Collection Development Policy

The primary objective of the Cooper Union Library's collection development policy is to support the college's specialized curricular programs in the degree-granting disciplines of art, architecture and engineering.  Materials in the Humanities and Social Sciences are collected on an as-needed basis for individual courses.

Collection development is the responsibility of the director and the professional librarians, who are subject specialists in the above-mentioned fields, and who regularly consult review journals, publisher's catalogs, mailings and other announcements of new material. Their decisions are based on information derived from their participation on curriculum committees and their interaction with faculty and students, as well as their evaluation of the needs of the collection within the dynamic context of their subject areas. The following selection criteria are followed whether the material is to be purchased or donated:

      Relevance to Cooper's educational programs        
As current or former members of the curriculum committees, the director and librarians are well-acquainted with the current curriculum as well as imminent changes and long-range planning. Therefore, they can anticipate and provide for current and future needs while shaping the collection. They also stay in close contact with the faculty and students within their specialized subject areas, and they actively solicit faculty requests for specific titles as well as general recommendations on the range and direction of the collection.
  Scope, content and quality  

The director and librarians evaluate each potential acquisition in terms of its relevance to the needs of the students and faculty, its place within the existing collection and its intrinsic quality. A monograph is evaluated in terms of its scholarship and depth of research; the reputation of its author, publisher or sponsor; the caliber and fidelity of its illustrations; the thoroughness of its bibliographies and indexes. A new subscription to a periodical or index is initiated only if it provides sufficient breadth and depth of coverage of a given subject area while remaining of interest to the majority of library users working within that area.


A new periodical subscription is also evaluated in terms of the accessibility of its content, so it is highly important that the periodical under consideration is included in a major bibliographic indexing and/or abstracting tool, such as the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, Art Abstracts or Applied Science & Technology Abstracts.
  Strength of the existing collection and availability in Consortium       

Special care is taken to fill the gaps in the existing collection within the areas of art, architecture and engineering, and to build on the collection's strengths without creating redundancies.

Due to space considerations, duplicate copies of books are not purchased, and if donated, they are not added to the collection. Exceptions are made for material in high demand.

The holdings of the Consortium libraries are also taken into consideration during the selection process. If a title is considered important to the programs at The Cooper Union, the Library will acquire it even if it appears in a Consortium library's catalog. The Cooper Library relies on the Consortium primarily for material in disciplines for which the Cooper Union does not grant degrees.

  Currency and timeliness  
For some disciplines, particularly engineering and the sciences, up-to-date information is of special significance. In those areas, preference is given to material that contributes new or revised information in a timely manner.

Although budget is necessarily a factor in the selection process, the price of an item is always measured against its quality to establish its relative value to the Library's holdings. While some materials cannot be acquired due to fiscal constraints, the Library purchases a significant number of items relevant to the college's programs regardless of the cost.

  Preservation, maintenance and deaccessioning  
Every care is taken to preserve the Library collection through rebinding and repair with archival-quality supplies. An item is deaccessioned only if its physical condition renders it unusable, if it is no longer relevant to the curricular needs of Cooper Union, if it has no extracurricular value or if it presents inaccurate or outdated information.

Last updated October 25, 2018 (formatting only)

  photograph © T. Micchelli, 2002