The Collection Development Policy documents the guiding principles by which Hunter Library provides and cultivates a collection of quality intellectual resources. The Collection Development Librarian updates it every five years or as needed.
In support of Western Carolina University’s mission, Hunter Library serves the curricular and research needs of students, faculty, and staff while encouraging academic success, fostering critical thinking, and enriching the community. The library fulfills this mission by providing access to information; offering research and instruction services; and preserving the intellectual, environmental, and cultural heritage of the university and the region.
Intellectual freedom is a core value of Hunter Library. As such, this collection development policy is guided by the first four articles of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights:
One of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina, Western Carolina University is a comprehensive university, offering programs of study at the baccalaureate, master’s, doctoral, and intermediate levels, with instruction programs housed in six colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Allied Professions, Fine and Performing Arts, Health and Human Sciences, and Engineering and Technology. The university offers courses and programs on the main campus in Cullowhee; at the instructional site at Biltmore Park Town Square in Asheville; and through distance learning.
The Hunter Library collection consists of a general collection and several specialized collections: maps, curriculum materials, special collections, digital collections, reference, leisure reading, government documents, periodicals, and databases. Collection development is a collaborative effort involving many parties, including library liaisons, teaching faculty, the Collection Development Librarian, the Acquisitions Librarian, and the Collections Advisory Committee. These parties strive to build and maintain a collection of quality intellectual resources that reflect inclusive excellence.
The library collects resources in a variety of formats to meet the changing needs of users as technology and publishing models evolve. These include established media, such as print books and microfilm, as well as newer and emerging technologies, such as e-books, e-journals, databases, and streaming media. The library generally does not purchase identical content across multiple formats. For monographs, library liaisons decide whether to purchase books in print or digital format. When purchasing e-books, the library prefers unlimited access, though more restrictive licenses (typically 3-User or 1-User) are acceptable, if finances or publisher-supplied Digital Rights Management (DRM) prevent the purchase of unlimited access. For journals, databases, and movies, the library prefers electronic access.
Hunter Library subscribes to electronic resources (such as databases and e-journals) at the institutional level, so that everyone in the WCU community—including distance education students—may access them. However, departments, units, and individuals may choose to administer and pay for resources that fall outside the scope of the library’s collection at their own discretion. In general, the library does not subscribe to electronic resources that restrict simultaneous use. Exceptions may be made for electronic resources that impose partial limits, such as e-books that may only be accessed by one person at a time, or databases with seat restrictions. However, all resources must be accessible as institutional-level subscriptions that are open to all people in the WCU community, including distance education students. The library strongly prefers to provide access to electronic resources via proxy technology, with users authenticated by IP address (for on-campus access) or by WCU login credentials (for off-campus access). In some cases, the library may provide access to electronic resources that use alternative means of authentication, typically user-created username and password—but only for resources that are available at the institutional level, and only for resources that may be accessed on and off campus.
The library gives preference to resources in English or to resources translated to English. Exceptions include, but are not limited to, works intended for the World Language program.
The library generally does not purchase resources to be housed offsite. Exceptions may be made for remote instructional sites. Resources stored at remote locations remain the property of Hunter Library.
Due to limited funds, the library acquires multiple copies selectively.
When resources no longer serve the needs of the university community, the library removes them from the collection. Factors for weeding include, but are not limited to, obsolescence, redundancy, and poor condition.
The library accepts donations of library resources and monetary gifts according to the following criteria:
To serve the cartographic information needs of the university community, the maps collection includes worldwide maps and atlases, geospatial data, and related reference resources, with an emphasis on post-1900 North Carolina and the southeastern United States.
The Curriculum Materials Center collection supports elementary and secondary education courses, field placements, and children’s and young adult literature courses.
The mission of Special Collections is to select and acquire primary research materials and ancillary documentation that support the academic community’s teaching, research activities, and service programs; to arrange and describe the holdings; to provide physical access to the holdings and reference service for patrons; and to work towards preservation of the items. A shared goal of Special Collections and the Mountain Heritage Center is the preservation of the regional heritage of western North Carolina and the southern Appalachian area. Special Collections and the Mountain Heritage Center work cooperatively and are non-competitive in their missions. Special Collections acquires materials such as manuscripts, photographs, and rare books that document the history of the region. The Mountain Heritage Center collects artifacts, primarily three-dimensional, for the same purpose.
The library is committed to sustaining a strong digital infrastructure and to extending access to unique resource materials via the web. The library uses digitization to create online collections that include primary source materials that are then organized into a searchable database.
To enhance their use, digital collections are often augmented with contextual material to assist the public audience with understanding and integrating their content for greater meaning. To accomplish this objective, the library engages content experts from within the university faculty to add interpretive meaning to its online offerings. In a manner similar to its Special Collections, the library’s Digital Collections support the learning and research needs of the university community. A primary area of interest includes the natural and cultural history of the Southern Appalachian region.
The Research & Instruction Services department maintains an up-to-date collection of reference sources—such as general and subject encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, citation guides, statistical sources, atlases, bibliographies, and indexes—to provide background information or quick facts on informational topics.
The library maintains a leisure reading collection to encourage reading and lifelong learning. The collection consists of selectively-acquired popular fiction and nonfiction books and magazines.
The purpose of being a depository library for federal and state documents is to provide access to, and service for, government information as needed by students, faculty, and staff of Western Carolina University and the 11th Congressional District. The library also collects and provides access to regional documents, specifically those related to environmental concerns and local or regional economic development. Preference is given to documents in electronic format. Care is given to avoid duplication of resources in Special Collections.
The periodical collection supports the information needs of students and faculty with both print and electronic resources. The collection reflects the long-term emphases of the curriculum, with funding priority given to those areas identified as priorities of the university. It is a dynamic collection, responding readily to the changing needs of the university.
The database collection supports all levels of scholarship across all disciplines. Because of the high cost and interdisciplinary nature of databases, decisions to subscribe to new databases are made by the Collections Advisory Committee, with input from liaison librarians and teaching faculty. The committee considers whether to renew or cancel subscriptions annually. Additionally, the library has access to those databases provided through the NC LIVE consortium.