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Collection Development Policy



The primary mission of Preston Library's collections is to support Virginia Military Institute (VMI) instructional program. As such, the Library primarily collects materials at the Instructional Support Level as defined by the Library of Congress. As a library supporting undergraduate work, comprehensive research collections are beyond the capacity of the Library.

The Library’s collections serve the VMI community in:

  • the support of the teaching, learning, and research needs of VMI’s cadets, faculty, and staff
  • the promotion of life-long learning in a diverse and changing world
  • To a limited extent, the provision of a diverse collection of recreational and cultural resources.


Development and maintenance of the Library’s collections is a responsibility shared by librarians and faculty, with ultimate responsibility resting with the Library Director. The Head of Electronic Resources and Collection Development Services is responsible for the collections. Library users are encouraged to offer suggestions for the purchase of materials to any library staff members.

Consortia and Resource Sharing

In addition to the resources that Preston Library directly purchases or licenses, the Library also draws from numerous means of resource sharing and consortial collection development in order to support the Institute’s research and teaching mission.

  • Preston Library is a member of The Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA), the consortium of nonprofit academic libraries within the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • Preston Library offers interlibrary loan (ILL) services to all faculty, cadets, and staff. Interlibrary loan is the process by which a library requests material from, or supplies material to, another library. This service draws on resources available in Virginia, as well as the national and international network of libraries. The Library offers Rapid ILL, which provides fast delivery of journal articles and other materials within a defined network.

Selection Criteria and Priorities

Preston Library provides high-quality materials that serve the curricular, teaching, and research needs of VMI. Deviations from these guidelines will be resolved in consultation with the Library Director.

Overall Criteria

The following criteria are considered in making selection decisions:

  • Relevance to the teaching curriculum of the Institute
  • Reviews in the professional literature
  • Reputation and professional background of the author/publisher
  • Appropriateness of the level of treatment, format, and language
  • Importance, or potential importance, to the literature of a given discipline
  • For periodicals, indexing in a product owned or licensed by the Library
  • Searchability, if applicable to the particular resource
  • Licensing arrangements for electronic resources that enable printing, downloading and interlibrary loan
  • Archival arrangements, for electronic resources
  • Cost

Materials which are not acquired:

  • With the exception of VMI cadet theses, the Library does not collect dissertations and theses.
  • The Library does not generally purchase or retain materials in formats requiring equipment the Library does not own, microforms, multiple copies, or workbooks
  • The Library does not systematically collect faculty or alumni publications

Format Considerations

Monographs: The preferred monograph format is electronic.

Disciplinary Considerations

The library is attentive to the preferred formats and resources for the disciplines represented in VMI’s instructional program.

Foreign Languages

In general, materials will be purchased in English, unless requested to meet specific curricular needs.

Government Documents

Preston Library is classified as a small selective depository for federal government documents and complies with all federal regulations governing this status.

Periodicals and Databases

The preferred format for periodicals is electronic. Print periodicals are not bound and are retained for three years. After this period, access is through interlibrary loan. Subscriptions are reviewed biennially in conjunction with departmental faculty. In evaluating package acquisitions and subscriptions, the Library considers numerous factors, including:

  • Cost
  • Ability to search and access its contents in the library’s discovery tool

Popular Fiction

In general, popular fiction is not systematically collected, exceptions are made for works considered of significant literary value.

Reference Materials

Electronic format is preferred.


The Library will not purchase textbooks. However, recognizing the financial burden that textbooks present for many students, the Library will create access to open educational resources offered by VIVA Open and Affordable Course Content Initiatives.


The Library maintains subscriptions to streaming video.

Collecting Levels

Preston Library collects materials based on VMI’s instructional programs and uses the Library of Congress Collecting Levels and a guideline for developing the collection in all formats.


  • 0: Out of scope
  • 1: Minimal level
  • 2: Basic information
  • 3: Instructional level support
Call Number Subject Area Collecting Level
A General works 1
B Philosophy, Psychology, Religion 3
C Auxiliary Sciences of History 3
D World History and History of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, etc. 3
E History of America 3
F History of the Americas 3
G Geography, Anthropology, and Recreation 3
H Social Sciences 2
J Political Science 3
K Law 2
L Education 1
M Music 1
N Fine Arts 3
P Language and Literature 3
Q Science 3
R Medicine 3
S Agriculture 2
T Technology 3
U Military Science 3
V Naval Science 3
Z Bibliography, Library Science, and General Information Resources 1


Preston Library welcomes gifts of scholarly and rare materials provided the item abides by this policy. The Library does not appraise gifts for tax or inheritance purposes. Donors are fully responsible for arranging appraisals and for any costs involved. In most circumstances, donors are responsible for transporting materials to the Library. Upon receipt of the gift, the Library will send an acknowledgment letter with a description of the gift. The Library reserves the right to dispose of gift items.

De-Selection of Materials

Preston Library’s print and electronic collection will be continually evaluated to maximize usefulness and relevance to the Institute’s teaching and research needs. Deselection projects will take place in consultation with relevant faculty members.

Criteria for deselection include:

  • Circulation (the principal criterion)
  • Obsolescent and superseded content
  • Duplicate copies of infrequently used materials
  • Items in poor physical condition
  • Materials that do not, or no longer, support the curriculum


Library staff will do basic book repair.

Policy Adopted by Pongracz Sennyey, Library Director