Skip Navigation Bar

Collection Development Manual

Selection Guidelines by Subject
This section contains guidance for the selection of contemporary materials by subject. Subject descriptions are based on a current understanding of the trends in biomedical research, health care practice, and associated issues. They are organized alphabetically according to subject category and apply to selection of post-1913 materials. Selection decisions for historical materials are based more broadly on the importance of a discipline to the historical practice of medicine and public health. Selection guidance for some specific literature types is found in the section Selection Guidelines by Format and Literature Type.
The Library collects works on all aspects of biomedicine and health care, and many areas of the life sciences. This section of the Manual is not intended to be an exhaustive description of every subject collected, nor has there been any attempt to establish mutually exclusive subject categories. Since it would be impossible to discuss all topics that fall within the Library's collecting scope, this section focuses on subjects that:
  • represent emerging disciplines,
  • present complex selection challenges,
  • require additional elaboration as to the Library's collecting interest, or
  • constitute an especially large body of literature.
Subject categories are subdivided as follows:
Definition: Most terms are consistent with the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH), the Library's controlled vocabulary. In some instances, non-MeSH terms, derived from authoritative sources, are used.
Discussion: For subjects that present selection difficulties. This section provides additional context to the Library's described collecting interest. It may include representative subtopics which provide additional guidance to the selector.
Scope and emphasis: This section defines the Library's collecting interest in a subject, and the level of intensity at which it is applied. "Collected comprehensively" signifies that the Library collects at the highest level of intensity, according to generally accepted collection development standards, as follows: The NLM collection serves as a national and international resource in the fields of medicine, health and related life sciences. NLM strives to assemble a subject collection that is as exhaustive as is reasonably possible, including works from all countries and in all applicable written languages. The Library's collection of significant published materials is exhaustive; collections of manuscripts and other relevant formats and literature types are very extensive; and NLM retains and systematically preserves older material to serve the needs of historical research.
Special considerations: Where applicable, this section provides information about collecting policies of other national libraries, major initiatives at NLM, and/or formats which are especially pertinent to a subject.
See also references: Refer users to topics which may offer additional guidance.