Objective of Collection Development

Beulah Williams Library provides NSU’s faculty and student population support via a substantial print collection, expansive database coverage, and sizeable manuscript and digital collections.  These collections were created, and have been maintained with, the main purpose of directly supporting NSU degree programs and the associated research and teaching activities affiliated with them.  Decisions regarding purchase and leasing of resources are guided by NSU programs and research, and the Williams Library collection is intended to provide broad coverage within subject areas relevant to these programs. 


Community Served

Williams Library primarily serves the faculty, students and staff of Northern State University.  NSU degree programs, along with the research efforts of these user groups, are the main focus of collection development activities.  Long-term goals for NSU, as presented in the campus strategic plan, also help shape planning for Williams Library purchases and services.

The Aberdeen community at large is also served by Williams Library.  Public patrons are welcome, and are active users of the in-house print and microform collections, attendees at library functions, and participants in library events. 


Campus Communication and Input

Each of NSU’s academic units are directly served by the Williams Library liaison program.  A librarian works closely with each of the colleges and schools, with open and direct communication being the main goal.  Liaisons meet with their departments in person throughout the year and actively monitor and assess the resource needs of their areas of emphasis.  The liaison’s efforts are directly reflected in the print and electronic resource collections, as suggestions for new purchases or changes to the collection are directed to either the liaison for the academic unit or the library director.

In addition to the input of faculty via liaisons, a campus library committee, made up of faculty, administrators, staff, and students, meets annually.  This group is another mechanism for communication with the NSU campus community, and provides direct feedback regarding Williams Library collections and services.


Intellectual Freedom

Williams Library collections are selected and maintained according to intellectual freedom principles as outlined by the American Library Association.  At the core, these principles state that libraries should provide free access to information, reflect a variety of viewpoints, and respect the privacy of their patrons.  For more information on these principles see American Library Association Intellectual Freedom Principles.


Consortia/Group Purchasing

Williams Library is a member of several collaborative purchasing groups. Each of these groups was formed with the intent of maximizing the purchasing power of its members. Group purchasing is pursued by the South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR) institutions, with the focus mainly on electronic resources. Several databases that are critical to research in the sciences and humanities have been obtained via collaborative purchases among all the BOR libraries. The Board of Regents also has provided direct support with funding to secure science resources for all campuses. In addition to database purchases, the BOR libraries also collaborate on a shared integrated library system and interlibrary loan services.

Williams Library is also a member of the MINITEX consortia, based at the University of Minnesota. This group is made up of academic, public, and special libraries from Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. Williams Library participates in the selection and renewal of electronic resources via the MINITEX consortia. Resources purchased as part of MINITEX are central to research at NSU, and would not be cost effective without participation in this consortia. In addition, courier services, which move interlibrary loan items across the state of South Dakota, are provided via membership in MINITEX.




  • If available, print volumes are purchased as paperback editions.
  • Duplicates are not generally purchased. In some cases, duplicates are donated to Williams Library, and these are made a part of the Main collection. Sometimes, a duplicate copy of content that pertains to Great Plains history is purchased for use in the Robert Webb Archives Reading Room.
  • Electronic books are obtained either as part of a larger collection purchase, or individually as requested. Reference material is purchased in electronic format, when possible. This allows for much greater use of materials that would otherwise not leave the library, including use by distance students.


  • Nearly all newly acquired journal content is purchased in an electronic format. Very few journals are purchased in print. Those in print are due to scarcity of electronic content. This decision is based on the possibility of multiple users of electronic content, along with increased access for researchers who may not be on the NSU campus.

Audio/Visual Materials

  • Williams Library is home to a substantial collection of audio materials, including a variety of formats. LPs and CDs are the two main formats, and equipment needed to listen to both is available in the library. Acquisition of audio material is on the CD format.
  • A number of video formats are part of Williams Library’s collections, including VHS, DVD, and film strips. The preferred format for new acquisitions is electronic access to streaming or hosted content. This allows for much greater access for patrons on the NSU campus and elsewhere. If faculty prefer other formats for classroom use, those requests are often approved.

Ongoing Assessment of Collection

The Williams Library collection – in print, and electronic resources – is reviewed on a regular basis. Print items are examined for currency, condition, and fit with NSU degree programs. Items that do not meet these parameters may be removed from the print collection. Electronic resource usage is monitored on a monthly basis, with cost per use and fit with NSU degree programs being part of the decision-making process used to select resources on an annual basis.



Donations of print monographs or periodicals are welcomed at Williams Library. Library faculty review all potential donations, and weigh factors such as fit within the collection, duplication, and condition of items in the decision to add items. Donations that do not fit within the Williams Library collection are offered to other regional libraries.


Northern State University Archives and Special Collections

Williams Library is home to the Northern State University Archives and a substantial special collections department. These areas are managed under a collection development policy.