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Collection Development Manual

The Collection Development Policy of the NLM
The National Library of Medicine was established "to assist the advancement of medical and related sciences and to aid the dissemination and exchange of scientific and other information important to the progress of medicine and to the public health..." (42 U.S.C. 286) Central to this mission is the development of a collection that supports contemporary biomedical and health care research and practice as well as future scholarship.
To this end, NLM attempts to aggregate and to maintain for permanent access library materials that:
  • Record progress in research in biomedicine and the related areas of the life sciences,
  • Document the practice and teaching of medicine broadly defined,
  • Demonstrate how health services are organized, delivered and financed,
  • Chronicle the development and implementation of policy that affects research and the delivery of health services, and
  • Illustrate the public perception of medical practice and public health.
The decision to select a title for NLM generally also implies a responsibility to preserve the material. For more information, see the NLM Preservation Policy.
Board of Regents Policy
Building on its congressional mandate, the National Library of Medicine's Board of Regents, an advisory body to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) on matters affecting the Library, adopted a collecting policy in June 1976. This policy was subsequently updated in 1983 and most recently in October 1992 as follows:
This Collection Development Policy is established for the National Library of Medicine (NLM) pursuant to the authority contained in the National Library of Medicine Act of 1956. (P.L. 84-941).
Since every area of human activity may affect or be affected by the health of the human community, NLM cannot presume to collect all literature that has some relevance, however remote, to health. In its collecting practices, NLM shall concentrate on the biomedical literature without being limited by present perceptions, recognizing that the boundaries of that literature are constantly changing.
The National Library of Medicine has the responsibility for acquiring the biomedical literature in any format deemed appropriate to the fulfillment of its mission.
Coverage of the scholarly biomedical literature shall be comprehensive; coverage of other biomedical literature may be more selective. The intent is to ensure that the collection represents the intellectual content and diversity of the world's biomedical literature. In determining coverage, NLM will take into consideration its role as the national resource for the provision of biomedical literature not otherwise readily available, and as the national bibliographic center for biomedical literature for the health professions.
The healing arts can only be understood in their cultural context; therefore, collection development criteria will be interpreted with flexibility in acquiring literature relating to the history of medicine.
NLM is aware of the acquisitions policies and collection emphases of the Library of Congress and the National Agricultural Library. While a certain amount of duplication of collections among the three national libraries is inevitable, and indeed necessary, NLM recognizes the ultimate interdependence of these libraries, and its collecting policies will reflect this.
Nothing in this policy statement should be construed to require the disposal of any literature previously acquired by NLM that would not be eligible for acquisition under this policy or under any present or future collection development document, nor should this policy statement be construed to limit the acquisition by NLM of literature that may be needed by NLM staff in the fulfillment of their duties, or that may reasonably be provided for the reference convenience of NLM reading room users.
Guidelines for the scope and coverage of acquisitions for the NLM collection shall be detailed for operational purposes in a document to be developed and amended from time to time in a manner to be determined by the Director. A group of senior NLM staff should be designated by the Director for the purpose of meeting regularly to consider the need for changes and to recommend appropriate changes to the Director.
Definitions
Biomedical: pertaining to health care, to the practice of the science and art of medicine broadly conceived, and to those branches of the life sciences which are fundamental to that science and art.
Collect: to acquire for inclusion in the literature holdings of NLM.
Coverage: the extent of the Library's collecting effort within the biomedical subjects.
Health Professions: includes persons engaged in health policy and health services research, the administration of health activities, the provision of health services, or in research, education, or information dissemination concerned with the advancement or history of medicine or with other health related sciences.
Literature: organized information in the form of written, printed, or non-print works, including audiovisual materials, computer files, and other electronic formats.
Scholarly: resulting from professional study or research.
Scope: the range of subjects which NLM collects.

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