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Collection Development Policy

Harrell Health Sciences Library: Research and Learning Commons (Health & Biomedical Sciences) Collection Development Statement


Primary Classification Numbers:
NLM Classification QS – WZ

The National Library of Medicine Classification covers the field of medicine and related sciences, utilizing schedules QS-QZ and W-WZ, permanently excluded from the Library of Congress (LC) Classification schedules. The various schedules of the LC Classification supplement the NLM Classification for subjects bordering on medicine and for general reference materials. The LC schedules for Human Anatomy (QM), Microbiology (QR) and Medicine (R) are not used at all by the National Library of Medicine since they overlap the NLM Classification.

National Library of Medicine Classification Information

Primary location:
Harrell Health Sciences Library: Research and Learning Commons, Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

Selectors/Department Liaisons:
Jaff Wagner, Collection Development/Digital Resources Management Librarian
Phone: 717-531-0003 Ext. 285323
Fax: 717-531-8636

Esther Dell
Marie (Cirelli) Castaneda
Amy Knehans
Robyn Reed
Ben Hoover

General Statement:

Collection development activities at the Harrell Health Sciences Library: Research and Learning Commons (Harrell HSL) are designed to support the four components of the Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health mission: academic (education), clinical, research, and community service. Acquisition and retention of resources is predicated on meeting clinical and programmatic needs in a responsive, user-centered fashion.  Library faculty liaisons proactively keep abreast of strategic priorities and new developments at the institutional, campus, and departmental levels.  

The purpose of the Collection Development Policy is to provide an overview of the scope of the collection and to provide a basis for the selection, retention, and withdrawal of all information resources that make up the Harrell HSL’s collection activities.  These guidelines are congruent with the Harrell HSL's mission to meet the information needs of the Penn State College of Medicine, as well as Penn State University as a whole.  The Harrell HSL is unique among Penn State University Libraries in its support of the clinical enterprise of the Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.  As the Health Sciences Library for Penn State University and University Libraries, the Harrell HSL serves a diverse population, including:

  • The faculty, students, staff and clinicians of the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, the Penn State College of Medicine; the Penn State Health Children’s Hospital; the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Cancer Institute; the Penn State Health Rehabilitation Hospital (PSU employees); Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute (PSU employees); the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Heart and Vascular Institute and the University Park Regional Campus of the Penn State College of Medicine located in State College, PA.
  • The larger Penn State University community (including staff, faculty and students engaged in allied health programs and multidisciplinary research across all Penn State campuses).
  • Community users from central Pennsylvania.  

Academic Medical Center:

Founded in 1963 through a gift from The Milton S. Hershey Foundation, the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is one of the leading teaching and research hospitals in the country. The 628-bed Medical Center is a provider of high-level, patient-focused medical care. The Medical Center campus includes Penn State College of Medicine, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Cancer Institute, and Penn State Health Children's Hospital. The Medical Center campus is part of Penn State Health, which also includes the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, Penn State Hershey Rehabilitation Hospital, and other specialty facilities.

The mission of the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health Children's Hospital is to enhance the quality of life through improved health, the professional preparation of those who will serve the health needs of others, and the discovery of knowledge that will benefit all. These mission areas encompass Clinical Care, Research, Education, and Community Service.

Due to the multidisciplinary nature of the health and biomedical sciences, there is considerable overlap between the education, research, and clinical care components contained within the totality of the Harrell Health Sciences Library collections.

Penn State Health provides a range of fully integrated patient care services for the population of Central Pennsylvania and beyond.

  • Medical Services:
    • Allergy and Immunology
    • Anesthesiology
    • Breast Care
    • Cancer Care
    • Cardiovascular Care
    • Cosmetic Services and Surgery
    • Dermatology
    • Digestive Diseases
    • Ear, Nose, and Throat
    • Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Thyroid
    • Eye and Vision
    • Family Medicine
    • Hematology
    • Infectious Diseases
    • Internal Medicine
    • Kidney Disease
    • Liver Disease
    • Lung and Respiratory Disease
    • Mental Health and Psychiatry
    • Neurology
    • Neurosurgery
    • OB-GYN and Women's Health
    • Orthopaedics
    • Pain Management
    • Pathology
    • Pediatric Services
    • Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
    • Radiology
    • Rehabilitation
    • Rheumatology
    • Sleep Medicine
    • Sports Medicine
    • Surgical Weight Loss
    • Urology

Specialized Centers and Institutes associated with Penn State Health are comprised of faculty from across the various departments, colleges, and campuses across Penn State University.  The centers and institutes integrate clinical care and research.

Educational Programs:

Penn State College of Medicine educates medical and nursing students, basic science graduate students, medical residents and fellows, other students in allied health and health-care related professions, and practicing health professionals. We are one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers.

In addition to the MD Program, the College of Medicine (COM) offers graduate degree programs in anatomy, clinical research, homeland security, public health, laboratory animal medicine, and management and organizational leadership. Other programs that can be pursued at the COM include the physician assistant program, DrPH (doctorate of public health), MD/PhD medical scientist training program, JD/MPH program, JD/DrPH program, a doctorate in nursing practice, MD/MBA, MD/MPH, MD/Med, PhD/MBA, and a Dual-Title PhD in Clinical & Translational Sciences.

In addition Penn State College of Medicine offers Postdoctoral Programs, Residency Programs, and Clinical Fellowships Summer Programs, Visiting Clerkships, K-16 Academic Placements, and Clinical Pastoral Education. Professional degree programs are also available through the Penn State World Campus.

The University Park Regional Campus of Penn State College of Medicine is a collaborative effort between Penn State College of Medicine, Mount Nittany Health and other local State College providers. The regional medical campus offers small class sizes that focus on patient based experience, individualized mentoring, and experiential learning. The program is also the site for a family medicine residency program as well as an orthopedic sports medicine fellowship and a primary care sports medicine fellowship.

Nursing students from Penn State's College of Nursing (University Park) spend one academic year at the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center fulfilling their clinical experience requirement, and students from other Penn State health-related programs and other institutions come to Hershey for their clinical experience as well. The extended B.S. degree program for nurses is offered in conjunction with the College of Nursing.

Health System:

Penn State Health was formed in 2015.

The Harrell HSL does not provide access, resources, or services to Penn State Health, with the exception of the academic medical center entities, which include the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, the Cancer Institute, and the Children’s Hospital. Limited resource access is provided to individuals with official Clinical Faculty Appointments under HR06, Types of Appointments, often referred to as clinical preceptors.

Scope of the Collection:

The collection includes materials in all formats (with an emphasis on electronic resources) that represent a variety of local, national and global perspectives; explores issues of diversity, inclusiveness and accessibility within the health and biomedical sciences; supports the research and clinical needs (both current and future) of our diverse faculty and staff; and promotes the University Libraries’ vision of a shared collection.

The Harrell HSL selectively collects materials in the health and biomedical sciences with a primary focus on materials in clinical medicine.  Building on existing strengths the library acquires new resources in response to Penn State College of Medicine priorities. The health and biomedical sciences are cross-disciplinary and as a result there are overlapping interests with each of the University subject libraries, particularly the STEM Libraries.

Collection development decisions in health sciences libraries supporting medical education are influenced by accreditation requirements defined by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) and the Joint Commission: Accreditation, Health Care, Certification (JCAHO).

  • Accreditation requires:

    Standard 5: Educational Resources and Infrastructure

    A medical school has sufficient personnel, financial resources, physical facilities, equipment, and clinical, instructional, informational, technological, and other resources readily available and accessible across all locations to meet its needs and to achieve its goals.

    5.8. A medical school provides ready access to well-maintained library resources sufficient in breadth of holdings and technology to support its educational and other missions. Library services are supervised by a professional staff that is familiar with regional and national information resource and data systems and is responsive to the needs of the medical students, faculty members, and other associated with the institution. (LCME)

  • Materials Collected:
    1. ​Languages Collected.

      No restrictions are placed on acquisition of Health Sciences resources in non-English languages. However, the collection is predominately in the English language. Short term needs for foreign language materials are met via existing Interlibrary Loan mechanisms.

    2. Geographical Limits.

      Although no geographic area is excluded, the collection reflects developments in North America and Western Europe.

    3. Chronological Limits.

      The collection is developed with an emphasis on current information resources in the Health and Biomedical Sciences, but does not categorically exclude historical works. (Such materials are evaluated for inclusion in the Medical History Collection)

    4. Major Publishers.

      Include, but are not limited to: Elsevier, Wiley/Blackwell, Springer, Sage, Taylor & Francis, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, McGraw-Hill, American Medical Association, Mosby, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Nature Publishing, and Cell Press.

    5. Monographs: Reference, Reserves, and Textbooks.

      Monographs and eBooks are purchased on an ad hoc basis, based on curricular needs and patron request.  Electronic formats are preferred when available and where cost and licensing provide a clear advantage over print formats. The HSL library acquires print textbooks for reserve when required for academic programs.

    6. Periodical literature.

      The Health and Biomedical Sciences and other STEM disciplines are highly journal-centric, and as such, journals consume the bulk of the collections budget. Analysis of use patterns is a regular part of the collection development process, as is congruency with clinical, research, and educational program needs. Preference is given to online journals over print.

    7. Databases – Bibliographic.

      Bibliographic databases enable the location of relevant citations and content in research, clinical care and education.

    8. Decision Support Tools/Evidence Based Medicine.

      Decision support tools include resources such as UpToDate, Dynamed, Cochrane Library, Nursing Reference Center, and JAMA evidence.

    9. Media.

      Media is purchased when programmatic needs dictate. Preference is given to those products that can be delivered on a streaming, remotely hosted basis rather than single physical media formats.

    10. Generally Excluded.

      The following types of materials are generally excluded, although exceptions are made: introductory undergraduate textbooks, loose-leaf publications, posters, newsletters, pocket-size books, self-instructional texts, most spiral-bound publications, syllabi and workbooks, consumer health and popular content.

    11. Special Collections.
    12. Gifts.

      Gifts are selectively accepted based on the following criteria: materials appropriate for the medical history collection, materials appropriate for the general collection and materials appropriate for the archives. Accepted gifts become the property of the library. IRS regulations prohibit the University from appraising donated material. The Library is not able to guarantee a donor that their gift will be added to the collection. Disposition and retention are at the discretion of the Library.

    13. Retention.

      Retention of materials in the collection is at the discretion of the Library Director and the Collection Development/Digital Resources Management Librarian. Retention decisions reflect a number of variables, including but not limited to: programmatic needs, space, currency, clinical and educational relevancy and strategic direction.

    14. Duplication.

      Except in the case of high-demand titles and course reserves, health and biomedical sciences titles will not be duplicated across campuses.

Areas of Focus/Strength:

Although the Harrell HSL selectively collects materials across the health and biomedical sciences, the primary focus is clinical medicine, taking into consideration clinical departments, service lines, and research priorities. Collection efforts across the STEM disciplines contribute to the overall strength of the health and biomedical sciences collection of the University Libraries and Harrell HSL.

Core subject categories include the following:

Allergy/Clinical Immunology
Alternative therapies
Biochemistry and molecular biology
Cardiac surgery
Cell biology
Emergency medicine
Endocrine surgery
Family practice
Gastroenterology & hepatology
Gastrointestinal surgery
General medicine
General surgery
Humanities [Medicolegal Issues, Legal/Ethical, History of Medicine]
Infectious disease
Long term care
Medical education
Medical informatics
Molecular biology
Obstetrics & gynecology
Oncologic surgery
Pediatric surgery
Pharmacy & pharmaceutics
Physical therapy & rehab med
Plastic and reconstructive surgery
Psychiatry; psychology 
Public health sciences
Respiratory system
Surgical pathology
Thoracic surgery
Transplantation surgery
Trauma surgery
Vascular surgery
Veterinary sciences

Coordination and Cooperative Efforts:

  • Funding

    The Harrell HSL’s collections and operations are funded by the Penn State College of Medicine to support the services, programs, and research initiatives of Penn State College of Medicine and the academic health center. The library purchases resources in partnership with University Libraries to build collections in the health and biomedical sciences. This relationship has allowed the libraries to leverage limited collection dollars and has proven to be both cost effective and beneficial for Penn State as a whole. By minimizing duplication between the libraries, students, faculty, and staff have access to the broadest range of materials.

    There is no prohibition on resources that are funded by a department or unit, but managed by the library (e.g. Ophthalmology), provided access is extended to the library’s entire user population – such arrangements are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

    The Collection Development/Digital Resources Management Librarian serves on ad hoc collections teams as needed in order to facilitate these joint collection development efforts. For example, University Libraries provides primary support for the nursing collections across all campuses. The Harrell HSL collaborates in the acquisition of appropriate materials.

  • Consortia

    The Harrell HSL participates in regional and local consortia for cooperative acquisitions and interlibrary loan. The library is a member of the CIC resource sharing agreement, LYRASIS and OCLC. In addition the Harrell HSL is a resource library for the Middle Atlantic Region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine; as such the library serves as the regional medical library, participates in the DOCLINE Inter Library Loan system, and supports the activities of the NN/LM.

Collection Development Processes:

Collection development at the Harrell HSL is an ongoing, collaborative process that involves all faculty library liaisons. Liaison librarians have responsibility for subject areas broken down by department. Collection needs are communicated to the primary selector who then tracks, requests and monitors purchases. There are also collection analysis efforts that inform the process. These can take the form of global reviews across all biomedical subject areas (using resources such as Doody’s Core Titles and the Journal Citation Reports  journal rankings) as well as more targeted analyses of a specific subject area in response to new program development. These analyses inform budget requests at Penn State College of Medicine as well as collaborative efforts with other selectors across all of Penn State.

Penn State libraries engage in formal and informal cooperation, building complementary collections that enhance each library’s strengths while benefiting Penn State as a whole. 

Departmental Liaisons:

The Harrell HSL maintains an active liaison program. Primary functions of the liaison program include: intelligence gathering, engagement and outreach; marketing, promotion and advocacy; and collection building.  In their role as liaisons, librarians serve as selectors in their assigned areas of responsibility.

Current Liaison Assignments:

Visit the Departmental Liaisons page for current liaison assignments.

Revised: 9/20/2023