Selection Guidelines by Format and Literature Type
The Library's goal is to assemble a collection that insofar as possible contains all significant professional and research literature of biomedical practice, research and scholarship. This effort has resulted in the world's richest collection of scientific and scholarly publications in biomedicine and public health, including works from every region of the world and in virtually every written language.
However, NLM recognizes that it is impossible and impractical to achieve the same level of comprehensiveness in all categories of publications, such as manuscripts, pamphlets and annual reports. Nor is it desirable to assemble comprehensive collections of some categories of materials, such as textbooks or examination review guides. Consequently, the Library collects certain categories selectively, according to guidelines in this section. It is important to note that at NLM, such "selective" collections may be quite extensive, even by research library standards. This designation indicates only that the Library does not intend to acquire every example of the literature.
In most cases, the Library's selective collecting strategy emphasizes the intentional selection of a wide range of influential, representative and distinctive resources in order to illustrate a diversity of philosophical, cultural, and political perspectives from around the world.
In a small number of categories, the Library focuses on collecting works that document U.S practice and education. Typically these are educational and working materials such as examination review guides, continuing education publications, and laboratory manuals.
Within some categories, NLM collects selectively in order to avoid redundancy. This is particularly true in the case of works which synthesize information from other sources. Examples include textbooks, directories, and newsletters. Although the Library collects broadly in these areas, there is no intent to acquire every iteration of similar intellectual content.
The question of redundancy has become more of a challenge as content increasingly is available in multiple formats. A single work may be available in print, physical media, and online versions. NLM may select one format over another -- or select multiple formats -- based on considerations such as ability to preserve and archive, and added value due to searchability or multimedia content. The amount of support required by staff to make the resources available must be considered. The decision to collect resources requiring significant amounts of staff time to preserve, including migration to new formats, must be weighed against the current and future scholarly value of the resources.
The following section offers guidance for the selection of many categories of publications. It is not an exhaustive list but includes types of publications most commonly encountered in the scientific, technical, medical and public health bibliography.