Collection Development Strategy Report – Tyndale House Library Cambridge

***This analysis was written by CityLIS student Bethany Sherwood in January 2019. It is reproduced here with the author’s permission as part of our CityLIS Writes initiative.***

Collection Development Strategy Report – Tyndale House Library Cambridge

Background to the organisation and library:

Tyndale House is an independent academic institute for Biblical studies with a Christian foundation. Its main aim is to foster academic community and support scholarship in the primary evidence relevant to the Bible. The institute is built around the library which, since its founding in 1944, has resourced research into the Old and New Testaments and their surrounding linguistic, historical and cultural contexts. Crucially, the library is non-circulating and each readers is allocated their own desk.

The library is adjoined by a residential centre. Many of the readers are visiting for short periods of time, from day visits to months long sabbaticals. Many are masters, postgraduate, or doctoral students from the University of Cambridge studying in the Faculties of Divinity and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Other readers are post-doctoral or later-career academics visiting from international home institutions to make use of the Tyndale Library for specific projects, often books or articles.

The collection:

The Tyndale House Library holds a collection recognised internationally for academic biblical studies. By specialising strictly on post-graduate study of the biblical text, the collection is very specific in scope, and aims to hold virtually all the important academic titles within the related disciplines, without growing too large.

The discipline is monograph-heavy, and so the collection consists mostly of printed, physical materials, both monographs, journals, and unpublished thesis, totalling nearly 30,000. The library also has access to the University of Cambridge’s collection of e-resources via a networked connection, as part of a reciprocal access arrangement. Additionally, readers have access to many significant primary manuscripts via the University’s extensive special collections and publicly accessible digital library. Tyndale House also holds repositories of data on GitHub, and various physical artefacts, including cuneiform tablets.

Report aims:

This report aims to assess the viability of the current policy and the benefits of introducing a collection development strategy. It will also compare collection development models and collection development policies at other similar institutions, and will make recommendations for the expansion of the policy and the creation of an overarching collection development strategy.

Why the proposed strategy is required:

1.     The viability of the current policy

The Library’s current collection development policy is attached as appendix 1. This policy was written in September 2018 and is the first specific and written collection development policy the library has had since its opening. This report outlines a suggested strategy, which will build on the current collection development policy, in order to join up the policy with the organisation’s larger goals and objectives.

The policy, as it stands currently, is a set of fixed principles that guide decisions for acquisitions, holdings and withdrawals. It is deliberately brief and imprecise, as it was produced for the purpose of display on the library website, rather than as a working document. Its impreciseness stems from a reluctance to define the scope of the collections, and consequently the relevancy of items to this scope. The scope of the collection is only mentioned in the section of the policy ‘4. Budget allocations’[1] which defines it, in relation to decisions for acquisition of resources, as ‘post-graduate research on Biblical studies’. This lack of further definition is useful to the library staff in that it allows for interpretive freedom, and that the policy does not need to be updated often as it does not make many specific claims. However, this also limits the policy’s usefulness as its vagueness requires the interpretation of library staff, and so it does not give library users any real insight into the management of the collection.

The Tyndale House library collection aims to be both a record of historic scholarship on biblical studies, and to also give researchers access to current publications. This means the collection combines a focus on being both large and comprehensive, and also current and accessible. The current policy doesn’t explicitly address these aims in its purpose statement. The purpose statement is written in very general terms.[2] There is a need for a collection development strategy which revises this statement to be more specific to Tyndale House Library, and to define the ‘systems’ that are in place.

Tyndale House library has historically been conceived of, by staff and users, as a physical library space, residential centre and an academic community. However, the demand for remote access and digital collections is increasing. The library does currently have access to Cambridge University e-resources, via networked connection within the library, and it runs a paid-for scanning service, but otherwise the library does not have its own e-resources that are accessible remotely. Like many academic libraries, the Tyndale House library has significant pressure to develop digital collections, and as such this should be outlined in the collection development strategy. The current ‘Future Development’ section of the policy is again vague in this area, stating the development aim as being ‘to acquire material relating to the focus of the collection. This focus includes printed books and journals as well as electronic content and other media as appropriate.’[3]

Overall, the policy benefits from a broad scope, in that it addresses many of the key areas, such as budget, donations, withdrawal and review process. However it would further benefit from increased clarification and definition, expanding these key areas so that they better reflect the relationship between the academic community of users and the mission of Tyndale House, and adequately emphasise the uniqueness of the collection.

2.     Benefits of introducing a collection development strategy

The vocabulary of the collection implies those materials that the library collects and is custodian of. In the current environment, this will only be a proportion of the total information offerings that it makes available. […] The vocabulary of collection development and collection management is now out-dated and out of step with how libraries actually operate even when this is not specifically recognised. For this reason, libraries should exercise caution in the use of collection-based terminology and, better, shift their thinking to content.[4]

Stuart Hunt suggests moving towards a movement towards a change in vocabulary for collection development. Moving away from ‘collections’ to ‘content’. This is a useful approach for Tyndale House as it recognises that the resources the library has stewardship over are not exclusively printed materials, but also extend to the library’s staff knowledge, access to external digital resources, and archives.

Content strategy, as conceived of by Hunt, is a holistic approach to ‘all content that is created, consumed, re-used, curated and disposed of,’ and takes account of ‘the consumer of content, as student or academic, and the governance and management of content.’[5] A content development strategy would enable a broader view of the library’s collection and its development. Taking into consideration the pressures of space, as the library collection’s growth must be balanced against study space, and the pressure of adapting to the demand for, and different needs of, digital content.

In addition, Hunt encourages a data-driven or evidence-based, rather than patron-driven, approach to acquisition and collection development. Arguing that this is an consequence of a ‘custodian approach’ to content which ‘see[s] ownership as the ultimate mission of the library.’[6] This is another area where a collection, or content, strategy would be beneficial to Tyndale House. To revise how the library and its collections are conceptualised, and to focus on content, rather than collections, and long-term organisational and community needs, rather than an majority patron-driven approach to collection development.

Library space is also a significant factor that needs to be taken into account in the collection development strategy of Tyndale House Library. In November 2018 the library completed a shelving project to add an additional 81 metres of shelf space to accommodate the growth of the collection. And in 2019 a new wing of the house presents an opportunity for a significant increase in library’s footprint. At present the collection is shelved entirely in low-density, open-shelves. As the new building is planned, the collection development strategy should adapt as the space of the library adapts, and acknowledge that strategy for how the collection is used and shelved is as essential for collection development as weeding and withdrawal.

A collection, or content, development strategy, with a wider, objectives focused approach, whilst providing guidance for staff decision making, would also act as a foundation for future planning and resource allocation in reflection of the library’s goals. It would also provide a cohesive statement and point of contact for internal and external stakeholders, as well as acting as a foundation for wider cooperation and resource sharing.

It will be important to regularly review the collection development policy and strategy to assess how well it meets organisational objectives and serves its users. This process will help to identify gaps or deficiencies in the collection and whether budgets are adequately distributed.

Models for collection development:

There are a number of models for collection development which could be considered as frameworks for the Tyndale Library collection strategy.

1.     The British Library – Content Life Cycle Models (2016)[7]

The British Library’s Life Cycle models illustrate the library’s written and digital content is effectively managed at each stage of its ‘Life Cycle’. It has two models, one for physical collections and one for digital content. They conceptualise the collection as moving through an ‘ecosystem of processes, policies and activities.’[8]

The models take into account the way that collection management operates in a changing environment, in which digital and print collections will have differing needs. The British Library’s Collection Management policy states that in the light of these challenges the library ‘must operate as a truly hybrid library managing increasing amounts of digital content in an environment where printed volumes are not significantly declining. We need to integrate the physical and digital together to create coherent Collections.’[9]

Whilst Tyndale House is a much smaller library, and has less pressing concerns for digital acquisitions, its collection would also benefit from this hybrid approach which retains commitment to printed collections, and aims to integrate digital content to form a collection which is cohesive and consistently resourced and managed.

1.a.    The British Library – Kaplan and Norton Strategy Mapping

The British Library strategy also uses the Kaplan and Norton Strategy Mapping methodology, which defines strategic objectives in terms of outcomes, customers, processes, and learning and growth. The strategy map is a form of balanced scorecard (BSC) documentation which describes how an organisation creates value by setting out how different objectives are linked.

A graphical representation like this displays strategy, and its various levels of implementation, in a way that is clear and understandable. Using a balanced scorecard and a strategy map would enable Tyndale House to better communicate the collection development strategy and to better connect policy to practice.

2.     Research Libraries Group (RLG) Conspectus Model (2001)[10]

The Conspectus collection levels were developed by the Research Libraries Group (now part of OCLC) in the 1980s and are used to record and assess the strength of a library’s existing collections and current collecting intensity in a method that is standardized and quantifiable. Its widespread use in research library collections has enabled participating libraries to compare collections and facilitate inter-institutional cooperation. However, the framework was last updated in 1997 so it lacks the incorporation of current practices.

The framework is arranged by subjects, using the Library of Congress (LC) classification scheme. The process measures and maps out collection depth levels for a number of LC subject fields. Decisions are made as to Existing Collection Strength (ECS), Current Collecting Intensity (CCI) and Desired Collecting Intensity (DCI) or Acquisitions Commitment or Collection Goal which is optional. Each decision is coded:

0 Out of scope
1 Minimal information
2 Basic information
3 Study or instructional support
4 Research support
5 Comprehensive

2.a.    International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Section on Acquisition and Collection Development Guidelines for using the Conspectus Model.[11]

As Tyndale House is a specialist subject library the Conspectus Model is not an ideal fit. However, IFLA’s Guidelines offer a useful model for the creation of a collection development policy using Conspectus as a framework. The IFLA Guidelines aim to guide the creation of a framework policy, which, rather than acting as a tool or description of processes, frames these processes as part of a wider perspective: ‘forcing the staff involved to (re)consider the aims and objectives of the organization, both long and short term, and the priorities to be attached to different activities.’[12]

IFLA suggest beginning a policy with the creation of a series of guiding general and narrative statements, these include the mission and purpose of the policy and the audience it addresses. The second section is a series of subject profiles, in the form of conspectus reports, which create a foundation for data-driven acquisitions and resource distribution.

An assessment of collection development policies at similar institutions:

Before considering putting forward specific recommendations, it is beneficial to consider the collection development strategies and policies at other institutions with similar collections in order to assess current standards. The two considered below are based in the US, as their collections are the most similar to Tyndale House Library, and as none of the UK theological colleges researched publish their collection development policies online.[13]

1.     The Turpin Library – Dallas Theological Seminary[14]

The Turpin Library collection development policy is divided into two categories, ‘General Selection Guidelines: What do we collect?’ and ‘Responsibilities and Procedures: Who builds the collection, and how?’. They outline the subject matter of their core fields of study, and use Conspectus Levels to describe their collecting intensity for each specific topic.[15]

The Turpin Library policy also explicitly states that they ‘prefer online e-books and e-journals instead of print volumes’ and ‘ownership or perpetual access of high-priority, high-use resources rather than limited- term access (subscribing/leasing).’[16] Stating this in the policy means they are clear about their acquisitions processes and reflects the changing environment of academic publishing and indicates a move towards point-of-need “just-in-time” rather than “just-in-case” approaches to collection development.

2.     David Allan Hubbard Library – Fuller Theological Seminary[17]

The David Allan Hubbard (DAH) Library’s policy designates three groups with responsibility for collection development: the library staff, the senior faculty, and other library members such as students and staff. This statement of responsibility encourages a collaborative approach to collection development, and increases faculty and student ownership and involvement in the library collection. This collaborative approach, when effectively employed, is a way of stopping policy merely being documentation and properly embedding it into the practice of the institution.

The DAH Library also uses the Conspectus model of collection development. They extend the levels of focus to the different formats collected, as well as the topics collected. The collection development policy also outlines their methods for collection evaluation. This demonstrates the library’s commitment to measuring the ‘fit between user needs and library materials.’[18] To do this they use a framework divided into qualitative and quantitative techniques.

The DAH Library also has a framework for weeding, based on the ‘CREW Method’ by Joseph P. Segal (ALA, Chicago, 1980) and an updated version by Jeanette Larson: ‘CREW: A Weeding Manual for Modern Libraries’, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Austin, TX, 2008. DAH use an acronym as their basic guide for the consideration of weeding: MUSTIE

M = Misleading—factually inaccurate materials

U = Ugly—materials worn beyond mending or rebinding

S = Superseded—by a new edition or by a better book/source on the subject (older editions in storage)

T = Trivial—of no discernible literary or scientific (in our case, theological, etc.) merit

I = Irrelevant to the needs and interests of the Library’s community

E = Elsewhere—the material is easily obtained online or from another library [19]

This framework provides a series of defined assessments for the items being considered for weeding. These criteria are still very subjective, for example, the judgement of an item’s triviality and merit, but are beneficial for making the process of weeding more transparent, consistent and measured.


Recommendations for a collection development strategy & expansion of existing policy:

In the light of these different options, the following strategy for collection development is proposed. It incorporates suggestions for expansion of the current policy with a broader focus on underpinning strategy and the benefits of implementing said strategy.

1.     Statement of Mission

a.     The organisation’s mission statement

b.     The library’s mission

These statements aim to delineate the organisation’s wider goals and how the library fits into and sits under these.

2.     Content Development Strategy

a.     Scope – This covers the whole remit of library resources or “content” in a hybrid approach, that includes library space and staff as resources that must be managed alongside the collection. This will include Tyndale House’s GitHub repository, scanning service and various physical artefacts, including cuneiform tablets.

b.     Aims – The main aims of the strategy – to inform staff decision-making and day-to-day policy, to keep library users informed of Library strategy, and to join up library policies and processes with the organisation’s wider goals.

c.     Strategy map – A graphical representation of strategic objectives in terms of outcomes, customers, processes, and learning and growth. This section also covers future development within learning and growth; including development of digital resources, staffing and space.

3.     Purpose of the collection

The purpose statement will address the library’s joint commitments to retaining collections of historic, and access to current and recently published materials.

4.     Content Development Policy – Subject areas

This section will provide a fuller picture of the collection’s scope. This will consist of a series of Conspectus reports, using the library’s classification scheme to identify the fields currently represented in the collection and assessing their Existing Collection Strength, Current Collecting Intensity and Desired Collecting Intensity. Also included will be sections representing items that are not represented in the classification, such as the GitHub repository, archive and physical artefacts.
5.      Content Development Policy – Formats

This section, similarly to the one before, will set out the different formats represented within the collection, or anticipated to be represented within the collection in future and will assign each format a Conspectus level.

6.     Statement of Responsibility

a.     Library Staff – the responsibilities of the Librarian, deputy librarian and library assistants for the implementation of the strategy. And responsibility to keep updated on current trends and issues in Biblical studies, and to consistently consult faculty and students to inform future updates of the strategy. Staff will also be responsive and receptive to faculty and user requests for acquisitions and to maintain channels of communication for these requests (such as the ‘Suggest a book’ web-form, and the ‘Arrivers and Leavers’ email surveys).

b.     Academic Faculty – the academic faculty are responsible for supporting the library staff to maintain the collection in line with current needs for study and to suggest materials to fill gaps the collection. They are also responsible for identifying new publications in their specialisms and passing these on to the librarians for purchase.

c.     Users – users are responsible for helping to inform library staff of weaknesses in the collection and to identify and suggest items needed for their research. This involves filling out the ‘Arrivers and Leavers’ email surveys users receive before they arrive and after their visit, which enable them to outline their area of research to indicate to library staff which areas of the collection they will be using and to give feedback on the collection after using it.

7.     Acquisition methods

This section will outline a commitment to data-driven acquisitions, rather than patron-driven acquisitions and the specific sources and collection methods for obtaining this data. It will outline the library’s present commitment to print resources over digital or e-book copies.

8.     Resource sharing

This new section will incorporate the current policy’s ‘alternatives for acquisition’ and will outline the library’s relationship with the other libraries within the University of Cambridge, and the availability of access to the universities’ digital resources and special collections.

9.     Budget Allocation

10.  Conservation

11.  Donations

The current policy statements for donations, conservation and budget allocation are minimal but sufficient at present. Their expansion may be considered as the strategy is reviewed annually.

12.  Stock withdrawal and disposal

Once a year a section of the library will be selected (in line with the fields represented in the Conspectus levels) to be assessed for potential withdrawals and to identify gaps in the collection. A shelf list will be passed on to the relevant specialist faculty member who is responsible, along with the deputy librarian, for identifying superseded, trivial, irrelevant, and misleading materials using an adapted version of the MUSTIE method:


M = Misleading—factually inaccurate materials

U = Ugly—materials worn beyond mending or rebinding (subject to availability of an equivalent replacement of the item)

S = Superseded—by a new edition or by a better book/source on the subject

T = Trivial—of no discernible academic merit

I = Irrelevant to the needs and interests of the Library’s community

E = Elsewhere—the material is easily obtained online or from another library


The library staff will also assess the collection as it circulates, using the MUSTIE method to identify damaged items etc.


13.  Management of archives

At present, due to the lack of a paid and permanent archivist role the policy for archival collection development is lacking. It is recommended this is addressed separately, in consultation with an archivist and alongside a more comprehensive review of the archival collections. Eventually, the archives would be integrated within the library’s collection development strategy, but more work must be done before this is possible.

14.  Policy Review & Collection Evaluation

a.     Qualitative methods – including data collection from ‘Arrivers and Leavers’ surveys and acquisitions requests and purchases.

b.     Quantitative methods – focus groups with faculty and users and annual library survey.

c.     Review process and frequency

This final section will cover the methods that will be used to evaluate the strengths of the collection and strategy in practice. It will also outline the frequency with which the strategy will be reviewed and updated.

Appendix 1

Tyndale House Library Collections Management, Development and Disposals Policy 2018


This statement outlines the general policies and priorities by which Tyndale House Library will select, maintain and manage its holdings and access provision in order to fulfil its mission to support research.

The statement’s chief aims are to assist in systematic collection development and management, to ensure the cost-effective and relevant selection of resources and to inform readers of the basis of decisions made pertaining to the collections.

1. Purpose of the collection

Library sources of information are seen as a valuable strategic resource to be acquired and managed efficiently and to be readily accessible and relevant to potential readers. Systems will be in place to manage information resources so that they can be effectively accessed and retained, and their content disseminated.

2. Subject Collection Development Policy

This policy covers the areas below and is regularly updated. Its aim is to state the current level and extent of collecting activity appropriate for research needs; possible alternative access to material from other collections in Cambridge University; criteria for selection, acquisition, and withdrawal.

3. Users of Tyndale House Library

All researchers, either attached to an Institution or independent, working in the subject area of Biblical Studies and related fields covered by the purpose and mission of Tyndale House. Approved readers will have access to all resources available within the Library, including e- resources as covered by licensing agreements and other media. A small collection of professional literature is maintained for Library staff.

4. Budget allocation

Funds for the purchase resources are allocated annually.
Selection responsibility: selection of resources is the shared responsibility of academic and Library staff.

Criteria for selection and acquisition:

The following factors will influence the decision to acquire (or purchase licensed access to) resources:

·         Scope and relevance of the content to post-graduate research on Biblical studies

·         The known or anticipated demand from users

·         Paperbacks or hardbacks are acceptable according to availability

The Tyndale House Librarian controls the budget for the purchase of resources and upkeep of the collections.

5. Conservation

Items in need of conservation are prioritised by the Librarian according to use and condition.

6. Future Development

To acquire material relating to the focus of the collection. This focus includes printed books and journals as well as electronic content and other media as appropriate.

Additions to the collections will be assessed on their relevance to and enhancement of the existing collection and existing or planned research within Tyndale House.

7. Donations

Donations of printed material are accepted at the discretion of the Librarian.

When deciding whether to accept donations of printed material, the following factors will be considered: whether the material the physical condition of the material; the cost implications of processing and cataloguing the material; the cost of accommodating and providing appropriate access to the material.

Donations of printed materials are accepted on the understanding that they become the property of Tyndale House. The Library will organise and locate donated materials according to its collection management criteria and will appropriately dispose of unwanted material.

Those considering donating collections of more than 20 printed volumes should contact the Librarian in the first instance. In the case of unannounced or anonymous donations the Library will assume that the owners are aware of the guidelines above.

8. Alternatives to acquisition

Visiting other libraries, such as Cambridge University Library may provide satisfactory access to material. Forms for access to and use of the Cambridge university Library are available for private Desk readers from the Library Office

9. Stock withdrawal and disposal

Items which have ceased to be used, or are used very infrequently, and are not relevant to the focus of the collection may be withdrawn from stock and disposed of, in consultation with academic staff.

Withdrawn stock may be disposed of by sale or as gifts to other institutions or charities; or destroyed using environmentally friendly means.

10. Management of archives

As the Organisation holds archives, including photographs and printed ephemera, its management will be guided by the Code of Practice on Archives for Museums and Galleries in the United Kingdom (3rd ed., 2002).

11. Policy Review

Policy to be reviewed and revised annually by the Deputy Librarian and the Vice Principal of Operations

Latest revision: September 2018


British Library Board, Collection Management Strategy (London: British Library, 2 September 2016) <> [accessed 15 December 2018]

David Allan Hubbard Library, Fuller Theological Seminary, Collection Development Policy (Fuller Theological Seminary, 20 November 2018) <> [accessed 15 December 2018]

Hunn, Marvin, Collection Development Policy and Process (Turpin Library, Dallas Theological Seminary, December 2018), p. 8 <>

Hunt, Stuart, ‘Collection Development in UK University Libraries’, Collection Building, 36 (2017), 29–34 <>

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions Section on Acquisition and Collection Development, Guidelines for a Collection Development Policy Using the Conspectus Model (IFLA, 2001) <> [accessed 15 December 2018]

Library of Congress, ‘Collecting Levels – Acquisitions’ <> [accessed 15 December 2018]



[1] See Appendix 1, section 4
[2] Appendix 1, section 1
[3] Appendix 1, section 6
[4] Stuart Hunt, ‘Collection Development in UK University Libraries’, Collection Building, 36.1 (2017), 29–34 (p. 30) <>.
[5] Hunt, p. 30.
[6] Hunt, p. 31.
[7] British Library Board, Collection Management Strategy (London: British Library, 2 September 2016) <> [accessed 15 December 2018].
[8] British Library Board, p. 2.
[9] British Library Board, p. 3.
[10] Library of Congress, ‘Collecting Levels – Acquisitions’ <> [accessed 15 December 2018].
[11] International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions Section on Acquisition and Collection Development, Guidelines for a Collection Development Policy Using the Conspectus Model (IFLA, 2001) <> [accessed 15 December 2018].
[12] International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions Section on Acquisition and Collection Development, p. 1.
[13] UK theological colleges considered: Cranmer Hall, Durham; Union Theological College, Belfast; Wescott House, Cambridge; Ridley Hall, Cambridge; Wycliffe Hall, Oxford; and Trinity College, Bristol.
[14] Marvin Hunn, Collection Development Policy and Process (Turpin Library, Dallas Theological Seminary, December 2018), p. 8 <>.
[15] Hunn, pp. 5–8.
[16] Hunn, p. 2.
[17] David Allan Hubbard Library, Fuller Theological Seminary, Collection Development Policy (Fuller Theological Seminary, 20 November 2018) <> [accessed 15 December 2018].
[18] David Allan Hubbard Library, Fuller Theological Seminary, p. 10.
[19] David Allan Hubbard Library, Fuller Theological Seminary, p. 12.


About Joseph Dunne-Howrie

I am artist in residence in the MA/MSc Library and Information Science department at City, University of London and module year coordinator for MA/MFA Performative Writing/Vade Mecum at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance.My research interests include intermediality, live performance in digital culture, participatory and immersive theatre, performance documentation, archives, and performative writing.
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