Collection Development

How do books and journals end up at Armstrong?  The Library assigns a librarian to each academic department and program, giving them collection development responsibilities for the corresponding subject areas. These librarians are responsible for developing the collection, with final authority for the selection of materials belonging to the Dean of the Library.

As the academic faculty is an important source of requests for the purchase of library materials, the Library strongly encourages faculty members to participate in this process by recommending acquisitions to Library liaisons.

Purchasing and retention decisions for the Armstrong Library are made according to the General Collection Development Policy and the guidelines below.

Subject Areas

The Armstrong Library collections support the curricular needs of the following academic departments and programs based in McCardell Bicentennial Hall: Biology; Chemistry and Biochemistry; Computer science; Environmental studies; Geography; Geology; Molecular Biology and Biochemistry; Neuroscience; Physics; and Psychology. For an overview of subjects covered by the Armstrong Library collection, consult the chart at Armstrong Library Call Numbers.


We purchase and retain resources that illuminate the current state of knowledge in the sciences. Accordingly, journal subscriptions are our primary expenditure. We also collect monographs and reference sources to instruct readers new to scientific topics of current interest. Materials on the history of science are acquired and retained only selectively.

Because we strive to keep the collection current, we retain recent imprints, core materials, and back-files of journals, which are preserved in the most space- and cost-efficient format possible. We withdraw many items that have not received significant usage in recent years so we may acquire more relevant materials and promote better use of space.

Geographic Considerations

Because the academic departments we support perform fieldwork in the Northeast, we emphasize collecting materials that investigate the physical and geographic characteristics of the Champlain Valley, Vermont, and New England regions. We are equally interested in regions nation- or worldwide when they recur as subjects in our curriculum.

Types and Formats of Materials

  • Primary sources, centrally important to scientific study, take the form of scholarly journals in the sciences and are the main focus of our collecting activities.
  • Secondary sources are useful for the non-specialist, such as students in introductory courses; we obtain them as necessary.
  • Textbooks are usually purchased only upon faculty request.
  • Online resources are important because they are convenient, fully searchable, available to users from off-campus, and space-efficient. They are the format of first choice for new acquisitions. We also seek to convert much of our print and microfilm holdings to online equivalents and to purchase electronic books as demand from our users increases.
  • Maps: The Armstrong Library has printed sheet maps related to human and physical geography and geology. Armstrong also holds the College's collection of topographical maps, including U.S.Geological Survey (USGS) topographical quadrangles. See Maps at Armstrong Library for more information.
  • Datasets: Datasets are purchased selectively for curricular use.
  • Multimedia: DVDs and other visual materials are purchased selectively for curricular use.
  • Government Documents: Publications of the United States Geological Survey, Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, and Department of Health and Human Services and related agencies are housed in the Armstrong Library.
  • Faculty authors: The Armstrong Library actively collects science monographs written by, or with contributions by, Middlebury College faculty in the sciences. 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.
  • Foreign language materials: The collections are predominantly in the English language. Monographs in languages other than English usually are not purchased, and they are retained only if they are core sources.

Armstrong Library

McCardell Bicentennial Hall
276 Bicentennial Way
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753
Campus Map

P 802.443.5449
F 802.443.2016