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Library Policies

Audiences and Purposes of Policy

This policy was written for the library faculty, the Library Resources Committee, the administration, faculty, staff, and students of the University of Michigan-Flint, the University of Michigan as a whole, and for the greater Flint community. Its purpose is to clarify and rationalize the Thompson Library’s collection purposes, goals, and priorities. Although much of the collection-building is done by departmental faculty members, the overall direction of the library is determined by its own faculty. This plan will therefore also assist the library’s faculty and the library Resources Committee in plotting the growth of the Thompson Library’s collection in a more systematic manner and making it more accessible to all its users. It will also assist the faculty in balancing faculty-selected materials in order to attain the desired levels of strength.

This plan applies to the library’s general collections. Because this policy is a general guide, nothing in it shall be construed as requiring or prohibiting the purchase or acceptance as a donation any particular item or items. The Genesee Historical Collections Center has its own collection development policy.

Community Analysis and User Groups Defined

The Thompson Library is located in downtown Flint, a city of about 102,000; the total population of Genesee County is 425,790. The University of Michigan-Flint has been a major part of the life of Genesee County, and vice versa. Of its 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students, approximately 96% were from Michigan in the 2008.

There are several institutions of higher learning or career training in the Flint area, including Kettering University, Charles Stewart Mott Community College, Baker College of Flint, and the University of Michigan-Flint. Two public libraries (Flint Public Library and the Genesee District Library system), and several institutions in Flint’s Cultural Center (the Sloan Museum, the DeWaters Art Center, the Flint Institute of Music, and the Longway Planetarium) add to the information resources available to Genesee County residents.

The primary users of the Thompson Library are the students, faculty, and staff of the University of Michigan-Flint. It is also used by members of the larger University of Michigan community, and by people in the greater Flint area, as well as from farther outstate, who are not affiliated with the University. Finally, the Thompson Library cooperates with other libraries, in the area and nationwide, in sharing resources through reciprocal borrowing privileges, interlibrary loan, the compilation of union lists, and other activities and programs.

Description of the Types of Programs and Patron Needs

The University of Michigan-Flint comprises the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Health Professions and Studies, the School of Education and Social Work, and the School of Management, which among them offer well over forty bachelor’s programs, a number of master’s programs, pre-professional programs, and teacher certification. Programs and majors include the liberal arts, the fine arts, the social sciences, the hard sciences, and business.

Brief General Statement About the Collection

The Thompson Library includes over 180,000 book titles, over 1,100 paper or microfilm periodical subscriptions, thousands of microfiche cards and reels of microfilm, computer software, films, sound recordings, videotapes, CD-ROMs, government documents, and archival materials. Approximately 6,000 book volumes are added to the collection each year.

The holdings of the collections (except government documents) are searchable through Mirlyn, which also provides access to numerous other electronic indexes, databases, and college catalogs. Several other databases are available through standalone or networked CD-ROM products. The government documents collection will eventually be added to Mirlyn.

Cooperative Collection Development

The Thompson Library is a member of the Mideastern Michigan Library Region of Cooperation (MMROC). This consortium exists to facilitate cooperation among area libraries in the acquisition and use of equipment and technology.

General Limitations, Priorities, and Acquisitions Policies

Materials for the collection are selected for the following purposes:

  1. To support the instructional, research, and administrative needs of UM-Flint students, faculty, and staff;
  2. To provide a collection of high quality reflecting a diversity of contemporary and historical interests and points of view in a variety of disciplines;
  3. To provide access to a limited amount of cultural and recreational materials not specifically related to the University’s current academic programs.

The library strives to build a solid collection of high-quality materials. The selection of an item does not indicate endorsement or approval by the Thompson Library, its faculty or staff, or of the University of Michigan-Flint.

Currency of Collection

Materials are acquired primarily for their scholarly value, and kept as long as they might reasonably be expected to remain of scholarly interest. The Thompson Library will therefore generally not collect popular materials of transient interest. In disciplines where change tends to be very rapid (e.g. computer science) current materials will be emphasized, and older materials will be kept if they have historical or archival value. For disciplines where change is less rapid or in which older materials are likely to have enduring value (e.g. history) current materials will be collected, but less emphasis will be placed on weeding.

Specific Formats and Languages

The primary medium collected by the Thompson Library remains printed materials or microform reproductions of them: books, periodicals, and some government documents. Other media include websites, electronic indexes, audio- and videotapes, slides and other transparencies, computer software, and CD-ROMs.

Budget Structure and Collection Responsibilities

Money for acquisitions is shared by the library and the academic departments. Acquisitions money is divided according to the formula in Appendix C. Departments may use their library acquisitions budgets to obtain books or other materials for the library's collections.

Within the library, there are the following acquisition funds:

  • Reference
  • Contingency (general periodicals)
  • Individual librarians

Books and Other Individual Materials 

Because departmental faculty members are expert in their respective disciplines, responsibility for ordering materials for the library collection is shared by the library faculty and the departmental faculty. Each academic department has a library budget allocation each fiscal year for ordering books and other materials. Librarians also have individual budgets for ordering materials. The librarians reserve the right to question order requests, but rarely exercise this prerogative to avoid infringing on the expert judgment and academic rights and responsibilities of departmental faculty. Moreover, the Thompson Library orders several thousand books per year; systematic review of selections is therefore impossible. The Thompson Library will not attempt to maintain a textbook collection; it is the responsibility of students to acquire their own textbooks.

Orders must be processed and paid before the end of The University's fiscal year (currently June 30). Departments must submit all orders before an announced deadline prior to the end of the fiscal year. After the established deadline for orders by departments, acquisitions funds not expended by departments may by used by the library to acquire materials. 

Revised 9/2006

Special Collections

The Thompson Library's collections are generally organized according to the format and circulation status of their contents (e.g., circulating books in the Main Collection). Because a proliferation of discrete, over-specialized collections tends to complicate both use and maintenance of library resources, the Thompson Library will generally not maintain or house special collections that serve only narrow purposes (e.g., a shelf of materials intended only for one course or program). Most materials appropriate for the library should be integrated into one of its existing collections, such as Reference or the Main Collection.

Some items, because of time-sensitivity or other reasons, are less suited for permanent inclusion in the library's collections. Faculty and staff who wish to make such materials available on campus are encouraged to put them on reserve.

Electronic resources and services acquired with any portion of the Thompson Library's acquisitions funds must be accessible through the library's retrieval systems. Physical materials so acquired must be housed in the library or a facility maintained by the library. Separate facilities maintained by the library will be created or retained only with the consent of the library faculty. UM-Flint departments creating separate collections of books, journals, electronic products or services or media may not pay for them with funds designated for library acquisitions.

Periodical Subscriptions

Periodical subscriptions involve open-ended commitments of money, labor, and space; therefore, periodical selections receive closer scrutiny than do book purchases. Suggestions from departmental faculty are reviewed by the librarians, who then recommend titles to the Faculty Library Committee; the committee makes the final decision. The library bears the cost of some general interest, reference, and book trade journals.

The cost of some periodicals is shared equally by the library and the appropriate academic departments, taken from their library acquisitions budgets. Other periodicals, usually of a general nature, are paid for entirely out of library funds.


The library director or assistant director assigns to each academic department a liaison librarian. The liaisons assist the departments with materials selection or address their library-related concerns.

Types of Publications | Physical Formats

Print sources make up, and will continue to make up for the foreseeable future, the bulk of the collection. Even as the Internet and the World Wide Web grow at astounding rates, various factors -- including the capacity of existing telephone lines, copyright issues, and quality control -- guarantee that books and other print sources will remain a primary if not the primary medium of information for the time being.


Books make up the single largest part of the collection. Aside for the usual criteria that relate to content, they are selected according to factors such as durability (e.g. bound adequately and printed on acid-free paper), price, anticipated use, and the likelihood of continued currency of the information.


Subscriptions to periodicals are decided upon by the library faculty based upon the recommendations of the library Resources Committee. Decision factors for a periodical include cost, likelihood of use, importance in the discipline, and whether the item is indexed in databases available at the University of Michigan-Flint.


The library subscribes to several Michigan newspapers and out-of-state newspapers with a national focus. Back issues of the most heavily used newspapers will be kept on microfilm, CD-ROM, or other media. Because of limited usefulness and the ready availability of out-of-state newspapers at other area libraries and bookstores, the Thompson Library does not subscribe to newspapers from outside Michigan unless they are newspapers of record.


The library generally does not purchase textbooks. Instructors may request that textbooks be ordered with their department’s library acquisition funds, but ultimately the purchase decision remains at the discretion of the librarians. Only one copy of any textbook will be purchased.  Faculty are encouraged to place textbooks on reserve to maximize access for students. Electronic textbooks may also be requested for purchase. Electronic books will either be unlimited-user or single-user titles depending on availability and cost.


Reprints of books are collected on the same basis as other books. Reprints of articles are not generally collected. Faculty who wish to make articles available to their students are advised to put the articles on reserve.

Theses and Dissertations 

Copies of master’s theses completed by University of Michigan-Flint students are supplied to the library. Theses and dissertations by students unaffiliated with UM-Flint are not generally collected.


To the greatest extent possible, the library collects materials that are physically durable. Paperback copies of books, while usually less durable than hardcovers, are ordered when their cost, balanced against their projected circulation and continued currency, makes them a better buy.


The library collects a) microfilm copies of certain periodical subscriptions; b) microfilm versions of select books, papers, manuscripts, and archival materials; c) microfiche copies of ERIC documents; d) microfiche copies of select documents, e.g. corporate annual reports.


The Thompson Library maintains a modest collection of atlases. Topographic and geological maps of Michigan and local aerial photographs are collected. Road maps are collected very selectively.


No effort is made to collect pamphlets systematically. Any pamphlets that are acquired through donations or other means are put in the Faculty Selected Pamphlets collection.

Art Works 

Works of art are not generally purchased, but donations are accepted selectively. Works that are accepted are displayed at the discretion of the library faculty.


Posters are not collected; donations may be accepted on a selective basis.

Musical Scores 

Scores are collected selectively.

Audio and Visual Materials 

All such media fall under the collection policy of the Media Collection.

Computer Software 

Most such media fall under the collection policy of the Media Collection. The library acquires some software, usually that which accompanies or supports print resources.


Tests are neither collected nor accepted as donations. Faculty wishing to make tests available to their students are advised to place them on reserve.

Indexes and Abstracts (Print)

Continuing subscriptions to print indexes and abstracts is based upon: a) Their usefulness to scholarship at the University of Michigan-Flint, and b) whether the subject matter is adequately indexed in an electronic product to which the library subscribes.

Types of Publications | Electronic Formats

Electronic formats are increasingly important in the pursuit of knowledge. In many cases they are superior in quality to, and a better value than, the print media that they supplement or replace. The Thompson Library will acquire, organize, preserve, and make accessible, irrespective of format, knowledge and information essential to the intellectual endeavors of the University community no matter where they are located, and to non-University users of the library. It works from the principle that knowledge and information in electronic format should be as accessible as that in printed forms. The library provides unauthenticated access at the network level to resources it chooses to offer in electronic format. Any authentication required by contract, for security, or for other reasons, is at the resource, not the network, level.

Nevertheless, the availability of electronic media does not eliminate the problem of scarce financial resources. Many if not most written works (e.g. books still under copyright) will not be available for the foreseeable future in electronic form, and will probably not be available for free in any form for decades. Those that are published in electronic format are often accessible only for a fee, or are works already in the public domain. Many factors must be weighed in deciding whether to acquire a particular electronic work.

The Website 

The Thompson Library maintains a website with links to free and subscription-based resources as well as locally produced documents. The website is maintained by one or more librarians or staff, and selections for hyperlinks to it are made by the librarians. External links are considered parts of the library's collection.

Indexes and Abstracts (Electronic) 

The Thompson Library leases several CD-ROM databases and subscribes to several electronic databases through Mirlyn and other sources. The following factors are weighed in deciding whether to subscribe to a particular database:

  1. Perceived need or the likelihood of use
  2. Cost
  3. Ease of use
  4. The library’s holdings of periodicals indexed in that database

A long-term goal is to provide departmental faculty with unmediated electronic access to the key abstracting or indexing services in their respective disciplines.

Electronic Journals 

Electronic journals are a fast-growing area of the information industry and of the Thompson Library's collection. The library seeks to expand its collection of electronic journals. Because of the difficulty of maintaining and making accessible individual online journals, the library will, whenever possible, give preference to packages of electronic journals over single titles. It also strongly prefers electronic resources that are accessible off campus through EZProxy or some other relatively transparent user authorization process. Resources that are inaccessible off campus or are remotely accessible only with a generic username and password will be licensed extremely selectively, if at all.

Media Collection

Purpose of Collection 

The primary purpose of the audio/visual collection at the Thompson Library is to support the curricula taught at the University of Michigan-Flint. The materials collected, housed and accessed at the Thompson Library are for educational use. They are available for check out. The collection contains the following formats: audio CDs, video VHS, video and digital DVD, and digital Blu Ray. The Thompson Library has some equipment for viewing/listening to the collection in the Thompson Library. NOTE: As of September 2011 the video VHS format is neither acquired nor accepted as donations for inclusion in the media collection at the Thompson Library.

Community of Users 

The primary users of the Thompson Library media collection are the students, faculty, and staff of the University of Michigan-Flint. It is also used by members of the larger University of Michigan community.

Selection of Material

Most of the audio visual materials in the Thompson Library were purchased by faculty members with library funds. For requests for unusual audio visual materials a minimum of 2 of the following selection criteria are used:

Curricular relevance – this is given highest priority
Anticipated frequency of use – who will be using this material?
Favorable reviews or awards
Appropriateness of format – legacy, outdated, formats will not be purchased unless faculty can justify the particular format
Relative cost – the replacement cost for the item in question is not exorbitant.
Inclusion of social, political or economic themes or viewpoints not presented elsewhere

Responsibility of Collection 

The collection is the collective responsibility of the reference librarians at the Thompson Library.

Interlibrary Loan 

The media collection at the Thompson Library is not available for interlibrary loan.


Gifts in non-supported formats will not be accepted.


Weeding the collection is a necessary on-going process in order to maintain quality, currency, and usefulness of the collection. Weeding criteria include: worn or damaged formats, titles superseded by other formats or versions, and titles which have not been used in the past decade or more. Weeding is done every three years.

Reference Collection

The library strives to have a solid collection of reference materials to support both basic and deeper inquiries. The primary medium of the reference collection is print, but electronic versions will be increasingly important.

Interdisciplinary Areas

Although traditional academic disciplines remain as solid as ever, interdisciplinary programs are becoming increasingly important in academia generally and at UM-Flint particularly. This poses challenges in library collection development. The Thompson Library continues to seek ways in which to guarantee that nontraditional and emerging programs are adequately supported in the collection.

Children's Literature

The Thompson Library maintains a small, selective collection of children’s literature in support of the programs in education.

Languages and Translations

Foreign language materials are acquired in large numbers primarily to support the programs in foreign languages. For other areas of the collection, non-English language materials are acquired only very selectively.

Multiple Copies

Only single copies of books will be ordered except when there is a likelihood of high use. Multiple copies of works should be ordered only under exceptional circumstances. For books that are expected to be high-use items for class readings, it is usually better to order one or two copies and to put them on reserve.

Donating Materials to the Library

  1. NOTE: With some exceptions, the Thompson Library is not currently accepting donations of books, journals, or other physical items to its Main, Periodicals, Media, or Reference Collections.

    If you have any questions, please contact Matthew Wolverton, or any other librarian.

    April, 2024


The librarians welcome opportunities to evaluate potential gifts of books, periodicals, and other materials. Such gifts can enhance the library's collections in a variety of ways: by providing worthwhile books, whether out-of-print or still available from publishers; by expanding the library's "run" of a worthwhile periodical; and by making available to our users unusual or valuable materials that we would not otherwise be likely to acquire.

Criteria for Accepting Gifts 

The library does not accept every item offered as a gift. Although gift books and other materials are "free," they entail substantial cost in cataloging and in maintenance over the years. Any gift added to the collections should meet the criteria applied to materials that are purchased. These include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • The author's reputation
  • Subject matter (whether it fits the needs of this library's users)
  • Critical response as measured by reviews or inclusion in standard or recommended bibliographies
  • Timeliness vs. datedness
  • Physical considerations, including binding, format, etc.
  • Language of the publication
  • Sources in which the publication is indexed, if a periodical
  • Any other unusual considerations which would affect specific donations

Acceptance of materials donated with stipulations is at the discretion of the library director.

For internal reasons, the library ordinarily accepts as gifts only materials that will be retained. Occasional exceptions occur. In any case, gifts are accepted with the understanding that they become the property of the University of Michigan-Flint upon receipt, and that the Thompson Library may make all necessary decisions as to their retention, location, cataloging treatment, and other considerations relating to their use and disposition. Materials which prove not to be needed in the library may be exchanged with other libraries, or otherwise used for the University's benefit and goodwill, in accordance with established procedures. Donors may request that materials not needed be returned to them.

To facilitate the necessary review of offered gifts, prospective donors should submit a list enumerating materials offered for donation. If the donor cannot provide such a list, library faculty can usually examine the potential gift in person at the donor's office, home, etc., and prepare a list for subsequent evaluation. For books, the list should include:

  1. Author's name
  2. Book title
  3. Publication date
  4. Paperback or cloth binding
  5. Notes if advisable, on content or other details.
  6. Donor's home address (including Zip code) and phone number.

For periodicals, the list should include:

  1. Title of periodical
  2. Inclusive volumes and/or dates
  3. Information on missing volumes or issues.
  4. Other notes, as seem advisable.
  5. Donor's home address (with ZIP code) and phone number.

If the donor is a UM-Flint staff or faculty member, it should also include his or her department address.

The gifts librarian, as a rule, will review such lists and let the donor know what we can use. Depending on the circumstances, the donor may then either bring the material to the library, or a library faculty member will pick it up in person.

Items NOT Accepted as Gifts 

The Thompson Library is unable to accept donations of the following types of materials:

  • Books marked with such designations as "complimentary copy," "review copy," "desk copy," or other books clearly intended as marketing tools (e.g. "instructors' editions" with promotional copy bound in with the book).
  • Textbooks generally, owing to their habit of being superseded so quickly by subsequent editions, and because of their ordinarily repetitious content. Textbooks that have been superseded by later editions are particularly undesirable.
  • Items already owned by the library (with some exceptions, e.g., a second copy of an important novel).
  • Books or other materials that are out-of-date. (e.g. "state of the art" studies on environmental science published in 1995.)
  • Periodicals in limited runs that do not augment either current or previous library subscriptions to those same titles.
  • Periodicals in runs with numerous missing or incomplete volumes.
  • Periodicals whose dated nature renders them unlikely to be useful in the Thompson Library.

Those who wish to donate books, periodicals or other materials to the library should contact the gifts librarian, Matthew Wolverton.

Donors are discouraged from dropping off materials that have not been cleared for acceptance through the procedures outlined above. If they do leave them, they should understand that they may need to retrieve them should we not add them to the collections.


Donors are responsible in all cases for arranging and paying for appraisals of any gifts to the Thompson Library. Appraisals must be made before delivery to the library of donated materials. Neither librarians nor other University of Michigan staff may furnish appraisals to donors for items donated to the Thompson Library.

Evaluation of the Collection

From time to time, the library faculty will undertake an evaluation of the collection, using a standard instrument such as the WLN conspectus. The purposes of this evaluation are:

  • To give the Thompson Library's administrators and librarians reliable information for assessing strengths and weaknesses in the collection. This in turn allows for more systematic and informed development of the collection over the next several years.
  • To provide information to respond intelligently and effectively to shifting budget priorities.
  • To gain data for objective comparison with the collections of other libraries as a measure of collection strength.
  • To aid in cooperative collection development with other libraries, when appropriate.

The results of such evaluations shall be made publicly available.

Withdrawal, Discarding, and Preservation

Certain books and other materials in the collection no longer serve a useful purpose to patrons. The faculty of the Thompson Library will periodically examine the collection to withdraw outdated or superseded materials, and to identify damaged but useful materials for preservation. Departmental faculty may be consulted for their recommendations regarding withdrawal decisions. Materials that have been withdrawn from the collection will be disposed of in a manner deemed appropriate by the library director.

Copyright Compliance

The Thompson Library is committed to following the copyright laws of the United States, and will not knowingly violate any of them under any circumstances. While it expects its users to do the same, the library also assumes the good faith of the faculty, staff, and students. It therefore posts notices as appropriate to remind its patrons of various provisions of copyright law, but does not monitor usage. The library faculty will notify users of any violations of copyright law that come to their attention, but will otherwise assume that users are acting in good faith.

1986 Revised 11/1992 Revised 11/1999 Revised 9/2005

Statement of Intellectual Freedom

The Thompson Library is fully committed to the free exchange of ideas. In an academic community individuals should be free to research and develop ideas without interference. Only the largest libraries can even hope to represent all points of view; however, every effort will be made to attain a representation of a variety of ideas and schools of thought.

This principle is also borne out in particular aspects of the policy:

  1. In basing acquisitions decisions on the academic merits of material and not on whether it advances or hinders a particular ideological agenda.
  2. In diffused responsibility for collection development. Responsibility for ordering materials for the library collection is shared by the library faculty and the departmental faculty. Each academic department has a library budget allocation for ordering books and other materials. Librarians also have individual budgets for ordering materials. Such a decentralized system of acquisitions, with potentially hundreds of selectors, prevents the collection from being unduly biased toward any one person's viewpoint or ideology.
  3. In the policy of noninterference in the acquisitions choices of the academic departmental faculty.

See also the Library Bill of Rights in Appendix A, and the complaint form in Appendix B.

Complaints and Reconsideration of Materials

The Thompson Library is fully committed to the free exchange of ideas, and believes that, particularly in an academic community, individuals should be free to research and develop ideas without interference. Only the largest libraries can even hope to represent all points of view; however, every effort will be made to attain a representation of a variety of ideas and schools of thought.

Patrons who complain about materials will be asked to fill out the following form, which will be reviewed by the director and other librarians. If the complaint is deemed legitimate, there will be a presumption in favor of adding rather than removing materials in order to attain balance.

Appendix A: Library Bill of Rights

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

1. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

3. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

5. A person's right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

6. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

7. All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use. Libraries should advocate for, educate about, and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information.

Adopted by the ALA Council June 19, 1939; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; January 29, 2019.

Appendix B: State Law Regarding the Selection of Library Materials

M.C.L.A. Sec.397.605.

Sec. 5. (1) Except as otherwise provided by statute or by a regulation adopted by the governing body of the library, the selection of library materials for inclusion in a library's collection shall be determined only by an employee of the library.

(2) Except as otherwise provided by law or by a regulation adopted by the governing body of the library, the use of library materials shall be determined only by an employee of the library.