Reference Collection Management Policy


The Stewart Library’s reference collection is designed to meet the basic instruction, research and information needs of the university community. Priority will be given to those resources which specifically support university curriculum areas and those subject areas necessary for general information requests. Where possible, the library will provide resources that support the full range of instruction, research, and administrative activities.



Subject reference materials are selected by subject bibliographers with oversight by the Head of Reference & Information Services. General reference materials and those subjects not covered by bibliographers are selected by the Head of Reference & Information Services.

In general, reference materials will be limited to resources that:

a. Provide brief factual information
b. Provide citations or fulltext access to information in other sources

While print is still an important format for reference resources the growth of distance education and the new Davis campus, as well as the needs of a student body composed largely of working commuters predicate the provision of as many resources as possible in electronic format available from off-campus.

The Reference Collection is used by Librarians and patrons and should be arranged for efficient and effective use by both. Items defined as reference will vary from subject to subject in accordance with discipline specific collection policies. However, in general, resources placed in reference should be of a more general nature. For example: The Encyclopedia of Philosophy belongs in the reference collection but an encyclopedia on Aristotle should be placed in the circulating collection.


Selection Guidelines:

General selection guidelines include, but are not limited to:

  • Anticipated use
  • Authority and reputation of work, publisher, author
  • Format Currency of information
  • Ease of use
  • Cost

A. Type

The library will collect typical reference resources such as: almanacs, encyclopedias, dictionaries, grammar & usage handbooks, atlases, statistics, style guides, career information, and citation and fulltext databases. Because of the availability of information on the web and the problem of currency, directories will be collected only if they cover information not easily available online.

B. Format

Where possible materials will be added in web-accessible format and made available for off-campus use via the library’s proxy server. Otherwise materials will be added to the print collection. CD-ROMS will be added only when the material is both crucial and not easily available via the web or in print. (See the Electronic Resources Policy for more information on selection procedures for electronic resources.)

C. Language

Preference is for English language materials. Exceptions include foreign language dictionaries and encyclopedias. Other exceptions may be made to support university programs and general reference work.

D. Chronological Coverage

The collection will cover all time periods as necessary and feasible to provide reference support for the university curriculum and general reference needs.

E. Currency

Reference materials should be kept as up-to-date as possible based on use patterns, currency of the materials contained and financial constraints. Collection should be reviewed and weeded on an ongoing basis.

F. Geographical Coverage

Coverage will focus on those areas included in the university curriculum. Basic coverage of all areas will be maintained for general reference needs.

Reference Material at the Davis Campus Library.
Given the small physical space of the current Davis Campus Library and the fact that WSU Davis is a commuter campus, electronic reference materials accessible on and off-campus via the web will be preferred. A small ready reference print collection will be maintained. Other print reference material may be added as needed to support instruction and for general information. (Reviewed & revised 2003)