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Collection levels

The following definitions of levels are employed in the McGill Library for describing levels of collection both for policy development and for collection evaluation purposes.

These definitions are entirely consistent with the collection development codes established by the Research Libraries Group and adopted for the United States and Canadian National Collections Inventory Project (NCIP) conspectus surveys as well as by the CREPUQ Evaluation and Development of Collections Subgroup. The definitions are taken from the American Library Association's Guide for Written Collection Policy Statements , 2nd. ed., 1996. A small variation has been introduced to permit the nuancing of level 4 with a plus or a minus.

0 Out of scope

The library does not collect in this subject.

1 Minimal level

A subject area in which few selections are made beyond very basic works.

2 Basic information level

A selective collection of materials that serves to introduce and define a subject and to indicate the varieties of information available elsewhere. It may include dictionaries, encyclopedias, access to appropriate bibliographic databases, selected editions of important works, historical surveys, bibliographies, handbooks, and a few major periodicals.

3a Study or instructional support level, introductory

This sub-division of a level 3 collection provides resources adequate for imparting and maintaining knowledge about the basic or primary topics of a subject area. The collection includes a broad range of basic works in appropriate formats, "classic" retrospective materials, all key journals on primary topics, selected journals and seminal works on secondary topics, access to appropriate machine readable data files, and the reference tools and fundamental bibliographical apparatus pertaining to the subject. This subdivision of level 3 supports undergraduate courses, including advanced undergraduate courses, as well as most independent study needs of the clientele of public and special libraries. It is not adequate to support master's degree programs.

3b Study or instructional support level, advanced

The advanced subdivision of level 3 provides resources adequate for imparting and maintaining knowledge about the primary and secondary topics of a subject area. The collection includes a significant number of seminal works and journals on the primary and secondary topics in the field; a significant number of retrospective materials; a substantial collection of works by secondary figures; works that provide more in depth discussions of research techniques and evaluation; access to appropriate machine readable data files; and reference tools and fundamental bibliographic apparatus pertaining to the subject. This level supports all courses of undergraduate study and master's degree programs.

4. Research level

A collection that includes the major published source materials required for dissertation and independent research,including materials containing research reporting, new findings, scientific experimental results, and other information useful to researchers. It is intended to include all important reference works and a wide selection of specialized monographs, as well as a very extensive collection of journals and major indexing and abstracting services in the field. Pertinent foreign language materials are included. Older material is usually retained for historical research and actively preserved. A collection at this level supports doctoral and other original research.

High or low level 4 collections are indicated by using a 4 or a 4+ in addition to a plain unmodified 4. Since the interest in retrospective materials, especially of secondary works, varies from one field to another as does the perceived value of "foreign" scholarship it seems excessively difficult to establish guidelines for the assignment of high or low level 4 ratings. The " informed subjectivity" of the experts amongst faculty and library staff is the practical way to determine the range of a level four collection.

5. Comprehensive level

A collection in which a library endeavors, so far as it is reasonably possible, to include all significant works of recorded knowledge (publications, manuscripts, other forms), in all applicable languages for a necessarily defined and limited field. This level of collection intensity is one that maintains a "special collection"; the aim, if not the achievement, is exhaustiveness. Older material is retained for historical research with active preservation efforts.


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