Skip to Content

Joint Collection Development Policy:
Veterinary Science and Related Subjects

(March 6, 1996; Rev.  November 20, 2007)


Veterinary science is the study of the diagnosis, prevention, cure or alleviation of animal disease or injury.

The National Library of Medicine (NLM), the National Agricultural Library (NAL), and the Library of Congress (LC) acquire publications on topics relating to veterinary science, and provide document and information services to the veterinary science community. The libraries have prepared this joint statement in order to clarify their respective responsibilities, to inform practitioners and researchers about the collections, and, where possible, to minimize or eliminate costly duplication of effort.

Consult the complete collection development policies of the libraries for complete information.

Collection Development Manual of the National Library of Medicine

Collection Development Policy of the National Agricultural Library

Collection Development and Policies of the Library of Congress

The Collections

Together, the three libraries attempt to collect, retain and preserve all significant information on veterinary science. However, each library strives to assemble a collection that supports its unique institutional mission and the particular research needs of its clientele. Hence, while some overlap is inevitable, the collections are by no means identical. The collection emphases at LC, NLM, and NAL are as follows:


The LC collection in veterinary science and related fields is strongest in areas that relate to human and animal health and well being, and to the global environment, with particular attention to areas of developing legislative and public policy interest. LC's primary focus in these particular areas is to acquire materials at research levels to support the needs of Members of Congress and Congressional committees. LC also acquires materials at the basic and instructional levels in other areas, to serve Congress, other government agencies and the general public.

Subject areas collected at research or comprehensive levels include works on aquaculture, zoonoses, the parasitology and toxicology of plants and animals, veterinary science as it relates to human food safety and nutrition, other veterinary aspects of public health, animal genetics, ethical concerns, human/animal interactions, and wildlife management and ecology. In response to the needs of clientele, and as issues involving animals and human health have become increasingly important to researchers and Congress, LC’s collections in these areas have gradually grown more comprehensive in recent years.

Areas of veterinary science that are related to human health and disease are collected at research levels or instructional levels, including works on emerging diseases and epidemics, and the human food chain and the environment. Works on animal nutrition, genetics, behavior, and health also are collected, with levels based on the degree to which they relate to these areas of interest. English language works on wildlife in captivity and wildlife rehabilitation are collected to complement the Library’s collection strength in biodiversity and ecology LC also seeks to collect materials on ethics and legislation relating to laboratory animals, their welfare, and their use in experimentation. Veterinary history, the veterinary profession, and veterinary pharmacology are collected on instructional levels, and LC has a strong basic collection of U.S. copyrighted works on pets, pet care and companion animals. LC generally excludes, or collects at basic or instructional levels, works on the clinical aspects of veterinary medicine, animal husbandry, and veterinary space medicine.


The NLM collection is especially strong in those areas of veterinary research that relate to human health, biomedical research, and advances in the life sciences. The library has an extensive collection of works in areas such as comparative medicine, zoonoses, veterinary clinical sciences (i.e., specialties such as surgery and dermatology), veterinary virology, primatology, animal models of disease, and animal cognition. Because of the Library’s interest in research at the cellular, molecular and biochemical level and its potential application to human health, NLM collects animal research literature in such fields as immunology, microbiology, parasitology and toxicology. NLM is especially interested in works about veterinary public health issues which have an impact on human health, such as emerging and re-emerging animal diseases and pathogens, animal biodefense research, and the effect of animal diseases and veterinary drugs on the human food chain. In addition, NLM collects publications that are likely to be widely used in U.S. veterinary clinical practice, such as those on anatomy, physiology, diagnosis, therapeutics, and nutrition. NLM is interested in all aspects of laboratory animal science and welfare, including works about practical issues (e.g., breeding, selection, housing, nutrition) as well as legal, ethical and public policy issues, such as alternatives to animal testing in biomedical research. NLM also collects works on the veterinary profession and on the history of veterinary medicine. The Library’s History of Medicine Division holds many rare veterinary books and manuscripts from the 14th through the 19th century.

The NLM collection generally excludes publications about animal husbandry, breeding, and training; livestock management; wildlife management and rehabilitation; aquaculture and fisheries management; care of recreational, working, and exhibit animals; and other agricultural or production-related works, except for those that expressly relate to human health or laboratory animal science. NLM does not collect consumer publications about pets and pet care, but provides access to consumer information via its consumer health Web site MedlinePlus


NAL collects comprehensively in all areas dealing with the treatment and health maintenance of animals, as well as their diseases, anatomy and physiology. Animals covered by this policy include domestic livestock, commonly used laboratory animals, dogs, cats, birds (especially agriculturally important species), and fish in aquaculture systems. NAL also strives for comprehensive coverage in the more general subjects of animal husbandry, breeding, nutrition, and other aspects of animal production. This coverage includes many aspects of animal life and the human use of animals (e.g., animals as sources of food, laboratory animals, working and exhibit animals) and animals as transmitters of disease to humans. The above subject areas are collected at the Research Level for wildlife in general. NAL's collecting interests in veterinary medicine have been strongly influenced by federal legislation including the 1966 Animal Welfare Act (AWA). This legislation placed regulatory authority on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure the proper care and treatment of animals used in biomedical research, in teaching, in exhibition and by dealers who provide animals. The Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC) was created in 1986 as mandated in the 1985 Animal Welfare Act amendments. AWIC's efforts have increased NAL's collecting in all aspects of laboratory animal science, including the following specific subject areas: handling and care of animals, training and education of animal caretakers, alternatives to the use of laboratory animals, improved laboratory methodologies, ethics, pain control via anesthesia and analgesia, transportation and acquisition of animals, and environmental factors affecting laboratory animals.

Collecting Levels

LC, NLM, and NAL employ 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: NLM distinguishes between subject areas collected at the Comprehensive level and those which NLM collects comprehensively within defined parameters. Within the latter, NLM focuses on:

Within these qualifying parameters, the collection is comprehensive. The collecting level for such subjects is indicated as “Comprehensive*”. The following table summarizes NLM and NAL collecting levels for veterinary topics.

Veterinary Science and Related Literature at LC, NLM, and NAL
TOPIC Collecting Level
Comprehensive*  indicates a subject area in which NLM focuses its collecting efforts on works with potential application to human health or biomedical research; comparative studies involving humans, non-human primates, or laboratory animals; studies concerned with the physiological, cellular, or genetic basis of disease; and standard works likely to be widely used in U.S. veterinary practice.
Research**  indicates a subject area in which LC collects at research levels works which relate to human food safety and nutrition, human health, or other aspects of public and environmental health and welfare.
Animal Behavior Research** Comprehensive Research
Animal Genetics Research** Comprehensive* Comprehensive
Animal Husbandry Instructional support Out of Scope Comprehensive
Animal Nutrition -
Applied Aspects
Research** Out of Scope Comprehensive
Animal Nutrition -
Physiological, Biochemical,
 and Biological Aspects
Research** Comprehensive Comprehensive
Comparative Medicine Research ComprehensiveResearch
Ethical Concerns -
Exhibit, Farm, and
Companion Animals
Comprehensive Out of Scope Comprehensive
Ethical Concerns -
 Laboratory Animals
Research Comprehensive Comprehensive
Comprehensive Comprehensive Instructional Support
Laboratory Animal
Instructional support Comprehensive Comprehensive
Primatology – Biology
 and Anthropology
Research Comprehensive Research
Primatology – Wildlife
Management and Ecology
Comprehensive Out of Scope Research
Public Health -
Veterinary aspects
Comprehensive Comprehensive* Comprehensive
Space Medicine -
 Veterinary aspects
Comprehensive Comprehensive Comprehensive
Theriogenology Instructional support Research Comprehensive
Veterinary Anatomy Instructional support Comprehensive* Comprehensive
Veterinary Anesthesiology Instructional support Comprehensive Comprehensive
Veterinary Biochemistry Instructional support Comprehensive* Comprehensive
Veterinary Cardiology Instructional support Comprehensive Comprehensive
Veterinary Clinical Pathology Instructional support Comprehensive Comprehensive
Veterinary Dermatology Instructional support Comprehensive Comprehensive
Veterinary Embryology Instructional support Comprehensive* Comprehensive
Veterinary Emergency
Instructional support Comprehensive* Comprehensive
Veterinary Endocrinology Instructional support Comprehensive Comprehensive
Veterinary Epidemiology Research** Comprehensive* Comprehensive
Veterinary Histology Instructional support Comprehensive* Comprehensive
Veterinary History Instructional support Comprehensive Comprehensive
Veterinary Immunology Research** Comprehensive Comprehensive
Veterinary Internal Medicine Instructional support Comprehensive* Comprehensive
Veterinary Microbiology Research** Comprehensive* Comprehensive
Veterinary Parasitology Research** Comprehensive* Comprehensive
Veterinary Pathology Research** Comprehensive* Comprehensive
Veterinary Pharmacology Instructional support Comprehensive* Comprehensive
Veterinary Physiology Instructional support Comprehensive* Comprehensive
Veterinary Profession and
Instructional support Research Comprehensive
Veterinary Preventive
Instructional support Research Comprehensive
Veterinary Radiobiology Instructional support Comprehensive* Comprehensive
Instructional support Comprehensive Comprehensive
Veterinary Surgery Instructional support Comprehensive Comprehensive
Veterinary Toxicology Research** Comprehensive Comprehensive
Wildlife Management -
Research Out of scope Research
Wildlife Management –
Veterinary Aspects
Research Research Comprehensive
Zoonoses Comprehensive Comprehensive Comprehensive

User Services

LC, NLM, and NAL cooperate to ensure that significant literature in veterinary science is collected, retained and preserved, and to make this literature accessible to researchers and practitioners throughout the United States.


 LC's collections are available to users on site and may be loaned to other U.S. libraries, congressional offices and other government agencies. For additional information on LC's loan and circulation policies, see or contact: Collections Access, Loan and Management Division (CALM), Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540. Telephone: ILL Reference: (202) 707-5444, Fax: (202) 707-5986, Email: or


 NLM collection materials are available on site to visitors, and via interlibrary loan to others. Requestors who cannot obtain items in their region may request items from NLM through their local libraries. For requestors in the United States, NLM will provide photocopies of journal articles or short excerpts from monographic material and will lend books and audiovisuals. For those outside the United States, NLM provides only photocopies of journal articles or short excerpts from monographs. Medical libraries are encouraged to send interlibrary loan requests via DOCLINE. For information about DOCLINE participation, contact your Regional Medical Library at 1-800-338-RMLS (7657).

For more information on NLM's interlibrary loan policy, see the Interlibrary Loan Fact Sheet: or contact: Collection Access Section, National Library of Medicine, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20825%. Telephone: (301) 496-5511, Fax: (301) 496-2809, Email:

International medical libraries may contact the closest International MEDLARS Center to determine if the center or another library in the immediate area accesses DOCLINE via the Internet; see the International Medlars Center Fact Sheet:


 Materials in the NAL collection, including extensive holdings in veterinary science, are available for use on site in the NAL Reading Room and through NAL’s document delivery service. NAL's document delivery service provides copies of articles and loans of original materials to USDA staff, other libraries and organizations, and congressional offices. Individuals who are not USDA employees may request material from NAL through the interlibrary loan service of their local library. For more information on NAL's document delivery service see NAL Services: Request Library Materials: or contact NAL’s Collection Services Branch at

For USDA researchers, NAL also maintains DigiTop, USDA’s Digital Desktop Library, available at DigiTop provides around-the-clock access to key databases, journals, newspapers, statistics, and other important electronic resources. Members of the general public may use DigiTop on-site at NAL and at any USDA location which allows public access to DigiTop from their computer terminals.

Last reviewed: 06 February 2004
Last updated: 20 February 2008
First published: 06 March 1996
Metadata| Permanence level: Permanent: Stable Content
Previous version