Awareness of materials. Librarians rely on reviews, catalogs, word-of-mouth, suggestions and recommendations, bibliographies and recommended reading lists, visits with vendors, and visits to book and library materials exhibits to learn about new resources. It is more art than science to keep aware of new resources. Selecting often requires a lot of time and energy on the librarian's part to stay on top of the output of domestic and international scholarly publishing and to make selection decisions appropriate for Gettysburg College.
Cost of materials. Some books, especially in the sciences and technology, but even in the humanities, can cost hundreds of dollars (or more); journal subscriptions in the sciences and technology are notoriously expensive (thousands of dollars per year); electronic database subscriptions usually cost at least thousands of dollars per year. Whether the book is in-print or out-of-print may also affect cost. Finally, from where we order the materials (through a library vendor who offers discounts or directly from a publisher who may not offer a discount) will affect the price of the item.
Quality of the materials. Is the material from a reputable publisher? Is it suitable for undergraduate information and research needs? Is it more appropriate to faculty teaching needs or faculty research?
Physical format of materials. Is this material in a format that is usable by Musselman Library patrons? Is the technology available to use this resource? Will patrons want to check out the resource from the library? Is it preferable to have this resource in print? In electronic format? Should it be available over a wide area-e.g., on- and off-campus?
Physical condition and age of the materials. Is the binding of the book secure enough to allow for the work to be shelved and used? Is the paper in strong enough condition to withstand use?
Duplication of materials readily available from other sources. Do we have this resource in another format? As part of another work? Do we need additional copies because of high use? Because the resource is needed at multiple locations, e.g. Special Collections and General Collections?
Availability of materials from vendors that supply to libraries. Is the resource easily ordered from a standard library vendor? Is it available from a society or association? Is it available from a non-U.S. vendor? Do we need to purchase this material directly from the publisher? Is the material out-of-print or in print? Can we purchase the material with a purchase order or a library credit card?
Availability of materials through consortial purchase. Will the resource be less expensive to acquire through consortial purchase? Can someone else do the purchasing, licensing, and management of the resource for us?
Availability of materials from area libraries. If another area library has similar items, do we necessarily need it for Gettysburg College? Or is it so basic that it is a must-have?
Legal issues. Is there a license agreement, contract, usage agreement, fair use/copyright restriction, or some other legality involved in making the materials available? If so, this may take months (or years!) to resolve.