronological or subject coverage are considered on their individual merits and on their potential usefulness in the collection.


5. Career guides
University Libraries recognize the strength of the University’s Career and Placement Services Office collection in the areas of career choice materials and resume guides. The College and Career Information Center, a sub-location of the reference collection, serves as a secondary collection for student use.


6. Companions and specialized encyclopedias
The Reference Department maintains a collection of companions and specialized encyclopedias which reflect the programs in the humanities and social sciences.


7. Concordances
The Reference Collection contains concordances for only the most major works and authors.


8. English language dictionaries
An extensive collection of general, etymological, and specialized dictionaries of dialects, slang, synonyms, acronyms, abbreviations, and subject related dictionaries are collected. The OED is the primary etymological dictionary in the collection (provided both in print and online).


9. Foreign language dictionaries
Collected primarily for those languages studied at the University of Colorado and minimally for others.


10. Dissertation guides
ProQuest Dissertations and Theses - A&I (online) is the primary index of US dissertations and theses. Indexes of dissertations and theses from other countries are also available in print and online.


11. Electronic information retrieval services
The reference collection provides access to a wide variety of electronic information sources as citations, abstracts, or full-text. Formats include free and subscription databases, CD-ROMs, and web sites. Most titles are IP-accessible via the campus network, although some online titles require passwords (available by consulting a reference librarian).


12. Encyclopedias (general)
Current, general encyclopedia collections are maintained in print and online.


13. Genealogy
The reference collection does not collect genealogical materials. The regional authority is the Denver Public Library’s Western History / Genealogy Department.


14. Government documents
Generally not included in the Reference Collection. The Government Publications Department of University Libraries is the primary collector of these materials.


15. Guides to undergraduate and graduate study: (see also University and college catalogs)
Numerous guides to undergraduate and graduate study are collected, as are several standard rating sources. These materials are housed in the College and Career Information Center sub-location of the Reference Collection.


16. Indexing and abstracting services: (see also Electronic information retrieval services)
General, interdisciplinary, and some specific subject area indexes and abstracts are collected, with both current and retrospective volumes housed in the Reference Collection. Indexes to individual periodicals are shelved with their parent titles. Subscriptions to print titles are increasingly cancelled in lieu of online subscriptions. In these cases, print editions are moved to offsite storage or withdrawn.


17. Maps
Not generally collected in general reference. Contact the Map Library of University Libraries.


18. Periodical and newspaper directories and union lists
Bibliographies of periodicals and newspapers, to include directories or national bibliographies, are generally collected by Reference.


19. Postal code directories
Available online.


20. Quotation and proverb books
Select current editions of major English language dictionaries of quotations, proverbs, etc.


21. Sacred Works
An extensive collection of Bibles, Korans and other sacred works, along with select concordances and commentaries, is maintained.


22. Scholarship, fellowship and grant materials
A basic collection of scholarship, fellowship and grant materials is maintained.


23. Statistical yearbooks
A limited range of national and international statistical yearbooks is collected for reference purposes.


24. Style manuals
A limited selection of current editions is maintained. Additional copies of style manuals and superseded editions are available in the circulating collection and in other departmental reference collections.


25. Telephone directories
Current directories for the local area are maintained but are not cataloged.


26. Trade bibliographies
Reference subscribes to Books In Print (now an online subscription database)


27. Travel guides
Not generally collected.


28. University and college catalogs
Available in online subscription database College Source Online. Current catalogs for the University of Colorado at Boulder are available via the University of Colorado at Boulder web site.

J. Currency of Publication:
The emphasis in Reference is on new and current materials. When new editions of reference works are acquired, subsequent editions will be transferred to the circulating collection or withdrawn. Earlier editions that still deemed useful will be sent to Norlin Stacks or off-site storage while those that contain time sensitive materials that are no longer useful will be withdrawn. Some retrospective materials will be retained as deemed appropriate.


K. Other General Considerations:
The Department of Reference and Instruction works cooperatively with other departments within University Libraries to decide on the acquisition, duplication, and location of reference items which fall within the scope of more than one location.


L. Collection Management and Assessment:

The Reference Subject Specialist oversees management and assessment of the reference collection. Subject specialists provide input and assistance with this process. Collection assessment is an ongoing process through which the collection is evaluated for strengths, weaknesses, and balance within specific subject areas and when viewed in its entirety. Assessment also relates to maintaining the collection at a manageable size and ensuring that materials are not duplicated. Collection assessment provides the data for decisions concerning the acquisition and deselection of reference materials. In general, collection assessment activities include:

Periodic and systematic review of the entire reference collection (print and online).


Review of relevant professional literature to ensure acquisition of significant reference works.


Comparison of reference sources to standard subject bibliographies.


Discussions with faculty to evaluate the adequacy of the reference collection.

Careful initial selection of materials for the reference collection is essential. Periodic projects are also undertaken to ensure that the collection is adhering to the criteria described in this document. Decisions about deselection use the same general criteria listed under “Guidelines for Inclusion in the Reference Collection,” with emphasis placed on currency and usability. Materials which are duplicates, out of date, incomplete, superseded, in poor condition, of greater use to patrons in the circulating collection, or in subjects that are not vital to Humanities and Social Science Reference should be relocated to the circulating collection or withdrawn.

III. Observations and Qualifications by Subject and LC Class

K -- LAW