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Collection Development and Management

Approval plans

An approval plan is an arrangement whereby a bookseller (using a pre-determined set of parameters known as a profile) automatically ships books to a library for on-site review and/or provides title announcements (notification slips) sent in lieu of books. Books sent on approval may then be kept for the collection or returned to the bookseller. Judicious use of approval plans can be a valuable asset to a collection development program. With careful profiling and review of materials, approval plans have proven to be especially useful for building core collections, as well as for ensuring collection breadth.

Chief virtues of approval plans are:

  • they help compensate for unevenness brought about when individual selectors haven't the time to attend to reviewing the publishing output of their fields
  • they provide for collection in areas where selectors are absent or on leave
  • they alleviate some of the workload involved in reviewing tens of thousands of items annually for possible addition to the collection
  • they allow selectors to make individual acquisitions decisions with materials-in-hand
  • they underwrite the development of objectives and profiles for a programmatic approach to selection
  • they promote a connection between title-by-title and programmatic decision-making in the profile review process
  • they allow for purchase of material at quantity discounts
  • they are useful for projecting costs.

For approval plans to work well, however, incoming materials have to be carefully reviewed, and profiles need to be routinely and systematically assessed through review of returns lists, post-profiling materials received in other ways, and through periodic comparison of past receipts with lists of materials that would or should have been ordered were no plan in place.

Vassar has several approval plans with a variety of vendors. Our largest approval plan is with YBP Library Services, our major supplier of in-print academic English-language books. The YBP approval plan combines three elements: a targeted publisher list, a defined set of non-subject parameters, and subject-specific instructions (organized by Library of Congress classification). Based on these elements, books are shipped weekly to the Library; in addition, the Library also receives notification slips for a broader category of publishers and subjects.

We also have specialized literature plans with Casalini Libri (Italian literature) and Harassowitz (German literature) which ship books automatically. There is also an approval book plan for art exhibition catalogs through Worldwide Books.

For more information on Vassar’s approval plans, please contact Debra Bucher, (845) 437-5763.