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St. George’s Library’s Collection Development Policy sets out principles and guidelines for developing and maintaining the Library's collections in all formats to support the teaching, learning and research needs of St George’s, University of London (SGUL) and our NHS partners.

This policy is intended to act as a communication tool for Library staff and academics, researchers and students at SGUL and the NHS; in order that the Library’s priorities for information resource acquisition and provision are transparent.

The policy covers the following materials provided by the Library:

  • Print and e-books
  • Audio-visual material (DVDs and CDs)
  • Print journals, e-journals and e-resources
  • Theses and dissertations

This policy will be regularly reviewed.

1. Key aims

  • Provide resources in support of:
    • current teaching, learning and research needs of SGUL
    • current education, training and research needs of our NHS partners
  • Regularly review these resources to ensure they continue to represent value for money and to ensure they remain relevant to the current needs of the university and the NHS.
  • Provide easy access to all information resources regardless of format.

2. Responsibility for collection and retention

Library staff are responsible for selecting materials in consultation with SGUL and NHS staff.

  • Recommendations for new resources are welcomed from staff and students at SGUL and the NHS, although purchases cannot always be guaranteed (see sections 4.1 and 5.1 for further information).
  • Recommendations are evaluated for their relevance to the curriculum, research, clinical practice and decision-making in healthcare.
  • Stock retention and relegation decisions are made by Library staff in consultation with university and NHS staff where necessary.

2.1 Library collection

St George’s Library is multidisciplinary and it aims to collect material to support the full range of healthcare related courses available at SGUL, clinical practice, the provision of high quality patient care, and evidence-based clinical and management decision making.

St. George’s Library’s collections are primarily for members of SGUL, including the Faculty of Health Social Care & Education (FHSCE), St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (St George’s Trust) and South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust (The Mental Health Trust).

The Library’s collection currently consists of: approximately 42,000 books (including e-books), pamphlets and AV items; 1500 theses and dissertations; 80 serial print titles and approximately 8,000 e-journal titles. In addition the Library provides access to a range of e-resources including several indexing and abstracting databases (such as Medline and CINAHL). There is also an Archive collection on closed-access.

3. Print and e-books

This section provides advice on:

  • Book selection, purchases and loan status
  • Relocation and withdrawal of books
  • Retention and disposal of books

3.1 Criteria for selection

  • Relevance to teaching, learning & research needs of SGUL
  • Relevance to the patient care, training, educational, research and management needs of St. George’s Trust and other NHS partners
  • Recommendations from academic staff, NHS staff, students & administration staff
  • Currency of content (where subject information dates rapidly)
  • Value for money

3.2 Resource lists

3.2.1 Core or recommended items

Core or recommended items are those books which teaching staff recommend to students for a specific course or module.

As a guideline:

  • The Library will purchase 1 copy of these books (1-week loan) for every 10 students where possible
  • The Library will monitor the number of holds placed on titles and purchase additional copies where feasible
  • The Library will normally purchase an e-book version of a title where available/ if affordable 

3.2.2 Supplementary resource list items

These are items are supplementary titles on student resource lists.

  • The Library will purchase 1 copy of these books. They are normally available on 3-week loan
  • Additional copies can be purchased if demand for the single copy is high (e.g. high usage; high number of holds placed)
  • The Library will normally purchase an e-book version of a title where available/ if affordable 

3.3 Wider reading

Wider reading refers to those books which are not on resource lists but can be used by students or by NHS staff to underpin their knowledge and development needs. NHS titles will be selected according to the clinical specialties and services provided by our NHS partners and from recommendations from user surveys and book requests. They are normally available on 3-week loan.

  • Normally only single copies of titles regarded as wider reading will be kept in the Library
  • Additional copies can be purchased if demand for the single copy is high (e.g. high usage; high number of holds placed)
  • Superseded editions
  • Keep the latest TWO editions only, where appropriate
  • Withdraw older editions of books when new editions are received, where appropriate.
  • Where older editions are still currently heavily used these should be replaced with new editions. Where this is not possible (e.g. due to high cost of replacement), the older editions may be retained

3.4 Reference books and special collections

3.4.1 Reference books

  • The Library will provide access to a small range of up-to-date, general and subject-based reference books that directly support the teaching and research activities of the University and NHS needs
  • Normally only single copies of titles regarded as reference books will be kept in the Library
  • The Library generally does not purchase information in book format if it is freely available online, but will link to it in the Library Catalogue or Hunter if it is on a reading list

3.4.2 Specialist collections

  • In order to respond to demands and institutional interests, the Library may purchase special collections of books on topics such as well-being and health, where budgets allow.

4. Audio-visual material

The Library acquires material in DVD or CD format where required and subject to the selection criteria outlined in section 3.1. 

5. Replacement of missing and out-of-print books

  • Replace lost or damaged items where appropriate
  • The criteria for replacing an item are as follows:
    • Amount and frequency of use
    • Number of copies in stock
    • Number of holds placed
    • Availability of a newer edition
    • Currency of content

6. Criteria for relocation and withdrawal of books

  • Withdraw superseded editions (see section 4.4)
  • Withdraw books in poor physical condition that cannot be repaired
  • Assess the circulation figures and withdraw infrequently used books or books no longer in demand
  • Books which:
    • no longer support SGUL’s research and teaching objectives or
    • which are not relevant to NHS practice or
    • which are no longer current, reliable, or safe should also be withdrawn
  • The Library will consult with academic departments and the NHS before undertaking any major disposals
  • Duplication of low-use books should be avoided
  • All withdrawn items will be sold, offered to charity or disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner.

7. Print journals, e-journals & e-resources

This section provides advice on:

  • Recommendations and cancellations of journals and e-resources
  • Retention and withdrawal of print journals

E-resources include:

  • Bibliographic databases (such as Cinahl, Medline and Web of Science)
  • Other teaching and learning e-resources (such as Anatomy resources)

7.1 Recommendations

Suggestions for new journal and e-resource purchases may be submitted to the Library at any time via an online-form

Suggestions for new books may be submitted to the Library via the library catalogue, Hunter or filling in a yellow purchase request form available from the Library Helpdesk.

Completed forms are forwarded to the Liaison Librarians for an initial evaluation.

Items recommended for purchase are then added to the Library’s “wishlist” for consideration during the Library’s yearly Journals & E-resources Evaluation.

Please note: Recommendations are only reviewed once a year during July and August. All suggestions must be received before 1st June in order to be considered for the following year. (Subscriptions usually run from 1st January to 31st December.)

The Library’s policy is to subscribe to current journals in electronic rather than print format where possible, regardless of electronic sustainability.

7.2 Criteria for selection

All journal and e-resources recommended for purchase by the Library must support the teaching, learning and research needs of SGUL and our NHS partners.

Preference will be given to journals and e-resources which:

  • Are required for a course or module
  • Support evidence-based clinical and management decision making
  • Are of high quality (e.g. excellent content, easy to use interface, easy to manage)
  • Complement existing content in terms of subject and host platform
  • Represent good value for money
  • Offer Shibboleth and NHS OpenAthens authentication
  • Are peer-reviewed
  • Are indexed in databases (such as Medline and Hunter)

7.3 Cancellations

Cancellation decisions for subscription journals and e-resources are made by the Library Management Team in consultation with SGUL and the NHS, and are forwarded to the Quality Assurance and Enhancement Committee (QAEC) for final approval.

The Library's information resources budget is fully committed each year, so the funding of new journal and e-resource subscriptions can only be achieved by the cancelling of existing titles/ resources of similar value.

Cancellation decisions are normally based on usage, value for money, and relevance to the teaching, learning and research needs of SGUL and the NHS.

7.4 Retaining print journals

The Library will retain the print copy of a journal if:

  • It is of relevance to SGUL’s and the NHS’s teaching, learning and research needs
  • It is not available in electronic format

7.5 Withdrawal of print journals

Where the Library is able, print copies of current journals will be withdrawn if the title is available electronically. All withdrawn items will be disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner.

7.6 E-journal and e-resource trials

The Library will consider trials of e-journals and e-resources in the following circumstances:

  • If there are sufficient funds available for the resource to be purchased, either as a subscription or as a one-off purchase.
  • If there is an anticipated demand, and where we can expect interest and feedback from users.

Please note: If these two conditions are not met a trial to can-not be considered.

7.8 Department-funded subscriptions

Departments may offer to fund a new journal or e-resource if the Library cannot afford to do so. Where this is practical, the Library will offer to manage the subscription on behalf of the department.

7.9 Theses and dissertations

  • The Library holds copies of PhD and MD theses in print format only.
    • The Library will investigate digitising them via the British Library’s EThOS service.
  • The Library holds selected BSc and taught postgraduate dissertations in electronic format only.

8. Donations

The Library is very grateful for offers of donations which reflect our teaching, learning and research needs. However, space constraints and processing costs mean the Library cannot automatically accept everything offered. 

  • The Library will not normally accept outdated textbooks or materials in obsolete or inaccessible formats.
  • The Library will not usually accept bookplate donations.
  • The Library will normally not accept donations of print journals.
  • Unfortunately the Library is unable to bear the cost of transportation.
  • Donations are accepted at the discretion of the Library on the understanding that they may later be withdrawn in accordance with the Library’s Collection Development Policy.


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