Print sources make up, and will continue to make up for the foreseeable future, the bulk of the collection. Even as the Internet and the World Wide Web grow at astounding rates, various factors -- including the capacity of existing telephone lines, copyright issues, and quality control -- guarantee that books and other print sources will remain a primary if not the primary medium of information for the time being.
Books make up the single largest part of the collection. Aside for the usual criteria that relate to content, they are selected according to factors such as durability (e.g. bound adequately and printed on acid-free paper), price, anticipated use, and the likelihood of continued currency of the information.
Subscriptions to periodicals are decided upon by the library faculty based upon the recommendations of the library Resources Committee. Decision factors for a periodical include cost, likelihood of use, importance in the discipline, and whether the item is indexed in databases available at the University of Michigan-Flint.
The library subscribes to several Michigan newspapers and out-of-state newspapers with a national focus. Back issues of the most heavily used newspapers will be kept on microfilm, CD-ROM, or other media. Because of limited usefulness and the ready availability of out-of-state newspapers at other area libraries and bookstores, the Thompson Library does not subscribe to newspapers from outside Michigan unless they are newspapers of record.
The library generally does not purchase textbooks. Instructors may request that textbooks be ordered with their department’s library acquisition funds, but ultimately the purchase decision remains at the discretion of the librarians. Only one copy of any textbook will be purchased. Faculty are encouraged to place textbooks on reserve to maximize access for students. Electronic textbooks may also be requested for purchase. Electronic books will either be unlimited-user or single-user titles depending on availability and cost.
Reprints of books are collected on the same basis as other books. Reprints of articles are not generally collected. Faculty who wish to make articles available to their students are advised to put the articles on reserve.
Theses and dissertations.
Copies of master’s theses completed by University of Michigan-Flint students are supplied to the library. Theses and dissertations by students unaffiliated with UM-Flint are not generally collected.
To the greatest extent possible, the library collects materials that are physically durable. Paperback copies of books, while usually less durable than hardcovers, are ordered when their cost, balanced against their projected circulation and continued currency, makes them a better buy.
The library collects a) microfilm copies of certain periodical subscriptions; b) microfilm versions of select books, papers, manuscripts, and archival materials; c) microfiche copies of ERIC documents; d) microfiche copies of select documents, e.g. corporate annual reports.
The Thompson Library maintains a modest collection of atlases. Topographic and geological maps of Michigan and local aerial photographs are collected. Road maps are collected very selectively.
No effort is made to collect pamphlets systematically. Any pamphlets that are acquired through donations or other means are put in the Faculty Selected Pamphlets collection.
Works of art are not generally purchased, but donations are accepted selectively. Works that are accepted are displayed at the discretion of the library faculty.
Posters are not collected; donations may be accepted on a selective basis.
Scores are collected selectively.
Audio and visual materials.
All such media fall under the collection policy of the Media Collection.
Most such media fall under the collection policy of the Media Collection. The library acquires some software, usually that which accompanies or supports print resources.
Tests are neither collected nor accepted as donations. Faculty wishing to make tests available to their students are advised to place them on reserve.
Indexes and abstracts (print).
Continuing subscriptions to print indexes and abstracts is based upon: a) Their usefulness to scholarship at the University of Michigan-Flint, and b) whether the subject matter is adequately indexed in an electronic product to which the library subscribes.
Electronic formats are increasingly important in the pursuit of knowledge. In many cases they are superior in quality to, and a better value than, the print media that they supplement or replace. The Thompson Library will acquire, organize, preserve, and make accessible, irrespective of format, knowledge and information essential to the intellectual endeavors of the University community no matter where they are located, and to non-University users of the library. It works from the principle that knowledge and information in electronic format should be as accessible as that in printed forms. The library provides unauthenticated access at the network level to resources it chooses to offer in electronic format. Any authentication required by contract, for security, or for other reasons, is at the resource, not the network, level.
Nevertheless, the availability of electronic media does not eliminate the problem of scarce financial resources. Many if not most written works (e.g. books still under copyright) will not be available for the foreseeable future in electronic form, and will probably not be available for free in any form for decades. Those that are published in electronic format are often accessible only for a fee, or are works already in the public domain. Many factors must be weighed in deciding whether to acquire a particular electronic work.
The Thompson Library maintains a website with links to free and subscription-based resources as well as locally produced documents. The website is maintained by one or more librarians or staff, and selections for hyperlinks to it are made by the librarians. External links are considered parts of the library's collection.
Indexes and abstracts (electronic).
The Thompson Library leases several CD-ROM databases and subscribes to several electronic databases through Mirlyn and other sources. The following factors are weighed in deciding whether to subscribe to a particular database:
- Perceived need or the likelihood of use
- Ease of use
- The library’s holdings of periodicals indexed in that database
A long-term goal is to provide departmental faculty with unmediated electronic access to the key abstracting or indexing services in their respective disciplines.
Electronic journals are a fast-growing area of the information industry and of the Thompson Library's collection. The library seeks to expand its collection of electronic journals. Because of the difficulty of maintaining and making accessible individual online journals, the library will, whenever possible, give preference to packages of electronic journals over single titles. It also strongly prefers electronic resources that are accessible off campus through EZProxy or some other relatively transparent user authorization process. Resources that are inaccessible off campus or are remotely accessible only with a generic username and password will be licensed extremely selectively, if at all.