Collections Development Policy

Purpose and Scope

The Health Sciences Library (HSL) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill) supports the teaching, research and clinical activities of the UNC Chapel Hill community in a variety of settings in the State of North Carolina and around the world. The guidelines described in the Collection Development Policy are designed to support the Library’s mission and vision.


The HSL primarily serves the faculty, students, researchers, and staff of the Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Dentistry, the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, the Gillings School of Global Public Health, a number of related research centers, and the UNC Hospitals.

As part of the University Libraries at UNC Chapel Hill, the HSL supports the faculty, students, researchers, and staff in all disciplines at the University. The HSL also serves the general public, medical and health practitioners, and biomedical researchers in North Carolina. The HSL regularly collaborates and works in close contact with other similar libraries in the region and the state in order to better provide information and resources to the entire community of service.

Coverage and Scope


The HSL collects primarily English language materials, with three regular exceptions.

  • Foreign language materials or instructional texts for regions of exceptional interest to its clientele when no comparable English language resource is available
  • Rare foreign language books with historical interest
  • Foreign language medical dictionaries and guides

Geographical Scope

The Library collects books and journals from English-language publishers internationally with rare exception. Materials written about health and medicine in North Carolina are of special interest, as are those focused on international regions relevant to UNC Chapel Hill research and studies.


Formats Collected for Permanent Retention

The HSL collects primarily books and journals for permanent or long-term retention.

Electronic journals are always preferable to print journals, with print journals only being subscribed when of very extraordinary value and with no other access available.

Electronic books are preferable for the following types of books:

  • Edited volumes
  • Reference books
    • Note: A small core collection of clinical reference books will be maintained in both print and electronic format in case of disaster, as described below
  • Festschrifts, on the rare occasion that one is acquired
  • Widely used textbooks
    • Note: Only if the textbook can be acquired with access for multiple users simultaneously, and is also of value independently of its textbook status
  • Conference proceedings
  • Style guides and dictionaries
  • Study materials and exam guides
  • Government documents
  • Books that may be included in an online demand-driven acquisitions plan
  • Books most likely to be utilized by users based away from the Chapel Hill campus; i.e., books intended to support users doing research or clinical work overseas or at a satellite location

Formats Collected for Short-Term or Access-Only Retention

In order to provide the broadest and most relevant body of resources possible, the Library subscribes or provides access to numerous electronic and print resources without maintaining permanent access. These resources may include:

  • Point-of-care or laboratory resources with very frequent updates
  • Textbooks with annual editions
  • Exam preparation and other self-study resources
  • Journals of peripheral interest
  • Select professional association and NGO documents posted online with free and open access
  • Other select resources posted online with free and open access
  • Other resources intended for purposes met most effectively with shorter term access

Outdated materials or links with more than two years of no circulation, online usage or library-mediated access will be withdrawn, with very rare exception.

Open online resources not hosted or subscribed by the Libraries may be dropped from the catalog at any time, and will be when no longer relevant to the curricular, clinical or research missions of the University.

The Library also maintains a small collection of streaming media and tangible audiovisual materials for educational and training purposes. These items are only retained while actively used and still current; a review will be made annually to ensure that all materials are current, relevant and active.

Duplication of Formats

Duplication of formats is to be avoided except in very limited circumstances, such as but not limited to the following:

  • High-circulation books may be maintained in both print and electronic formats
  • Skills oriented books such as writing guides and research methods titles may be purchased in both print and electronic formats, and may be purchased by multiple libraries on campus to accommodate high use and different styles of learning
  • Very highly essential clinical reference texts should be held in both print and electronic format in order to ensure access during all circumstances

Separate Collections

Special Collections

The HSL Special Collections are both digital and physical, with a special focus on historical or rare texts and materials written or used in North Carolina and the surrounding region. See the HSL Special Collections Development Policy for more information.

Reference Collection

The Reference Collection includes bibliographies, major core textbooks, directories, clinical atlases, pharmacopoeia, encyclopedias, dictionaries, legal resources, statistical sources, biographical dictionaries, and other critical texts.

The majority of Reference materials will be purchased in either print or online formats, but not both. Online formats will be preferred when available in order to support easy and rapid access for users, except for those titles included in the Critical Clinical Reference Collection.

The Critical Clinical Reference Collection

This group of clinical references consists of current therapeutic texts and one or two major reference texts for most clinical and surgical specialties, with a special emphasis on those likely to be required in a major disaster. These resources are maintained in both print and online formats in order to ensure access in the case of a prolonged power outage.

Withdrawal of Print Reference Materials:

Most books withdrawn from the Reference Collection will be transferred to the circulating collection, at which point any older editions in the circulating collection may or may not be withdrawn permanently in turn. Retention decisions for older editions are assigned on a title-by-title basis.


  • Every third edition of a classic textbook as determined by the Assistant Department Head of User Services most involved in Reference Services should be retained in the circulating collection, with the others withdrawn.
  • Prescribing handbooks should be withdrawn and discarded immediately when superseded, but not pharmacopeia.
  • The following types of reference materials may be kept in the Reference Collection rather than the Circulating Collection even when superseded:
    • Bibliographies
    • Statistical sources

Guidelines for Withdrawal or Cancellation of Materials & Resources

Withdrawal of Materials from the Physical Circulating Collection

The following materials may be withdrawn without notification or consultation of users:

  • Any books or other items duplicated in this or other campus libraries without high current circulation
  • Older editions of textbooks or study resources not meeting criteria of materials to retain
  • Out-of-scope books or other items no longer supported by the curriculum
  • Books or other items in extremely poor condition
    • If the content and circulation of the item makes it worthy of retention, it should be repaired or replaced if possible
  • Print journal runs under the following circumstances:
    • If another library in TRLN has committed to permanently archiving the print journal and online access is available
    • If there is a duplicate print run in another campus library that is more complete
    • If the journal is widely held and the library has permanent online access
    • If the journal run is incomplete with many gaps and is of insufficient value to the current scope and user needs of HSL to justify attempts to complete it

Withdrawal/Suppression of Owned Electronic eBooks

eBooks purchased with an agreement of perpetual access rights may be withdrawn or hidden within the catalog from users at the discretion of the Library, typically in these circumstances:

  • Any high-use eBook with a newer print edition more than one year past publication date
  • Any superseded pharmacotherapeutic, clinical, or other eBooks intended for use at the point of care
  • Any eBook purchased on both an aggregator and a publisher site; only the copy with the preferred interface should be maintained
  • eBooks with regular problematic access

Cancellation of Subscription Resources

The Library regularly reviews serials and other online resources to ensure the relevance and value of the collection. Resources with recorded usage being considered for cancellation will be presented to library clientele for comment and feedback before final cancellation. The following factors will be considered where relevant:

  • Online usage statistics
  • Cost per measurable use
  • Impact factor or an alternative assessment of impact
  • Subject scope and relevance to HSL primary users
  • Uniqueness of content
  • Availability of other access
  • Terms of license and subscription
  • Library community feedback in response to proposed cancellation

Gift Policy

The Library selectively accepts limited gifts of books that meet the selection criteria of the circulating or special collections.

Collaborative Collections Relationships

The Library relies on collaborative relationships with other libraries within the University Libraries at UNC Chapel Hill as well as other members of the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) to provide the fullest coverage for some subject areas. This cooperation may range from agreements to avoid duplication of materials for a subject to shared purchasing or licensing of certain online resources or collections of resources, and includes making collection materials available to users from any TRLN library through reciprocal borrowing arrangements.

Selection Guidelines by Subject

Coverage and Collecting Levels

Coverage of subjects within scope is at the following six levels adapted from the RLG levels, as appropriate to serve the core mission and clientele of the library:

  • Level 1. Minimum
    • Materials of popular interest, including consumer health resources
  • Level 2. Basic Information
    • Materials that define and introduce a subject; major broad reference materials
  • Level 3a. Instructional Support or Study
    • Materials to support undergraduate and most graduate (MS or MA) or professional study
  • Level 3b. Clinical Support
    • Materials to support clinical practice – practical handbooks, prescriber’s guides, diagnostics, point of care resources, etc.
  • Level 4. Research
    • Materials to support doctoral and post-graduate research. Contains major upper-level reference works and solid selection of specialized sources including foreign language titles
  • Level 5. Exhaustive
    • All or almost all published materials in English and original or translated materials in other languages

Coverage of Level 4 materials is assumed to include coverage of Level 3a, 2, and Level 1 materials but may not for specific subjects when not appropriate for the Library. Level 3b is independent of the other levels and is listed separately where included.

Note: Level 5

Exhaustive coverage is attempted for all health and medicine related materials for all subject ranges where there is a strong focus on North Carolina and the Appalachian region, while reducing duplication of materials with other libraries on campus.

Interdisciplinary Areas of Special Emphasis

Many subjects of special interest to the Library and the University cross disciplines or have broader relevance than for one call number range. Most of these areas are collected by both the HSL and Walter Royal Davis Library, with both libraries maintaining significant collections. The following are examples of core areas of special interest that may cross subject ranges and library collections:

  • Rural Health
  • Health of Special Populations
  • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
  • Clinical Practice
  • Global Health
  • Health Systems and Policy

Coverage Levels by NLM and Selected LC Classification Schedules

Note: Co-op refers to other libraries within the University and the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) that hold collections that are critical to providing the fullest access to resources for a subject.

Cooperating Library Key:

  • UNC Chapel Hill Walter Royal Davis Library Davis
  • UNC Chapel Hill Kenan Science Library Annex Annex
  • UNC Chapel Hill Sloane Art Library Art
  • UNC Chapel Hill Wilson Library Wilson
  • UNC Chapel Hill Katherine R. Everett Law Library Law
  • UNC Chapel Hill School of Information & Library Science Library SILS
  • NCSU Libraries NCSU

Note: Level 3b refers to resources that provide clinical support. It parallels level 3a, which includes resources that provide instructional support. A subject range may include both, either, or neither level – they are distinct. For some subjects, the HSL may collect only clinical materials, with other related materials held elsewhere.


Range Subject Level Level 3b Co-op
BF Psychology Level 3b Davis
BF 176 – 176.5 Psychological tests and testing Level 3a Level 3b Davis
BF 207 – 209 Psychotropic drugs Level 4 Level 3b
BF 309 – 499 Consciousness. Cognition Level 3a Level 3b Davis
BF 699 – 711 Genetic Psychology Level 3a Level 3b Davis
BF 712 – 724.85 Developmental Psychology Level 3a Level 3b Davis
GN 296 – 296.5 Medical Anthropology Level 3a Davis
GN 49 – 298 Physical Anthropology Level 3a Davis, Annex
GR 880 Folk Medicine Level 3a Davis
HB 848 – 3697 Demography. Population. Vital Events Level 4 Davis
HD 9665 – 9675 Pharmaceutical Industry Level 4 Davis
HG 9371 – 9399 Health Insurance Level 4 Davis
HM-HV Sociology as related to health Level 3a Davis
HQ 1073 – 1073.5 Thanatology. Death. Dying Level 4 Level 3b Davis
HQ 12 – 449 Sexual Life Level 3a Davis
HQ 750 – 755.5 Eugenics Level 4 Davis
HV 1551 – 3024 People with disabilities Level 4 Level 3b Davis
HV 5001 – 5840 Alcoholism. Tobacco habit. Drug abuse Level 3a Level 3b Davis
HV 560 – 583 Red Cross. Red Crescent Level 4 Davis
LB 3401 – 3499 School hygiene. School health services. Hygiene in universities and colleges Level 4 Level 3b Davis
LC 4001 – 4806.5 Education of children and youth with disabilities Level 3a Level 3b Davis
P 118 – 118.75 Language acquisition Level 3a Level 3b Davis
QA 273-280 Mathematical statistics Level 3a Annex
QC 350 – 467 Optics. Light Level 2 Level 3b Annex
QC 474 – 496.9 Radiation Physics Level 2 Level 3b Annex
QD 415 – 436 Biochemistry Level 3a Level 3b Annex
QH 426 – 470 Genetics Level 3a Level 3b Annex
QH 471 – 489 Reproduction Level 4 Level 3b Annex
QH 573 – 671 Cytology Level 3a Level 3b Annex
QK 99-100 Poisonous Plants Level 3a Level 3b Annex
QS Human Anatomy Level 4 Level 3b
QS 504-532 Histology Level 4 Level 3b Annex
QS 604-675 Embryology Level 4 Level 3b Annex
QT Physiology Level 4 Level 3b Annex
QT 104-245 Human Physiology. Physiology. Hygiene. Level 4 Level 3b
QT 261 Sports Medicine Level 4 Level 3b Davis
QT 265 Relaxation. Rest. Sleep. Hygiene Level 4 Level 3b
QT 34 – 38 Physics. Mathematics. Engineering as applied to physiological & medical phenomena. Level 2 Level 3b
QT 36 Biomedical engineering Level 3a NCSU
QU Biochemistry. Cell Biology and Genetics Level 3a Level 3b Annex
QU 100 – 133 Biochemistry of the Human Body Level 4 Level 3b
QU 145 – 220 Vitamins Level 4 Level 3b
QV Pharmacology Level 3a Level 3b
QW 1-300 Microbiology (Medical) Level 4 Level 3b Annex
QW 501 – 900 Immunology Level 4 Level 3b
QX Parasitology Level 4 Level 3b Annex
QY Clinical Pathology Level 4 Level 3b
QY 50 – 110 Laboratory animals Level 3a Level 3b Annex
QZ Pathology Level 4 Level 3b
TA 164 Bioengineering Level 3a NCSU
TA 166 – 167 Human Engineering Level 3a
TD 1020 – 1066 Hazardous Substances & Disposal Level 2 Level 3b
TD 172 – 193.5 Environmental Pollution Level 3a Annex
TD 419 -480.7 Water Pollution & Treatment Level 3a Annex
TD 878 – 894 Pollution. Special Types of Environment, including soil, water, noise Level 3a Annex
TP 248.13 – 248.65 Biotechnology Level 3a Level 3b NCSU, Annex
UH 201 – 629.5 Military medical and sanitation services, Care of the wounded, Military hygiene Level 3a Level 3b Davis
VG 100 – 475 Naval medical service Level 3a Level 3b Davis
W General Medicine. Health Professions Level 3a Davis
W 18 – 20 Medical Education Level 4 Davis
W 26.5 Health Informatics Level 4 Annex
W 32 – 49 Laws. (Medical) Level 2 Law
W 322 Medical Social Work Level 3a Level 3b Davis
W 50 Medical Ethics Level 4 Davis
W 601 – 925 Forensic Sciences Level 3a Level 3b
W 62 Physicians’ interpersonal relations Level 4 Level 3b Davis
W 74 – 80 Medical Economics Level 4 Davis
W 84 – 96 Health services. Professional practice Level 4
WA Public Health Level 3a
WA 105 Epidemiology Level 4
WA 108 – 245 Preventive Medicine Level 4 Level 3b
WA 18 – 19 Public Health Education Level 4 Davis
WA 295 Disasters. Disaster Medicine. Rescue Work Terrorism Level 4 Level 3b
WA 300 – 395 Health problems of special population groups Level 4 Level 3b Davis
WA 31 Medical Sociology. Social Medicine Level 4 Davis
WA 400 – 495 Occupational Medicine, Health & Hygiene Level 3a Level 3b
WA 525 – 590 Health Administration & Organization Level 3a Davis
WA 530 International Health Administration Level 4
WA 546 Local Health Administration, Community Health Services Level 4
WA 550 Family Planning Services Level 4 Level 3b
WA 590 Health Education & Communication Level 4 Level 3b Davis
WA 670 – 830 Sanitation. Environmental Control – Water, Air, Cosmetics, Food, Housing, Waste Level 4 Level 3b Annex
WA 900 – 950 Public Health Statistics. Theory or Methods of Medical Statistics. Epidemiologic Methods Level 4 Level 3b Annex
WB Practice of Medicine Level 3a
WB 104 Medical Psychology Level 4
WB 141 – 293 Diagnosis Level 4 Level 3b
WB 300 – 556 Therapeutics Level 4 Level 3b
WB 320 Rehabilitation of the Disabled Level 4 Level 3b Davis
WB 400 – 449 Diet Therapy & Nutrition Therapy Level 4 Level 3b
WB 460 – 556 Physical & Occupational Therapy Level 4 Level 3b Davis
WB 55 Traditional Medicine, current practices Level 4
WB 60 Bioethics. Clinical Ethics Level 4 Davis
WB 700 – 760.1 Medical Climatology Level 4
WB 880 – 962 Complementary & Alternative Therapies Level 3a Level 3b
WC Communicable Diseases Level 4 Level 3b
WD Disorders of Systemic, Metabolic or Environmental Origin, etc. Level 4 Level 3b
WE Musculoskeletal System Level 4 Level 3b
WF Respiratory System Level 4 Level 3b
WG Cardiovascular System Level 4 Level 3b
WH Hemic and Lymphatic Systems Level 4 Level 3b
WI Digestive System Level 4 Level 3b
WJ Urogenital System Level 4 Level 3b
WK Endocrine System Level 4 Level 3b
WL Nervous System Level 4 Level 3b
WM Psychiatry Level 4 Level 3b Davis
WM 300 – 308 Mental Retardation Level 4 Level 3b Davis
WM 402 Drug Therapy Level 4 Level 3b
WN Radiology. Diagnostic Imaging Level 4 Level 3b Annex
WO Surgery Level 4 Level 3b
WO 200 – 460 Anesthesia Level 4 Level 3b
WO 660 – 690 Transplantation Level 5 Level 3b
WP Gynecology Level 4 Level 3b
WQ Obstetrics Level 4 Level 3b
WR Dermatology Level 4 Level 3b
WS Pediatrics Level 4 Level 3b
WT Geriatrics. Chronic Disease Level 4 Level 3b
WU Dentistry. Oral Surgery Level 4 Level 3b
WU 18 – 20 Dental Education Level 4 Davis
WU 50 Dental Ethics Level 4 Davis
WV Otolaryngology Level 4 Level 3b
WV 2270 – 280 Audiology. Hearing. Hearing Disorders. Deafness Level 4 Level 3b Davis
WW Ophthalmology Level 4 Level 3b
WX Hospitals and Other Health Facilities Level 4
WX 150 – 190 Health Administration and Health Facility Administration Level 4 Level 3b Davis
WY Nursing Level 4 Level 3b
WY 18 – 19 Nursing Education Level 4 Davis
WZ 1 – 150 History of Medicine Level 4 Davis
WZ 220 – 270 Manuscripts, Early Printed Books, Americana See History See History Wilson
WZ 305 – 350 Medical Miscellany Level 2
WZ 309 Medical Folklore Level 3a Davis
WZ 320 Grave Robbing, Resurrectionists Level 3a Davis
WZ 345 Medical writing and publishing Level 4
WZ 348 Medical illustration Level 3a Art
Z 675.D3 Libraries, Dental Level 3a SILS
Z 675.H7 Libraries, Hospital Level 3a SILS
Z 675.M4 Libraries, Medical Level 3a SILS
Z 675.N5 Libraries, Nursing Level 3a SILS


Last modified: 01/07/19