About Collection Development at Cornell University

Collection Development, the shaping and management of library materials within the confines of available resources, is a recently-evolved specialization in libraries. The comprehensive Encyclopedia of Library and Information (1968-1984) does not list the term within its thirty-five volumes. Yet in the past two decades most research libraries have identified staff to carry out the collection development canon: budgeting, selection (and withdrawal), collection evaluation, and policy formation.

At Cornell the formal establishment of collection development dates from 1977 when the Library began a Project for Collection Development and Management, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.[1] The Project's impetus resulted in the appointment of a senior administrator charged specifically with setting policy within the endowed library units and a department of specialists, bibliographers, who, with their colleagues in the college and department libraries and curators in the Special Collections, make day-to-day decisions on the composition of the collections. With modifications, that model remains in place today.

Currently an Associate University Librarian administers collection development while the day-to-day decisions are made by the bibliographers, curators, and selectors listed at another location within this document. [To view the list, select the underlined area.] To enhance coordination, librarians with collection development responsibilities are grouped into four teams: area, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. One member of each team joins a representative of the statutory libraries, the Acquisitions Librarian, and the Head Bibliographer to consult with and advise the Associate University Librarian on the Collection Development Executive Committee.

[1]Records of the Project appear in two documents: Edleman, Hendrik and Dan C. Hazen, Collection Development and Management at Cornell: an Interim Report on Activities of the Cornell University Libraries' Project for Collection Development and Management July 1977-June 1979 (Ithaca: Cornell University Libraries, 1979) and Miller, J. Gormly, Collection Development and Management at Cornell(Ithaca: Cornell University Libraries, 1981).

Updated 2/1/06, fm