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Convegno internazionale sullo sviluppo delle raccolte
International conference on collection development

Current issues in collection development: Italian and global perspectives

Bologna, February 18, 2005

Laura Casagrande, Andreina Masotti
The collection development policy statement of Iuav University: work in progress [*]

The project on collection development plan statement presented in this paper is referred to Iuav University libraries, that is IUAVV university library system. In this paper, after a short introductory description of the context we refer to, that is Iuav University and its libraries, we will explain the reasons that lie behind the librarians commitment in the project and difficulties they found; then, we will set both the reasons and difficulties in the work experience still in progress, which is quite a pioneer one and certainly unfinished, but is slowly growing ripe and producing visible results.

1. The context

Iuav University in Venice has three faculties only: architecture, arts and design, and urban planning. While the faculty of architecture is historical and characterized the university since its foundation in 1927, the other two faculties were created in 2002. The Arts and design faculty, particularly, has been introducing, at a fast pace, courses and teaching and research areas completely new for the university.

The library system of Iuav University in Venice is part, not only formally but also concretely, of a wider system: the library and documentary services of the university that, as stated in Iuav charter, "pursues the goals of promoting and developing, in integrated and coordinated forms, the activities of acquisition, handling, preservation, production and dissemination of bibliographic and documentary information, support to teaching and research activities carried on in the Iuav University".

The Department of library and documentary services is formed by all Iuav University libraries, which refer to a unique management and organization structure, which has its own budget and financial autonomy, and is called Bibliographic and documentation services.

Two interdepartmental centres are also part of the system: the Plans Archive and the Interdepartmental centre for architectural surveying, drafting and cartography. There is close collaboration and integration between the two structures, even though they act in clearly different areas as for the kind of documents (bibliographic, archival, and cartographic) but not for the subject areas, because both have collections on architecture and land and urban planning.

There are five libraries in Iuav University

Iuav University has five libraries:

The university Central library is not a library intended only to support teaching but also a research library in a wider meaning. This library receives and meets needs of the new faculty, and it is the core of the project currently carried on by Iuav Chancellor to create an Italian "national" library of architecture, to be intended not as a real "national library", but rather as a network of Iuav University libraries that, with its very rich collections, could reach the role of a "national resource" for architecture.

2. Why a collection development policy statement

By the described framework, we can easily understand how on the one hand, there is a great homogeneity in the covered subject area, even though this is extremely wide and has many relations with other subjects, on the other hand, the very recent and pressing needs to cover completely new subject areas (arts and design), where national and international bibliographic production is particularly rich, with links to new areas, by now only occasionally covered in Iuav libraries collections. This is a very quickly changing scenario which creates needs libraries must promptly meet but which also require management and control tools to avoid unmethodical, unbalanced and random collection development.

I believe it is easy to understand how three significant elements that made us consider seriously the idea of starting a collection development plan:

Besides the three elements described, very linked to the particular context, there are other reasons and needs, that certainly we can also find in other realities. Among these, I would point out:

In my opinion, another important element in Iuav libraries collection development policy statement project is the need to define and share with all players (librarians, professors and users) the collection development guidelines and link them to service strategies. The collection development plan statement consequently becomes the linking point between activities and services in libraries and its writing requires deep an wide reflections and analysis, not only on collections but also on services based on collections.

3. The collection development policy statement

The plan

In 1990's the acquisition procedures for monographs of Iuav University libraries have been centralized. This will show some critical points for an organic and harmonious collection development policies.

The collection development policy on the one hand tends to avoid documents duplications, on the other hand, must respect the historical tradition and scientific interests in documents selection, particularly, in the libraries of the university departments.

Participation in a training course held in 2000 by prof. Solimine and dr. Vaccani on "collection management: development, evaluation and reviewing", fostered the idea of examining and maybe reviewing criteria in collection development policies and this idea starts concretising with the writing of the collection development policy statement.

The statement was born with two main purposes:

I would like to communicate that, in last days, while thinking how to present our collection statement, I felt an increasing difficulty in finding concepts that would show its importance and novelty.

Difficulties arose from the awareness that we are not creating nor inventing anything but many tributes we owe to existing collection statements in American and British universities and to important Italian and foreign professional literature.

My thinking ended with the idea that the innovation itself lies in strongly believing that the collection development policy statement could be applied to our university library system and be, besides a planning tool, a tool able to fix by writing scopes, procedures, in a word, the work already present in acquisitions. This tool is able to stimulate a new way of thinking of collection development and management and to involve all players, to win unavoidable uncertainties and obvious scepticism, caused by little knowledge of problems and the impossibility to find already functioning examples of collection development policy statement in national universities.

The first version of the statement, in 2001, was discussed in a seminar held by prof. Solimine in our university, involving all librarians of the Bibliographic and documentary services sector and some professors of department libraries.


The collection development policy statement is consequently the planning document and the statement of intents and guidelines for explaining Iuav libraries collections profile.

It shows the acquisition, collection development and management policies, intended as an organic and continuous process in quantitative and especially qualitative growth of library collections, and the goals of those policies.

It aims at becoming, particularly for librarians, a means of communication with the faculty, and real and potential users.

The collection development policy statement is a written document, resulting from a collective work of the library staff involved in acquisition and collection management, and coordinated by the responsible of the Acquisition service, under the supervision of the director of Bibliographic and documentary services.

The statement needs advise and approval of the "Technical-scientific committee for the coordination of library collections expanding and exploitation policies" and of the government bodies of Iuav University.

The collection development policy statement is periodically revised, the frequency being decided by Bibliographic and documentary services and related to periodical evaluation of the level of users satisfaction and to new needs or relevant changes such as budget cuts and new academic courses.

Aims of collections

According to article 12-bis of the above-mentioned Iuav University charter and considering the library system mission, including the goal of becoming the National library for architecture, aims of collections are mainly:

Moreover, collections have the subordinate function of becoming an information centre for the local and suburban community and to support non-institutional users' needs for the specialization subjects. To fulfil this function we must act along with the government bodies of Iuav University, in order to state institutional policies and consequently to offer those non-occasional services (space, equipment and documents) able to meet needs of a wider community of users.

Community profile and audience

The community of users is identified as:

b) other users (non-institutional users)

According to Iuav policy, we can identify some types of needs that users express in relation to research, teaching, education, professional training, basic information.

We must also pay attention to unexpressed needs that we should help emerge by promoting knowledge and use of collections of the libraries, with the aim of giving Iuav library system a clear position in the socio-cultural reality, in the geographic area and in relation with other libraries of the area.

Collection management and development and service strategies

We intend service strategies for collection development as the identification of subject areas to cover, in relation with users needs, collection use and priorities to meet with available resources.

It is then necessary to identify priority subject and subject for which a lower intensity level is needed.

Considering "historical" collections, already existing in Iuav, and objective criteria for development guidelines, we identify three main subject areas:

These subjects are further divided in the following subjects:

that, along with single teaching programmes, are an unbiased criterion for selection and collection development.

In the framework given by subject areas and collection profile (see "Subject list" in Appendix A), we make choices for:

The collection profile

We think that the definition of the collection profile is an important element in our work and we were able to reach this aim with the work of librarians, mainly from the university Central library, who use a homogeneous and shared vocabulary.

The first list of subjects, classified by DDC, has been integrated with the work of librarians in single department libraries, whose aim was to reach a standard vocabulary for all subjects represented in the university collections, many of which were classified in the past with different and non standard methods (see "List of subjects" in Appendix A).

Levels of coverage and intensity indices

This work stage was felt as crucial since it was a necessary step for reaching the evaluation of existing collections and the identification of levels of coverage and intensity indices for development.

Our future task will be the evaluation of collections based on the Conspectus method.

The future steps will be the organization in May 2005 of a workshop on evaluation of collections using the Conspectus method with prof. Assunta Pisani, and fitted to our reality for measuring the existing collection intensity, collection development, and the qualitative evaluation of bibliographic materials that we have not considered now (periodicals, audiovisual materials and electronic resources).

Collections and libraries in Iuav

Collection development must consider changes in teaching and research interests in single libraries.

Every library collection has some thematic fields linked to teaching and scientific interests of the department or centre, which have given in the past and do still now the specialization to the collections.

Subject listed are present in the collections of the main five libraries of the university library system.

The Central library main field, besides reference works, general national and international documentation on three main subject areas (architecture, town planning, design and the arts), offers special interest sections such as "Archetica" (green building, green architecture, architectural barriers).

Giovanni Astengo Library main purpose is scientific activities, teaching and research support in town planning and area planning.

Strong attention is so given to deep coverage of collections in subjects as town and land of developing countries, Venice and the Veneto Region (demography, economics, urban area and planning), city and urban landscape (town planning, geographic area, social aspects and planning), economics (urban, industrial, job market), sociology (urban and regional), statistics woks and census data.

The Library of the Interdepartmental Survey, Cartography and Processing Service Centre (CIRCE) is specialized in cartography, historical cartography, photogrammetry and remote sensing.

For the Library of the Department of architectural planning (DPA) the main purpose is to support scientific activities, teaching and research in subjects related to planning. A deeper level of specialization is pursued for collections in architectural and building typologies, interior design and decoration.

The Library of the Department of history of architecture (DSA) has as a main purpose support of scientific activities, teaching and research in subject areas related to the history of architecture. A deep level of specialization is pursued for collections related to artists and architecture masters, the cities of Venice and Rome, European capitals, architecture treatises and garden art.

The library system includes also a Video library, whose tasks are preservation, acquisition, dissemination and promotion of the audiovisual collections in order to meet teaching and research needs of students, researchers and professor of Iuav. The Video library acquires Italian and foreign audiovisual materials in the following subjects: town planning and town history, architecture, history, criticism and biographies, design and the arts, dance and theatre, engineering and building, sociology and anthropology, and the following topologies: seminars and conferences organized by Iuka departments and services and auteur films.

Special collections in Iuav libraries

Astengo collection

It is formed from the private library of professor Giovanni Astengo (1915-1990). It is a documentation of the intellectual education and deep professional activity of the famous urban planner and university professor. It has over 2200 items, partly drawings and cartographic materials and partly bibliographic materials.

Labò collection

It is made from a large part of the private library of the architect from Genua Mario Labò (1884-1961). It has about 600 items, of which 192 are antique volumes (published from 1500 to 1830), including copies of treatises by Vignola, Milizia, Serlio, Guarini, Vasari, Fra' Giocondo's Vitruvius, the Palazzi di Genova by Rubens (of which Labò was editor), as well as guides to Italian and European cities; 482 modern works (from 1831 to the first half of 1900), among which a large number of volumes of the exhibitions in XIX century and the first decades of XX century, catalogues of Milan Triennale Exhibition, conference proceedings, guides of Italian and European capitals, books on decorative arts and interior design, garden architecture, manuals and monographs about architects and artists.

Palazzoli collection

The collection is dedicated to the history of photography and its protagonists, and includes 1500 items collected by professor Daniela Palazzoli during his teacher and scholar career. The collection is particularly rich in texts on the history, theory, the main authors and movements of photography from the beginning to about 1980.

The collection allows scholars to find the most important publications on photographers and subjects related to photography. It is a main reference point in Italy for people studying this subject.

Sardi collection

It is made from a part of the library of the Venetian architect Giovanni Sardi (1863-1913). The Sardi collection includes only a part of his personal library (of about 6000 volumes) since the number of works we were donated is only 500. We must also notice that certainly there are items bought by other members of the family after his death (there are in fact items published after 1913). Among works, which are evidence of the intellectual and professional activity of the architect, there are books and periodicals in the fields of art and architecture, building and materials science, statics, mechanics, hydraulics, and on the buildings of Venice. There is also a small section of ancient works (about 30) on architecture, civil and military engineering and hydraulic engineering.


Bibliographic and documentary services of Iuav University aim at pursuing cooperation strategies and acting on cooperation lines agreed between the Central library and department libraries and other centres of the university library system to reach a coordinated collection development.

Areas of cooperation are at present:

Contents of the present version of the collection development policy statement have been discussed and approved by the "Technical-scientific committee for coordination of expanding and exploitation of collections".


Appendix A) : Subjects list

DDC = DeweyDecimal Classification

CE = Existing collections evaluated with coverage levels and depth indices (on construction)

SC = Desired collection development with coverage levels and depth indices (on construction)


SUBJECTS (general layout SBD)









Computer science




Computer aided design (CAD)








Archives, library and information sciences




General encyclopaedic works




General organizations and museology








Civic and landscape art




Town planning




Theory of town planning




History of town planning




Area planning (national and international)




Area planning (local and inter-local)




Town planning (city restoration and town plans)




Town planners




Town history (single towns)




Special areas planning and city restoration




Transports (areas and systems)




Sea transports (bridges, waterfront, sea stations, docklands)




Different systems (not transports)




Landscape architecture




Parks and public and private gardens








Theories of architecture




Architectural design




Architectural restoration



720.[42] poi 720.87

Architectural barriers



720.[43] poi 720.846

Architecture for old people




Green architecture (architecture and environment)




SUBJECTS (general layout SBD)





Teaching and research in architecture




History of architecture (places and countries)








Architectural structure (architectural typologies)




Buildings in special materials




Structural elements




Schools and architectural styles (from the origins to now)




Public buildings (administrative, commercial, for communication and transports, industrial, for care and assistance, for refreshment and entertainment)




Building for religious purposes




Buildings for education and research (schools, universities, museums, libraries)




Residential buildings (low-cost and traditional houses, hotels, country houses, villas, castles, palaces)




Design and decoration (facades, lighting and acoustics)







Plastic arts (sculpture)








Processes, forms, subjects of sculpture




History of sculpture




Numismatics, ceramic arts, art metalwork








Drawing and decorative arts




Drawing and drawings








Industrial design








Design and decoration pure and applied








Textile arts




Interior decoration (design)








Furniture and accessories








Appendix B): Responsibilities and working methods

The Technical-scientific committee for coordination of expanding and exploitation of collections, professors responsible scientifically of department libraries and centres, Director of Bibliographic and documentary services and librarians of the Acquisition service are involved, according to their expertise and level of responsibility, in decisions for collection development.

Procedures that set the flows of work activities in acquisition of library materials are divided in the stage of documents selection according to:

These choices consider also assessment of the bibliologic value (form: book in its physical entity), the bibliographic value (relation: the contribution documents give to knowledge, as compared to the already existing documents and library value (situation: related to the collections and mission of the library, i.e. lacks, different visions).


[*] Parts 1-2 are by Laura Casagrande; part 3 is by Andreina Masotti.

N.B.: disponibile anche la versione italiana.

Copyright AIB 2005-09-28, ultimo aggiornamento 2005-09-28 a cura di Serafina Spinelli
URL: http://www.aib.it/aib/commiss/cnur/boecasag.htm3

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