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Borrow & Renew

Collection Development


Revised January 2014

Mission and audience

The Samuel C. Williams Library is the center for information discovery and preservation at Stevens Institute of Technology. Its staff are dedicated to fostering an innovative environment with technology, education and culture. It is our goal to create a distinctive library experience through services and resources that promote information and media literacy, knowledge creation, global scholarly communication, and critical and creative thinking for our students, faculty, and researchers around the world.

To support this mission, the print book collection development policy of the Samuel 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 that support current research and academic programs 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 Samuel C. Williams Library building. 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 cancelled most of its print journal subscriptions and used the serials budget to purchase copies of requested articles via document delivery. 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, including textbooks, supplementary course material, or other primary sources that are considered essential background reading for the disciplines taught at Stevens.

The currency of the material and ease of access to that material are the primary factors in maintaining the collection. Preservation is a secondary factor. Excepting 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 Samuel 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 Acquisitions and Collection Development Department oversees the library’s circulating and reference material. This department is responsible for ordering, cataloging and weeding of material; however, the library does not have subject specialists on staff, and the Stevens faculty are 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. A separate e-book and non-serial electronic media collection policy outlines the library’s decision-making criteria for this material. Library acquisitions are meant to supplement research and teaching. 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 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 quickly 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 provides material of this kind. The library will not acquire self-published titles, vanity press editions or works of a scholarly nature that have not been peer-reviewed or professionally edited.

Print reference resources, including handbooks and encyclopedias, are purchased in electronic format whenever possible, given the fact that print reference is non-circulating and the school serves a large 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 discovery of material that remains in demand, and to ensure a balance between shelf space and study space. 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 following:

  • 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 textbooks

  • Relevancy of the material to research, teaching or special collection interests of the institute

  • Number of copies held among New Jersey academic libraries, i.e., last copy status.


Gifts of new books that meet the criteria of the collection development policy are accepted. Bookplates are available for memorial or honorary gifts. If desired, the collection development librarian will help in the selection of an appropriate book to be given as a gift.

Donations of used books

The library is not currently accepting donations of used books.

For more information contact the Acquisitions & Collections Development Department