Skip to main content

Health Sciences Library Collection Development Policy

Introduction and Purpose

The Health Sciences Library (HSL) at West Virginia University (WVU) supports the teaching, research, and clinical activities of the WVU Health Sciences community in a variety of settings in the State of West Virginia and around the world. Its primary clientele are the faculty, students, research, clinical, and administrative staff of the WVU Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center and the general public seeking health-related information.

The Health Sciences Library supports the schools of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Dentistry, and Public Health at the WVU Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center. Additionally, the HSL supports the hospitals, clinics, and health professionals of the West Virginia University Health System. This health system is comprised of eight premier specialty Institutes or Centers, six community hospitals, three critical access hospitals, and various state-wide regional clinics.

The guidelines described in the Collection Development Policy are designed to support the Libraries’ mission and vision. The purpose of the collection policy is not to determine which individual items to acquire or provide access to, but to give a general framework within which choices can be more easily made.

Campus and Library Mission Statements

West Virginia University (WVU) Mission Statement

The WVU mission statement reflects the three critical pillars of the institution:

West Virginia University Libraries Mission Statement

The WVU Libraries encompass nine libraries statewide. Facilities in Morgantown include the Downtown Campus Library, Evansdale Library, Health Sciences Library, Law Library, the Depository and the West Virginia and Regional History Center. Onsite collections include more than 2.4 million books, over 600,000 eBooks and 95,000+ online electronic journals. Regional facilities include WVU Charleston Health Sciences Library, Mary F. Shipper Library at Potomac State College of WVU, and the WVU Tech Library at the Institute of Technology.

The mission of the WVU Libraries is to collect, preserve, and provide access to information that enables learning and the advancement of knowledge and to actively participate as a partner in WVU’s high‐quality education.

Health Sciences Library Mission Statement

The mission of the WVU Health Sciences Library is to provide unparalleled customer service, quality information, and knowledgeable solutions to support research, education, innovation, and advances in medical research and patient care.

Overview of the Collection

The HSL provides access through purchase or lease to information resources including books, journals, databases, indexing/abstracting tools, and reference sources in print and/or electronic formats, as well as audiovisual media and software, to support WVU curricula, dissertation preparation, research, and clinical practice. In general, resources purchased or leased for the collection are appropriate for individuals studying at a graduate level or above, health care practitioners, and research professionals. Undergraduate level materials are not acquired except to support those WVU programs that offer baccalaureate degrees.

Journals are the primary source of information acquired and the HSL focuses on investing in digital resources to meet the demands of WVU faculty, staff, and students for access to online information. Reference books are primarily in electronic format. The library does not have sufficient funds to purchase both print and online versions of titles. Only electronic versions of journals are acquired except for a very small number of journals that are not yet available in electronic format.

The HSL strives to provide adequate coverage in the areas of dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health, selected allied health disciplines, and basic life sciences. Health sciences specialties that are not taught or practiced at WVU are usually not acquired.

In general, media resources are not collected by the HSL unless specifically requested by faculty. Exam preparation is supported for WVU Health Sciences students through a subscription to ExamMaster, an online resource that assists students in preparing for the US Medical Licensing (USMLE) exam, the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX), and the National Board Dental Exam (NBDE), and several others.

The HSL maintains a non-circulating reference collection to answer clients' immediate needs for information. The reference collection contains a variety of resources, including almanacs, bibliographies, biographical resources, core health science textbooks, dictionaries, directories, drug and toxicology resources, encyclopedias, indexes and abstracts, government publications, grant and financial aid resources, health-related legal resources, statistical resources, style guides and manuals, and test and measurement resources. The library's reference collection contains both print and electronic resources. The Research Services Librarian in charge of the reference collection is responsible for recommending new reference materials based on the guidelines in this policy, available funds, and input from other staff; as well as the weeding of the collection.

The HSL selectively collects materials published by West Virginia health-related agencies, as well as other local and regional resources that are relevant to the needs of WVU personnel. The WVU Libraries are a depository for U.S. government publications, and the Health Sciences Library maintains those government documents that are health-related.

The HSL collected print copies of theses and dissertations from the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, and Pharmacy up through 1998. At that time, theses and dissertations transitioned to electronic format only and were then stored/maintained in WVU’s institutional repository. The HSL print theses and dissertation collection has been moved to the offsite depository. Dissertations and theses from other universities are not purchased for the general collection. Books published by WVU faculty are acquired, as funds allow. Donations of items published by WVU faculty are encouraged and greatly appreciated.

Rare and historical health sciences resources are now generally acquired only through donations. Items about the history of medicine are purchased selectively for the circulating History of Medicine Collection. Archival materials related to the history of the campus such as annual reports and school bulletins, photographs, and other artifacts, are acquired through donations and are referred to the History of Health Sciences Museum or the West Virginia and Regional History Center as appropriate.

Funding for Information Resources

The primary source of funds for purchasing and leasing information resources are state funds allocated to the library by campus administration, both from the Downtown CampusLibrary and the Health Sciences Center. This annual allocation depends upon overall state funding for higher education, internal allocations among West Virginia University campuses, and WVU and/or Health Sciences Center budgetary matters. Funds provided by WVU are augmented by the following sources:

Information Resource funds cover the costs of purchasing and/or leasing access to books, journals, media, databases, and other information resources that support WVU programs. These funds also are used to cover the costs of binding, preserving, repairing, and replacing print materials. Library base funding does not increase when new WVU programs are added, and support of such programs must come from program funds or additional funds provided by campus schools or WVU Administration.

Selection Responsibility

All Research Services Librarians at the WVU Health Sciences Library, including the Director, have responsibility for determining which items will be added to or removed from the library's collection in their assigned subject areas.

WVU faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to use the WVU Libraries’ Suggest a Purchase form to recommend and suggest new information resources. Suggestions for the collection may also be submitted at the Access Services Desk or emailed to the appropriate subject liaison librarian. Recommendations are evaluated according to the guidelines outlined in this policy. Selection decisions are based on the relevance of items to the clinical practice, curriculum, and research needs of the greatest number of WVU faculty, staff, and students, as well as other guidelines specified in this policy.

Selection Criteria

Many factors must be weighed in making selection decisions. The following factors are considered when evaluating resources for addition to the collection.

Books (Monographs)

* The library does not automatically exclude formats that provide pertinent information needed by primary users. However, the following types of materials are generally not acquired:


Electronic Resources

Special Collections

The History of Medicine Collection

This collection is divided into three distinct groupings:

The Edward Van Liere Collection

This collection is the work of one of the Health Sciences Library’s former librarians, Sally Brown, and its purpose is to focus on the publications of an accomplished researcher/educator, its scientific and educational impact, and the legacy it created. The material which makes up this collection reflects the long career of Edward Jerald Van Liere: physiologist, medical educator, academic dean, and journal editor.

As a researcher Van Liere has more than 225 research articles to his credit. The majority of these papers led to the publication of two books: Anoxia: Its Effects on the Body (1942) and Hypoxia (1963). The latter was written in collaboration with J. Clifford Stickney, his colleague and associate professor in the Department of Physiology. When first published, the books were greeted with appreciation for their solid research and contributions to existing knowledge; today they are part of the early literature on high altitude physiology.

Reference Collection

The Reference Collection includes bibliographies, major core textbooks, directories, clinical atlases, pharmacopoeia, encyclopedias, dictionaries, legal resources, statistical sources, biographical dictionaries, and other critical texts. Most books withdrawn from the Reference Collection will be transferred to the circulating collection, at which point any older editions in the circulating collection may or may not be withdrawn permanently. Retention decisions for older editions are made on a title-by-title basis.

The Women’s Health Special Collection

This collection provides a rich and comprehensive assortment of materials containing the most current information available for faculty, students, research, clinical, and administrative staff that impacts the health of women of all ages and conditions. WVU HSL is committed to assisting our users in their mission of helping women live longer, healthier lives. This collection was developed in collaboration with the WVU Center for Excellence in Women’s Health. The Women’s Health Special Collection includes monographs on a variety of topics that impact women’s health such as the political climates and medical practices that shape the patient/physician relationship, historical and academic perceptions that have transformed our approach to health education for women, and advocacy groups and movements that change our thought surrounding issues impacting women both historically and currently. This collection is located on the main level of the HSL and may be checked out by the library’s primary users.

Additional Sources of Information Resources

EZ-Borrow and Interlibrary Loan: EZ-Borrow and Interlibrary Loan (ILL) enable library staff to supplement the collection by obtaining copies and/or loans of items not available at the Health Sciences Library. Electronic ILL systems are used to locate items worldwide and request them for WVU faculty, staff, and students as well as to extend Health Sciences Library resources to researchers and library users from other institutions. More information about ILL is available on the library’s website.

West Virginia University Libraries: The Health Sciences Library is one of four lending West Virginia University campus libraries, including:

The four libraries share collections through Book Express+ and cooperative collection development. Currently, there are many electronic resources available to all faculty, staff, and students across the WVU system through the efforts of the WVU Libraries to work together and license e-resources across the campus. The most significant example of this cooperative relationship is the joint licensing of access to Wiley, Elsevier, and Springer online journals and ebooks giving WVU personnel from all four campus access to more than 3000 online journals.

In-House Document Delivery is available. Articles that the Health Sciences Library has in print format may be requested via ILLiad for an electronic copy. WVU faculty and staff may request articles from print journals held in any WVU library.

Students on Rural Health Education Rotations can receive journal articles from the WVU Health Sciences Library while on field assignment through ILLiad free of charge. After logging in with their WVU Login, these students should choose "Rural Rotation" under Status and "Health Sciences Library" as the ILL Processing Unit on the registration form. The status should be changed back in ILLiad upon completion of the field assignment.


In general, the Library will acquire any given information source in one format only, although exceptions may exist. Items will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for determining duplication among formats. Except in the case of high-demand titles and course reserves, health and biomedical sciences titles will not, in general, be duplicated.

Gifts and Donations

The Health Sciences Library welcomes and encourages gifts of books, periodicals, manuscripts, and other research materials supportive of the Library’s programs. Materials solicited as gifts include various faculty and departmental publications and private donations of books and historical artifacts/archives. Donations are subject to the standard selection criteria and procedures of the Library and West Virginia Regional History Center. The Library will acknowledge receipt of donations but, according to law, cannot appraise donated collections. Items not needed for the WVU Health Sciences Library will be donated to other libraries or donated to organizations sending materials to areas of need. Please refer to the WVU Libraries Collection Guidelines for more details.


Generally material is not deselected unless its condition has deteriorated past the point of usability. Attempts are made to repair and retain damaged or deteriorating items. A work that is not within the subject scope of the collection may be deselected. Periodicals or electronic resources may be deselected when it is no longer subscribed to, related programs have been discontinued, or when replaced by another format. Attempts are made to replace items that are lost, stolen, or damaged. Exceptions include outdated or superseded editions unless there is a specific need or historical significance.

The Liaison Librarians will consult with the WV Regional History Center and WVU Knowledge Access and Resource Management Department on all matters relating to the care, repair, and safekeeping of all circulating library materials regardless of format type. Preservation issues of importance to the Liaison Librarians include: