Mission of Gordon Library

The library partners with the WPI community in teaching, learning, and scholarship by providing resources and innovative services that anticipate and respond to changing information needs. The resources part of the Library’s mission is fulfilled with a mixture of electronic and web access, print, manuscript, audiovisual, and microform collections, and reliance on non-WPI sources available through cooperation with Academic and Research Collaborative (ARC) libraries, Interlibrary Loan, or materials purchased from commercial vendors. 

Purpose of the Collection Development Policy

The purpose of this policy is to establish clear guidelines to maintain a collection that meets the      needs of the WPI curriculum, faculty research, and provides a small leisure collection. The library collection is composed of books, journals, databases, manuscript, audiovisual, and microform materials.  It balances electronic, web access, multimedia, and paper to provide the most appropriate and available format for the particular item and user.

Value of Collections

Gordon Library supplies a vast array of electronic materials to users, many of which are accessible through non-WPI search engines such as WorldCat and Google Scholar. Users connecting to these collections may not be aware that the database or article they are using is available because Gordon Library pays for access for the WPI community. Providing this access is a major part of the ongoing library budget.

Types of Materials

Journal subscriptions/licenses

Gordon Library subscribes to or provides access to a large collection of journal titles to support the curricular and research needs of the community. Journal acquisitions in electronic format are preferred, but print subscriptions will be purchased if there is no electronic equivalent or if the cost of an electronic subscription exceeds that of print by a significant amount. Many journal subscriptions are provided through aggregated collections; individual titles are also purchased. New subscriptions/licenses are purchased through a process of request and evaluation. All requests must include a justification of need and will be evaluated on the importance of the subject area for WPI and whether Gordon Library can support the subscription/license on a long term basis. New subscriptions/licenses will not be purchased for a single faculty member's interest. In order to be able to add new subscriptions, existing subscriptions may sometimes need to be cancelled. Decisions on what titles to cancel are made based on a cost per use basis and the availability of contents through document delivery services. The final determination on new and cancelled subscriptions/licenses, whether print or electronic, is the responsibility of the Dean of Library Services based on the factors outlined above.

Books/Audio visual materials

Books for the library collection are purchased based on requests from faculty, students, and staff, in support of WPI programs. Faculty, in conjunction with library liaisons, may suggest book titles to be added to the collection in either print or electronic format. Titles to be placed on course reserve will be purchased at the request of the faculty member teaching the course. Student requests, other than textbooks for specific courses, which support course or project work will be considered for purchase based on price, availability, and applicability to the collection. Books requested through interlibrary loan will sometimes be purchased if deemed valuable for future users. Film and audio materials will be purchased under the same guidelines as book materials. 

Electronic book collections are purchased which cover basic academic needs and a variety of in depth subject areas. Most of these collections are subscription purchases which are annual costs. Some collections are one-time purchases which are owned by the library but hosted on a vendor’s site. These electronic collections use a major part of the library book budget, but their use is high compared with print materials. Formats that work on multiple platforms and mobile devices, with optimal download options, are preferred. Single eBook purchases will be made on request when available.

Selection Responsibility

Academic material:

Academic departments request purchase of particular titles for research, course, seminar, and project work. Gordon Library will purchase up to two copies of books for course reserve at the request of the faculty member teaching the course. Requests from the WPI community at large are made through Gordon Library’s material request form. These requests are considered taking into account availability at other libraries, availability for purchase, cost, and appropriateness to our collections. Books requested through interlibrary loan may sometimes be purchased to be part of the library’s permanent collection.

Subject collections:

Library liaisons for each academic department work with faculty in their departments to select subject specific materials that will be added to the collection. Information about new titles being published is supplied to liaisons by our main book vendor, and that information is passed along to the appropriate departments for selections to be made.

Leisure collections:

A committee of library staff selects additions to our print leisure reading collection based on previous circulation statistics for an author, reviews and lists of award winners, and suggestions from the community. Appropriate popular films and audiobooks are purchased on request.

WPI Archives and Special Collections Collection Development Policy

The WPI Archives and Special Collections development policy is a guide to assist staff in the selection, acquisition, and retention of collections. In considering collections for acquisition, we must take into consideration their relation to WPI and existing collections, the potential for future research value to the WPI community, and the future ability of the institution to support the collection in physical and/or digital format. Collections will not be accepted without signed deed of gift or transfer of title. Collections will not be accepted which are restricted from public use in perpetuity. Collections that are closed for a specific period of time may be considered for acquisition. Duplicates and materials that do not reflect the subject areas and/or types of materials collected by Archives and Special Collections may be deaccessioned according to established guidelines, and offered to more appropriate institutions. Costs associated with acquisition, cataloging, preservation, and maintenance of collections, as well as space restraints must be taken into account when considering adding collections. Gifts in subject areas which would add to our digital collections are welcome, as are gifts of funding to support our digitization efforts.

General criteria to take into account when assessing material for possible acquisition:

  • Relates to WPI history or relation to Worcester and Worcester history
  • Highlights the careers of WPI alumni and alumnae or faculty
  • Has potential to support  curriculum
  • Reflects research interests of faculty and students

Some existing collections include:

  • Fellman Dickens Collection (HUA curriculum)
  • Woodbury Collection  (Worcester industrial history)
  • Morgan Construction Company Collection  (Worcester industrial history)
  • Theo Brown diaries (WPI alumnus, industrial history, Worcester connections)
  • Bernard Brenner Sculpture Collection (metals/material processing curriculum; art curriculum)
  • Video games collection  (Interactive Media and Games curriculum)
  • Howard Emmons Collection (Fire protection engineering)
  • Pearsall Collection (Fire protection engineering)

Specific areas for collection development:

  • Worcester industrial history as related to WPI faculty and alumni (e.g. Norton, Morgan, Woodbury company records, Theo Brown diaries), and of broader industrial interest
  • Technology
  • Dickens
  • Fire protection engineering
  • Videogames and videogame history
  • Influential books in the history of science and technology
  • History of WPI

WPI Archives Policy

The Archives of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, under the direction of the University Archivist, collects, preserves, and makes available records which document the history of the University. Records of enduring historical value provide evidence of the history, organization, policies, and activities of WPI. 

Specific categories of such records include but are not limited to:

  • Records of the Board of Trustees
  • Papers of WPI’s Presidents
  • Faculty meeting minutes, including minutes of faculty committees
  • Records of administrative departments
  • Records of academic departments
  • Records of student organizations
  • Records of alumni and alumni organizations
  • Papers re. campus architecture

Records in any, including paper, microfilm, drawings, photographs, videotapes, CDs, DVDs, digital files, email, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia, are accepted.

The Archives staff is available to review records with WPI departments to help determine whether they should be retained permanently. The Archives also welcomes donations of papers, memorabilia, and other WPI-related materials from alumni, and present and former faculty and staff.

WPI Art Collections Policy

The purpose of the Art Collection is:

  • To document and preserve the history of the Institute
  • To support the curriculum
  • To create attractive indoor and outdoor spaces on campus

Works have come to WPI from a variety of sources: alumni, supporters, faculty, and staff. Most have been donated, but the university has also invested in art. This policy includes artwork currently held in Gordon Library and artwork around the campus.

Collecting rationale:

Gordon Library Art Collection acquires materials that support teaching and research at the University, documents the history of the Institute, and builds on existing strengths, such as industrial history of Worcester, photography, and Charles Dickens. Although most additions to the art collection would be donated, we may consider purchase of special items which will add particular value to existing collections.

Areas of focus:           

Works of art related to the Institute:

WPI Archives & Special Collections holds works that relate directly to WPI's history. This includes:

  • portraits of our “founding fathers” from the 19th century, past presidents, and faculty
  • prints and drawings depicting the campus from the earliest days of the Institute

Art Works related to the curriculum:

Several collections that have been acquired to support the educational initiatives of WPI contain works of art, such as: 

  • Dickens collection: including illustrations, sketches, and costume designs by artists  George Cruikshank, Marcus Stone, and others
  • Bernard Brenner sculpture collection: over 70 sculptures primarily of forged steel, by  prominent American sculptor
  • Native American pottery
  • 19th century tinware including a piece attributed to John Boynton, founder of WPI

Artwork displayed on campus:

  • Proud Goat by Robert Shure, Gift of the Class of 2009
  • Harrington metal sculptures outside Gordon Library

Gifts policy

Gordon Library, WPI, appreciates gifts that align with our collection development goals. Monetary gifts are always welcome to support collections and facilities. The Honor with Books program was established to facilitate the donation of books while honoring the benefactor or whoever he/she wishes to memorialize. In-kind gifts of materials will be evaluated based on their age, condition, quality, and relevance to the curriculum. Items especially valued are those by authors with a WPI affiliation and materials that support curricula or faculty research. The WPI Archives and Special Collections is particularly interested in receiving gifts of WPI and Worcester historical materials. Other areas of interest are listed in the Archives and Special Collections and Art Collections sections of this policy.

Technical books more than ten years old, workbooks, case studies, photocopies, conference proceedings, single journal issues, and items marked with a highlighter or otherwise damaged are examples of items that probably would not be accepted. Moldy or mildewed books will not be accepted and if left anonymously, will be immediately discarded. Donated items that are not added to the collection may be returned to the donor on request, sold at a library book sale, sent to another library,  or recycled. 

On request, the library will supply a donation letter for tax purposes which lists the number of items donated, but does not assign a dollar value to the gift.

If you would like to donate, either through the Honor with Books Program, or in kind gifts donation, contact, +1-508-831-6039. For gifts to WPI Archives and Special Collections, contact +1-508-831-6112)

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