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Collection Development Policy

Table of Contents 

  1. Introduction
    1. Purpose
    2. Institution and Clientele
    3. Mission and Goals
    4. Intellectual Freedom and Censorship
  2. Overview of the Collection
    1. History of the Collection
    2. Areas of Emphasis
    3. Collection Locations
  3. Restrictions
  4. Organization of Collection Management and Development Program
  5. Priorities
  6. General Guidelines by Subject




       Liberal Arts

  1. Other General Guidelines








Editions and recorded versions

VIII. Guidelines by Type and Format of Material

    1. Books
    2. Periodicals
    3. Newspapers
    4. Periodical Indexes
    5. Juvenile materials
    6. Reprints
    7. Maps
    8. Dissertations and theses
    9. Microforms
    10. Pamphlets
    11. Photocopies
    12. Posters
    13. Printed Music
    14. Sound recordings
    15. Video recordings
    16. Performing ensemble music
    17. Rare books
    18. Manuscripts
    19. Scripts and librettos
    20. Special categories of materials

IX. Electronic Resources




Preferred Formats and Access


Cooperative Relationships


Deselection and Preservation of the Collection




Complaints & Challenges


Related Policies


Approval Process

The Boston Conservatory, Albert Alphin Library Collection Development Policy

Revised edition, 12/10
Jennifer Hunt, Library Director

I. Introduction

A. Purpose

This policy outlines in detail the standards for the current and future information needs of the community served by the Albert Alphin Library. This document communicates the collection policies and goals of the library to administrators, faculty, and students. It will note the library’s effort to assist in the research needs of students and faculty through interlibrary loan (ILL) and research assistance. This policy will provide guidelines for selection and de-selection of the evolving collection at TBC, as well as the management of special collections and gifts, so that the collection will continually meet the Conservatory community’s educational requirements. The policy will also address the sound recordings and the various media in which the library’s collections exist. This document will also serve as support and to help prioritize future budget requests.

B. Institution and Clientele

Established in 1867, The Boston Conservatory is an independent private college offering undergraduate programs in music performance, composition, dance, and musical theater. Graduate and diploma programs are offered in music performance, opera, music education, and musical theater.  Students are prepared for a variety of positions in the fields of music, dance, and theater, all augmented by the liberal arts, by professors who remain active contributors in their fields.

The library plays a central role in the task of preparing students in a professional and practical manner, maintaining and gathering collections to augment all aspects of their studies. The primary goal of the library collection is to provide materials for students enrolled in Conservatory programs and to support faculty preparation for these programs. Within the scope of its resources, the library collects, organizes, maintains, and disseminates the many forms of information and knowledge to enhance the educational and professional experiences of faculty and students. The collection is a source of information resources to serve the musical, theatrical, dance and liberal arts interests and requirements of Conservatory students.  Besides serving the Conservatory community, alumni and members of the Pro-Arts Consortium and area schools may use library resources. Anyone outside of these parameters may schedule an appointment with the Library Director to visit the library.

C. Mission and Goals

The Albert Alphin Library is the main research facility for TBC. The library supports the mission of the Conservatory by assisting the students and faculty of the Conservatory with their educational and artistic pursuits. It is the mission of the Alphin Library collection development policy to select and maintain a collection of library materials related to the instructional, intellectual, and artistic interests of students and faculty.           

1. To acquire library materials necessary for instructional purposes.

2. To develop a strong reference collection designed to assist students in locating materials necessary for their research and information needs.

3. To develop a collection of performance materials in various formats (scores, scores with parts, sound recordings) for all vocal ranges and for each instrument of the orchestra, including chamber works.

4. To develop a theater collection that contains full scores, accompanying librettos, play scripts, and recordings of current and popular musicals.

5. To develop a dance collection in various formats (books and video recordings) that focuses on dance history, dance choreography, ballet, modern, jazz, tap, and ethnic dance techniques.

6. To develop a core collection of liberal arts materials that supports the curriculum.

D. Intellectual Freedom and Censorship

The Alphin Library will observe and apply to music materials the principals outlined in The Freedom to Read statement, the Library Bill of Rights, and the Intellectual Freedom Statement. The Library makes available all materials to students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Limitations on the use of certain materials are not to be based on the content of the material; rather, it is the format, fragility, or uniqueness of an item, which should dictate its placement in special collections.  While items that have a history of being at high risk for theft are kept behind the circulation desk, these materials will be made available to any patron upon request. The Conservatory Library will not place value judgments on the quality of the performances being collected. The goal is to provide a comprehensive collection of material, regardless of the potential controversies of said material.

II. Overview of the Collection

A. History of the Collection

The Albert Alphin Library has occupied the second floor of 8 The Fenway since 1965. The building itself was first home to the Boston Medical Library, which had the building constructed in 1900 and opened to the public in January 1901. The Conservatory’s collection was originally developed from faculty and other donations, and a significant part of the current collection derives from donated materials.

B. Areas of Emphasis

The Alphin Library collection maintains a representative collection in the history and theory of Western music and Classical and Romantic era chamber music. It also includes a strong collection of theater scores and scripts, the monuments of music, and collected works of composers.  The Library will support the emphases of the music, dance, and theater curricula at all levels.  The Library collects selectively in the liberal arts and general subject areas.

C. Collection Locations

The majority of the library’s holdings are located on the second floor of 8 The Fenway.  The large ensemble collection, including the orchestral, choral, and wind ensemble music, is currently located on the 2nd floor of the Conservatory Annex building at 1260 Boylston Street.  Due to space restrictions in the library, other storage areas are currently used in the basement of 24 The Fenway and in room 331 of 8 The Fenway to house materials used infrequently.

III. Restrictions

The library collects as comprehensively as possible within the parameters stated below, but certain conditions beyond the control of the library might prevent the acquisition of a title that falls within the scope of this policy. Some of these conditions include budget limitations; availability; lack of appropriate shelf space; and/or ability to provide technical support.

IV. Organization of Collection Management and Development Program

The library director, with the assistance of the acquisitions librarian, has the final responsibility for materials selection; however, faculty should play a major role in selecting material. The library director will coordinate and supplement faculty efforts. In anticipation of courses to be taught and well in advance of the start of the academic year, faculty members should devise a prioritized list of desired materials for acquisition. The library director will work with the faculty to prioritize all acquisitions for that year based on funds available at the time. In the event of a dispute about that year’s allocation of funds, the Dean of the Conservatory will be the final arbiter. The library director and her staff are dedicated to assisting faculty members in the discovery of resources to support the school mission in the preparation of their annual requests.

V. Priorities

The first priority of the collection is to support the curricula. Therefore, highest consideration for purchases will be for specific course-related materials. Requests from faculty for class-specified materials will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis with faculty for each division having equal status.  Faculty will be asked to submit their requests before the beginning of each semester to the library director. Requests should be submitted as early as possible to ensure the timely arrival and processing of materials. Second priority will go to the replacement of lost, damaged, or worn materials, which are essential to the core collection. Third priority will go to developing the collection by adding volumes, scores, sound and video recordings not previously held by the library, but deemed important by faculty and library staff for the collection. These items may be selected from such standard library tools as A Basic Music Library and Music Reference and Research Materials, or by faculty and student suggestions. Any other requests not falling into the above categories will be considered for purchase with remaining budgetary funds, provided that they are items that fall within the guidelines set within this document.

VI. General Guidelines by Subject


The Music Division offers the following degrees: Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, Graduate Performance Diploma, Artist Diploma, and Professional Studies Certificates within the following disciplines: brass, choral conducting, collaborative piano, composition, harp, marimba, multiple woodwind, music education, opera, orchestral conducting, percussion, piano, strings, vocal pedagogy, voice, and woodwinds. Music collection priorities align to curricula, course requirements, and faculty recommendations in music performance (methods, form and analysis) conducting, music theory, music history, music literature, music education (pedagogy and technology) and foreign languages.


The Theater Division offers two degrees: the Bachelor of Fines Arts in Musical Theater and the Master of Music in Musical Theater, which emphasize acting, voice, and dance. Theater collection priorities align to curricula, course requirements, and faculty recommendations in action (history, techniques) movement, stagecraft, voice & speech (including methodologies) directing, script and score analysis, and original creation.


The Dance Division offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts. Dance collection priorities align to the curriculum, course requirements, and faculty recommendations, which include nutrition, anatomy/kinesiology, dance history, dance and movement styles and techniques, dance pedagogy, and choreography.

Liberal Arts

The Liberal Arts program, whose core classes are required for all undergraduate diplomas, offers students the training they need to grasp the underlying historical, philosophical, and scientific contexts and motivations that influence the works they study and perform. The collection across the liberal arts is selective and priorities align to the inter-disciplinary course requirements, which explore the intersection of literature, history, art, religion, politics, economics, philosophy, psychology, and science in the development of culture and identity. Materials are also acquired to support the teaching of liberal arts elective courses, foreign languages, and English as a Second Language. 

VII. Other General Guidelines

1. Geographical

In keeping with the traditions of the collection and the current emphases of the music, theater, and dance curricula, the highest priority for collection development remains the art music and music literature of the United States and Western Europe. It is the intent that representative and important materials from these regions will be acquired. A core collection of world music and dance performances will be acquired in support of the world music survey course and various dance courses.

2. Linguistic

Music, theater, and dance recordings, both audio and video, are collected for their intrinsic musical value, regardless of the language of their text and notes. Writings about music, dance, and theater are primarily collected in English.

3. Chronological

There is no limit on chronological periods collected; however emphasis on music is placed on “classical” Western music since 1600. Popular music, musicals, and standard dance performances since 1900, as they pertain to the curricula, are also acquired.  

4. Editions and recorded versions

Printed titles are often available in two or more editions, the urtext version and one or more other versions with various editorial emendations and comments. It is often desirable to have more than one edition of the same work for study purposes. In the same vein, it is often desirable to have more than one recorded version of a standard work.  The library will make every effort to collect more than one version of works while keeping the library’s shelf space limitations in mind.

Other Criteria for Collection Development

The following criteria form the underlying basis for identification and selection of material:

  • Does the item fall within the general scope of the collection as defined by this Collection Development Policy?
  • Does the item strengthen the collection in view of the library’s mission to TBC?
  • Is the item useful to the well-rounded education of performing arts students and teachers?
  • Is this item a primary or secondary text in relation to the general corpus of literature and scholarship associated with the particular area of study?
  • Does the work represent a standard, critical, collected, revised, or variant edition of a significant work?
  • Is this something that will have enduring value to the collection, in view of consortial partners’ holdings and the availability of items through ILL?
  • Is the library currently equipped to support this acquisition now and in the future?

VIII. Guidelines by Type and Format of Material

A. Books: Acquired in English for all relevant subject areas.

B. Periodicals: Acquired for the following subjects: musicology, music theory, music education, music performance, opera, dance, and theater.

Many titles are available via electronic databases.

C. Newspapers: Currently, only the daily Boston Globe is purchased in print format. The New York Times is available electronically on InfoTrac.

D. Periodical indexes: RILM and Music Index acquired online, others in print.

E. Juvenile materials. Not acquired, except as pedagogical examples in support of the music education curriculum.

F. Reprints: Acquired only if the original was not acquired or has restricted circulation.

G. Maps. Not acquired.

H. Dissertations and theses: Not actively acquired. These can sometimes be obtained via ILL.

I. Microforms: Not acquired and the library maintains no equipment to handle such.

J. Pamphlets: Not actively acquired.

K. Photocopies: Only authorized photocopies supplied by the publisher (such as errata and addenda) are added to the collection.

L. Posters: Not acquired.

M. Printed music: printed editions of scores, piano reductions and arrangements, performance materials for individual instruments (in parts), and collected editions and complete works are acquired.

N. Sound recordings:

      1. Purpose of the collection. The sound recording collection is considered a non-circulating reference collection from which recordings circulate only to faculty for teaching purposes. For this reason, no attempt is made to collect multiple copies of specific performances.

      2. Selection priorities. Top priority is given to significant repertoire in all genres central to teaching and learning at the Conservatory.

            a. Operas: Full operas are preferred over selections.

            b. Song and aria collections: repertoire is favored over performer-centered albums.            

            c. Chamber music: standard repertoire is acquired for each instrument and voice range.

            d. Musical theater: significant releases are acquired.

            e. Jazz: Although jazz is not acquired the Conservatory community may use jazz resources at the Berklee School of Music and borrow materials through ILL.

            f. Anglo-American popular music: purchased on request by faculty and for curriculum needs.

     3. Formats acquired.

            a. Compact discs: The medium of choice for newly issued sound recordings. Future efforts will be made to transfer other formats to CDs.

            b. LPs: No longer acquired by the library. Still used in the library as some recordings are not available on any other format.

            c. Cassettes: No longer acquired by the library. Still occasionally used in the library.

            d. 78s: Not acquired.

O. Video recordings: Acquired in support of the curriculum. DVD’s are preferred over VHS videocassettes.

P. Performing ensemble music. The library acquires music for the large ensembles: orchestra, wind ensemble and chorus. This music is housed on the 2nd  floor of 1260 Boylston. Rental music is obtained by the Music Division.

Q. Rare books: Not acquired.

R. Manuscripts: Acquired for curriculum needs.

S. Scripts and Librettos: Acquired to support the educational programs and in an effort to maintain a core collection of genre standards as defined by the faculty.

T. Special categories of materials

            1. Reserve materials: acquired as budget allows, in all formats.

            2. Replacements: acquired if in print. A subsequent edition, if available, is acquired if out of print.

            3. Duplicate copies: acquired only as need demands. Duplicate scores are kept for frequently requested items.

IX. Electronic Resources


"Electronic resources" in this context refers to informational materials accessed using a computer, often in combination with telecommunications links to the Internet. In library collection development, this term may apply to computer software, CD-ROMs, commercial online databases, materials hosted on the Internet and the World Wide Web, and machine-readable data files such as documents, PDFs, images, audio, video, and the like.


The library is responsible for compliance with the terms of the licensing agreement and terms of use for electronic resources.


As with most library materials, selection of these resources will follow the usual process, described earlier in this document.  That is, selection will be in coordination with faculty members.  Among the questions to be considered in the selection are the criteria of electronic resources over other formats. These questions include:

  • Is the electronic format the best medium to deliver the information to the greatest numbers of users?
  • Does the electronic format enhance the instruction in a way that the equivalent traditional resource cannot?
  • In the instance of an electronic resource and a print equivalent, will hard copy need to be maintained as well for perpetual access?
  • What is the reputation of the vendor for support and service? Does the resource come with useful technical and education support features and/or service personnel?
  • Is the resource easy to use or will it require extensive training? If training is required, will the skills learned be in line with the educational objectives of the institution?
  • Can the resource be networked? Can the resource be accessed off-campus by users?
  • Does the Library have the necessary equipment and IT support to host the resource now and in the future for continual access? What are the extra associated costs that are currently not in the library's operating budget?

Preferred Formats and Access

Web-based subscription databases, to compliment the print collection, are preferred over CD-ROM and individual software packages for full-text scholarly research and periodicals, journal and periodical indexes, encyclopedia, dictionaries, and similar reference material, musical scores, streaming audio and video, and a select number of e-books.

Web-based commercial subscriptions are acquired for the maximum numbers of users possible and are available to faculty, staff, and students on and off campus using the appropriate password or logon. In the library there are audio/visual stations for viewing these resources, including: 3 DVD/VHS players, 8 compact disc players, 3 LP players, 1 DAT player, and 3 audio cassette players. As with all of our electronic resources, it is our mission to develop a library environment, which enables easy and productive use of the materials in the collection.

X. Cooperative Relationships

As TBC offers degrees in a number of fields, supplemented with a liberal arts core, the Alphin Library has long believed it prudent to enter into cooperative relationships with other institutions to provide students and faculty with access to the best and fullest selection of information from in these fields. This aim is realized through the interlibrary loan (ILL) program, which allows access to the collections of numerous other schools, as well as the Pro-Arts Consortium, which connects institutions with highly developed programs in the arts. 

The Boston Conservatory is a founding member of the ProArts Consortium, which is an association of six colleges that includes Berklee College of Music, the Boston Architectural Center, Emerson College, Massachusetts College of Art, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Students of ProArts Consortium colleges may cross-register for a variety of classes at these schools, greatly extending and enhancing the range of learning opportunities available to them. 

XI. Deselection and Preservation of the Collection

As a physical space, the library faces limitations that will require the removal of material from our library. As a standard rule, once material has not been circulating for a period of 5 years, the Library Director will consult in some cases with appropriate faculty members to consider removing it from the physical library to an off-site storage facility. Over time many library materials may become outdated. Some materials are also subject to irreparable damage and deterioration due to constant use. Periodic weeding of the collection is necessary to identify items which no longer fit the criteria for inclusion in the collection. While some materials will be retired from the collection, an updated edition may replace others. For multimedia purposes, when technology provides a replacement for obsolete formats, the prior material will be discarded. Where no replacement format is available, decisions about de-selection will be made on a case-by-case basis.

The library will maintain a permanent collection with material of enduring value due to intellectual significance, artistic merit, historical relevance or exemplary innovation. This permanent collection will be kept in lasting physical condition through preservation methods such as in-house repairs, binding or rebinding, enclosure, and in some cases, professional restoration, or reformatting. If irreparable damage is done, replacement of items is considered on a case-by-case basis.

XII. Gifts 

The Library Director reserves the discretion to accept or decline a gift to the library based on its artistic value, educational merit, relevance, and whether or not the gift is appropriate for the collection. There are several factors under consideration when accepting gifts, namely shelf space issues, technical support, and usefulness to the collection. The library director handles the negotiation of gifts with the donors. Often the relevance of the donated materials to the library’s collection cannot be determined until the materials are evaluated individually. The library reserves the right to determine the dispensation of donated materials. Included in the broad category of materials that are not added to the collection include:

  1. LP recordings, reel-to-reel tapes, 8-track tapes, cassette tapes
  2. Duplicate books
  3. Photocopies

The library staff is not able to appraise materials for donation. Donations may be absorbed in the TBC collection immediately, or placed into storage for future determination, or rejected for not falling in line with TBC mission and goals. All gifts, once accepted, become the property of the library and donations will only be accepted if there is a complete transfer of ownership. Gifts once accepted may be cataloged and prepared for circulation among library patrons, or be stored in a storage facility until inclusion in the collection is feasible. Gifts deemed out of scope may be or sold at an occasional library sale. The profits of the sale will benefit the library, and the Library Director will supervise the transactions.

XIII. Complaints & Challenges

On occasion, patrons may have a concern about certain materials available within the collection. Such complaints should be submitted in writing to the library director.  Written complaints will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. If action is believed to be necessary, the director will apprise the Academic Dean and/or the Library Advisory Committee of the written complaint along with potential proposed actions to be taken. Once a decision has been reached, the director will notify the individual who made the complaint. In the case of complaints or challenges that the Director deems as not requiring action, the individual making the complaint will be notified.

XIV. Related Policies

In connection to the Alphin Library’s Collection Development Policy, other library policies provide related information and should be reviewed concurrently to this policy. These policies include the Circulation Policy, the Interlibrary Loan Policy, and the Staff Procedures Manual, which provides additional information about how the staff will directly handle collection management.

XV. Approval Process

The Collection Development Policy is subject to review. Changes to the Collection Development Policy will be presented to the Academic Dean and Library Advisory Committee whenever any significant changes in policy or practice occur. The Alphin Library’s Collection Development Policy will be reviewed annually by the library director, prior to the materials acquisition process, in order to assure that its provisions continue to reflect the current requirements of academic programs, the state of collections, and the allocation of resources. Matters of fact and other minor updates may be made as the need arises by the library director, effective immediately.

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