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Collection Development and Management

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(Revised April 2013)

Collection Overview

Our collections support the educational, leisure reading and general reference needs of the community. We base our acquisition decisions on the utility of the materials to the everyday needs of our customers and their availability elsewhere. We support the economic health of Pittsburgh’s workforce by linking workers with job opportunities, training and career advice. We provide resources that encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in our communities. Our reference collections reflect our core strengths, especially focusing on business and industry, history, local information and music. We avoid duplicating the scholarly research collections of the area’s university libraries.

Community Description

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh serves over 1,000,000 citizens of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. The City of Pittsburgh is comprised of 90 distinct neighborhoods, while Allegheny County encompasses 130 separate municipalities. The area is home to many universities and colleges, a large number of health care facilities, new and established high-tech industries and a broad range of other businesses and services. Their leisure reading tastes are as diverse as the types of information they need for work, school and personal interest.


The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s customer base includes individuals of all ages and abilities. Special materials for children and teens take into consideration developmental and educational needs, as well as demand for recreational reading and materials to promote literacy. The needs of seniors for materials in special formats and/or on particular topics are also addressed by the Library’s collections. Materials for adults include items appropriate for business, leisure, home and personal use.

Diversity in Collection Development

Recognizing that our service area incorporates individuals of all ages who represent a multiplicity of racial and ethnic backgrounds, economic and educational levels and physical and mental abilities, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh builds collections that mirror and support this diversity. The collections include materials and resources that reflect a variety of political, economic, religious, social, minority and sexual issues and support intellectual freedom by providing free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored.

History of the Collection

Originally the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh was to serve that portion of the city which lies south of the Allegheny River. The North Side, formerly the City of Allegheny, received its library service from the Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny. Although Allegheny was annexed to the City of Pittsburgh in 1907, it was not until 1956 that the Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny was merged with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to provide unified library service throughout the city.

Another change in the service area occurred in 1956 when the Board of Commissioners of Allegheny County contracted with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to permit county residents free use of all Library facilities and services.

Under the provisions of the Pennsylvania Library Code of 1961, the Library was designated a District Library Center and a Regional Resource Library. As a District Center, it was to provide advisory services, reference help, in-service training and inter-library loan service to all local libraries in Allegheny County and the northwestern portion of Westmoreland County. (Westmoreland County was incorporated into another district in 1997.) As a Regional Resource Library in the fields of science and technology and business, the Library was responsible for providing in-depth reference and research materials in these areas of knowledge for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In 2000, the designation was changed to Statewide Library Resource Center with an emphasis on overall collections, digitization and virtual reference.

Other partnerships have and will continue to impact Library collections. LYRASIS is a cooperative membership organization of public, academic and special libraries and museums and archives created from the merger of PALINET, SOLINET and NELNET. The network facilitates union cataloging and resource sharing through OCLC, cooperative purchasing, supports preservation and digitization initiatives and promotes library cooperation. The Allegheny County Library Association is the federated library system designated by Commonwealth Libraries of Pennsylvania. It exists to develop a county-wide plan of sharing resources and services among public libraries in Allegheny County and to encourage and promote cooperation among those libraries and to strengthen their resources. The eiNetwork, a collaboration of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny County Library Association, is an organization that strives to ensure equal opportunity for residents to access information electronically and provides the electronic infrastructure that enables the creation of a seamless educational environment to support lifelong learning.

Parameters of the Collection


The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh selects materials for its collection for audiences of all ages in whatever format is most appropriate in accordance with professionally accepted guidelines. The Library does not sanction particular beliefs or views, nor is the selection of any given item equivalent to an endorsement of the author’s or publisher’s viewpoint.

Nonfiction Criteria

The Library acquires materials of both permanent and current interest in all subjects, based upon the merits of a work in relation to the needs, interests and demands of the community. While a single standard cannot be applied to each work, the following general criteria are to be considered, as appropriate, when selecting materials for purchase: authoritativeness of the writer and reputation of the publisher; availability of professional reviews; accuracy of information; impartiality of opinion, or clearly stated bias; timeliness of data; adequate breadth and depth of coverage; appropriateness and relevancy of subject to the Library’s users; popular demand; historical value; availability of similar material within the community and other area libraries; organization and style appropriate to the material and to the Library’s users; quality of illustrations; special features, such as bibliography and index; and/or value for price.

Fiction Criteria

Works of contemporary fiction, classic works and novels of enduring value are included in the collection. Fiction is selected according to the following criteria as appropriate: popular demand; reputation of the author and publisher; availability of professional reviews; appropriateness to the Library’s users; importance as a document of the times; relationship to the existing collection and to other titles and authors dealing with the same subject; interest and originality of plot and character development; style of writing; quality of illustration; literary merit; inclusion in standard library bibliographies; availability of similar material within the community and other area libraries; the physical qualities of the book; cost; and whether a title is part of an existing series.


Periodicals are publications issued and received on a regular basis in print, microfilm or electronic format. They form an important part of the Library’s collection. The periodicals collection is intended to complement the book collection. Periodicals are selected according to the following criteria: whether the periodical is included or excluded in standard indexing and abstracting resources; cost; requests by Library users; whether the periodical has local or regional interest; and whether a subject area needs to be expanded to help balance or enhance the collection, for example when new topics are introduced to a field of study. Periodicals are primarily in English. A few foreign titles are acquired in selected technical areas where long runs of the journal are already owned.

General interest and popular periodicals that provide information of current interest and recreational reading are selected for neighborhood locations. Many of these titles are available for circulation.

CLP – Main selects special subject-oriented titles for reference use that provide in-depth coverage of topics that enhance the overall departmental collections. Additionally, CLP – Main features a comprehensive general interest periodical collection in a specially designed area on the First Floor.

Periodicals are bound and retained indefinitely, or within predetermined limits, when their historic value to the collection is established. In certain instances, the JSTOR electronic or digital version of a periodical is the Library’s historic holding of that title, in place of hard copy or microfilm.

The following factors must be considered in any retention decision: cost; usage rates; shelf space required or computer/device compatibility; availability of the title in another format such as microfilm or electronic media; and existing indexing in one of the Library’s indexing services.

Microfilm are used to do the following: replace little used but important periodicals and newspapers; replace deteriorating print editions; supplement heavily used titles; provide a working copy of valuable materials; and to complete runs or fill gaps in important periodicals. Microfilm is not purchased to replace print copy in which color and line are important. The Library recognizes its responsibility to provide equipment to read and prepare print copies of microform materials.


Reference materials, whether in print or electronic formats, are those designed by the arrangement and treatment of their subject matter to be consulted for definite items of information rather than to be read consecutively. They can provide quick, concise and current information, or they may serve as an index to other materials in the collection. Since they are typically used frequently by the public and Library staff to answer specific questions, print materials in the reference collection are designated for use within the Library.

In selecting for the reference collections, the primary criteria are users’ information needs and the format in which that information is available. Electronic reference resources may be preferred over print publications. Decisions to purchase are based upon content, currency and ease of use. In addition to the general selection criteria mentioned above, the following must be considered in acquiring materials for the reference collections: favorable reviews or inclusion in basic reference collection guides; reputation of the author or publisher; currency of information; value for the price; and the expense of ongoing maintenance, especially in the case of serial publications that will require frequent updating.

To a very limited extent, items not falling strictly within the reference format but in high demand by Library users may be included in the reference collection to allow maximum use, for example, business plan, test preparation, resume resources, etc. Monographs are added to the reference collection only if they present an overview of a subject that is not available in a standard reference tool. Selected reference titles may be circulated at the discretion of the agency head.

Electronic Resources

Digital versions of nonfiction, fiction, periodical, reference, video, spoken audio, music and images are all offered through the Library. The content criteria outlined in each of those sections apply, as appropriate, to their electronic counterparts.


The Library provides instructional, educational and entertainment videos. The following selection criteria are considered: favorable reviews in standard library reviewing sources; appropriateness of the subject to the collection; appropriateness to the interests and skills of the intended users; technical quality, i.e. clarity of picture and sound quality; authority and competency of the producer; artistic merit and reputation of the performers; the need for nonfiction and documentaries to present accurate and current information; artistic merit; customer interest; and cost.

Spoken Audio

Recorded instructional, educational, fiction titles and performances that parallel most areas of the general collection are made available. Due to demand, preference will be given to unabridged audio books, but abridgments may be purchased when the unabridged format is unavailable or it is otherwise appropriate. In addition to the general criteria for selection, the following criteria must be taken into account when selecting spoken audio: authority and competency of producer; artistic merit and reputation of the reader; technical quality, i.e. sound quality; and value for the price.


The Library strives to provide a collection of and about music in all formats that provides historical depth and contemporary coverage, represents a broad variety of musical genres and takes into account the demand and interests of our customers. The following criteria are taken into account when selecting music: authority and competency of producer/publisher; artistic merit; technical quality; and cost.


Image collections are available in a variety of formats including photographs, slides and mounted pictures. As digital images become more widely accessible, the physical collections are reviewed.

Material Not Emphasized

Due to finite resources and limited demand, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh does not actively collect the following materials:

Rare Books

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s existing collection may continue to be sustained. Additions to this collection will focus on material related to Western Pennsylvania and the historical development of the Library.


While textbooks are not routinely purchased, they are considered when they offer a broad overview of a particular subject not available elsewhere and/or when they are necessary to provide support for school curricula.

Dissertations and Theses

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh does not collect these items.

Obsolete Formats

Formats that have been superseded by more commonly used technologies, such as VHS and Beta videotapes, audiocassettes, eight-track tapes, LP recordings, etc., are not actively collected.


Materials are purchased in the most appropriate format for Library use. Much of the Library’s collection is offered in the traditional print format; however, valuable information is increasingly available in audio-visual and electronic formats. New formats are considered for the collection when industry reports, national survey results and local requests indicate that a significant portion of the community has the necessary technology to make use of the new format. The following factors must be taken into consideration when deciding whether to add a new format to the collection: availability of items in the format; cost per item; and the Library’s ability to acquire, process and circulate the items in the specific format. Older formats are discontinued when customer needs and technological advances result in obsolescence.

Hardcover Books

Books are purchased in hardcover editions when timeliness, value and/or durability are key factors.

Trade Paperbacks

This format includes paperback books that are comparable in size to hardcover editions but which are typically lower in cost. They are preferred in those cases where the hardcover edition is extremely expensive and/or the title would be either used infrequently or would be removed from the collection in a few years.

Mass Market Paperbacks

This format includes paperback books that are smaller in size than the typical hardcover or trade paperback book. Mass-market paperbacks are purchased for recreational reading and the collection both reflects and extends those titles purchased in hardcover.

Graphic Novels

Graphic novels are print titles that include sequential art. Narratives, fiction or nonfiction, may be complete in one book or extend through a series of volumes. The Library collects in the graphic novel format for all audiences: children, teens and adults. Content criteria outlined above for fiction and nonfiction works are applied to graphic novels.

Large Print Books

Books printed in 14-point or larger type serve a variety of purposes including making materials accessible to those with visual impairments, learning disabilities and other special needs. The Library attempts to provide a variety of titles in this format, including fiction, popular nonfiction and limited reference titles.


Serials are publications issued in successive parts bearing numeric or chronological designations and intended to be continued indefinitely. This format includes periodicals, newspapers and annuals or continuations retained in the reference collections. They may include the following physical formats: print, microform and electronic. Some sets of serials are retained for their historical importance. Subject specialty directories should be reviewed to determine if a pattern of retention within the set is adequate based on user needs. For example, every third or fifth year of a directory run may suffice to provide historical coverage.

Government Documents

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh was established as a selective Federal Depository in 1895. The Library collects Government Printing Office material in paper and microform and as electronic data. The deposit program is supplemented by selections of Federal publications issued by executive, judicial and legislative agencies and quasi-governmental bodies. Selections are made based on the publications’ reference or research value. The Library has a substantial collection of House and Senate hearing information in microform format and in permanent digital format (PDF.) As more agencies, branches and government departments now rely solely on electronic distribution of their records and materials, the Library’s depository holdings are increasingly digital, providing direct public access to documents via permanent web links in the Library’s online catalog. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has been a U.S. Patent depository library since 1902. In addition, the Pennsylvania Department receives a limited number of Pennsylvania state government documents as a state depository. After 5 years the items are reviewed and selected publications are cataloged.


Microforms are used primarily for long-term storage and preservation of periodicals, newspapers, out-of-print local history books* and some in-house indexes. Specialized microform collections may be purchased to complement the Library’s indexes. Reference materials may also be acquired in this format if the storage requirements or cost of the print format would be prohibitive.

*Copyright provisions are adhered to.

Pamphlets and Clippings

Pamphlets and clippings are collected selectively and primarily represent information of local current or historical interest, or federal, state or local government document information. They should not duplicate materials available in other formats.


Entertainment, instructional and educational films are available for borrowing in either the DVD format or as downloadable content. Some informational materials from the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped are still available in the VHS format.


Spoken audio is purchased in the compact disc format; preloaded digital audio devices and downloadable audio are collected as well. Music is purchased in the compact disc format; streaming and downloadable music is also purchased.

Electronic Resources

This format includes, but is not limited to, online databases, ebooks, digital audio (book and music) and digital video. Electronic access to materials offers storage, manipulation and access options that may be difficult or impossible in other formats. The following criteria may be used when considering electronic formats for the collection: ease of use, including enhanced searching capabilities; anticipated demand; training requirements; remote access capability; licensing fees and usage restrictions; device compatibility; availability of usage statistics; authentication options; and catalog integration.

Video Games

Video games are collected for a variety of popular consoles. These games are held in the Film and Audio Department at CLP – Main but are available by request throughout the system. Games include action, adventure, puzzle, sports, role-playing and strategy games, among other genres.


Donated materials are subject to the same thoughtful review as purchased materials. Timeliness, usefulness, out-of print status and condition are among the criteria considered. The Library reserves the right to decide which items are added to the collection and to dispose of gifts as it deems appropriate. The Library also reserves the right to decline gifts. When gifts of over 50 items are presented for addition to any agency’s collection they must be approved by the Coordinator of Collection Services.

Weeding and Replacement

Weeding is an integral part of effective collection development. An active and continuous weeding program is essential in maintaining a viable and useful collection. Materials are withdrawn from the Library’s collection through systematic deselection or because of loss or physical damage. The following categories of materials should be considered for weeding: worn or mutilated items; duplicate copies of seldom used titles; materials which contain outdated or inaccurate information; superseded editions of specific titles; and materials no longer of interest or in demand.

Before discarding material of local interest, agencies should contact the Pennsylvania Department. In certain instances as applicable, a withdrawn title or periodical set may be offered to one of the region’s academic libraries as a complement to their existing specialized collections.

Materials Reconsideration

In order to represent the diversity of thought within the community, it is very important that the public library’s collection contain materials representing differing points of view. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh does not endorse particular beliefs or views, nor does the selection of an item convey or imply an endorsement of the viewpoint expressed by the author.

There may be occasions when a member of the community objects to a particular item in the Library’s collection. If a Library user wishes the Library to reconsider material that is in the collection, a Materials Reconsideration Request form is available. A committee of professional librarians is convened to review such requests and a written response is sent to the customer.

Preservation and Storage

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh takes seriously its responsibility to preserve, to the degree that funds permit, collection materials that are rare or in fragile condition. Grant funds are sought to enhance this process with priority given to materials that are of local importance. Most items identified for preservation are placed in the climate-controlled Special Collections Department or at the Library’s Depository at CLP – East Liberty on the Lower Level. Some materials are reformatted into microfilm and/or digitized or as photocopy facsimiles. Some are placed in archival phase boxes, and some are encapsulated. Photographic collections may be reformatted, producing duplicate negatives and prints or digitized.

Selection Process

The Collection Services Department oversees all aspects of collection development, including selection, maintenance and deselection. Selections are made using resources that include, but are not limited to the following: ABPR, Booklist, Brodart TIPS, Choice, Ingram Advance, Kirkus, Library Journal, New York Times Book Review, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Video Librarian and VOYA. Publishers’ catalogs, subject bibliographies, suggestions from professional staff and customer requests are also considered.

The Collection Services Coordinator selects materials in all formats and manages materials budgets for the neighborhood locations.

Under the leadership of the Collection Services Coordinator, CLP – Main staff examines reviewing tools and popular culture resources weekly and identifies items to be added to the department collections following prescribed procedures. Department Heads are responsible for the overall management of the department materials budget and for assuring that the materials selected by the subject specialists meet standards set forth in the collection development policy. Department Heads and selectors also take into consideration the departmental collection focus statements, which are revised every 3 years. The method by which departments delegate the subject collection responsibilities varies according to specific needs and staffing of each department.

The Coordinator of Children’s Collections chooses materials in all formats and manages material budgets for the neighborhood locations and the Children’s Department CLP – Main.

The Coordinator of eResources manages the selection of electronic materials. Electronic content is purchased in one of four ways: 1) selected for statewide access from Commonwealth Libraries as part of the Access Pennsylvania POWER library project; 2) available in all libraries throughout Allegheny County and selected by Library staff members or the Downloadables or Electronic Resources Evaluation Committees of the Allegheny County Library Association; 3) selected by Library staff members and available system-wide for all Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh locations; or 4) selected by Library staff members and available at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in individual departments of CLP – Main or other agencies.

Materials for the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped are selected by LBPH staff.

Evaluation of Collections

The continuous review of Library materials is necessary as a means of maintaining an active Library collection of current interest to users. Statistical tools such as circulation reports, collection turnover rates and withdrawal reports, as well as other specialized collection analysis methods, provide useful data. The professional expertise of both agency and Collection Services staff is also an important component in the ongoing evaluation of our collections.

Review of CLP Collection Development and
Management Policy

This policy will be evaluated every 3 years and updated as necessary.


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