National Library of Australia


Definition of the ALG collecting levels

The following is the list of collecting levels and their definitions used by libraries in the Australian Libraries Gateway to assess their collection against the ALG subjects. The definitions are broadly based on those developed by Australian libraries for use with the Conspectus assessment process. After consultation with a wide range of libraries and users, the National Library has replaced the numerical values with text headings to more clearly indicate collection depth in Australian libraries for users.

These collecting levels aim to provide a uniform way of describing the collections of Australian libraries. They provide a continuum from 'Minimal' through to the 'Research' level. These are not equal incremental steps, however, since the difference from one level to the next may be measured both in terms of quantity and quality and the amount of materials necessary to move from one level to the next greatly increases as one moves up the scale. In most instances, each successive level includes the elements, formats and characteristics of the previous levels.

The collecting levels are designed to apply uniformly to all subjects and reflect the changing nature of collection development in an electronic environment in which libraries are providing access to information through a range of sources covering their physical collection, commercial databases as well as access to Internet resources.

Electronic Resources

Electronic resources are equivalent to print materials at any level as long as the policies and procedures for their use permit at least an equivalent information-gathering experience. Electronic journals, whether remotely or locally stored, are at least equivalent to print journals if:

Similarly, a full text electronic archive of monographs, periodicals, images etc., whether loaded locally or accessed via the Internet, is also equal to the original format if patron access and cost are equal or superior to the print format for the same information or item.

The term defined access is used within collection strength indicators to mean more than simply providing library users with access to the Internet and one or more Internet browsers. Defined access refers to menu options on the library's or institution's Web interface, which link the user to owned or remotely accessed electronic resources selected by the library with the needs of its users in mind. The level of defined access changes according to the level of the collection, ie from limited to extensive to very extensive access to collections of electronic information.

Document delivery

Document delivery services that are not instantaneous are not the same as those providing immediate availability on site or electronically. The primary aim of the Australian Libraries Gateway is to collect information on resources owned by a library and those resources that are immediately accessible to the library user. Libraries should not include information in the assessments about resources that can be obtained on a delayed basis from another collection, library, or vendor, whether the delay is 10 hours or 10 days.

Non-print inclusions

Some topics require information on visual, audio and other non-print formats, whether at the basic level or beyond. Such topics include, but are not limited to, dance, music and the other performing arts. to determine the appropriate collection strength indicator to use for topics in which non-print resources are essential, add the phrase appropriate non-print media to the line detailing the collecting of monographs and reference works. For example, the 'Basic' level for a music collection would include "a limited collection of monographs, reference works and appropriate non-print media".

COLLECTING LEVEL DEFINITION
No details provided The default value of the subject strengths update form - where no selection is made, this option will be displayed. When no details are provided, users will not find your Library when they 'Search collections by subject'.
Nothing in this category Out of scope. The library does not intentionally collect materials in any format for this subject.
Minimal Collections that support minimal inquiries about the subject and include a very limited collection of general resources, including monographs and reference works. Periodicals directly dealing with this topic and in-depth electronic information resources are not collected.

The collection should be frequently and systematically reviewed for currency of information. Superseded editions and titles containing outdated information should be withdrawn. Classic or standard retrospective materials may be retained.

  • Few selections, systematic and an unsystematic representation of the subject
  • Supports limited, specific service needs
  • Includes basic authors, some core works and a spectrum of points of view
  • Consistently maintained even though coverage is limited
Basic Collections that introduces and defines a subject, indicates the varieties of information available elsewhere, and supports the needs of general library users, school, introductory level courses and some undergraduate instruction and information, but is not sufficiently intensive to support advanced undergraduate courses. Should include:

  • a limited collection of general monographs and reference tools;
  • a limited collection of representative general periodicals; and
  • defined access to a limited collection of owned or remotely-accessed electronic bibliographic tools, texts, data sets, journals, etc.

As well as limited collections of introductory monographs and reference tools that include:

  • basic explanatory works;
  • histories of the development of the topic;
  • general works about the field and its important personages; and
  • general encyclopedias, periodical indexes and statistical sources.

This collection is sufficient to support the inquiries attempting to locate general information about a subject.

Advanced basic Collections of general periodicals and a broader and more in-depth array of introductory monographs and reference tools that include:

  • basic explanatory works;
  • histories of the development of the topic;
  • general works about the field and its important personages;
  • a broader array of general encyclopedias, periodical indexes and statistical sources;
  • a limited collection of representative general periodicals; and
  • defined access to a limited collection of owned or remotely-accessed electronic bibliographic tools, texts, data sets, journals, etc.

This collection is sufficient to support students in basic courses as well as supporting the basic information needs of clients in public and special libraries.

Study - Basic Resources adequate for imparting and maintaining knowledge about the primary topics of a subject area that include:

  • a high percentage of the most important literature or core works in the field;
  • an extensive collection of general monographs and reference works;
  • an extensive collection of general periodicals and indexes/abstracts;
  • other than those in the primary collection language, materials are limited to learning materials for non-native speakers and representative well-known authors in the original language, primarily for language education; and
  • defined access to appropriate electronic resources.

This collection will support undergraduate instruction, as well as some independent study and work-based needs of the clientele of public and special libraries. It is not adequate to support postgraduate courses.

Study - Intermediate Resources adequate for imparting and maintaining knowledge about most topics in the subject area and providing more extensive coverage of the subject with a broader range of materials including some specialised materials. That is:

  • a high percentage of the most important literature or core works in the field, including retrospective materials;
  • an extensive collection of general monographs and reference works and selected specialised monographs and reference works;
  • an extensive collection of general periodicals and a representative collection of specialised periodicals and indexes/abstracts;
  • a selection of resources in other languages, including well-known authors in the original language; and
  • defined access to a broad range of specialised electronic resources.

This collection is adequate to support all undergraduate and most graduate course work, as well as more advanced independent study and the work based needs of the clients of public and special libraries.

Study - Advanced Resources adequate for imparting and maintaining knowledge about all aspects of the topic including specialised subject areas. These are more extensive than the intermediate level but less than those needed for doctoral level research. They include:

  • an almost complete collection of core works including significant numbers of retrospective materials and resources;
  • an extensive collection of both general and specialised monographs and reference works, including those by lesser-known, as well as well-known authors;
  • an extensive collection of both general and specialised periodicals and indexes/abstracts;
  • a selection of resources in other languages, including well-known authors in the original language and a selection of subject-specific materials in appropriate languages; and
  • defined access to a broad range of specialised electronic resources.

This collection supports master's degree and doctoral level programs as well as other specialised inquiries.

Research Collections that contain the major published source materials required for doctoral study and independent research include:

  • a very extensive collection of general and specialised monographs and reference works;
  • a very extensive collection of general and specialised periodicals;
  • extensive collections of appropriate materials in languages other than the primary language of the country and collection;
  • extensive collections of the works of both well-known and lesser-known authors; and
  • defined access to a very extensive collection of owned or remotely accessed electronic resources, including bibliographic tools, texts, data sets, journals, etc.

Older material is retained and systematically preserved to serve the needs of historical research.

The collection supports postgraduate and independent research and includes all major published source materials required.

Last modified: April 30 2009.