Collection Development Policy

Part I: Goals and Mission

The Fineman and Pappas Law Libraries’ principal mission in collecting and maintaining library resources is to support the instructional and research needs of our primary patrons: the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the Boston University School of Law.

The law library’s mission also extends to the wider Boston University community. Boston University encourages interdisciplinary approaches to scholarship and learning with many formal and informal bridges between departments and schools. Because almost any field of study can have a legal component, the law school is an active participant in Boston University’s interdisciplinary programs and initiatives. As a result, the law library serves not only as a library for the law faculty and students, but as the law library for the entire Boston University community. Our collections provide access to a broad range of resources on law and on law’s intersections with other disciplines.

In addition to developing its own electronic and print collections, the law library actively participates in campus, regional, and national programs for cooperative collection sharing and development, including various consortia.  Campus-wide access to legal materials, increasingly via reliance on electronic databases, is provided through cooperative arrangements with other Boston University libraries.

The goals of this policy are:

  1. To document the law library’s current collection philosophies, policies, and practices.
  2. To provide guidance to all those involved in developing the collection.
  3. To inform library staff, law school administrators, faculty, and students of the collection emphases and criteria for evaluating new materials and formats.
  4. To provide guidance for deselection decisions.


PART II: Criteria and Process

Selection criteria

The law librarians should take the following into account when considering resources to add to the collection:

  • Subject area, including the following:
    • Importance to collection
    • Importance to the law school curriculum, program emphases, and faculty scholarship
    • Likelihood of use
    • Current and permanent value
  • Initial cost
  • Maintenance of resource, including monetary cost and staff time
  • Currency of resource and frequency of updates
  • Authoritativeness of title and publisher
  • Authoritativeness and reputation of author
  • Format, including user interface if the format is electronic
  • Scarcity of material
  • Duplication of material in our collection and elsewhere on campus
  • Long-term access to material and preservation issues
  • Space within the library

These criteria may considered along with other factors the library deems appropriate when reviewing resources for the collection.


Scope of coverage

The library provides access to primary materials for the United States federal government and all fifty states, with a particular collection emphasis on primary materials for the United States federal government, Massachusetts, and a small group of core states.  These core states include Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, California, and New York. In addition, the library may collect materials for states where the law is either unique or influential, such as the Delaware law of corporations.

The library also collects foreign, comparative, and international law.  These collections are based on the needs of the law school curriculum, students, and faculty.  We focus on the subject areas listed below and collect primarily comparative and international law.

The library collects in a wide range of subject areas based on the needs and focuses of the law school curriculum, student needs, and faculty research.  We also consider the needs of the Boston University community and interdisciplinary topics as they intersect with law.  We focus our collection most heavily in the following areas based on the law school’s current programs and emphases:

  • Banking and finance law
  • Corporate, business, and transactional law
  • Health law
  • Intellectual property law
  • Tax law

In addition, we primarily collect in the following areas, based on the law school’s current areas of study.

  • Administrative, regulatory, and public law
  • Civil litigation and alternative dispute resolution
  • Civil rights and constitutional law
  • Criminal law
  • Employment and labor law
  • Entertainment and sports law
  • Environmental law
  • Family law, gender, and sexuality
  • Housing, real estate, and land use
  • Immigration and human rights law
  • International and comparative law
  • Legal history and jurisprudence

We also regularly refer to the web page maintained by the law school that discusses current areas of study and regularly review the other programs the law school offers, including LLM programs, dual degrees, online certificates, clinics, JD concentrations, and journals to update this policy.  The library also supports the various centers and institutes at the law school, including the Moring Center for Banking and Financial Law and the Institute of Jewish Law.


Selection Process

The Collection Services department facilitates the review of book slips from Yankee Book Peddler’s GOBI program, Hein’s “green slips” program, new publication alerts from publishers, and book reviews from various sources.  The department also with legal publishers to maintain our collection of continually updated materials and, in conjunction with the Legal Information Librarians, reviews our current subscriptions for renewal or cancellation each year.

The Legal Information Librarians conduct individual reviews of materials specific to their subject areas and review materials as a group in regular meetings with the other librarians.  These reviews, faculty and student requests, and new information about faculty scholarship, research, teaching, and law schools programs, help guide the development of the collection.  The Collection Services department maintains the “Featured Books” page on the library website and produces a monthly Recent Acquisitions list to ensure patrons are informed of new resources.

The Legal Information Librarians help identify faculty to notify about specific new resources.  Through the liaison program, the Legal Information Librarians also regularly reach out to the clinical programs, LLM faculty, and other special programs in the law school to notify them of resources.   Faculty names are noted during the order process and/or when materials have actually been received or activated by the library.  Faculty are notified of the acquisition after the titles have been cataloged.


Choice of Format

Legal information is published in a variety of formats, including electronic, print, and microform. Increasingly, the law library relies on electronic resources in order to provide broader access to information, enhanced searching, and better retrieval capabilities.  When reviewing resources, the law librarians should consider what format is most appropriate for the resource.  Factors to consider include ease of use in print and electronic formats, user preference, cost, ease of access, preservation issues, and whether the resource will be used for distance education.



The library attempts to replace materials that are missing or damaged.  Replacement decisions are based on the importance of the title; other titles in the collection on the same topic; and duplication of the title in other formats and locations.



The library collects materials in microform very selectively for infrequently used materials, mainly as a duplicate format and to provide permanent access for materials such as records and briefs, legal newspapers, selected U.S. government and congressional documents, and international organization documents.  The library will select a microform version of a title when it is not available electronically at a reasonable price; the size, expense, infrequency of use, or unavailability precludes its addition in print; or permanent copies would be bulky or subject to deterioration in print.


Audio and Visual

Audio and video are occasionally acquired, often at the special request of faculty members. The library will attempt to obtain the material via the Krasker Film/Media Services collection. If the item is not available via Krasker, the library may purchase the item if available in CD or DVD format and reasonably priced.


Periodicals and Treatises

The library provides access to continuing resources, including treatises and periodicals, in print and electronically.  We will collect the resource in print based on facility of use, user preference, unavailability of an electronic version, and ease of access.  We provide access to a large percentage of our periodicals and treatises online through services such as HeinOnline, Bloomberg BNA, IntelliConnect and Cheetah, Westlaw, and LexisAdvance, and other databases.



Duplication may occur with print materials and electronic materials, especially as the library moves towards book packages and large research databases.  Duplication may also occur with our collection and the collections of other Boston University libraries.  The library avoids duplication of material when possible unless duplication is warranted due to the popularity or importance of a title, use of a title by a class, or multiple faculty requests.



The library is committed to building a current and retrospective scholarly legal research collection in print and electronic formats. The collection development process involves decisions not only about what to acquire, but also what to retain, withdraw or move from active areas of the collection to storage. The print collection is continually reviewed to decide what can be withdrawn or relocated to reflect changes in institutional goals or programs, availability in electronic formats, usage, space limitations, increasing cost, duplication, obsolescence, and the condition of materials.



The library accepts gifts that fit within the collection guidelines. Duplicate copies or replacement copies are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Factors considered in determining whether to accept gifts include the value to the collection, the condition of the materials, the affiliation of the donor, and whether the gift will require updating or other expenditure of funds.

Usually the library accepts donations with the understanding that no conditions be attached to the donated materials. The library determines the classification, housing and circulation of all gift items and retains the flexibility to dispose of gifts at any time and in a manner deemed appropriate. Gift items may be bookplated if requested by the donor.

Monetary donations are also welcomed and can be used to develop the collection in specific areas. All inquiries about gift donations, policies and procedures should be referred to the Associate Director for Systems and Collection Services.


PART III: Collections

Reserve and Reference Desk Collections

The law library adds certain types of print materials to the permanent reserve collection, e.g. current editions of West hornbooks, substantive study aids, and dictionaries, classic and standard treatises, current Restatements, and selected MCLE publications. The Reserve collection includes current legal research and writing materials acquired by the library.  The library primarily collects study aids in electronic format whenever possible for ease of student access.

Additionally, the library maintains a course reserve collection.  These materials are temporarily housed in the reserve collection to support the direct needs of course instruction.  Materials are requested by faculty through direct communication with library staff or through bookstore lists for required and recommended materials. Quantities are determined by class size and anticipated faculty use.  Current supplementation is purchased for casebooks on reserve, if available.  Statutory supplements are purchased as required.  Unless expressly requested by faculty, teacher’s manuals are not purchased.  The law library augments the print reserve collection with online resources, and where appropriate, the law library utilizes online-only resources for reserves.

Personal copies (non-library owned materials) are placed on reserve at the request of faculty. All personal copies are returned to the faculty member at the end of the course.

The library maintains a small collection of ready reference materials adjacent to the reference desk consisting of directories, citation manuals, dictionaries and other popular sources that legal information librarians use frequently.


Law School Archives

The library maintains a collection of Boston University School of Law materials produced by and about the law school. The collection includes alumni magazines and directories, course listings, school catalogs, faculty bibliographies, photo books, periodicals, ephemera, etc. Limited memorabilia, such as programs for memorial services and law school events, are also collected.

Faculty and alumni writings are in the main library collection and not in the archives, unless the physical condition lends itself to archival treatment.


Massachusetts Collection

Primary and secondary materials for the state of Massachusetts are housed apart from the rest of the collection for ease of use.  This Massachusetts collection is located in the Tax Reading Room in the Pappas section of the library.


Clinics and Greater Boston Legal Services

Books and materials to support the clinical programs are collected as part of our regular collection development process. In addition, the law library, in coordination with the clinical programs, purchases materials for a small library of practice materials located in the clinical offices in the law school and their offices in downtown Boston at Greater Boston Legal Services. Selection of titles is done by clinical faculty and the program directors in conjunction with library staff.


Office and Personal Copies

The library generally does not purchase copies of titles for faculty offices due to expense and the limitations on access.  If the cost is reasonable, materials requested for long-term office use are purchased and cataloged for the library collection and checked out to the faculty member interested in the title.

The library acquisitions staff will order personal copies for faculty members when they are difficult to obtain or are needed on a rush basis.  Faculty members reimburse the library for these orders.  Personal copies of serials and other continuing titles are not ordered by the library.

Upon request, and with the approval of the Library Director, the library will purchase a title for a law school departmental office.  The library purchases a small number of current legal directories and other resources for the Career Development Office.


PART IV: Updating this Policy

This policy will be regularly updated by the Associate Director for Systems and Collection Services, working in conjunction with other law librarians and law library staff.  Through regular reviews of law school programs, the law school curriculum, student needs, and faculty scholarship, the library staff shall ensure that the law library’s collections are meeting the needs of the law school.

The law library anticipates that this policy will shift over time to reflect changing needs and attitudes towards material format and subject matter.  It is vital that the library and this policy remain flexible and change with the needs of our patrons.