Collection Development Policy

Collection Development Policy 館藏發展政策

1. Introduction

The Chinese University of Hong Kong Library (the Library) strives to provide a high quality and well-balanced library collection to support the teaching, learning and research of the University. The Library holds about 2.6 million items of printed monographs, bound periodicals, maps, audio-visual materials and microforms. The electronic resources collection grows rapidly in the past two decades in strength and depth, the Library currently provides access to over 4.5 million ebooks, about 12,800 electronic journal subscriptions and 670 databases. With ongoing digitization initiatives, the Library also makes available over 5 million digital images/objects to students and faculties at the University, and increasingly is making content openly accessible to the local and global research community. Our Special Collections forms an integral part of the Library’s collection providing useful resources on Chinese and Hong Kong studies; it includes a valuable collection of oracle bones from Shang dynasty (ca.1675-1029 BC), Chinese rare and semi-rare books, archives and manuscripts, Minguo and Cultural Revolution period publications etc., with subjects ranging from Chinese classical works, traditional Chinese medicine, ethnomusicology, Hong Kong literature, social and political studies. The Library communicates on a regular basis through different channels with faculties and students to enhance the collection for study and research.

This Collection Development Policy provides the principles and guidelines in the selection, acquisitions, evaluation and maintenance of the library collection.  It reflects the vision and commitment of the Library in collecting and providing access to world class resources in support of the University’s priorities. It informs students, faculties, Library staff, administration and other interested parties of the goals and priorities in building a relevant collection that supports 21st century learning, research and scholarly communication. More importantly, the policy serves as a communication document for all parties involved in shaping the CUHK library collection, to maintain relevance and to build a sustainable collection which is adaptable to varied needs in academic programs and changes in information technology.


2. Selection Guidelines

The following general criteria are used when considering the acquisition of ALL information resources -- physical or electronic. Particular criteria may assume greater or lesser importance depending on the type of materials under consideration. Each subject specific collection development statement created in consultation with academic departments describe priorities and operational approaches appropriate to those disciplines, but all selection needs to align with the criteria outlined below.

2.1 General Criteria:

Relevance - Able to meet users’ needs and demands, and support the teaching and research programs of the University.

Quality - Materials should generally be of high quality, offer relevant content, authoritative authorship and well sourced data.

Currency - Up to date and provide current information. Exceptions may include material for research purposes, or where a historical perspective is important.

Price and cost effectiveness - should be priced appropriately and offer value for money. The Library prefers to participate in cooperative efforts to purchase resources through cost-effective consortia arrangements.

Preferred criteria for Electronic Resources

Each new electronic resources will be evaluated against the listed criteria, due to wide variations encountered (especially Chinese resources), the list below are preferred terms.

Technical requirements - web based; use standard technologies; IP or proxy authenticated rather than password; provide stable direct linking to databases, journal titles, issues and individual articles.

User Interface - easy to use and intuitive; provide screen designs and layout aids that facilitate usage; provide help screens and tutorials; acceptable response time.

Licensing - provide site license and remote user access; allow standard permitted use of licensed content (printing, downloading, storing, emailing, course packs, course management system, or e-reserve, interlibrary loans.); protect user confidentiality and privacy; allow walk-in and other user access such as alumni

Publisher/vendor services - Provide trial period on request, provide adequate customer support and training; provide COUNTER compliance statistics; provide title lists and coverage; provide regular updates of changes, additions and deletions.

2.2 Language

The Library collects extensively materials in English and Chinese languages. Materials in other languages are collected more selectively to support the language and area studies programs of the University.

2.3 Choice of Format

Electronic Preferred Policy (e-preferred policy) – Web based electronic format will be preferred for all types of information resources for advantages such as convenient 24x7 access, multiple usage, options to use on mobile devices, and easy integration into course management system or e-learning platforms.

Print: With the implementation of the e-preferred policy, print materials will be acquired in a reduced rate and in a more selective manner in some subject disciplines. At times, print materials may remain the preferred option, for example, for preservation reason, unavailability of electronic version or to meet equity and accessibility requirements.

Microforms: Microforms are no longer actively collected, exception includes selected local newspapers. Microforms collection will be replaced by electronic version whenever available.

DVD: To support film studies, cultural and other studies, DVDs are still collected.

2.4 Formats and Materials Not Collected

The following types of materials are generally not collected for the Libraries' collection. However, this statement does not exclude these types of resources being collected by the appropriate special collections.

  • Games, models and realia, three-dimensional objects, charts and pictures, study prints, transparencies, and toys are not acquired as individual titles into the collection, unless they accompany a printed work.
  • Materials that run on obsolete software platforms or those not supported by the Library
  • Obsolete formats: Long Plays, 5.25 inch computer disks, Laser Disks, Open Reel Tapes, Video VHS, Video Beta, Video UMatic, Film 16mm, Film 8mm, Film S8mm, Filmstrips, Filmloops, and other formats as they become obsolete.
  • Application and instructional software or courseware are not collected for use in the Libraries or for circulation from the Libraries.

2.5 Duplication policy for printed books

Generally ONLY one print copy of each title is acquired. If required, should not exceed a total of five copies in most instances, and not exceed two if an electronic version is available. High demand titles can be put in the Library Open Reserve for short term loan.

2.6 Course reading materials

There should be at a minimum of one copy of course reading materials in the Library collection; an electronic version will be preferred and sourced whenever possible. The general spirit of the Policy advises against the acquisition of unnecessary duplicates even though teaching departments have the discretion in expending their book fund to support teaching and research. Multiple print copies of course materials, if required, should follow the duplication policy. High demand titles can be put in the Library Open Reserve for short term loan.

2.7 Support to visually impaired users

The Library is committed to support needs of visually impaired users; required materials in appropriate format will be acquired through publishers or local agencies. Moreover, the availability can be subject to publishers’ policies and other copyright restrictions.


3 . Roles and Responsibilities in Collection Development

3.1 Library Committee Chairs

A Library Committee Chair is designated by each academic department to serve as liaison and is responsible for channeling purchase or subscription recommendations to the Library. Other responsibilities of Library Committee Chairs include:

  • To distribute information from the Libraries to members of their department;
  • To encourage and to coordinate the communication from other faculty members with the Library;
  • To advise Faculty liaison librarians of any changes in academic directions, new developments in the curriculum, program changes, and research focus of the department;
  • To provide input on the profiling of the approval plan and collection development polices;
  • To provide input on the revision of the Collection Development Policies.

3.2 Faculty Liaison/Subject Librarians

Faculty Liaison/Subject Librarians are expected to establish a collaborative partnership with designated library committee chairs and faculty members of the Faculty or Department. Their responsibilities include:

  • Enhance formal and informal communication between the Library and Faculty/Department;
  • Increase awareness and use of Library resources and services;
  • Strengthen Library collections to meet curricular and research needs;
  • Provide information literacy instruction, reference consultations and support life-long learning.

In addition to the activities listed above, other collection development responsibilities include:

  • Keep abreast of the development and changes in the teaching, study and research needs of the respective department;
  • Analyzing quantitative and qualitative data to be able to make informed decisions concerning budgets and materials purchases;
  • Assessing the existing collections for weaknesses and strengths in supporting both current and new courses/programs;
  • Keeping abreast of subject development of the assigned disciplines and on current literature in the fields;
  • Refining the approval plan profile or other purchase profiles for currency and relevancy.

3.3 Standing Committee on Electronic Resources (SCER)

The Library’s Standing Committee on Electronic Resources (SCER) with representatives from technical services, faculty liaison/subject librarians, and Library IT and systems meets regularly to decide on matters related to electronic resources. It reports to the Library Management Committee, the remit of the SCER is summarized as follows:

a. To select, review and decide on purchase recommendations in accordance with principles and criteria set forth in the Collection Development Policy;

b. To advise and coordinate with relevant parties on matters concerning the acquisitions, system requirements, licensing, management and preservation of electronic resources;

c. To make recommendation on the development policies and strategies for electronic resources of the CUHK Library.

4.  Electronic Collection Policy

Building a high quality, varied and relevant electronic resources collection is of strategic importance for research libraries to meet the challenges in supporting research and learning in the digital age. The CUHK Library has managed to increase the electronic resources to a critical mass and reached the tipping point by planned acquisitions and addition through collaboration. There is a need for a policy to inform the medium term strategies in the acquisitions, management and preservation of purchased electronic resources, and a digitization policy to provide framework and prioritize the content to be digitized.

4.1 Selection Guidelines

Selection guidelines are outlined in Section 2.1 which applies to ALL information resources, including preferred criteria pertinent to electronic resources.

4.2 Selection Responsibilities

Same as other materials, acquisitions of electronic resources are initiated by or at times, recommended to the academic departments by the Library for their consideration. In most cases, trials will be arranged so that the resources can be sufficiently evaluated on quality, ease of use, etc.

4.3 Funding of electronic resources

Subject specific electronic resources such as electronic journals subscriptions and ebook purchases are usually paid out from academic departmental book fund. It is not uncommon that academic departments jointly share the cost of expensive electronic resources with the Library, or for databases that have a broader scope to be taken up by a Faculty, or aggregate databases taken up solely by the Library central fund. 

4.4 Electronic journals

The Library implemented an e-only journal policy in 2006, it currently provides access to over 128,000 journals through individual title subscription by academic departments, taking up major publisher packages or subscribing to aggregate journal databases. Continual subscription to publisher “big deal” packages depends on price increase and availability of budget.

Archival Electronic journal Collections – Increasingly, publishers are digitizing back runs of print journals. These archival collections of journals provide convenient access, and in some cases help to achieve space saving when it can replace the holdings in print or microforms. As early on as the implementation of e-only the Library has acquired back runs from major publishers when year-end balance allows. The Medical Library has completed the project to acquire an archival journal collection to strengthen the e-journal collection and free up shelving space to meet the demand for study places.

Regular Review of e-journal usage - Report of annual usage of subscribed resources will be sent to departmental Library Committee Chair for review at the beginning of the financial year, it provides COUNTER compliance usage, cost of subscription and derived data such as cost per use.

4.5 Electronic books

The Library currently holds about 4.5 ebooks, mainly in English or Chinese languages covering all disciplines. They include subscription from aggregate databases, individually purchased titles, ebook packages from major academic publishers; in-house digitized items or access obtained through collaborative digitization projects. The major development in recent years is the availability of demand-driven acquisitions model for English language titles, this mode of ebook acquisition is now widely adopted by academic libraries.

Demand driven acquisitions – The development of academic ebooks publishing opens up more cost-effective acquisitions options that allows the migration from the tradition mode of “Just in case” selection” to a new mode of “just in time” user engagement purchases. They are marketed under different product name but commonly referred to as Patron Driven Acquisitions (PDA) or Demand Driven Acquisitions. The Library has piloted several products and evidence indicated that ebooks taken up by PDA or DDA resulted in higher subsequent usage.

E-book Strategy – To be reviewed periodically as necessary

  • Acquisitions of ebooks (front list or retrospective titles) will be via DDA on publisher platform whenever available;
  • Supplement by Patron Driven Acquisitions on aggregate databases that contains academic publication from small, independent or university presses;
  • Package acquisitions to be considered when budget allows

Choice of ebook platform - In light of the convenience, timeliness of front-list titles, integration with journal platform, multiple-access with site licence options and perpetual access etc., the Library recommends purchases via publisher platform whenever applicable. Ebook platform by Not-for-profit organizations such as JSTOR or Project Muse provides stable platforms for small and university presses.

4.6 Other electronic resources – The Library continues to source web-based non-text content such as audio, video-streaming or interactive learning platform resources. This will gradually replace the audio-visual collections that are tied to a tangible carrier.

4.7 Long term preservation and access – The Library has strengthened its commitment to the long-term preservation and access for resources by participating in the CLOCKSS1 initiatives. This service which provides long-term preservation for some publishers’ content will provide access for the Library when the publisher ceases business. The SCER assesses preservation needs from time to time and studies alternative preservation service options such as Portico2 .

4.8 Digitisation Policy

See Appendix A.

1 CLOCKSS (Controlled LOCKSS) is a not-for-profit joint venture between the world’s leading academic publishers and research libraries whose mission is to build a sustainable, geographically distributed dark archive with which to ensure the long-term survival of Web-based scholarly publications for the benefit of the greater global research community.

2 Portico is among the largest community-supported digital archives in the world. Working with libraries and publishers, it preserves e-journals, e-books, and other electronic scholarly content to ensure researchers and students will have access to it in the future.


5 . Archives & Special Collections Policy

Special Collections at the Chinese University of Hong Kong Library collects, preserves and provides access to original, historical, unique, rare, primary or otherwise valuable research materials and resources in various formats to support the learning, teaching and research needs of the students, staff and researchers of the University.

The collections are grouped into three categories.

5.1 Special Collections

Special collections are featured collections focusing on a specific subject area or theme which is set up to reflect and fulfill the learning, teaching and research interests of the University community. These materials may require special handling or care and are put in closed stack. They are extensively collected based on the following consideration:

Priorities - Priorities will be given to strengthen existing collections. A list of existing special collections is available at the Special Collections homepage.

Language - Primarily Chinese and English, major European languages and East Asian languages will also be considered.

Chronological - Regardless of date in principle but also depends on the scope of the individual collection.

Geographic - Primarily on Hong Kong, China and Taiwan but may cover other geographic areas depending on the scope of the individual collection.

Subjects - Focuses on subjects in line with the research and instructional profile of the University. They include, but are not limited to, China studies, Hong Kong studies, literature, arts and humanities, etc.

Formats - Regardless of material formats but some type of materials may be transferred to other CUHK collections for consistency in collection management.

5.2 . Archival Collections

The archival collections contain manuscripts and other archival materials that have evidential and/or informational value and they are collected according to:

Priorities - Seeks to acquire collections which support the University’s focused areas of research. Collections of well-recognized persons or organizations are welcome and completeness of collections is appreciated.

Language - Collects materials primarily in Chinese or English. Also accepts collections which include materials in other languages.

Chronological - Collects materials regardless of date.

Geographic - Collects materials regardless of place of origin.

Subjects - Collects materials on all disciplines.

Formats - Collects materials in all formats, including paper documents (e.g. manuscripts, diaries, and correspondence), photographs, etc. Books, periodicals, and audio-visual materials may be transferred to other CUHK Library collections.

Other Considerations - Primarily donations from the general public and people affiliated with The University. Donations will be accepted in line with CUHK Library’s terms on gifted items. CUHK Library does not accept any item which does not belong to the donor. CUHK Library will become the legal owner of the donated materials and proper documentation will be prepared and signed.

5.3 . Named Collections

Named collections contain collections of specific subjects or focused themes which are set up to support the research and instructional needs of the University community. They are put on open stack for in library use or for circulating. They are selectively acquired according to:

Priorities - Priority will be given to enrich existing collections. A list of existing named collections is available at the Special Collections homepage.

Language - Primarily Chinese and English, major European languages and East Asian languages will also be considered.

Chronological - Regardless of date in principle but also depends on the scope of the individual collection.

Geographic - Primarily on Hong Kong, China and Taiwan but may cover other geographic areas depending on the scope of the individual collection.

Subjects - Focuses on subjects in line with the research and instructional profile of the University. They include, but are not limited to, China studies, Hong Kong studies, literature, arts and humanities, etc.

Formats - Regardless of material formats but some type of materials may be transferred to other CUHK collections for consistency in collection management.

5.4 . Storage Environment

To preserve and to ensure the long-term availability of the valuable materials, especially those of special and archival collections, storage or facilities with proper environmental control will be provided


6. Gifts and donations

Gifts may be excellent supplements to the library collections. However, the acceptance or otherwise of donations must comply with the University's rules and guidelines on the acceptance of gifts or donations. The CUHK Library will screen the potential gifts to decide whether to incorporate them into the library collections according to the following criteria:

(a) Relevance of subject and academic quality;

(b) Physical condition;

(c) Currency;

(d) Whether there are any pre-conditions attached to the gift;

(e) Unnecessary duplication;

(f) Copyright of commercial visual materials is observed.

As gifts take up expensive space and staff time, generally only unconditional gift materials on a relevant subject of the University and of good quality should be accepted. Exceptions will be made for major donations of a particular size, quality, age, rarity, specialization, and focus.

Book Registration Ordinance (BRO)

According to the arrangement under the Book Registration Ordinance, CUHK Library receives a copy of all new publication published or printed in Hong Kong.

BRO items include books, serials, government documents, company reports, school textbooks at primary and secondary levels, etc. Items that fit the CUHK Library collection scope will be selected and added to library general collection, Hong Kong Studies Collection (HKS) or Instructional Materials Collection (IMC), etc.

Items not suitable to be added to the collection will be exchanged with other libraries, or discarded according to disposal policy and procedures.


7. Long term retention Policy

Regular collection review is essential to ensure that our print collections are of quality, current, usable and relevant to the research and teaching interests of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The collection has to be reviewed in light of the increasing strength of the electronic collection as well.

The Library cannot guarantee to retain all print items indefinitely. This policy guides the location, withdrawal and disposal of physical items from the Library's collections in a manner that is transparent and acceptable to the University community. Withdrawal and disposal of materials will be handled with great care, and faculty will be invited to review materials for withdrawal. Print items with secure digital archives will be considered for de-selection. However, the CUHK Library Collection Development Policy states the importance in preserving printed works with significant academic and archival value, such as locally published materials, or the last physical copy of print item in the UCG funded university libraries.

7.1 Materials considered for withdrawal

  • Published material which is mutilated, badly damaged or worn out;
  • Physical formats which are technically obsolete and replaced by formats more suitable for access or preservation;
  • Irrelevance or out dated or superseded published material;
  • Material in languages not currently used at the University;
  • Additional copies which are no longer required;
  • Material which falls outside the Collection Development Policy, the scope of the subject disciplines or special collection policies;
  • Availability of electronic format;
  • Items seldom or never used will be considered for de-selection;
  • Gift materials which will be disposed of within the terms of the donation.

7.2 Review guidelines for print serials

Print holdings of journals or serials with electronic equivalents that are available to CUHK users and where the Library has purchased archival rights may be relegated. Locally published or print ONLY serials will be kept on campus.

7.3 Withdrawal Register

The Library will keep a withdrawal record of withdrawn items for disposal from its collections, in compliance with University’s auditing policies.

7.4 Appropriate means of physical disposal include:

  • Exchange with or donation to other libraries or institutions.
  • Remaining materials may be offered to CUHK departments.
  • Recycle of materials in damaged condition or unsuitable for donation. Items will be marked for withdrawal and not for resale.

7.5 Long term retention of rarely used items

Retention of items that are considered to have long term value but are rarely used may be removed from open shelves and kept in closed access storage, either on campus or at a remote location. Such items will be made accessible on request. The Library is supportive of a shared approach to collection management, and will participate in shared repository schemes or distributed shared storage schemes as appropriate.

7.6 Location of Collections

The Library will take the criteria below into consideration when assessing the optimum location for any collection on the open shelves. The criteria were endorsed by The Library Users’ Group on January 8, 2016:

  • Integrity of the subject collections to facilitate user experience and serendipity
  • Adjacency to relative teaching departments
  • Anticipated collection growth by subject
  • Usage evidence across campus branches
  • Meeting demand and optimize study spaces for undergraduates and postgraduates
  • College tradition and opinion
  • Students’ opinion
  • Faculties’ opinion

Revised and updated January 28, 2016