Terms and Abbreviations Used in the Collection Development Policies

When they write about what they do, especially when brevity is an objective, specialists use short hand. This page is intended as a lexicon for those seeking an understanding of the specialized terms and abbreviations used to describe library collections and their management. This document holds a glossary of expressions used in the policy texts, definitions of collecting levels, and of the language codes that accompany collecting levels.


Approval Plan- an arrangement by which a publisher or wholesaler assumes the responsibility for selecting and supplying, subject to return privileges, all publications, as issued, fitting a library's collection profile.

Blanket Order- an agreement by which a publisher or wholesaler supplies a copy of all publications, usually without right of return

"Classed Together"- classified together, i.e. all works within a series receive the same classification sequence and appear together on library shelves, arranged by series number

Monograph- a bibliographic item either complete in one part, or intended to be completed in a finite number of separate parts

Monographic Series- a group of monographs, usually related to one another in subject, issued in succession, normally by the same publisher and in uniform style with a collective title applying to the group as a whole

Periodical- a serial publication, intended to appear indefinitely at regular or stated intervals

RLG Conspectus- an overview, or summary, of existing collection strengths and current collecting intensities, arranged by subject, of the Research Library Group's members

Serial- a publication in any medium, issued in successive parts, bearing numerical or chronological designations and intended to be continued indefinitely

Government Document- any publication orginating in, or issued with the imprint of, or at the expense and by the authority of, any office of a legally organized goverment or international organization.

Terms and Symbols Used to Describe Collection Levels:

Throughout the policies, librarians have expressed evaluations based on a standard set of numbers and letters. The headings that order these evaluations are:

Collection levels as defined by a committee of the American Library Association are:

5. Comprehensive level. A collection in which a library endeavors, so far as is reasonably possible, to include all significant works of recorded knowledge for a necessarily defined field.

4. Research level. A collection which includes the major published source materials required for dissertations and independent research, including materials containing research reporting, new findings, scientific experimental results, and other information useful to researchers.

3. Study level. A collection which supports undergradute or graduate course work, or sustained independent study; that is, which is adequate to maintain knowledge of a subject required for limited or generalized purposes, of less than research intensity.

2. Basic level. A highly selective collection which serves to introduce and define the subject and to indicate the varieties of information available elsewhere.

1. Minimal level. A subject area in which few selections are made beyond very basic works.

Language codes

E. English language materials predominate; little or no foreign language material is in the collection.

F. Selected foreign language material included, primarily Western European in addition to English language material.

W. Wide variety of foreign language material in addition to English language material. No programmatic decision is made to restrict materials according to language.

Y. Material is primarily in one non-English language. The overall focus is on collecting material in the vernacular of the area.