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Library collection development policy

This page explains the National Emergency Training Center (NETC) Library's collection development policy. This policy guides us in building upon and preserving our unique fire, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and emergency management materials for current and future users.


The NETC Library supports the training programs of the National Fire Academy (NFA) and Emergency Management Institute (EMI) along with the wider activities of the U.S. Fire Administration. The scope of our coverage is tied to our close support of these activities on the NETC campus.

The breadth and depth of our fire, EMS and emergency management collections have, over the years, raised our profile among the first responder communities. Many across the country see us as a valuable resource like to no other.

Our collection development and retention strategy must aim to build upon and preserve our unique fire, EMS and emergency management materials for current and future users. As a federal library, we build our collection of practitioner focused fire, EMS and emergency management collections for the long-term. That is not to say that everything we may acquire falls into this category.

The library generally retains indefinitely the fire-, EMS- and emergency management-centric material it acquires, although not necessarily in its original format. Our collection development strategy is focused on serving the needs of working practitioners in the fire and emergency services rather than fire scientists, engineers or social scientists. And while we do acquire material that deals with related problems in other parts of the world, special weight for retention purposes is given to materials that focus on matters directly centered on the United States and its territories.

The library also acquires materials on other topics from time to time to serve current general interests or respond to the passing needs of a given NETC course or staff member. Materials of this kind, that are not part of our specialized fire, EMS or emergency management collections, are routinely evaluated for retention and withdrawal. Our retention criteria and withdrawal procedures are available upon request.


The planned development of a library collection requires the consistent application of a stated policy. The NETC Library, which operates within the framework of institutional goals, must respond to institutional change.

Our library develops, in all appropriate fields, a collection of the highest degree of excellence while also being mindful of the ready availability of materials thru interlibrary loan or other sources in the emergency management field.

Meeting all the library's goals may not always be possible for financial reasons. Therefore, the library will observe the following general guidelines in developing its collection:

Collection levels defined

The basic statement of the collection policy is expressed in terms of broad subject fields defined in the library's thesaurus. For each subject, a code is given to indicate the level of collecting intensity.

The four levels of collecting intensity are:

The NFA does not train students in the fundamentals of becoming a working firefighter or EMS technician or paramedic. Consequently we do not develop our collections with a view towards training recruits. We are also not a medical library. While we aim to develop a comprehensive collection of EMS materials, we are not building a comprehensive set of medical texts.

NETC Library collection development table

The collection development table below defines the scope of our collection and specifies the degree of coverage for each area.

SubjectCollection Level
Arson / Juvenile firesettingComprehensive
Biography (fire service)Basic
Campus safetyResearch
Codes and standards (building, fire)Comprehensive
Codes and standards (electrical, mechanical, plumbing)Basic
Disaster planningComprehensive
Disaster preparednessComprehensive
Emergency communicationsComprehensive
Emergency managementComprehensive
Emergency Medical ServicesComprehensive
Emergency responseComprehensive
Emergency vehicles/Design/DrivingComprehensive
Fiction (fire, disaster)Basic
Fire behavior / DynamicsBasic
Fire departmentsComprehensive
Fire historiesResearch
Firefighter fatalitiesComprehensive
Firefighter health and safetyComprehensive
Firefighting operations – Strategy and tacticsComprehensive
Firefighting tools/equipmentComprehensive
Fire Prevention – Public educationComprehensive
Fire Prevention – Public safetyComprehensive
Fire Protection – InspectionsComprehensive
Fire protection – SystemsComprehensive
Fire statistics/researchComprehensive
Geographic information systemsBasic
Hazardous materialsComprehensive
Higher education – Fire service, emergency managementComprehensive
History – United StatesMinimal
Homeland securityResearch
Human behavior and fireResearch
Human resource management (general)Basic
Incident commandComprehensive
Incident command – Decision-makingComprehensive
Injury preventionBasic
Instructional course designBasic
Interagency cooperationComprehensive
Juvenile literature (fire, disaster, EMS)Basic
Law enforcementMinimal
Lessons learned – Fire, EMS, emergency managementComprehensive
Local history – CampusBasic
Local history – Gettysburg National BattlefieldBasic
Mass casualtiesComprehensive
Mass evacuation / Crisis relocationComprehensive
Military operations other than warResearch
Mitigation (disasters)Comprehensive
Natural disastersComprehensive
Non-fiction – GeneralMinimal
Personal protective equipment (PPE)Comprehensive
Planning – Strategic, masterResearch
Public healthResearch
Recovery / Disaster assistanceComprehensive
Rescue operationsComprehensive
Resiliency / Critical infrastructureComprehensive
Risk communications/Social mediaComprehensive
Risk evaluation/ManagementResearch
Stress management (general)Research
Structural hazardsResearch
Terrorism (no overseas focus)Research
Training – Fire, EMS, emergency managementComprehensive
Volunteer firefightersComprehensive
Wildland urban interfaceComprehensive

Library material formats

Library materials may be any of the following items:

  • Books.
  • Dissertations and theses.
  • Periodicals.
  • Print subscriptions.
  • Databases, to include online subscriptions for NETC students.
  • Off-print articles from scholarly publications as selected by our Head Librarian. The articles support fire, emergency services, and emergency management programs.
  • Pamphlets that are preserved in vertical files.
  • Reports.
  • Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program deliverables.
  • Manuscripts.
  • DVDs and CDs.
  • Electronic files.
  • Fire department histories.

Additional decision criteria

In addition to the scope statements referenced in the collection development table, all or some of the following criteria or factors influence the selection of materials acquired for the library:

  1. Appropriateness for use in NETC curriculum and programs.
  2. Appropriateness for the research needs of NETC faculty, students and staff.
  3. Possibility of use by one or more courses.
  4. Cost.
  5. Weakness of the current collection in a particular subject area.
  6. Level of the materials' quality in content, format, and/or literary merit.
  7. Permanence of the material and format.
  8. Currency and timeliness of the material.
  9. Appropriateness of purchase, taking into consideration usage patterns such as circulation statistics to determine areas of great demand.
  10. Author's reputation and credibility in the subject field.
  11. Reputation of the publisher.
  12. Title is authored by NETC faculty or staff member.
  13. Book completes series holding.
  14. The book is a new edition with revised information or merely a reprint.
  15. The serial is indexed by the library.
  16. The serial/book is easily accessible on interlibrary loan.

Materials we don't collect

  • NFA and EMI course materials.
  • Local fire department standard operating procedures (SOPs).
  • Books that do not support the research or curricula needs of NETC activities except on a case by case basis.
  • Microforms.

For more information about the library's collection development policy, please contact our staff at 301-447-1030, or by email at FEMA-NETCLibrary@fema.dhs.gov.