Collection Policy -- General


The Collection Development policy of Middlebury College Library furnishes general written guidelines that relate the Library's collection-development efforts to the needs and interests of the Middlebury College community. Because it is the College's chief provider of books, maps, serials, government documents, microforms, bibliographic databases, and other materials, the Library's central purpose is to support first the teaching and learning activities that uphold the curriculum, and second the research and service responsibilities of the College.

Middlebury Community Profile

Middlebury College is principally an undergraduate, liberal arts institution of higher learning; its mission is to ensure that student educational experiences in the liberal arts are both broad and deep. The College offers students a curriculum that exhibits wide representation of academic disciplines, and privileges classroom teaching over scholarly research, although it supports both endeavors aggressively.

Selection Responsibilities

The Library has responsibility for developing the collection, with final authority for the selection of materials belonging to the Dean of the Library. Academic faculty and students are an important source of requests for the purchase of library materials, and the Library strongly encourages College community members to participate in this process by filling out our Suggest a Library Purchase form.

Faculty Reimbursement for Library Purchases

On occasion, faculty may have the opportunity to purchase library materials, particularly when traveling abroad. In order to be reimbursed, faculty must get permission from Library Collections before proceeding with these purchases. In general, only items that have been requested through Library Collections, but have proven difficult or impossible to obtain, should be purchased in this manner. Itemized receipts are required by College Accounting for reimbursement.


Types of Materials

  • Monographs. For print, hardbound editions usually are purchased for the humanities and paperbound for the sciences and social sciences. The library also acquires electronic books.
  • Journals/Serials. The Library subscribes to journals and newspapers as well as other serials in appropriate subject fields. Duplicate subscriptions are avoided whenever possible. The electronic format is preferred. Requests for new subscriptions and periodical backfiles are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by Library staff.
  • Electronic Resources. The library provides access to a variety of electronic information resources available locally and over the internet. Requests for new purchases or subscriptions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by Library staff.
  • Dissertations and Theses. Dissertations and theses are treated as specialized research materials and are acquired only to support senior thesis research. Requests must have the support of a faculty member.
  • Textbooks. The library does not add textbooks to the collection, especially textbooks available at the College store that students are expected to purchase for use in a particular course. With the large number of textbooks required by Middlebury courses each semester, any attempt by the library to get a copy of each would quickly consume a significant portion of its materials budget. In very rare cases, textbooks may be acquired if they represent significant contributions to the presentation of a subject or if there is a scarcity of other material in the field.
  • Duplicates. The purchase of multiple copies is discouraged, as the Library is not a direct provider of books required for classes. A later edition of a monograph already in the collection is acquired only when the new or revised material justifies its purchase.
  • Faculty authors. The Library collects books written by, or with contributions by, Middlebury College faculty. We selectively collect works by visiting faculty, instructors at the Bread Loaf School of English, the Language Schools, and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS). If you have a publication that the College Libraries have accidentally overlooked, please let us know by filling out our Suggest a Library Purchase form.
  • Government Documents. The Library is a depository for United States documents and collects State of Vermont documents. Government documents are housed in the main library and are available to the general public. Read the Government Documents Collection Development Policy for more information.
  • Software. Software usually is not purchased by the Library, but by individual departments and by Academic Computing. Exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis, as when a software package accompanies a book or when a software package supports an academic program but does not qualify for departmental or Academic Computing support.
  • Film/Video/DVD/Blu-Ray. These materials are selected primarily for research or instructional purposes. The library does not rent films, nor does it generally purchase exhibition rights to such material.  The library does purchase some materials for recreational viewing.  The preferred format is DVD.
  • Audio. Musical recordings are purchased to support the teaching, learning, and research missions of the College, as well as to support recreational listening.  Please refer to the Music Collection Policy for more detail.

Deselection and Withdrawal

Deselection is a consultative endeavor between librarians and members of the faculty aimed at enhancing the value, utility and relevance of the holdings. Librarians routinely undertake weeding to allow space for new and needed materials. We understand that in some subject areas, material has historical significance for great lengths of time. The process of deselecting or cancelling journals is done collaboratively by librarians and members of the faculty. Titles no longer relevant to current needs, unused, or appropriately accessible by electronic means will be identified as candidates for cancellation.


All gift materials accepted by the Library become the property of the College, and the Library reserves the right to determine retention, location, and disposition. See the gift policy for further details.

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