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Guidelines for Library Materials Expenditures

(Approved by FALC April 15, 1999)


The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has, since its founding, followed a course of Library collections development that was predicated on a close working relationship between Library staff and faculty. The Collection Development Principles adopted by the Library in 1997 reaffirmed this relationship and the critical role that both parties play in the growth and expansion of our Library resources. However, while the method for Library collection development remains intact, the guidelines which govern materials expenditures (the means through which collection goals are realized) are no longer viable.

The present Guidelines for Library Materials Expenditures were devised in the mid-1970s. Relying on a simple formula structure to determine resource allocations, they served as a effective means of allocating Library resources. However, while they clearly reflect the nature of this University 20 years ago, they serve more as a historical record of who we were than as a reflection of who we are and where we wish to go in the future. The old guidelines no longer provide an effective means of responding to the collection development needs of this institution. The dramatic growth of UNC Charlotte, the development of new undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs, and the emergence of new interdisciplinary programs, present the Library with a diverse and complex set of needs. These factors, coupled with the steady rate of serials costs inflation (averaging up to 20% per year) and the availability of new, rapidly expanding electronic resources, require the development of a new means of Library resource allocation.

Guideline Statement

Three critical factors in any allocation plan are the need to provide the resources required to fulfill the academic mission of the University, the need to fairly respond to the diverse collection needs found within the University, and the need to utilize Library funds as efficiently as possible. A resource allocation plan must also reflect the economic reality that UNC Charlotte, using state funds allocated to the Library, cannot provide an academic unit with 100% of annually produced resources and materials.

Fortunately, library resource studies have shown that the core material which supports the primary programmatic needs of most academic disciplines may be obtained by providing at least 65% of the current resources and materials. Library resource studies have also shown that undergraduate students are the primary users of university libraries (typical use figures show undergraduate use at 80-90% with graduate and faculty use at 10-20%) thus, access to this core material would clearly serve the primary education objectives of this institution. These studies also indicate that use patterns for faculty and graduate students closely parallels undergraduate usage, in other words, faculty and graduate student needs tend to drive collection development.

Therefore, the Library has adopted the following guideline which will govern future resource allocations:

The Library will seek to provide all academic units, through the use of all available means (serials, monographs, electronic resources, etc.), at least 65% of the annually produced resources and materials required to fulfill their academic mission.

This guideline does not reflect a reduction in Library resource allocations for most academic units. In recent years the Library has been able to provide the majority of academic units access to 65% of annually produced resources and materials. Furthermore, the figure of 65% is also not intended to represent a ceiling or limit to the amount of resources which could be provided to a given academic unit. The Library recognizes that there may be circumstances which would necessitate funding an existing or new program beyond the target figure of 65%.

Materials outside the core 65% (the remaining 35% of an academic unit's annually produced resources and materials) represent specialized works which have a dramatic increase in cost relative to actual use. Although these increased costs may prohibit the Library from actively collecting specific materials, the Library is committed to working with individual academic units to provide appropriate access to as broad a spectrum of resources as possible. The Library will, of course, also attempt to respond to individual faculty resource needs that fall outside the core collections plan of an academic unit. However, the primary goal is the development of a collection which supports, as fully as possible, the programmatic needs of an academic unit and which provides a resource for the broader University community.

This guideline is predicated on a new strategy for resource allocation. Under the old guidelines, although allocations were determined by a formula based on an analysis of individual departments, the resulting monies were dispersed to individual Colleges. Under the new guideline the Library will work directly with individual academic units. The broader goals of a given College will be factored into this process through the means of the College's and University's Academic Plan.

This guideline also concerns an academic unit's annually produced resources and materials. The phrase annually produced resources and materials refers only to material produced in a given year whose subject matter supports the programmatic needs of an academic unit. The guideline does not address the issue of retrospective collections (the collection of older works, back runs of periodicals, etc.). However, the Library is committed to working with academic units whose successful fulfillment of their programmatic mission is dependent on access to collections of both greater current and retrospective depth than are currently available on campus.

This guideline also only refers to the use of state funds provided to the University for use in developing Library collections. The Library has in the past and will continue to work with individual Colleges and academic units in the development of additional sources of funding and the responsible use of these monies.

The language used in this guideline also reflects the changing academic landscape of UNC Charlotte. The Library will seek to meet the needs of academic units through the use of all available means. Many academic units will find themselves engaging new means of accessing materials including electronic resources and document delivery (both paper and electronic). The phrase academic unit was chosen over department because of the increasing presence of interdisciplinary programs and other academic areas which exist outside a traditional departmental structure. This distinction is of critical importance in the implementation of this guideline.


The implementation of this guideline is predicated on establishing clear and direct communication between individual academic units and the Library regarding collection needs. In the Fall Semester, 1999, the Library will begin meeting with individual academic units to develop program collection and resource usage plans. Each academic unit will work with the Library to articulate their needs and emphases under a prescribed set of specifications (for example: language, time period, level of collecting, subjects by Library of Congress classification, faculty research needs, undergraduate and graduate program and needs, peer institution comparison, etc.). The Library anticipates that this process will be completed by the Fall of 2001.

As this process moves forward over the next two years, the Library will also pursue other means of improving communication and assessing needs. Beginning in the Fall, 1999 the Faculty Advisory Library Committee (FALC) will work with the Library to restructure the number and distribution of Library Representatives (faculty members who work with a Library staff member on collection needs). The current number and unit affiliation of Library Representatives does not reflect the presence of new and interdisciplinary programs. The Library will also continue work on the development of Library personnel, increasing the number of collection specialists to serve the University's growing program needs.


The new Guideline for Library Materials Expenditures proposed in this document represents a means of resource allocation which will facilitate an equitable distribution of Library resources to all academic units within the University. It provides for enhanced communication between the Library and the University community and the articulation, for the first time in the history of this University, of individual collection plans for all academic units. The implementation process outlined above also reinforces UNC Charlotte's strong tradition of faculty involvement in the development of the Library.