Newsletters are defined in the ALA Glossary as "a serial consisting of one or a few printed sheets containing news or information of interest chiefly to a special group." In general, they inform a society's membership or a limited group of customers or citizens of activities, meetings, issues, gatherings, grantmaking, job openings, news, special programs, awards, or products that are of interest only to that limited group of people. Inclusion of the word "newsletter" in a serial's title is no guarantee that the work is a true newsletter; there are serials published that are called newsletters by their publishers, but which, by virtue of their strong content, are not true newsletters. Similarly, there are electronic listserves that are called newsletters but are really moderated on-line conversations among participants. Because the information in newsletters is often ephemeral and is addressed to a very limited audience, NAL selectors should be selective in choosing newsletters for the collection.
NAL selection decisions are based on the Collection Development Policy. The Policy states under Exclusions (p.7) that NAL does not collect various types of ephemera, and included in the definition of Comprehensive level (p.8) is the statement, "Materials of very brief or trivial interest, such as commercial promotional literature, notices of society newsletters reporting doings of members, may be excluded." From this the selector can conclude that newsletters are out of scope when the subject is collected at Research level or lower, and even when the subject is collected at Comprehensive level, the selector may reject a newsletter if it is of very brief or trivial interest.
In addition, the selector may find the following parts of the Policy helpful when he or she is considering newsletters from societies, government organizations and extension offices:
- Newsletters of government organizations and agricultural societies. Newsletters are often house organs of societies or agencies.
||Periodicals and societies
||U.S. Federal and State documents
||Documents of other countries (generally not below national level)
- Newsletters published by USDA; newsletters published by agricultural extension offices.
||U.S. Department of Agriculture documents
The Library acquires and maintains in its
collection substantive materials needed for effective service.
||Publications of State Extension services are selected at the research level, excluding such items as "Weekly Notes,"
"Poultry tips," etc.
If the title in question is still a possible selection for NAL after the selector applies the Policy to the decisionmaking process, the selector should consider the following points to reach a decision.
Newsletters are not selected if they meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Contain information of ephemeral or local interest
- Summarize information that is easily available elsewhere
Other newsletters may be selected if they meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Contain substantial reports of research, historical or statistical information
- Are published in a part of the world where there is a dearth of published agricultural literature. The newsletter, in this case, may make an important and unique contribution to the agricultural literature of a country.
- Pertain to a special or newly emerging subject for which newsletters are a primary communication tool
- Are published by USDA
- Are international in scope
Newsletters that are not selected but that are needed for the ongoing work of an office or center in the Library may be routed, without cataloging or serials control, to the requestor.
March 18, 1997.