Collection Development

Acquisitions and Collection Development

The Acquisitions and Collection Development Department oversees the ordering, processing, and removal of books in the Library collection. We maintain the book stacks throughout the Library to make resources easily and readily available, and we provide copy and original cataloging for these materials.


Book orders and collection development

Arrangement of collection

Book donations

Gift books

Book collection development policy


The Acquisitions and Collection Development Department is comprised of librarian Scott Smith, department assistant Lilly Quinones, and a graduate student worker. 

Book Orders and Collection Development

The Stevens faculty is responsible for the development of the Library collection. Members of the Stevens community are welcome to recommend books relevant to their academic discipline. If the title is approved for purchase, the requester will be notified when it is available for borrowing. For a better understanding of the library’s collection development goals, see the collection development policies.

Arrangement of Collection

The circulating print collection is shelved on the first two floors of the library. On the first floor, users will find new books, the leisure reading collection--offering current popular fiction and nonfiction--and reserve books and textbooks, which are kept at the circulation desk. The remainder of the circulating collection is shelved on the second floor. Reference books, which do not circulate, are shelved on the first and third floors. A selection of dictionaries are shelved on the first floor, and the remainder of the reference titles, including atlases, are on the third floor.

Reference and circulating books in the S.C. Williams Library are arranged according to Library of Congress Classification. When you use the catalog to find a book, take note of its location and LC call number in order to locate it in the library. LC classification outlines are posted throughout the second floor to help you locate books in the collection.

Book Donations

Small donations of used books are accepted by the library on a non-provisional basis. The library has the final word on whether or not donated material will be added to the collection. Among the criteria for deciding whether or not a book is added to the collection are the following:

  • Currency of the information in the book
  • Condition of the book, e.g., tight binding, no pen marks or highlighting, no visible mold or other damage to the book
  • Whether or not the library already owns a copy of the book
  • Whether or not the item supports current research at Stevens or special collection areas of the library

Material not added to the collection is either discarded or placed into the book sale. Donations of entire libraries (50+ books) are not accepted from off-campus locations. Donations from faculty offices are accepted only after a librarian has visited the collection in order to estimate the value of the books to the library. The library does not guarantee that it will accept all or any of the titles from a large collection. Donors of books are responsible for delivering the material to the library.

Gift Books

If you would like to purchase books for the library in honor of a special occasion or as a remembrance, please contact Scott Smith for help with choosing material that would best suit both the intent of the gift and the research needs of the library. All gift books receive bookplates that list the givers' names and the reason for the gift.

Book Collection Development Policy

Mission and audience

The mission of the S.C. Williams Library is to serve as the Institute’s intellectual, cultural, and social center capitalizing on a resourceful staff and new technologies to foster a stimulating environment for teaching, learning, and scientific discovery by providing innovative services and authoritative resources

To support this mission, the book collection development policy of the S.C. Williams Library is designed to give the Stevens community guidelines for maintaining monograph resources that support the teaching and research needs of the institute. Maintenance of the library collection includes both the acquisition and removal of items according to their merits as resources for current research or their value in relation to the history of the institute, the Stevens family, or the community of Hoboken.

History and current state of the collection

The Stevens library began in the late 1800s as a makeshift collection of books and journals housed in the Edwin A. Stevens building. In 1920, the collection was moved to a dedicated space on the second floor of the Lieb building, and in 1969, the collection was moved to its current location in the S.C. Williams Library. The initial focus of the collection was on technical journals aimed at supporting the undergraduate mechanical engineering students. The subject matter of these journals covered a range of technological subjects outside of mechanical engineering. The focus of the collection moved away from journals in the 1980s and 1990s when, faced with large budget cuts, the library director made the radical decision to cancel most print journal subscriptions and use the serials budget to purchase copies of requested articles from other libraries or document delivery services. The Internet has improved accessibility to journal articles, and the library’s decision to cancel print journals has put it in a good position to use its physical space in combination with the World Wide Web to provide a broad range of book, journal, and database resources that support Stevens in its teaching and research missions. In lieu of maintaining a collection of print journals, the library focuses its collection efforts on the acquisition of supporting monograph material, whether it be secondary sources that supplement the required texts for classes or primary sources that are considered essential background reading for the disciplines taught at Stevens. Currency of material and ease of access to that material are the primary factors in maintaining the collection. Preservation is a secondary factor; with exceptions in regard to our special collections, the Stevens library is not an archival library, and it does not retain material for which there is no longer a demand from the community.

In addition to the resources available to all the community, the S.C. Williams Library also houses a number of special collections, including the Frederick Winslow Taylor papers on scientific management, the Stevens Institute archives, the Lieb collection of books relating to Leonardo da Vinci, numerous items of the Stevens family, as well copies of masters and doctoral dissertations and senior reports produced by Stevens students.

General collection policies

The oversight of collection development lies within the acquisitions and collection development department of the library; however, Stevens faculty are primarily responsible for ensuring that the collection stays current in regard to the research and teaching of the institute.

The library’s monograph collection policy gives preference to English-language material in print or electronic formats. Material in electronic format is purchased only if it is Web-based, i.e., not in CD-ROM or DVD format, and only if a site license is available. Library acquisitions are meant to supplement research and teaching, and not duplicate material that students are responsible for acquiring on their own, such as introductory textbooks. In addition, acquisitions should support the research needs of the departments at large or of collective efforts among the departments, rather than the specific needs of one individual’s research. Also, the library collects material that aids the administration of the institute in its role as a supporter of student life and promoter of academic excellence.

Examples of material that meet collection requirements include supplementary course material, books authored by leaders and innovators in the fields of technology, science, and management, and monograph series pertinent to the institute’s research interests. Print volumes of journals and conference proceedings are given lower priority: the library licenses a number of databases that index these items, and the interlibrary loan/document delivery services department can obtain copies of articles and papers that are not available online in the library databases. Lowest priority is given to general interest material, such as popular fiction, current event, and self-help titles. Students, faculty, and staff at the institute are entitled to borrowing privileges at the Hoboken Public Library, which collects material of this kind.

Traditional reference material, including handbooks and encyclopedias, is purchased in electronic format whenever possible, given the fact that print reference is non-circulating and the school serves a growing community of WebCampus and distance learning students.

Number of copies
With few exceptions, only single copies of print items are purchased. If circulation statistics indicate the need for extra copies of an item, the library will purchase these.

Special collection support
The library also obtains material that supports our special collections holdings. For example, material about United States industrial history supports our Taylor collection, and material on the history of railroads and nautical design supports our Stevens family and Hoboken collections. This material is placed in the circulating collection, and if it appears necessary, extra copies are purchased for storage in special collections.

The library actively removes titles from the collection in order to keep the collection up-to-date, to facilitate the location of material that remains in demand, and to ensure adequate shelf space for the collection. The choice of materials to be withdrawn is determined by the professional staff. Among the criteria considered when removing books from the collection are the followin

  • Demand based on circulation statistics
  • Number of copies of the title held by the library
  • Condition of the material
  • Possession by the library of later editions of a title, especially in regard to introductory works
  • Relevancy of the material to research, teaching or special collection interests of the institute
  • Number of copies held among New Jersey academic libraries

Beginning July 1, 2008, the acquisitions and collection development department will maintain a database of last copies, i.e., titles for which we are removing all of our copies, that will be available to faculty upon request to the department. Faculty may review this list and request that a title be replaced in the collection. At the end of the fiscal year, all titles not recalled by the faculty will be processed for discarding.


Scott Smith
Head of Acquisitions and Collection Development
Room 348
Phone: 201.216.5419
Fax: 201.216.8319


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