Collection Design

The Oliver Wendell Holmes Library collection design policy has been created to define the scope of the resources the Library makes available to patrons. It is intended as a guiding document for the library staff in the maintenance, management, and curation of currently held and actively acquired materials going forward. This policy is dynamic and is reviewed routinely for relevancy and accuracy.

About the Library

The Oliver Wendell Holmes Library is located on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover Massachusetts, a private, co-educational secondary school with approximately 1,100 students. The library serves the needs of all students, as well as faculty, staff and their families. In addition, the library lends to and borrows from other libraries in the North of Boston Library Exchange (NOBLE), a consortium of public and academic libraries.

Collection Design at the OWHL

The collection supports:

  • Curriculum - We support curriculum taught at the Academy, and provide resources aligned with study and endeavor in all subject areas. Instructional librarians work closely with department faculty to support information literacy across the curriculum, to develop critical thinking skills, and encourage independent inquiry in and out of the classroom. Faculty members are invited to co-develop in specific areas, which ensures that the collection supports the curriculum as it exists and/or changes.
  • Institutional Research - We support the diverse information and research needs of the Academy as a learning community. In addition to curriculum support, the collection design policy supports the learning and development needs of the institution as a whole.
  • Makerspace Programming - We support equipment and supplies for interactive, experiential learning with an emphasis on design thinking, creativity, and problem solving. Materials are provided for the hands-on application of research, community-driven projects, and innovation.
  • Recreational Activity - We support recreational reading, relaxation, and the goal of lifelong learning with the understanding that inspiration can come from anywhere. Materials such as museum passes, graphic novels, and other resources which may not necessarily support the curriculum but serve as a recreational pursuit will also be acquired based on the need and interest of the campus community.
  • Archival - We support the Academy archives and special collections housed at the library, and their development, management, and design falls under the purview of the Academy Archivist and the Library Director.
Selection Process & Criteria

Library liaisons continuously monitor their assigned subject/content areas. Acquisition decisions are made after assessing reviews, publications, and a thorough analysis of material and content. This assessment is completed in collaboration with faculty in specific disciplines. Materials selection may include students, staff, and external partners, such as consortia collaborators or vendors with authority to remove and/or add electronic titles.

It is the policy of the OWHL to collect material by Andover Alumni/ae Authors. We encourage and welcome the sharing of new works, as we are not always aware when new materials are published.

It is the policy of the OWHL to honor all faculty/staff requests, and all student requests within reason.

The Library Liaisons consider a complex set of criteria when making a recommendation. These criteria include:

  • Alignment with Curriculum/Research Needs
  • Currency
  • Quality
  • Cost
  • Format
  • Authority
  • Need
  • Longevity
  • Access
  • Language
  • Age appropriateness
Donations and Gifts

It is the policy of the OWHL to accept donations from community members. Donated materials will be reviewed by a Library Liaison. Only materials that meet the selection criteria will be added to the collection. There is no guarantee that donated materials will be added to the collection. There is also no guarantee that materials added to the collection will remain in the collection indefinitely. Donated materials may be deaccessioned and will not be returned to the donor. All accepted materials will be given a bookplate with the donor name, if appropriate, and an acknowledgement of receipt.

Gifts of funds for particular collections, resources, and memorials are always welcome. Funds so contributed will be used in accordance with usual selection procedures, and acknowledgment formally made by the appropriate Director and an agent of the Office of Academy Resources.

Types of materials collected:
  • Books (print and electronic)
  • Periodicals (print and electronic)
  • Reference Materials (print and electronic)
  • Subscription Databases
  • Data Sets
  • Technical Equipment
  • Recreational
  • Student Research
  • Art
  • Maps
  • DVDs
  • Forms and Fiche

The majority of resources are in English; however, there are many world language materials in support of the curriculum and for recreational reading and viewing. Other languages in the OWHL holdings include, but are not limited to, Latin, Greek, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Chinese, and Japanese.


Deaccessioning materials is an ongoing and necessary activity in order to manage the collections efficiently and responsibly. Similar to the acquisition of a resource, library liaisons rely on an established set of criteria when making deselection decisions. These include:

  • Authority
  • Currency and/or historical value
  • Support of Curriculum
  • Condition
  • Value
  • Number of copies
  • Usage data
  • Format
  • Electronic/Digital Availability

Deaccessioning materials should be a continuous activity within subject areas by librarian liaisons, preferably with input from faculty members in various departments. If the process is continuous, it will expose gaps in the collection and keep all collections useful and current.


The OWHL supports the “Freedom to Read Statement”, as created by the ALA, and references it in collection development work. In the event that a patron challenges or questions a library holding or purchase, the Library Director will make the final decision on whether to keep or discard the material.


This policy has been created by staff at the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library, after conducting a literature review and accessing resources provided by the American Library Association. We acknowledge with appreciation the librarians of the Eight Schools Association, especially the Phillips Exeter Library.