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Library Policies

Plough Library Collection Statement

Mission Statement and Objectives

In line with the Lasallian values of faith, service, and community, Plough Library provides collections, services, and inclusive spaces to encourage learning, teaching, and research for the entire Christian Brothers University community.

The Library acquires and provides resources in analog and digital formats to support teaching, personal study, and research in all the University’s programs: Arts, Business, Engineering, Sciences, and Adult Professional Studies. In addition, the Library acquires and provides resources that encourage CBU’s community in its pursuit of the betterment of society and the care of God’s creation. The Library collects materials in all areas that may be of interest to the CBU community, including those that may contain controversial ideas.

American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights

Plough Library adheres to the principles of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights.

Budget and Funding

Plough Library’s budget is managed by the Director. The portion of the overall budget devoted to each kind of resource included in the Library’s collections changes from year to year. As with most libraries, more funds are devoted each year to database subscriptions, which provide access to a wide array of electronic books, periodicals, reference works, multimedia content, etc. This leaves less money available for print materials. Some acquisitions are funded by grants given through individual departments or schools. CBU’s Brother I. Leo O’Donnell Archives shares personnel with Plough Library but operates under a separate budget. The Director also oversees the Archives budget.

Selection Personnel and Criteria

All ordering decisions ultimately rest with the Library Director. The Acquisitions Librarian places and receives most orders for physical items. Each librarian has several assigned subject areas and serves as liaison to those departments or schools. All library staff members contribute suggestions for additions to Plough’s collections and relay requests from other members of the CBU community as they receive them.

The Library develops its collections in relation to user needs by providing access to essential literature supporting teaching and learning in all disciplines the University addresses. In light of CBU’s institutional goals, primary emphasis is placed on materials that support undergraduate education. The Library strives to provide ample resources for students enrolled in classes across the University’s curriculum. Secondary emphasis supports graduate education, followed by faculty research. Understandably, there is overlap in all three areas.

Staff members use a variety of tools to determine items for ordering. Primary among them are:

  1. Input from faculty as well as from students and staff,
  2. Review sources such as Choice Reviews, Library Journal, etc.,
  3. Publisher catalogs, and
  4. Awards lists.

Priorities for new acquisitions are:

  1. Requests by faculty for classes,
  2. Curricular needs identified by library staff,
  3. Collection needs identified by library staff,
  4. Extracurricular requests from CBU community members, and
  5. Other needs as they arise.

Format may be analog or digital, depending on the discipline. The Library avoids purchasing duplicates of physical items. For the last several years, the Library has given increasing preference to electronic periodicals over print versions. Moreover, as both long-range University goals for the development of a robust Distance Education program and unforeseen external circumstances have led to an increased reliance on online course delivery, the Library has shifted its attention to electronic versions of monographs as well. Analog materials are still added but at a slower rate. Finally, the electronic format is now preferred for reference works. Very few print materials will be added to Plough Library’s reference collection going forward.

Relevance to the curriculum and other institutional goals and values, cost, and format are the primary selection criteria. In addition to these, staff rely on other standard selection criteria in determining what to add to the collections. Included here are availability, authority, etc. For instance, although the Library strives to include a diversity of voices in its collected materials, preference will always be given to authorities in their fields. Preference also will be given to those materials that are more readily available at reasonable cost and in the desired format.

Most of the materials in our collections are in English. The Library does collect some resources in other languages, primarily to provide support for students who take foreign language classes either at CBU or other area universities. We also collect some non-English materials for recreational reading.

Electronic Resources

Plough Library has placed increasing emphasis on its e-resource collections. This emphasis applies especially to periodicals and reference works. It is also increasingly applicable to monographs. Each year the Library devotes more funds to important databases, e-book collections, and other relevant electronic resources.

The Library strives to balance the need for provision to a wide array of resources relevant to the various disciplines included in CBU’s curriculum and the desire to provide as much access to these resources as possible. Striking the right balance between the two considering available funds guides the Library Director’s negotiations with vendors on e-resource licenses. Most electronic resources are available to community members both on- and off-campus, but many of the available e-books, for instance, can only be accessed by a few individuals at a time. Moreover, the Library requires all users to abide by the copyright restrictions pertaining to the sharing and reproduction of our electronic resources.

Plough Library ensures access to the online collection through regular activation and configuration of electronic resources, placing them in relevant finding aids, and their consistent review and maintenance on an ongoing basis. This process is managed by the Electronic Resources Librarian.

Collection Maintenance and Evaluation

Plough Library ensures the currency of its physical collections through a continuous inventory process that identifies items for removal and replacement. This process is overseen by the Acquisitions Librarian with input from all library staff. Moreover, access to the physical collections is maintained through the addition and editing of bibliographic records in the online catalog. This process is conducted by the Technical Services Librarian.

Criteria for removal differ for electronic and print resources. For the former, funding limitations and the need for other resources, currency, and technological aspects and functionality are the main evaluative categories. Sometimes, after cancellation, the Library retains access to electronic journal issues for the dates of subscription. For the latter, only the second criterion listed above (i.e. currency) obtains. Added here, however, are spatial limitations, the physical condition of items, and the availability of electronic versions. All librarians contribute to deaccessioning materials from the collections, especially in their assigned subject areas.

Donation and Gift Book Policies

Plough Library accepts donations and adds many gifted books to its collections. Donations must meet the same selection criteria as any items purchased for the collections. Materials in poor condition or those containing out-of-date information are not accepted. Other primary reasons for exclusion are that the item does not advance the collection in light of the institution’s goals and values or that the Library already has a copy of the item. The Library is not responsible for establishing the value of donated materials. Moreover, in making the donation, the donor agrees that the Library will have sole discretion in the use, display, and disposition of these items.

Archives and Digital Collections

The Brother I. Leo O'Donnell Archives trace CBU's history since its founding in 1871. In addition, it houses these special collections:

  • The Edward F. Barry Collection
  • The Reverend John Joseph Higgins Collection
  • CBU Faculty-Staff Publications and Artistic Achievements

Library staff members manage the Archives and encourage the donation of materials that might be appropriate additions to these collections. Staff members will evaluate these materials upon donation to determine whether to include them. In addition, materials from these collections are being digitized over time. A policy for our digital collections will be developed and published when these materials are made public.

Interlibrary Loan and Consortium Borrowing

The Library emphasizes undergraduate education, graduate education, and faculty research in its collection development, in that order. Faculty with very specialized needs are directed to interlibrary loan. Other community members have access to this service as well. The Interlibrary Loan Coordinator manages interlibrary borrowing and lending.

The Library enhances its holdings through lending agreements with Memphis area academic libraries. Consortial lending is maintained by Plough Library’s membership in the Memphis Area Library Council (MALC). CBU community members have borrowing privileges with several area schools including but not limited to the University of Memphis, Rhodes College, Lemoyne-Owen College, and Southwest Tennessee Community College. Additionally, the Library maintains lending agreements with academic libraries throughout the state of Tennessee through its membership in the Tennessee Academic Library Cooperative (TALC).

Membership in these consortia and the access it provides to other academic library collections influence collection decisions at Plough Library.

Collection Development Policy Revision

This policy is regularly reviewed and periodically updated. The current version was approved by library staff during the summer of 2020.


Plough Library · Christian Brothers University
Library Hours

650 E Parkway S, Memphis, TN 38117 · (901) 321-3432