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Collection development and information access policy

Collection development and information access policy

1. Introduction

1.1 Mission statement

The mission of the Library is to support the research of the Scott Polar Research Institute, the University and the international polar community by providing access to scholarly resources and other publications relating to the study of the polar regions.

This is achieved by collecting, preserving, and making accessible scientific, technical, historical, cultural and other publications relating to the Arctic and Antarctic.

The Library also contributes to wider society by promoting the pursuit of education, learning and research about the polar regions.

1.2 Purpose of the collections development policy

The primary goal of the Library's collection development programme is to build collections that support the Library's mission stated above. In formulating this policy both print and non-print formats are considered, as is: budget allocation, materials selection, collection maintenance and evaluation, and resource sharing. This policy shall be reviewed every four years.

1.3 Scope

Whilst essentially a research library, educational textbooks and other publications suitable for younger readers are also acquired in recognition of the use made of the Library by teachers and school-children. Fictional works, poetry and books containing mainly photographic images are also purchased selectively. Non-polar material is purchased to support the long-term needs of the Institute's research groups.

2. Collection development

2.1 Geographical coverage

In brief, the Library's objective is to maintain comprehensive collections for both polar regions, glaciology and ice and snow wherever found. Preference is given to acquiring English language publications where available. Material in other languages, particularly Russian and Scandinavian languages, will also be collected. The Library's geographical areas of interests may be defined as follows:

The Antarctic is taken to include the continent itself together with its surrounding waters and islands north to the Antarctic Convergence but including also those Peri-Antarctic islands occurring north of this zone but still strongly subject to Antarctic influences (Gough Island, the New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands, Iles Amsterdam and Saint-Paul, Iles Crozet, Macquarie Island, and the Prince Edward Islands). This area corresponds to the zone of interest of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). Because of their long association with British Antarctic activities, the library also aims to maintain good, but not exhaustive, holdings for the Falkland Islands and Tristan da Cunha focusing particularly on natural history and on historical and political issues with an Antarctic dimension.

For the purpose of defining the scope of the Library's collections, different definitions of the Arctic are relevant across different disciplines and domains. In an era of a globalised Arctic, previous delimitations such as the summer 10deg isotherm no longer suffice. In relation to politics and governance, the Arctic will certainly include the terrestrial and maritime territory of the eight Arctic states and indigenous peoples, as well as international waters; but it is recognised that stakeholders now encompass observer states in temperate and sub-tropical latitudes, as well as international non-state actors such as environmental organisation. Thus seas covered are the Arctic Ocean and adjacent waters: the various seas north of Russia (Chukchi, East Siberian, Laptev, Kara and White seas); Barents Sea; Norwegian Sea; Greenland Sea; Labrador Sea; Davis Strait and Baffin Bay; Hudson Bay; Lincoln Sea; waters of the Canadian Arctic Islands; Beaufort Sea; Bering Sea; the Sea of Okhotsk; and the Gulf of Alaska. Land areas covered include Alaska (except for the Panhandle); the Canadian Territories (Yukon, Northwest and Nunavut); those parts of Quebec and Labrador occupied by the Inuit, Innu, and Cree; Greenland; Iceland; Svalbard; the European Arctic south to the Arctic Circle; the Scandinavian High North; and the Russian Federation south to 63º in European Russia and to 57º in Asia, including all of Kamchatka and Sakhalin.

The Library collects biographies of all those associated with exploration, scientific research, and missionary activity in both polar regions. Other areas of active acquisition include industries with strong polar associations (particularly whaling, sealing, military/security) and polar biota wherever found (pinnipedia, cetacea, reindeer, etc.). Acquisition of indigenous-related materials also areas of urban settlement which include both northern latitudes and cities further south.

The glaciology collection covers any aspect of the subject and is not restricted to the polar regions. Among subjects included are glacial geology, geocryology, glacioastronomy and snow and ice engineering.

2.2 Monographs acquisition

To ensure monograph purchases are spread across all subject areas the Library budget has allocations for Antarctica, Arctic (general), Nordic countries (Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden), Russian North and Russian language, North America, Glaciological subjects. The Librarian has overall responsibility for the Library budget. Within the budget an allocation may be delegated to a subject specialist for monograph acquisitions in particular subject areas.

The Library welcomes suggestions from academic staff, Visiting Scholars, PhD and MPhil students though the purchasing decision rests with the responsible member of library staff. The special nature of the library as a 'polar collection', the raison-d'être for much of its outside funding, is born in mind, as is also the presence within the University of libraries with specialist disciplinary collections whose holdings the Institute does not seek to duplicate.

Books will be purchased in hardback or paperback or e-book format on a case by case basis taking into consideration factors such as cost, requestor preference and intended use.

2.3 Periodicals acquisition

The following procedures are followed in relation to suggested new subscriptions and cancellations. Appropriate new titles and cancellations will be considered annually via a SPRI Senior Staff Committee meeting. The Journals Coordination Scheme will also be consulted.

Preference is given to purchasing subscriptions to periodicals in electronic format where possible. The Library is a member of the University of Cambridge Journals Coordination Scheme to ensure that e-journal subscriptions are not duplicated across the University of Cambridge and to take advantage of bulk purchasing - "Big deals". Some periodicals are received in exchange for the Polar Record.

In reviewing subscriptions, consideration will be given to whether the title is available elsewhere in the University of Cambridge. Notification of forthcoming cancellations will be circulated to all staff, students and visitors.

2.4 Out-of-print publications

The Library pursues an active policy of filling in gaps in its holdings through purchase from antiquarian and second-hand dealers specialising in polar books. Decisions to purchase out-of-print materials are made after checking the catalogues to ensure that the University of Cambridge is not already in possession of these items.

2.5 Access to Information Resources

In consultation with the SPRI academic community, the Library will determine the optimum method of access to information resources, including:

  • Purchase of or subscription to physical materials, in a variety of formats, which will be maintained within the Library's collections
  • Purchase of or subscription to remote electronic information resources
  • Collaborative purchase of or subscription to remote electronic information resources
  • Gift or deposit of material in any format
  • Document delivery or inter-library loan

2.6 Donations

The Library will consider donations of relevant titles not already held in the collection though reserves the right not to accept all donations. Where possible the Library will seek a titles list of available donations which will be used to check the catalogue before acceptance. This will help ensure duplicate items are not received. Donated collections are integrated within the Library's holdings rather than shelved separately, with the names of donors recorded on book plates.

Donors or depositors must sign a donation deposit agreement. SPRI reserves the right to dispose of items that are in poor physical condition, duplicate existing stock,

fall outside of the scope of this policy or are otherwise surplus to requirements. On occasion, the Library also receives donations of funds for the purchase of books; again, all acquisitions made with the aid of these funds are marked by an appropriate book plate.

3. Collection Management

3.1 Special collections

An item or collection of items is normally designated for inclusion in the Library's Special Collection if it fulfils one or more of the following criteria:

  • it complements, enriches or builds on the subject strengths of existing special collections
  • it has been identified as supporting SPRI teaching and research needs
  • it is of intrinsic polar heritage significance
  • it is a rare printed work or contains rare printed works
  • it enhances the reputation of or is of special local or historical significance to the Scott Polar Research Institute
  • its' physical format, fragility, vulnerability, sensitive nature or other characteristic requires special storage, access, handling and management conditions.

Rare items may fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • the items were created before 1900
  • they are of significant provenance
  • they are of special bibliographic significance (e.g. first edition, out of print, limited or special edition, privately published or small press items)
  • they are of significant cultural or historical significance (e.g. association items, inscribed items, items of known scarcity value).

Certain publications are housed with the Institute's archive collections if they are of particular value, fragility or contain marginal notes. These remain part of the Library Special Collections. Unpublished material received by the Library is transferred to the Institute's archive collections if it conforms with the archives acquisition policy.

Where such items are identified on the open shelves, they should be drawn to the attention of the Librarian for relocation to the Special Collections or Archive store. Material requiring conservation other than rebinding should also be drawn to the Librarian's attention.

3.2 Collections held in the library

The Library maintains collections of:

  • BB Roberts ornithological collection – a collection of reprints about Antarctic birds. The collection is filed by bird species.
  • Breitfuss collection - a dispersed collection of over a thousand largely Russian and German language books, pamphlets and maps collected by the German marine biologist and polar explorer Leonid Breitfuss (1864-1950). The collection was purchased from the Breitfuss' estate by SPRI in 1951.
  • Map collection – some 17,000 maps of the polar regions are held. Currently these are not available on the University of Cambridge Library catalogue – see project documentation for more information. Maps can be accessed by consulting a member of Library staff.
  • Seligman Collection consists of bound volumes of sundry glaciological papers. The Seligman collection is catalogued but items in the collection are not stamped since the collection does not belong to SPRI.

3.3 Institute research papers and theses

The Library maintains a collection of SPRI print theses submitted for Ph.D. and M.Phil awards. Since 2012 Ph.D. research theses are also held in the University of Cambridge Institutional Repository (Apollo) in electronic format.

3.4 Security control

The Library collection is for reference only (with a paper slip system in operation for short term loans within the Institute). Library materials are marked with a SPRI stamp and the building is provided with security alarms to ensure the safe retention of physical items.

Library buildings are maintained by the University's Estates department so that the internal environment in compatible with the preservation of library materials.

3.5 Library material checks

The Library will carry out periodic stock checks and record missing items. Replacement of missing items will be considered using a variety of criteria including future importance and budget available.

3.6 Catalogue

Monographs and serials acquired for the Library's collections will be catalogued so that library items can be easily retrieved. Catalogue records will conform to UKMARC, AACR2 and RDA standards and will be accessible through the web-based University of Cambridge Library catalogue. Only items held in the collection will be catalogued.

4. Collection Maintenance and evaluation

4.1 De-selection of materials

Given the Library's leading role as a resource for publications about the polar regions, disposals from the monographic collection are undertaken only with extreme care and consultation since many publications in the collection may be unobtainable elsewhere. In general, no book is discarded unless known to be held elsewhere in the University.

Duplicates and publications of peripheral polar relevance are offered to the University Library or other departmental and college libraries where not already held, and to members of the Polar Libraries Colloquy. Items of financial value may be made available for sale subject to the above provisos.

The Library will seek to withdraw a print journal title when a secure run of the title exists in electronic form in the University of Cambridge.

5. Resource sharing partnerships

The Library seeks to collaborate widely with Cambridge University Library and is a member of the University of Cambridge Journals Coordination Scheme. SPRI Library also collaborates with other libraries in Cambridge, other polar libraries and also participates in the British Library Document Supply scheme, the Polar Libraries Colloquy and IAMSLIC.

The Library will also seek to collaborate with suppliers such as EBSCO (supplier of the Arctic & Antarctic Regions database) and NISC in order to develop access to polar information resources.

Document Name
Document Title Collections Development and Information Access Policy
Responsible Person Librarian
Date 17th October 2016
Governing body SPRI Senior Management Committee
Date approved
Review procedure The Collections Development Policy will be published and reviewed at least once every four years.
Next review date October 2020
Document History
Version Date Comments
1.0 8 April 2016 Initial draft for discussion at Library Away Day April 2016
2.0 18 April 2016 Revised to reflect input from Library team members / Away Day attendees
3.0 23 April 2016 Further minor revisions prior to consultation at Senior Management Committee
4.0 14 June 2016 Revision for submission to SMG
5.0 17 October 2016 Reflects revisions received from Polar Museum and Archives