A Selected Bibliography for Library Acquisitions, Fourth Edition

by Barbara Hall, University of Southern California Libraries

The guidelines for inclusion of recommended titles in this list are as follows. Books and articles were selected which offered breadth and depth of coverage, with broad applicability, rather than those dealing with highly technical or specific topics. Sources with comprehensive bibliographies were preferred. Finally, recent publications were preferred over less recent, with the exception of those publications which were considered to be standard references or "classics." Finally,the most important single criterion for selection was clarity of explanation and description.


The Acquisitions Librarian. Semiannual. New York: Haworth, 1989– (ISSN 08963576).

Advances in Serials Management. Annual. Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press, 1986- (ISSN 10404384).

Against the Grain. Quarterly. Charleston, S. C.: Katina Strauch, 1989– (ISSN 10432094).

Library Acquisitions: Practice & Theory. Quarterly. New York: Pergamon, 1977– (ISSN 03646408).

The Serials Librarian. Quarterly. New York: Haworth, 1976– (ISSN 0361526X).

Serials Review. Quarterly. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Pierian, 1975– (ISSN 00987913).

Electronic Newsletters, Discussion Lists and Web sites

ACQNET. Acquisitions Librarians Electronic Network. Boone, N.C.: Eleanor Cook, Vol. 1, no.1 (1990)–.
To subscribe, send the following e-mail message to: listserv@listserv.appstate.edu: sub acqnet-l [first name last name].

ACQWEB. Edited by Anna Belle Leiserson.
URL: http://www.library.vanderbilt.edu/law/acqs/acqs.html
Website for Acquisitions and Collection Development Information.

Back Issues & Exchange Services. Compiled by Birdie MacLennan.
URL: http://www.uvm.edu/~bmaclenn/backexch.html
This listing contains information about, and direct links to sources for trading serial back issues and other materials.

COLLDV-L. Library Collection Development Listserv. Los Angeles: University of Southern California, 1991–. To subscribe, send the following e-mail message to: listserv@usc.edu: subscribe colldv-l [first name last name].

Newsletter on Serials Pricing Issues. Chapel Hill, N.C.: ALA Publisher/Vendor, Library Relations Committee, Subcommittee on Serials Pricing Issues, no. 1 37 (1989-91); new ser., no. 1 (1991)–. Issued by Marcia Tuttle. To subscribe, send the following e-mail message to: listserv@gibbs.oit.unc.edu: subscribe prices [first name last name].

GIFTEX-L. To subscribe, send the following e-mail message to: listserv@lsv.uky.ed: subscribe giftex-l [first name last name].

SERIALST. Serials in Libraries Discussion Forum. no. 1 (1990)–. To subscribe, send the following e-mail message to listserv@uvmvm: subscribe serialst [first name last name].

ALA Published Guidelines

ALA. Guide to Performance Evaluation of Library Materials Vendors. Acquisitions Guidelines, no. 5 . Chicago: ALA, 1988. 20p. (ISBN 0838933696).

–––. Guide to Preservation in Acquisitions Processing. Acquisitions Guidelines, no. 8. Chicago: ALA, 1993. 34p. (ISBN 0838906117).

–––.  Guide to Selecting and Acquiring CD-ROMs, Software, and Other Electronic Publications. Acquisitions Guidelines, no. 9. Chicago: ALA, 1994. 48p. (ISBN 083890629X).

–––.  Guidelines for Handling Library Orders for Serials and Periodicals. Rev. ed. Acquisitions Guidelines, no. 7. Chicago: ALA, 1992. 19p. (ISBN 0838934161).

–––.  Statistics for Managing Library Acquisitions. Acquisitions Guidelines, no. 6. Chicago: ALA, 1989. 11p. (ISBN 0838933742).

Approval Plans

Approval Plans in ARL Libraries. SPEC Kit 141. Washington, D.C.: Office of Management Studies, Association of Research Libraries, 1988. Update of the 1982 SPEC Kit (no. 83) on approval plans.
Provides a good overview of how large libraries are handling approval plans, and shows how library use of approval plans has been affected by automation and by decreases in buying power in materials budgets.

Reidelbach, John H., and Shirk, Gary M. Selecting an Approval Plan Vendor: A Step-by-Step Process. Library Acquisitions: Practice & Theory 7 (1983): 115–25; Part 2, 8 (1984): 157–202; Part 3 (1985): 177-260.
A definitive study on approval plans, denoting the criteria of performance, the methods of comparing vendors, the significance of approval plans to collection development, and the sound expenditure of funds.

Rossi, Gary J. Library Approval Plans: A Selected, Annotated Bibliography. Library Acquisitions: Practice & Theory 11 (1987): 3–34.
A chronological checklist, with comments, of seventy seven titles about approval plans and their forerunners in book trade service to library acquisitions from 1957 to 1986. This bibliographic study has clear and thorough annotations.

Sandy, John H., ed. Approval Plans: Issues & Innovations. The Acquisitions Librarian, no. 16. New York: Haworth, 1996.
This entire issue is devoted to approval plans. The articles included provide needed insight on approval plan issues and discuss how approval plans are subject to complex procedures and policies, even politics. Hidden operational costs also are assessed.

Automated Acquisitions

Bazirjian, Rosann, ed. The Acquisitions Librarian, nos. 13/14. New York: Haworth, 1995.
This issue deals with the development of automated systems and systems selection issues. Includes discussion of the effects of automation on reorganization.

Bryant, Bonita. Automating Acquisitions: The Planning Process. Library Resources & Technical Services 28 (1984): 285–98.
Eight criteria are listed for optimal long-range planning for any automation project. Discusses factors to consider in selecting participants, assigning tasks, estimating a timetable, and evaluating systems all within given cost parameters. Includes an especially useful appendix: Questions to Ask Users and Vendors.

McLaren, Mary. Full Acquisitions Systems. Library Acquisitions: Practice & Theory 14 (1990): 247–50.
Using Robert Walton's 1988 ALA preconference presentation Automated Acquisitions: Managing Change as a point of departure, McLaren lists some specific features of a system used in her acquisitions department at the University of Kentucky's M. I. King Library. Serves as an admirable and succinct checklist of issues and concerns relevant to automated acquisitions systems.

Ray, Ron L. The Dis-Integrating Library System: Effects of New Technologies in Acquisitions. Library Acquisitions: Practice & Theory 17 (1993): 127–36.
Ray argues that new technological developments in purchasing library materials undercut the viability of acquisitions modules in integrated library systems. ILSs tend to be structurally ill-suited to acquisitions requirements, particularly now that telecommunications and networks are needed to take full advantage of the technologies that are a part of materials vendor services.


ALA. Association for Library Collections and Technical Services. Statement of Standards and Principles of Acquisitions Practice. Chicago: ALA, 1994.
Available on request from the ALCTS Office.

Strauch, Katina, and Bruce Strauch, eds. Legal and Ethical Issues in Acquisitions. The Acquisitions Librarian, no. 3. New York: Haworth, 1990.
A collection of essays from various perspectives written by attorneys, librarians, booksellers, and agents concerning legal issues in publishing. Covers the processes of publishing and selecting materials as well as professional relationships between librarians and booksellers.

Financial Management

Cargill, Jennifer. Monitoring the Information Resources Budget: Acquisitions Accounting. In Technical Services Today and Tomorrow. Ed. Michael Gorman. Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1990, pp. 50–62.
A concise summary of the processes, principles, organizational and automation options, and objectives of accounting not only for books, serials, microforms, and binding, but also for CD-ROM and other information resources.

Facente, Gary. An Overview of American Publishing for Librarians. Library Resources & Technical Services 30 (1986): 57–67.
Excellent financial survey of American publishing practices. Includes descriptions of procedures relating to contracts, distribution, and marketing.

Hawks, Carol Pitts. Internal Control, Auditing, and the Automated Acquisitions System. Journal of Academic Librarianship 16 (1990): 296–301.
Examines the issues and procedures involved in auditing fund accounts on an automated acquisitions system. Describes the audit process and the general control mechanisms related to an automated system.

Katz, Bill, ed. The Acquisitions Budget. The Acquisitions Librarian, no. 2. New York: Haworth, 1989.
Describes ways to develop and manage the materials budget in a time of shrinking resources, increasing prices, and evolving technology. Each chapter is written by a different librarian, providing a good breadth of topics and perspectives.

Okerson, Ann. Periodical Prices: A History and Discussion. Advances in Serials Management 1 (1986): 101–34.
Presents a complete overview of research on serials pricing, especially serials inflation rate and dual pricing, since 1970. Discussion of issues involved accompany the literature survey. Especially helpful are the enumeration of ways librarians have coped with serials price inflation, and a listing of the five crucial staffing advantages gained through using a subscription agent instead of the publisher for all subscriptions.

Foreign Materials

Karno, Howard L. A Directory of Vendors of Latin American Library Materials. 4th ed. Albuquerque, N. M.: Secretariat, Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM), 1993. vii, 42p. (ISBN 0917617355 TP).
The membership of SALALM, an association of specialists in the acquisition of Latin American materials for libraries, lists firms of demonstrated effectiveness in supplying such materials. Data provided include complete names, addresses, and phone numbers as well as indications of vendor subject specialties.

Diercks, Thelma, ed. Book and Serial Vendors for Asia and the Pacific. Foreign Book and Serials Vendors Directories Series, vol.1. Chicago: ALA/ALCTS, 1996. 93 p. (ISBN 0838978118).

This volume covers book and serial vendors who serve Asia and the Pacific. The vendor information in the Directory was gathered by sending questionnaires to ARL member libraries. Other volumes, currently in progress, will focus on Africa and the Middle East and on Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

International Book Trade Directory: Europe, Australia, Oceania, Latin America, Africa and Asia. 3rd ed. New Providence: K. G. Saur, 1996. 739p. (ISBN 359822236X).
Contains in formation on approximately 55,000 booksellers. Bookseller entries are arranged by country, within country by city, and within city alphabetically. Each entry includes the name of the dealer, address, telephone, and (where known) the type of firm in question, as well as special subject areas and association memberships.

Gifts and Exchanges

Barker, Joseph W. Gifts and Exchanges. In Technical Services Today and Tomorrow. Ed. Michael Gorman. Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1990, pp. 23–37.
Provides a practical overview of the organizational principles surrounding gift and exchange work, and separate analyses of the workflow, automation possibilities, and trends for each of these separate avenues of acquisitions.

Lane, Alfred H. Gifts and Exchange Manual. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1980. 121p. (ISBN 0313213895).
This is still the most complete treatment available on all aspects of gift and exchange operations in libraries. Contains a helpful and practical set of appendices that include examples of needed forms and gift policy statements, a list of appraisers, and the ACRL Statement on gift appraisals. Though Lane's own context is that of a large research library, many of the features of this manual are universally applicable within the library community.

Lynden, F. C. Fund-raising Tips. Library Acquisitions: Practice & Theory 15 (1991):387–91.
Summarizes a variety of gift donation programs that may well have an increasing effect on acquisitions department gift operations in the coming years (because of the decline in government funding for library acquisitions). Includes helpful hints on such programs for library administrators.

Out of Print Materials

Barker, Joseph W., Rebecca A. Rottman, and Marilyn Ng. Organizing Out-of-Print and Replacement Acquisitions for Effectiveness, Efficiency and the Future. Library Acquisitions: Practice & Theory 14 (1990): 137–63.
Provides a brief discussion concerning the need for out-of-print work today, a description of how it is organized at UC-Berkeley, and why this organization is effective. An appendix, Sources and Tools Essential to OP, Replacement and Photo Order Work, is included.


Hirshon, Arnold and Barbara Winters. Outsourcing Library Technical Services: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians. New York: Neil-Schuman, 1996. (ISBN 1555702732 DS).
This manual includes chapters on outsourcing the acquisition of books and serials as well as providing guidance on competitive procurement and the RFP process and other useful topics.

Montgomery, Jack. Outsourced Acquisitions?--Let's meet the Challenge. Against the Grain 7 (1995): 66–68.
This article challenges acquisitions librarians to take a look at what's happening with outsourcing.

Ogburn, Joyce L. An Introduction to Outsourcing. Library Acquisitions: Practice & Theory 18 (1994): 363–66.
Provides an introduction to outsourcing for acquisitions librarians.

Serials and Continuations

ALA. Association for Library Collection and Technical Services. Serials Section. Acquisitions Committee. Serials Acquisitions Glossary. Chicago: ALA, 1993. 33p. (ISBN 0838976921).
A comprehensive alphabetical list of term definitions relevant to serials acquisitions.

McKinley, Margaret. Vendor Selection: Strategic Choices. Serials Review 16 (1990): 49–53, 64.
An excellent overview of the ordering strategies for periodicals, newspapers, continuations, documents, loose-leaf services, foreign serials, gifts, and exchanges. The article emphasizes the importance of appropriate decision making.

Milkovic, Milan. Continuations: Some Fundamental Acquisitions Concepts and Procedures. Serials Librarian 5 (1981): 35–41.
Concepts and guidelines relevant to formulating an acquisitions policy for continuations. Treats practical considerations for setting up, claiming, and receiving three kinds of standing orders.

Textbooks/General Treatments

Eaglen, Audrey. Buying Books: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians. How-To-Do-It Manuals for Libraries, no. 4. New York: Neal-Schuman, 1989. 166p. (ISBN 1555700136).
Eaglen provides useful information on the book publishing industry, vendors, and retailers of domestic imprint materials. She has written a practical guide for librarians working in small public and academic libraries.

Magrill, Rose Mary, and John Corbin. Acquisitions Management and Collection Development in Libraries. 2d ed. Chicago: ALA, 1989. 285p. (ISBN 0838905137).
This is a basic text that weaves together the work of acquisitions and collection development.

Schmidt, Karen A., ed. Understanding the Business of Library Acquisitions. Ann Arbor: Books on Demand, 1990. 336p. (ISBN 0608017361).
An overview of the publishing industry, vendors and their services, the purchase of OP and second-hand materials and media, and accounting methods. A well-written account focusing more on broad issues than on clerical procedures. Bibliographies follow most chapters.

Tuttle, Marcia, Luke Swindler, and Nancy L. White. Introduction to Serials Management. Foundations in Library and Information Science, vol. 11. Greenwich, Conn.: JAI, 1983. 324p. (ISBN 0892321075).
Treats all aspects of serials librarianship. The Acquiring the Serial Collection chapter is a concise yet informative description of all major serials acquisitions issues. Includes annotated bibliographies of Working Tools and Research Tools on all aspects of serials.

Vendor Evaluation

Alessi, Dana. Vendor Selection, Vendor Collection, or Vendor Defection. Journal of Library Administration 16, no. 3: 117–30.
Provides a thorough listing of issues that point out relevant criteria on which to base: (1) the selection of a vendor for use in a library acquisitions operation; or (2) the performance evaluation of a vendor already in use.

Barker, Joseph W. Random Vendor Assignment in Vendor Performance Evaluation. Library Acquisitions: Practice & Theory 10 (1986): 265–80.
A report of a comprehensive vendor evaluation project done at the University of California at Berkeley Library, where the author is head of acquisitions. Though the breadth of the project is probably beyond the capacities of most libraries, this account provides some excellent methodological insights, both in establishing the goals of the evaluation and in carrying it out. Provides helpful examples of vendor selections, coding, adaptation of automated systems, and treatment of special issues in such an assessment. Illustrative tables and graphs supplied. An impressive glimpse into the results such a major study can accomplish.

Bonk, Sharon C. Toward a Methodology of Evaluating Serials Vendors. Library Acquisitions: Theory & Practice 9 (1985): 51–60.
A thorough discussion of the thought process and analysis necessary to devise a serials vendor evaluation. Provides an elaborate outline of factors to be considered. Describes a vendor study done at the author's home library in cooperation with twelve other academic or research libraries. Specific focus is given to the preferability of ordering serials through vendors or through publishers.

Vendor Operations

Boss, Richard W., and Judy McQueen. The Uses of Automation and Related Technologies by Domestic Book and Serials Jobbers. Library Technology Reports 25 (1989): 125–251.
A survey of forty-eight domestic book and periodical jobbers reveals how they use automation to facilitate their internal operations and their services to libraries. A good source for information about vendors and their services as well as a tool for deepening one's understanding of the vendors' perspective.

Merriman, J. B. The Work of a Periodicals Agent. The Serials Librarian 14 (1988): 17–36.
Describes the work of subscription agents and provides information to help serials librarians cope with the challenge of maintaining the serials collection.


Atkinson, Ross. The Acquisitions Librarian as Change Agent in the Transition to the Electronic Library. Library Resources & Technical Services 36 (1992): 7–20.
In this award-winning essay, Atkinson, Head of Collection Development at Cornell University, makes a highly analytical case for dividing all library functions into two basic categories: delivery and mediation. Library acquisitions is the prototype for the delivery function. The approaching age of networked information will very much complicate both the role of library acquisitions functions and the diversity of information delivery demands made on acquisitions professionals.

Futas, Elizabeth, ed. Library Collection Development Policies and Procedures. 3rd ed. Phoenix: Oryx, 1994. 360p. (ISBN 08977747976).
A survey of acquisitions policies or collection development policies--in general these two terms are used interchangeably here to mean a library's guidelines for the kinds of materials that will be added to the library collections. Policies are from both academic and public libraries.

Hawks, Carol Pitts. Building and Managing an Acquisitions Program. Library Acquisitions: Practice & Theory 18 (1994): 297–308.
This article provides an overview of acquisitions management as follows: organization of the unit, managing resources, managing in times of change, and resources for decision making.

Hewitt, Joe A. On the Nature of Acquisitions. Library Resources & Technical Services 32 (1989): 105–22.
Describes and discusses the frame of reference shared by acquisitions department staffs in large libraries, and how this information can be used to better coordinate the work of technical services.

Racz, Twyla and Rosina Tammany, eds. "Management and Organization of the Acquisitions Department." The Acquisitions Librarian, no. 12. New York: Haworth, 1994.
Examines the changing role of the acquisitions department and the acquisitions librarian, how they functioned in the past, how technology has changed their roles, and what they can look forward to in the future.


This fourth edition was compiled in 1997 by Barbara Hall for the ALCTS Acquisitions Section, Publications Committee.
The earlier or third edition of this bibliography was compiled in 1995 by Barbara C.Dean, Fairfax County Public Library, Fairfax, Virginia and James T. Deffenbaugh, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia.