Skip Navigation Links
Collection Development Policy
                                                                              Back to Index
Selection Criteria

Selection Guidelines

Selectors will evaluate potential acquisitions by considering, but not limiting themselves to, the following criteria:

  • Importance of the subject matter to the collection as it relates to the mission of the library.
  • Appropriateness for the entire collection, including the filling of gaps in the existing collection.
  • Relation to other materials held and existing areas of coverage in order to maintain a well-balanced collection.
  • Reputation and significance of author, publisher, director, composer, artist, and/or other creator(s) of the work.
  • Evaluations or reviews in professionally recognized critical guides.
  • Price and value.
  • Target audience and potential value to library users.
  • Permanent value as source material.

The decision to add an item to the collection by purchase is usually the result of selection based on demand or need as identified by the following sections of the policy.

Selection based on demand

Patrons are invited to request the purchase of specific items by the library by submitting a "Request for the Addition of Material" form. The appropriate selector will then determine if the request conforms to the selection and directional guidelines outlined elsewhere in this policy statement. The selector will also check for available resources such as funding, and physical space.

Individuals making recommendations for the purchase of materials will be contacted when clarification is needed, when material does not seem to conform with the collection development policy, if an equivalent resource is already available, or if anticipated use can be satisfied by borrowing or acquiring materials in response to a user's request. Additional justification may be requested by the selector and, in the rare occasions that a point of difference cannot be reconciled, the matter will be referred to the Head of Collection Development and ultimately to the Chief Librarian. The final decision rests with the Chief Librarian, who must consider the special need of one individual or group against the need of the whole community.

Selection based on need

Library materials are also added to the collection for the purpose of updating and further developing certain subject areas. In addition to the criteria specified above, these materials are selected based on:

  • Results of analyses of the BA's collection
  • Standard bibliographies and lists, including, but not limited to:
    • Published lists of recommended materials for libraries and information centers
    • Guides to reference sources in various subjects
    • Lists of literary award winning titles or authors
    • Professional organization recommended reading lists
    • Union catalog listings of other libraries' collections, especially those well know for particular subject areas
  • Approval plans
  • Recommendation or approval by subject specialists or other experts. Other experts may include the managers or leaders of BA specialized projects, Special Libraries and Research Centers, ..., and others as authorized by the Chief Librarian from time to time.
General Guidelines

In addition to the above criteria, the general parameters defined below guide collection decisions. For detailed collecting policies for individual subject areas, and BA's special collections, see the appendices.

  • Languages collected: Materials will be acquired in Arabic, English and French. Materials in other languages will be considered on request.
  • Chronological: It is the goal of the library to provide the most recent and up-to-date material in all subject areas. For this reason, primary emphasis is on acquiring recently published materials. Historical and antiquarian materials will be acquired for certain special collections as defined in the appendices.
  • Geographic Guidelines: The Library purchases materials relating to all parts of the world. Primary emphasis is given to materials related to Egypt and the Middle East.
  • Formats collected: The library collects materials in all formats.
  • Multiple copies: Additional copies of materials are acquired only if the demand warrants. In general, the library does not acquire nor retain more than three (3) copies of individual items.

The library does not support educational curricula through the acquisition of textbooks, workbooks, or coursepacks. Study guides, sample examinations, compilations of solved problems, and similar items may be acquired subject to the criteria specified above and in the specific subject guidelines.

Format Guidelines


Hardbound / Paperbound books

Hardbound books are generally preferred to paperbacks but both types will be considered for purchase. Hardbound books are preferred for the library's special collections and other areas where permanence is desired. Acid-free, archival quality paper should be specified when acquiring hardbound books. Less expensive paperbacks are preferred for materials that go out of date quickly, such as standards, codes, and computer related materials.

Books with appended computer disks or CD-ROMs

The library selects books with accompanying computer material under the same evaluation criteria as for other materials. If the book is accompanied with a soft copy on a CD, that copy will be placed in the multimedia library while the book will remain in the main library. If the book is accompanied by a supplementary CD, both of them will be placed in the closed access area.


Textbooks may be added to the collection if they provide the best or only source of information on a subject, or to complement an existing area with another perspective.

Print Reference Works

Authoritative, up-to-date reference materials supply ready access to useful information and are kept together in a separate reference collection. The Library expects to satisfy general reference needs and provide limited research support through these materials. Reference materials collected by the BA include, but are not limited to:

Bibliographies and Guides to the Literature

National and major bibliographies and guides to subject literatures are purchased mainly to satisfy the needs of the Librarians to help provide access to material not physically present in the Library's collection.

Abstracting and Indexing Services

Print abstracting and indexing services are acquired only when a corresponding electronic database is not available.

Telephone Books

Because this type of information is readily available via the World Wide Web, telephone books are not generally collected, except for the Alexandria directory and a current copy of the Cairo directory. Prior years' Alexandria phone books will be held as part of the City of Alexandria collection.

Other Reference Books

The following types of materials are purchased as long as they fall within subject scope and serve a public need: almanacs, atlases, directories, encyclopedias, gazetteers, guides, handbooks, statistical compilations, tables, national and international standards, and local, national, and international codes.