Definitions of Collecting Levels
The Library of Congress employs collecting level definitions developed by the Research Libraries Group (RLG) and later adopted by the Association of Research Libraries. The definitions describe five collecting levels and are as follows:
Comprehensive Level: A collection in which a library endeavors, so far as is reasonably possible, to include all significant works of recorded knowledge (publications, manuscripts, and other forms), in all applicable languages, for a necessarily defined and limited field. This level of collecting intensity is one that maintains a "special collection"; the aim, if not the achievement, is exhaustiveness. Older material is retained for historical research.
Research Level: A collection that includes the major published source materials required for dissertations and independent research, including materials containing research reporting, new findings, scientific experimental results and other information useful to researchers. It is intended to include all important reference works and a wide selection of specialized monographs, as well as a very extensive collection of journals and major indexing and abstracting services in the field. Older material is retained for historical research. A sampling of special format materials (such as graphic and moving images) are collected that complement print materials.
Instructional Support Level: A collection that is adequate to support undergraduate and MOST graduate instruction, or sustained independent study; that is, adequate to maintain knowledge of a subject required for limited or generalized purposes, of less than research intensity. It includes a wide range of basic monographs, complete collections of the works of more important writers, selections from the works of secondary writers, a selection of representative journals and the reference tools and fundamental bibliographical apparatus pertaining to the subject.
Basic Information Level: A collection of up-to-date general materials that serves to introduce and define a subject and to indicate the varieties of information elsewhere. It may include dictionaries, encyclopedias, selected textbooks, surveys, histories, directories, bibliographies, handbooks and a few major periodicals, in the minimum number that will serve the purpose. A basic information collection is not sufficiently intensive to support any courses or independent study in the area involved.
Out of Scope: The library does not collect in this area.