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Centre of African Studies Library


Collection Development Policy African Studies Centre Library
Last Revised February 2013

1 Purpose, Scope, and Context of Policy

1.1 The purpose of this Collection Development Policy is to provide a framework for the maintenance and development of the Library's collections, to indicate priorities, to establish selection criteria, and to create a consistent basis for the future development of the collection.

1.2 The policy should give guidance to Library staff and others engaged in the selection of material (book, journal, video, CD-Rom, microform and electronic) and complement professional knowledge and experience.

1.3 The policy will provide information about the principles accroding to which the collections are acquired, create awareness of the Library's objectives, and form the basis of future developments.

2 Role and Scope of the Collection

2.1 The primary function of the Library is to support the research and teaching needs of the African Studies MPhil, as well as supporting the rest of the University in the study of Africa, in particular Africa South of the Sahara, supporting the Centre's work in promoting research on Africa, and the work of its constituent departments in the University. A secondary function, achived by means of a policy of buying African published material, to disseminate research carried out in Africa to the users of the Library.

2.2 The core collecting area: the Library collects material in the areas of history, economics, politics, social sciences, geography and anthropology, religion, archaeology, literature, film, and popular culture. Most of its purchases are material published in Africa, the US or Europe, and as such often not available elsewhere in the University. The Library also holds a large number of unpublished reports donated by researchers. It subscribes to a wide number of journals, many of them published in Africa. Audio-visual materials are purchased as resources permit. Relevant online databases are recommended to the University Library.

2.3 Relationship to courses reading lists: the Library buys material for the MPhil reading lists. The Library also aims to support graduate students researching topics relating to Africa from a wide range of Departments and Faculties including History, SPS, Geography, Economics, Architecture, Social Anthropology, Development Studies, Zoology, Archaeology, Law, Land Economy, International Studies, Education, MML, Theology. It also supports undergraduates undertaking courses relating to Africa, particularly in History, Geography, Social Anthropology, S.P.S., English, Economics. The Library provides books and materials on undergraduate reading lists, purchasing these even where there are holdings elsewhere in the University.

3 Relationships to the Holdings of Faculty and Departmental Libraries, Colleges, and the University Library

3.1 The Library adds its catalogue records to the Newton Catalogue, which enables researchers outside the Centre (and outside Cambridge) to ascertain what books and periodicals it holds, and enables the Library to compare its holdings with those of other Faculty, Departmental, and College libraries. Before acquiring material, the Librarian will check if it is already available elsewhere in the University and take this information into account in deciding whether or not to purchase.

3.2 When the Library receives material as a donation which is not appropriate or already held, it is offered to other libraries which might be more suitable. Likewise the Library is often sent material from other libraries.

3.3 The Library budget for journals was transferred to a central Journals Coordination Scheme which buys collectively for the libraries eliminating duplication and using savings to increase electronic access.

4 Recommendations and Selection

4.1 There are 3 main sources of book selection:

a) Books on recommended reading lists from courses with an African Studies component, especially those for the African Studies MPhil. The Library aims to hold a copy of all the books which are part of that component.

b) Requests and recommendations from academics and other Library users (material is usually bought if not held in the University, and not of a very specialist nature or very expensive).

c) Selection by Librarian using bibliographic tools (print and on-line) and searching publishers websites and publicity material, and using knowledge obtained from seminars etc. Supplier's websites e.g. Brill, the Africa Book Centre, are checked regularly for new publications available. UK publishers of African Studies material are not checked routinely because those books should be received at the UL by legal deposit, though individual recommendations will be investigated.

4.2 Where funds do not permit purchase, or where it seems likely that the book is so specialized that only one reader would need it, the reader might be advised to ask for an inter-library loan, or to ask for it to be purchased by the University Library.

4.3 African published material is in the main given priority, then books from countries outside the UK such as US and Netherlands. UK published material is in the main obtained by the University library under legal deposit, and will usually not be duplicated in our library.

4. 4 The Library plans to expand its acquisition of African published journals by recommendations to the Journals Coordination Committee.

4.5 While the Library does not purchase material in indigenous African languages, it has been asked to place emphasis on the purchase of material in French, especially where it is published in Africa, as this has so far been a neglected area.

4.6 The Library has a small collection of dictionaries and grammars for learning indigenous African languages, mostly donated by researchers. This is added to when the material is available.

4.7 The Library buys ephemera and unpublished reports from non-governmental organizations and governments. It is difficult to know which of these may later prove to be important and whether a new political party's manifesto may be the beginning of a major political movement, or whether it will disappear without making an impact. Much of this kind of material is also given to the Library.

4.9 The Library buys dictionaries, encyclopaedias, and key reference works if funds allow.

4.10 The bulk of the Library's stock is in hard copy books and pamphlets. For economy, where there is a choice between hardback and paperback editions, the Library usually chooses the paperback edition and reinforces it. Ebooks are a newly expanding area for the library especially for reading list books where multiple copies are required.

4.11 New editions of works already in the Library are purchased where new material has been added or the work substantially re-written.

4.12 Periodicals: while the intention is to increase the number of African periodicals subscribed to, it is intended that the existing subscriptions are constantly under review, and may be recommended for cancellation if it is considered that the quality is not good enough or if the journal is available elsewhere in the University. It is also hoped to build up the collection of American and European scholarly periodicals relating to Africa.

4.13 Missing books: where books go missing they are replaced if possible. However, many of the books in the Library are not replaceable, having been produced in Africa, or donated by researchers in the past. Where there is a copy of a missing book in the University Library, this Library would not try to replace it unless it were on a reading list.

5 Other Types of Materials

5.1 On-line subscriptions are taken out wherever possible to the journals we take in hard copy, and access is generally made available throughout the University .We also have access to many on-line journals through other library's subscriptions to the hard copy.

5.2 Microfilms: the Library acquired the Africa Missions sections of the Church Missionary Society Archive on microfilm. It has bought the first parts on the Yoruba, 1844-1880. The use of this has been minimal and could not justify further expense. We hold a collection of political ephemera from the Institute of Commonwealth Studies on microfiche. Further acquisitions of microfilm may possibly be considered, taking usage, expense, and alternative technologies into account, but this is a shrinking area. The Library subscribes to CAMP, the Co-operative Africana Microform Project, based in Chicago, which enables the Library to borrow newspaper archives on microfilm at a reader's request, but they are digitising material and we will then start to receive it electronically.

5.3. Video/DVD: the Library has been collecting video recordings of programmes on Africa broadcast in the UK on BBC and ITV since 1994, and has also purchased the Truth Commission Special Reports from South Africa. As DVD is rapidly replacing video as a format, we need to obtain programmes in that format and transfer/duplicate present stock. Films recommended for purchase (e.g. African Cinema) will be bought in the DVD format where possible.

5.4 The Library holds a collection of mostly pre-1970 African maps and charts (an extensive collection of African maps is also held in the Earth Sciences Library). Recommendations for the purchase of relevant maps will be considered.

5.5 Electronic databases: the Library subscribes to some specifically African databases - Nipad Africa-wide, South of the Sahara (also in hard copy), African Studies Companion (also in hard copy) and Database of African Theses and Dissertations. Information on new appropriate databases continues to be searched. We will request purchase of databases which we cannot afford from the University Library, where their funds allow. Careful monitoring of database use is needed to determine the worth of continuing subscriptions.

6 Retention and Disposal Policy

6.1 We would want to keep all material that is of present or potential value in the field of African Studies especially if it is not readily available elsewhere. Academic input would be sought in the evaluation of material.

6.2 On the other hand, owing to space pressure we may need to dispose of some material. No disposal will take place without the express approval of the managers. Some material needs disposal. The criteria to be considered are:

§ Disposal of material duplicated elsewhere in the University, unless there is a specific reason to keep it e.g. on a reading list (an exception to this might be Cambridge University Press material which we order with our credit allowance).

§ The quality and research value of the materials (needing academic assessment and advice).

§ The level of use assessed by issue statistics, periodic user surveys etc. (this is more problematic as subjects wane and revive in research interest at different periods).

§ Electronic availability of material (often, and almost always with journals, this depends on retention of the hard copy at least somewhere in the University; there are discussions about cooperation and resource sharing between libraries).

§ Hard copy of materials held in other forms (e.g. microfilm, digitised) could be disposed of or more likely kept in remote storage.

6. 3 Any items recommended for disposal would be offered to the University Library as required by the University Library Board. Any remaining items would be offered to relevant Faculty or Departmental Libraries. Items still remaining would be offered for sale to Library users, second hand bookshops, or given to Book Aid International. Any funds accruing from disposal of items would be allocated to the acquisition of new Library material.

6.4 Donations: the Library is frequently offered material as a donation, and its policy is to be selective in its acceptance because of restrictions of space and lack of suitable storage for archives. It has been agreed that where books are accepted the donor is asked to agree to a proviso that they may be passed on to other libraries or otherwise disposed of, if space does not permit them to be retained.

7 Archives

There is a limited amount of archival material (some of which is yet to be properly catalogued and suitably stored (subject to analysis as discussed in 7.2). Consideration in the longer term could be given to digitisation and making material available on the web, retaining original materials in less accessible storage.

8 Constraints

When making decisions to purchase material, the Library has to take into account the financial resources available to it. Particularly costly items, and those requiring a continuing financial commitment, need to be considered carefully. If there is a need for material which the Centre Library cannot purchase because of its expense, the Librarian would request the University Library to consider its purchase.

The Library is always looking for ways in which to condense material, find new space for it, or purchase in the most space efficient format (including electronic materials where possible) so that space constraints do not unduly restrict the acquisition of Library materials.