Undergraduate Library Collection

NOTE: the below document is superseded by the current version of the Undergraduate Library collection development statement.

Version Date: 2005

I. Collection Description


The primary focus of the Undergraduate Library (UGL) collection is to serve the research, curriculum, and personal information needs of undergraduate students. UGL's collection development guidelines are articulated in the Undergraduate Library Collection Development Statement (this document) and the University of Illinois Collection Development Statement.

UGL serves as a teaching library in which students are brought into contact with a large academic library, and learn tile effective use of its resources. UGL serves not only to meet students' immediate, course-related needs but also to prepare students to use all libraries, both in future academic work, and lifelong. This teaching relationship is constructed of several elements- 1) bibliographic instruction programs; 2) reference services, in which the individual encounter results not only in obtaining specific information, but in personalized instruction in the methods of library research, and 3) a core collection of reference works, periodicals, and general monographs, with which newly imparted skills call be practiced in the context of actual course assignments. UGL's collection is large and varied enough to allow basic research, yet not so large as to overwhelm and thereby hinder the inexperienced student. It is structured to represent a research collection ill miniature, that would render library skills acquired in it readily transferable to a larger research collection. UGL serves as a bridge between the high school or public libraries, to which most entering undergraduates are accustomed, and a major research collection.

To assist quality academic preparation, the Undergraduate Library collection includes print, microform, and media materials. Physical arrangements are designed to encourage direct access to the collection, and to provide spacious and attractive study spaces. Through this arrangement, UGL seeks to encourage intellectual exploration through browsing. Long service hours are offered to maximize access.

A good undergraduate education proceeds as much outside the classroom as it does within it. Since UGL is intended to support undergraduate education in the broadest sense of tile word, it has a vital role to play in this area. Its collections include materials of extracurricular interest, such as sports, hobbies, travel, etc. In collaboration with tile Illini Union Browsing Room, it collects lighter reading matter, such as current fiction and books of topical interest. Its periodical list contains both popular magazines and academic journals. It makes available outstanding titles on a variety of subjects, which don't necessarily bear directly oil coursework. All of this is intended to stimulate general intellectual curiosity and informal inquiry among Illinois' undergraduates.

II. General Collection Guidelines

Selection by Subject Areas and Divisions

Each undergraduate librarian selects print and non-print materials in designated subject areas. The subject areas are clustered by Departmental Library Divisions. By clustering selection areas by Divisions, a natural collection development link is established between the undergraduate librarians and the Divisions. The selector serves as a representative to the meetings of his or her corresponding Division. The Division clusters and selection areas are as follows:

Humanities Division

Life Sciences Division

Physical Sciences Division

Social Sciences Division

Other Areas of Oversight and Selection

Undergraduate librarians may also oversee format, publisher, or vendor based areas.

Criteria for Selection

Selection decisions are based on some, but not necessarily all, of the following criteria:

  1. Scholarly Merit. Criteria include currency, comprehensiveness, clarity, quality of indexes, inclusion of notes and bibliographies, and reputation of the author and/or publisher.
  2. Interest to Undergraduates. Materials (either single titles or whole subject areas) arc acquired which are of demonstrated or anticipated interest to undergraduates, and are within the scope of undergraduate research.
  3. Language. English language materials are emphasized. However, some foreign language materials arc collected when they are works of literature or classic works in the original language. In addition, guides to learning foreign languages are acquired.
  4. Physical Format. Whenever possible, hardcover books are preferred to paperbacks and are purchased if available. Decisions about the acquisition of non-print formats are guided by the equipment available, and the ability to support it.
  5. Edition. In most cases, UGL attempts to acquire the most recent edition of a work, In buying classic or standard works, preference is given to complete, authoritative, and readable editions. Rare books and limited editions are not acquired for the sake of rarity. A rare or limited edition received as a gift may be retained if it satisfies the other criteria for selection.
  6. Textbooks. Except when acquired for Reserves, textbooks are not usually purchased, unless they arc the best general treatment of a subject.
  7. Recommended Materials. Purchase suggestions made by faculty, staff, and students are welcome. If the suggestion conforms with selection criteria, the material is acquired.
  8. Cost. If a print title costs more than $100, the order will be discussed at a librarians' meeting. Non-print materials that are exceptionally expensive should be approved by the Head of the Undergraduate Library.

Factors to Consider in Evaluating an Item for Purchase

In the case of each and every title, some or all of the following factors enter into consideration. Their relative weight varies, and very often they would pull the decision in opposite directions. In each separate case they need to be weighed against each other.

How heavily each of them weighs in relation to the others varies from title to title. Tile final decision is usually the result of balancing several factors against each other. Regardless of what relative weight is given to different factors, selection should be based as much as possible oil these objective criteria, rather than on strictly personal interests.

  1. How positive is the review? Is it particularly enthusiastic? Marginal?
  2. How is the subject matter treated? Is it too complex and difficult for undergraduates? Too superficial? Is there adequate scholarly apparatus (bibliographies, indexes, etc.)? Too much of it? In the latter case, the work may be too complex for undergraduates.
  3. To what level of audience does the work appeal? Many Choice reviews will articulate the recommended level.
  4. Does the review mention the existence of better titles? If so, you may wish to order those instead.
  5. Is this work definitive, the best, or just one of several standard titles on the subject?
  6. How long is the work? In many, if not most cases, longer works tend to be more thorough and comprehensive in their coverage of the subject.
  7. Emphasize works which are comprehensive surveys and introductions to the subject over those dealing in depth with narrow aspects or topics, Is tile subject itself, in a general way, one of major importance and scope, or is it arcane and specialized?
  8. Is the subject covered in the undergraduate curriculum? Is it in a field particularly emphasized at the University of Illinois?
  9. How much else on the subject does UGL already have?
  10. Do you know of any recent heavy demand for works on this subject? Is such demand likely to develop in the near future?
  11. Is the work by a major author in the field?
  12. Is the work descriptive or is it exceptionally biased? All other things being equal, the former is much to be preferred.
  13. Is the author on the University of Illinois faculty?
  14. Is the publisher known for works of quality?

In the final analysis, all these factors may be translated into two overriding considerations:

  1. How likely is the work to be of use to UGL's primary clientele?
  2. How well would it fit into our existing collection, as outlined in these written guidelines?

Allocation Guidelines

Decisions for selection and distribution of the Undergraduate Library's acquisition allocation are based on:

  1. Use of Reserves-number of courses in the subject area with materials on reserve, number of instructors in the subject area placing materials on reserve, size of student enrollment in these courses, use of existing reserve collection in the subject area.
  2. Publishing trends in the subject area.
  3. Average cost of materials in the subject area.
  4. Departmental libraries' holdings in the subject area.
  5. Undergraduate students' use patterns, based on circulation records in a particular subject area.
  6. Reference requests and unanswered questions in the subject area due to lack of materials.
  7. Term paper topics in the subject area, based on reference requests, bibliographic instruction, and Term Paper Research Counseling reports.
  8. Requests for particular materials from students and faculty.

Selection Process

Librarians select materials using a variety of sources. Choice, Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal, New York Review of Books, New York Times Book Review, Chronicle of Higher Education and Washington Post Book World are routed to all selectors for consultation. Librarians can request that other journals (e.g., Science, TLS etc.) be routed to them by the Periodicals Clerk for selection purposes. Publisher's announcements, catalogs, and fliers are routinely received and routed to selectors. Librarians are also encouraged to consult Forthcoming Books, ILLINET Online, and Books in Print for potential acquisitions. Selectors can also write down titles reviewed on television and radio, or recommended through personal contacts, and forward them to the Collection Development LTA for ordering.

It is important for selectors to route selection tools as quickly as possible in order to insure timely orders. When the librarian selects items to order in a review journal or catalog, he or she should initial the title in red ink and write the subject abbreviation next to the citation. The selector can also indicate whether the title is an added copy, the location desired, hardback or paperback, etc. If no location is noted, tile item is normally processed for open stacks. When finished with a selection tool, librarians should cross their name from the routing slip, and indicate whether they have made a selection it] that tool, along with page numbers. This practice expedites the ordering process. Once a selection tool is seen by all selectors, it is given to the Collection Development LTA for the ordering process.

Ordering Process

All selections are first searched in the online catalog to prevent duplicate orders it] Undergrad's collection, or the unnecessary purchase of extra copies by the University Library as a whole. Unnecessary duplicate orders are crossed out of tile catalogs. Five-part order slips are then typed for each item. Information not provided in the review or advertisement is searched in Books in Print and the information handwritten on the forms. Each order slip includes the subject area code. The white copy of each order slip is retained by Undergrad Acquisitions for its records and the rest of the form is mailed to Main Acquisitions. The white forms are sorted by subject code and each subject area totaled and recorded. Running totals are kept for each subject area and these are added to produce a YTD acquisitions figure. The white slips are then sorted by title and filed. Each month's orders are kept in a separate drawer, which facilitates claiming at the end of three months. Any orders not received at the end of three months are rechecked on DRA to see if the status has changed. If no publisher/acquisitions notes have been added to the order record and the order is still open, a claim is placed with Main Acquisitions and a note and date made on the slip. Any notes in DRA regarding the status of the order are handwritten on the order slip.

Acquisitions, Cataloging, Marking, and Binding

New books are received each day from shipping. Order slips are pulled and placed in each book. The book record is then checked on DRA. If the full bibliographic record exists on DRA and is correct, the book is ready for processing. Books that only have order records on DRA are kept on a cart and the record checked again in a few days. All books received in Undergrad have the processing date stamped on the top right hand corner of the back flyleaf and the same date is stamped on the order slip. Books intended for internal areas (e.g., Reference, Closed Reference, Career Cluster) are stamped on the front and back flyleaves with their proper locations, and an appropriate colored tag is placed on the back flyleaf. A count of books for each area is recorded on the monthly total sheet. Order slips are filed in the received file by title and kept for one fiscal year. New open-shelf books are taken to the shelving unit, paperbacks are processed for binding, and new special collections books are placed on the new-book shelves behind tile reference desk.

Acquisition Parameters by Subject Areas

Specific subject areas are likely to overlap. Librarians should coordinate with UGL selectors in other subject areas for titles that could fall in more than one category.

III. Collection Responsibility by Subjects


Art and Architecture

Collect for 100 and 200 level courses, materials on art, architecture, and photography. Include pictorial works, history, philosophy and criticism, social aspects, biographies, decorative arts, and art education. Also collect in overlapping fields such as photojournalism, primitive art (archaeology), and graphics (advertising). Collect popular works on alternative building techniques, special graphic topics (e.g., international signage), and how-to books on art techniques, crafts, building design, and photography. Cooperate with Architecture and Art Library.


Collect for 100 and 200 level courses, with only some selection for upper-level undergraduate courses. Emphasis is on building a balanced collection in all areas of the world, including developing countries. Select materials on social, economic, and military history, portraying individuals, events, groups, and countries. Also select materials on classical history and civilization. Cooperate with the History and Philosophy Library and Classics Library.

Geography and Travel

Collect for 100 and 200 level courses, with special emphasis in general geography, maps, atlases and geographical tables. UGL's Travel collection focuses on materials with domestic and international coverage, including area studies reviews of various countries of the world. Fodor's is the most popular travel guide in the collection, along with others, such as Baedecker's and Shell Company.

Literature and Languages

Collect for 100 and 200 level courses, with primary emphasis on American literature, but with attempts to provide a balanced collection in the world's literature, both in English translation, and in the original languages. Emphasis is also on minority and women authors. Cooperate with English and Modern Languages Libraries.

Popular Fiction

Popular fiction is heavily collected by tile Illini Union Browsing Room These titles are transferred to tile Undergraduate Library as they are replaced by newer titles. While the Browsing Room selects most of the popular fiction, UGL also selects some works of fiction, with attention given to rising artists and first novels, if they are well-received by reviewers.

Literary Criticism

Literary criticism is collected as it relates to well-known authors, and if it is recommended for undergraduates, or if the works of a particular author are being studied in an undergraduate course. Increasingly, literary criticism is sought for the works of contemporary authors.


Contemporary poetry is collected on a moderate level. Well-known poets are generally emphasized, but some attention is given to small press publications, experimental poetry, and lesser-known poets. Extremely complex poetry is avoided. Anthologies of poetry are frequently collected.


Class drama as well as contemporary plays are collected. Anthologies are especially sought. New critical editions of plays are purchased. Scripts of plays being staged at Krannert are sought.

Foreign Language Learning

Acquire basic guides to learning foreign languages, including those that are not taught at the University of Illinois, if there is interest in them.

Performing Arts

Collect on popular and non-advanced levels, works on music history and criticism, performers and performances, music theory, music instruction, popular music, aesthetics, theater production, dance, and cinema. Interdisciplinary works, such as social histories of music, are sought. Biographies of significant individuals will be acquired. Collect how-to books on music techniques. Do not collect scores, music recordings, price guides, or catalogs. Cooperate with the English Library for theater and cinema, Music Library for music, and Applied Life Studies Library for dance.


Collect for 100 and 200 level courses, general works on ethics, logic, philosophy of science, and the history of philosophy. Emphasize works on ethics in contemporary issues that are frequently covered by term paper topics. The works of prominent philosophers and studies of their works should be at a level accessible to undergraduates. Particular attention should be paid to interdisciplinary works and to materials that support lower level courses offered by the Philosophy Department (e.g., social and political philosophy, medical ethics, etc.). In addition to standard tools for selection, refer to reviews ill Mind and Philosophical Review (UGL Periodicals). Cooperate with the History and Philosophy Library.


Collect for 100 and 200 level Religious Studies courses. Religion in this regard is seen to deal specifically with tile beliefs and practices of a self-defined or self-proclaimed group. Works on the cultural background, history, philosophy, and sociology of religion will be acquired. Comparative religion and the thought and practice of major world religions, including studies and interpretations of a religion's writings will be acquired. Particular emphasis is given to religious groups in American society and to intellectual issues in modern religions. Cooperate with the History and Philosophy Library.

Life Sciences


Collect for 100 and 200 level courses, materials on agricultural techniques, government policies, agricultural economics, history, rural sociology, agriculture in other countries, and veterinary medicine. Collect in moderation works on house plants, gardening, pets, and organic farming. Cooperate with the Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine Libraries.


Collect for 100 and 200 level courses, with emphasis on biotechnology, evolution, genetics, ecology, human biology, and natural history. Particular attention should be paid to social issues concerned with biology. Collect general interest materials on plants, such as works on special characteristics of plants and flowers. Collect general interest materials on animals, with emphasis on special topics such as endangered species and pets. Cooperate with the Biology and Veterinary Medicine Libraries.

Environmental Studies

Collect for 100 and 200 level courses, with emphasis on current concerns and controversial issues, including environmental problems worldwide, basic strategies to solve environmental problems, and environmental policies. Cooperate with the Agriculture and Biology Libraries.

Health Sciences

Collect for 100 and 200 level courses. Emphasis is on building a balanced collection for the lay person in all areas of personal health, medical techniques, nursing, disease, health care, nutrition, community health, and environmental health. Collect materials which are of current interest, including such topics as cholesterol, food additives, sexuality and reproduction, substance abuse, tanning, passive smoking, medical experimentation, PMS, heart disease, gerontology, and alternative medicine. Cooperate with the Biology and Health Sciences Libraries.

Home Economics

Collect general interest materials on consumers' concerns, cookery, diet and nutrition, and housekeeping. Collect do-it-yourself books for the needs of lower level undergraduates.

Sports and Recreation

Collect primarily popular accounts of the history, philosophy, and social development of sports and recreation, both competitive and individual. Particular attention is given to sports of North America, such as baseball, football, tennis, Olympic field sports, fencing, boxing, etc. Fundamental materials on training for, coaching, and officiating such sports will be acquired. Biographies of significant individuals will be acquired. Collect materials on systematic instruction in exercise, physical health practices, and hygiene, as pursued by individuals and as part of an organized program. Collect material on the organized games typically conducted through a school, college, or university. Special emphasis is placed on intercollegiate programs, NCAA policies, and rankings. Collect works on outdoor activities such as hunting, sailing, and fishing. Works on parks and camping will be acquired. Cooperate with the Applied Life Studies Library.

Physical Sciences

Applied Sciences

Collect for 100 and 200 level courses, with an emphasis on computer science, including information technology, the Internet, and programming languages. Materials on all types of engineering and chemical technologies are included, as well as building sciences. Cooperate with Engineering and Chemistry Libraries, along with CCSO.

Pure Sciences

Collect for 100 and 200 level courses, works on mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, earth sciences, and paleontology. Emphasize popularized science accounts and recent scientific developments. Purchase textbooks selectively for their critical tables, formulas, and application of theory. Cooperate with the Math, Physics, Chemistry, and Geology Libraries.

Social Sciences


Collect for 100 and 200 level courses, materials on human origins and culture, cultural anthropology, archaeology (world, Illinois, ancient Egypt), social anthropology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology, symbolic anthropology, and forensic anthropology. Emphasize the native peoples of North America, South America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Also collect materials on customs, folklore, and etiquette. In addition to standard tools for selection, refer to reviews in American Anthropologist (UGL Periodicals) and Reviews in Anthropology (Education and Social Science Library Periodicals). Cooperate with the Biology Library for biological anthropology, the Modern Languages and Linguistics Library for anthropological linguistics, and the Education and Social Science Library.

Business and Economics

Collect for 100 and 200 level courses, materials on accounting, history and theory of federal income taxes, accounting, entrepreneurship, marketing, management and organizational behavior, stock market investing, real estate, corporate finance, insurance, retailing, micro- and macro-economics, economic statistics, American economic history, labor problems, women in the labor market, and regression and forecasting. In addition to scholarly works, popular works on consumer protection, taxes, money making, personal finance, and management should also be collected. In addition to standard tools for selection, refer to reviews in Journal of Economic Literature (UGL Periodicals). Cooperate with Commerce Library and Labor and Industrial Relations Library.


Collect for 100 and 200 level courses, materials on advertising, history of radio, television and newspapers, public opinion, free speech and censorship, online publishing, American broadcasting, communications and popular culture, journalism, and global communications. In addition to standard tools for selection, refer to reviews in Journal of Popular Culture: Comparative Studies in World Civilizations (UGL Periodicals) and Communication Booknotes Quarterly (Communications Library Periodicals). Cooperate with Communications and Library and Information Science Libraries.


Collect for 100 and 200 level courses, with emphasis on curricular and instructional theory and practice, educational psychology and learning theory, and instructional techniques for elementary, secondary and special education. Also collect materials for frequent term papers topics covering issues facing our schools, such as sex education, school uniforms, bilingual vs. English only, education reform, home schooling, etc, In addition to standard tools for selection, refer to reviews in Harvard Educational Review and Journal of General Education (UGL Periodicals) and Educational Studies: A Journal in the Foundations of Education and The Review of Education/Pedagogy/Cultural Studies (Education and Social Science Library Periodicals). Cooperate with Education and Social Science Library.

Political Science

Collect for 100 and 200 level courses, with emphasis on American government and politics, comparative government and politics, international relations, political philosophy, public policy, political theory, political research, U.S. ethnic and racial politics, women in politics, emerging nations, international security and arms control, voting pattern analyses, and issues in U.S. law. Popular works on elected officials are also collected. Subjects of current interest should be preferred over works of an historical nature. In addition to standard tools for selection, refer to reviews in American Political Science Review, Foreign Affairs, and Political Science Quarterly (UGL Periodicals). Cooperate with the Education and Social Science Library.


Collect for 100 and 200 level courses, with only some selection for upper-level undergraduate courses. Collect introductory materials in all areas of psychology, including biological psychology, clinical psychology, community psychology, developmental psychology, engineering psychology, experimental psychology, measurement and mathematical psychology, personality psychology, personnel psychology, and social psychology. Emphasize works on the brain and mind, comparative development, perception and sensory processes, learning and memory, child psychology, abnormal psychology, human-computer interaction, aging, and research methods and statistics in psychology. Also collect general interest works on popular psychology and parapsychology. In addition to standard tools for selection, refer to reviews in American Journal of Psychology (UGL Periodicals) and Contemporary Psychology: A Journal of Reviews (Education and Social Science Library Periodicals). Cooperate with Communications and Modern Languages and Linguistics Libraries for psycho-communications, the Biology Library for biological psychology, and the Education and Social Science Library.


Collect for 100 and 200 level courses, works on social statistics, sociological theory, political sociology, social stratification, analysis of minority groups, demographics, urban sociology, and research methods and statistics in sociology. Materials are also sought on multicultural groups (Latina/Latino, Afro-American, Asian American, etc.), women's studies, and gay/lesbian studies. Also collect materials on social problems including crime, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide, sexual behavior, violence, inter-group conflict, juvenile delinquency, family violence, etc. Also collect in criminology and social work. In addition to standard tools for selection, refer to reviews in American Journal of Sociology, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, and Social Forces (UGL Periodicals) and Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews (Education and Social Science Library Periodicals). Cooperate with the Law Library for criminology, the Commerce and Documents Libraries for statistics and demographics, tile Applied Life Studies Library for substance abuse issues, the City Planning and Landscape Architecture Library for urban sociology, and the Education and Social Science Library.

Other Areas of Oversight and Selection

Career Cluster

Collect materials that assist undergraduate students in pursuing further studies or finding a job, with emphasis off college and university profiles, entrance exam study guides, information on financial aid and internships, career guides, occupational analysis, and job hunting guides. Cooperate with the Campus Career Services Center.

Illini Union Browsing Room

The Browsing Room is a recreational reading room for the varied constituents of tile campus community. The main goal is to keep the collection current, usually within the last four years of publication. The fiction collection is subdivided into genre categories, and reflects major contemporary authors as well as lesser-known authors. Non-fiction is selected for the educated lay reader. Books are selected from Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal, and through a public discount store, Book Warehouse, using an annual, pre-paid account.


The Media Center serves as the chief audiovisual facility for the University of Illinois Library through the provision of non-print instructional materials in support of tile University's curriculum. It has developed a non-print collection of near 10,000 titles in various formats, subjects, and languages to accommodate the needs of undergraduate and graduate courses as well as for self-improvement and entertainment by the entire campus and the surrounding community.


The periodicals collection at UGL is a broad selection of frequently used titles for academic work and recreational reading. The collection includes print, microfiche, and microfilm formats. Duplicate copies in microform are maintained for high-use periodicals. Newspapers include the New York Times in microfilm, and print copies of the current two weeks of the Chicago Tribune and the News-Gazette.


Collect reference sources appropriate for 100 and 200 level courses in all subject areas. The Reference Coordinator has primary responsibility for collecting reference works, though other selectors should make recommendations in their particular subject areas. Emphasis is on subject encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, almanacs, guides to the literature, and annual reviews of a field. Bibliographies are actively sought on topics of current interest to students, especially topics that are frequently covered by term papers. Strive to collect the latest edition or major reference works, such as general encyclopedias, dictionaries, and annuals.


The Reserve Desk will order books to be placed on reserve for a class if they are not owned by the University of Illinois Library. Instructors can also request that a copy of the textbook be ordered for reserve for the benefit of students unable to purchase a copy.