Collection Development Policy

CDI Collection Development Policy

Collection Development Process

The University of Vermont (UVM) Libraries' Center for Digital Initiatives (CDI) actively encourages collection proposals from a wide variety of university, community, state, and other partners. The CDI Collection Development Committee selects proposals which meet the criteria described below and prioritizes selected proposals for the CDI team. Project development is implemented by the CDI and project collaborators. Outreach and evaluation should continually inform this whole process:

  1. Collection Proposal
  2. Selection
  3. Prioritization
  4. Project Development


Definition of a Digital Collection

A digital collection consists of digital objects that are selected and organized to facilitate their discovery, access, and use. Objects, metadata, and the user interface together create the user experience of a collection. Adapted from A Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections: A NISO Recommended Practice . 3rd ed. National Information Standards Organization: Baltimore, December 2007.


Basic Selection Requirements

The CDI only considers proposals for collections which are:

Collections lacking a unifying context or intelligible relationships do not constitute cohesive digital collections. Excerpts, clips, samples, and other discrete, partial, or unrelated items are discouraged.

Broadly Valued
Course or assignment-specific digital materials which have no broader research value would be better served elsewhere.

Unique or Novel
A similar or identical digital collection should not already exist.

Enhanced by Inclusion in the CDI
Collections should have some value added from inclusion in the CDI. In other words, the collection should demand more than online access; it should gain something by being part of the CDI.

If the CDI is not an appropriate venue, we are happy to help identify alternative resources.


Collection Development Criteria

The CDI builds and manages cohesive digital collections based on the criteria described below. It is expensive to select, create, and maintain digital resources; additionally, institutional support and staffing resources for such activities are finite. The value of and demand for collections should therefore justify inclusion in the CDI. Based on value and user needs, the CDI Collection Development Committee examines the added value potential for each collection, considers rights issues and preservation concerns, and evaluates technical feasibility.



The value of a collection's contents and the benefits of digital access should warrant the investment of time and effort needed for CDI project development. Preferred projects will demonstrate the following types of value:

Research Value

Research value refers to a collection's relevance to scholarship, teaching, and learning. High value collections offer significant information on key people, places, events, objects, periods, activities, projects, ideas, and processes (both natural and cultural) of interest to scholars world-wide. Collections which support research and teaching at UVM will be given extra consideration.

Administrative Value

Administrative value refers to the collection's functional usefulness to the creating organization (which is most often, but not necessarily, the University of Vermont) on a regular basis.



The CDI should not only seek high value collections; it should add value to the collections it maintains. Like other digital resources, the CDI provides remote access, centralizes collections, and enables searching and browsing. It includes collection- and item-level descriptions and grants subject access. A variety of additional features and functions are possible within the CDI. Value may be added via:


  • Unification of materials physically split among institutions in one virtual collection
  • Flexible integration and synthesis of a variety of formats
  • Contribution towards a "critical mass" of digital materials in a subject area
  • Contribution to online research tools

Intellectual Control

  • Organization, arrangement, and description of materials
  • Creation of metadata related to
    • Document identification
    • Technical capture information
    • Provenance
    • Navigation within the information resources

Enhancement of Intellectual Access

  • Ability to manipulate information or to study disparate items in new contexts
  • Improved quality of image; for example, improved legibility of handwritten, faded, or stained documents
  • Unique presentation and contextualization capabilities; for example, a map which links historic images to geographic coordinates
  • Enhancement of user interactions with the material and with each other through participatory features



To justify the effort and expense of inclusion in the CDI, collections should have immediate utility for current or potential audiences. Some priority should be given to collections with planned classroom use at UVM. Identification of current or potential user groups may be based on evidence such as:

  • Usage statistics of physical originals in library collections
  • Usage statistics in other environments
  • Planned curricular use
  • Planned programmatic use
  • A body of scholarly work which uses or is strongly related to the collection
  • Significant survey or focus group results
  • Self-identified users or partners



Rights and permissions must be managed in accordance with applicable laws. For more information, refer to these rights resources . Considerations include whether or not:

  • The work or collection is in the public domain
  • The goal/purpose of digitization lies within fair use limits
  • UVM has the legal right to make and disseminate digital copies
  • UVM can secure the rights from the owner
  • Privacy issues can be addressed



Digitization does not in itself constitute preservation, nor does inclusion of born-digital items in a digital library. Preservation risks and benefits must be carefully analyzed for all types of digital projects.

Digital Surrogates

Providing digital surrogates of original physical materials may:

  • Significantly reduce the handling of fragile physical originals
  • Ensure access to physical materials that cannot otherwise be easily used
  • Protect materials at high risk of theft, wear, or decay

Safe Digitization

In order to safely digitize physical originals, the following must be considered:

  • Condition of original
  • Advance conservation efforts needed
  • Possibility of scanning photographic intermediaries instead of originals

Born Digital Materials

Born digital files pose their own preservation concerns, including:

  • Quality and readability of digital objects
  • Viability of current file format
  • Need for file conversion or migration
  • State of existing metadata



The value of a collection, added value functions, user needs, rights issues, and preservation concerns will inform the technical feasibility of project development. Feasibility assessment involves defining needed and desired specifications, weighing specifications against resources, understanding current capabilities, and anticipation of future users and environments.

Materials which require special consideration include:

  • Images which require unusually high resolution
  • Those for which fidelity to original color is essential
  • Oversize items
  • Three-dimensional objects
  • Items with poor legibility
  • Born digital items which require emulation of legacy software