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Collection Development Policy

Library & Archives

Administrative Authority: Library & Archives Faculty Council

Approval Date: 2020-02-06

Effective Date: 2020-02-06

Review Date: 2023-02-06

Purpose and Scope: This policy sets out the principles for the acquisition, management and deaccessioning of resources for collections of the Library & Archives. It includes a preamble, mission statement, and definitions. It describes the roles and responsibilities of librarians and archivists for the collection.


During the past 15 years, resource collection and management have undergone a massive change at the the Library & Archives (“the Library”). Almost all acquisition for both periodicals and monographs is now electronic, and print materials are being weeded where electronic subscriptions give us access to archival content. Nevertheless, electronic resources, or “e-resources,” will likely never entirely replace print: resources are not always available or cost-effective in electronic form and many older, in-copyright materials have not been digitized, so print acquisition and print collections management will remain part of the Library’s repertoire foreseeable future. However, the bulk of the Library’s collection is now in electronic format.

A mostly-electronic collection has had unique demands: managing vendor relations, negotiating subscriptions, archiving digital copies of journals, maintaining a unified access point for disparate e-resource platforms, managing proxy access, fixing broken links, and more. Although the Library benefits from participation in consortia such as the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) and the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN), there is still a substantial amount of work to be done locally to keep our e-resources in good order.

The era of e-resources has also called the very concepts of “collection” and “ownership” into question. Digital goods are usually licensed by users rather than bought outright - in spite of the persistence of the discourse of “buying” and “selling.” As information professionals, librarians must be more circumspect about license agreements to ensure continued access to e-resources.

Since the last version of the Collection Development Policy in 2013, more work has gone into meeting the exigencies of budget shortfalls than into building the collection. Resource prices continue to increase at a rate greater than general inflation, while the Canadian dollar has lost purchasing power because of unfavourable exchange rates, and the collections budget has been gradually frozen. In this context, even a frozen budget is effectively a cut budget. This period has been marked by an ongoing attempt to balance the budget and to eliminate deficits carried forward from previous years. With the University facing budget pressures across the organization, this situation is foreseen to continue through the duration of this collection policy and possibly beyond. As a result, the Library is forced to consider deaccessioning policies and minimum collections standards - including the possibility of some Laurentian programs losing local access to resources - for the near-to-medium-term future.

At present the Library - and Laurentian University as a whole - must confront difficult truths. A substantial portion of the global conversation in all fields of scholarship occurs through information resources such as journals, books, and conference proceedings. Despite advances in Open Access in recent years, most of these resources cost money. As the Library loses purchasing power, it is an unfortunate but unavoidable consequence that teaching, learning and research at Laurentian University become increasingly isolated from scholarly discourse.

Mission Statement

The Library acquires and maintains resources in order to support the institutional mandate of Laurentian University, which includes teaching and research. The Library strives to ensure that discovery and access to its resources is provided both on-site and by proxy to members of the Laurentian community.

The Library upholds the principles of academic freedom in the search for truth and knowledge by the University’s scholarly community. The Library’s collection contributes to teaching and research at the University and to fostering critical thinking and lifetime learning.

The Library is supposed to be largely autonomous in providing resources for the University’s undergraduate programs, but it is interdependent with other Ontario university libraries in providing resources for graduate programs. However, the Library must also operate within the budget allocated by the University and should not carry forward a deficit. Any commitment to maintaining a collection in support of teaching and research must recognize the constraints of the budget. It is the Library’s obligation to manage its respective and sometimes contradictory obligations to its academic mission and to fiscal responsibility.

Definitions, Roles and Responsibilities

Although the Library and Archives form a single academic unit at Laurentian University, for purposes of this policy, the Library refers to library collections and operations and not to archival collections and operations. Library collections and operations include print collections (such as circulating monographs, journals, reference materials, and maps) and electronic resources (electronic journals, electronic books, and data). The archival collections policy is handled in a separate document.

Collection development is the process of planning and building a useful and balanced collection of resources by distributing the collection budget allocated by the University based on ongoing assessment of the institutional mandate, university curriculum, and user needs. Collection development also includes ongoing maintenance and deaccessioning of materials. Collection development is the responsibility of the librarians and archivist, who consult with stakeholders on the selection of resources to support the University’s academic programs. Faculty, staff, and students are welcome to suggest titles for purchase by the Library. Suggestions will be considered according to this policy and may be purchased if they fall within the scope of the Mission.

The Collections team is comprised of the librarians who are involved with the management and development of the Library’s collection according to the service coordination and liaison roles, as assigned by their workloads. It also includes the University Librarian.

The Coordinator of Collections is responsible for coordinating and monitoring collection budgets, policies, procedures and projects. The Coordinator is responsible for overseeing spending on print book and serial collections, for coordinating departmental allocations of collections funds with liaison librarians, and for weeding of print books and serials with input from liaison librarians, including items in storage. To assist the Coordinator of Collections, there is one librarian responsible for the English print collection, one librarian for the French print collection and an Electronic Resources Librarian responsible for investigating, negotiating, monitoring, and coordinating electronic license agreements. The Electronic Resources Librarian also represents the Library on the OCUL IR (Information Resources) committee, which coordinates consortial licensing. The Coordinator of Collections works in consultation with the University Librarian, who signs commitments and licenses, and authorizes payments.

With reference to Laurentian University’s commitment to being a bilingual and tricultural institution, the Library will develop a supplemental collection development policy to support Indigenous teaching, learning, and research, and will incorporate that supplemental policy into the next revision of the general Collection Development Policy.

Collection Development Principles

General principles

  1. Support of Laurentian University programs: the collection is intended to support all programs taught by Laurentian, either on- or off-campus. At the undergraduate level, the Library is expected by its peers to be self-sufficient; at the graduate level, it can rely to a larger extent on resources obtained from other libraries through interlibrary loan.

    The Library strives to ensure that collection support is appropriate to the language of instruction and research and that appropriate development occurs for both English- and French-language collections. The Library recognizes, however, that limited availability of French-language materials for certain programs may affect practical adherence to this principle.

    The Library also strives to ensure that collection is appropriate to Laurentian’s tricultural mandate and that the collection reflects the University’s commitment to Anglophone, Francophone and Indigenous cultures and to Indigenous curriculum development.

    Each year, interlibrary loan requests will be analyzed to see whether any materials should be added to the collection in support of Laurentian programs, as budget permits.

    It is expected that proposals for new programs, at all academic levels, include a comprehensive analysis of Library collection requirements. The Library may require additional funding from the University to fully support new programs with required resources.

  2. Financial soundness: the Library is expected to maintain a balanced budget and to eliminate any carry-forward deficit in subsequent years. Budgetary concerns may limit the Library’s ability to adequately support all Laurentian University programs.
  3. Donations: the Library may accept donations if they complete or enhance the collection. For further information, please refer to the Donations Policy.
  4. Accessibility: the Library makes every effort to provide equitable access to resources for persons with disabilities, in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, through the librarian responsible for Accessibility Services. The Library participates in Scholars Portal’s Accessible Content E-Portal (ACE) program to facilitate the provision of accessible content for persons with disabilities.
  5. E-resources preferred but not exclusively: the Library prefers to acquire materials in electronic format where possible due to ease of off-campus access, possibility of multi-user licenses, and considerations of physical space. However, as not all materials are available as e-resources or may be significantly more expensive than print (see Financial soundness, above), the Library will continue to develop its print collection.

    Print collections of relevant materials will be retained where no electronic archive is available or within the means of the Library’s budget.

    The Library also prefers e-resource platforms where access to already acquired content persists even if the subscription to new materials lapses.

Book collection

The goal of the Library’s book collection is to provide convenient access to necessary materials in all areas of teaching and research at Laurentian University. The Library maintains both a circulating print collection and a reference collection in print for in-house consultation only.

  1. Single copies: the Library normally acquires one copy of a title, whether print or electronic. Allowances may be made for print materials held in different locations.
  2. Replacements: items are not automatically replaced. The primary criteria for replacement are usage and analysis of related material in the collection. The most recent edition is normally acquired if the item is replaced.
  3. Edition: newer editions are acquired only if they have been substantially updated from the previous edition.
  4. Course textbooks: course textbooks are not normally purchased for the collection. Donations may be accepted or personal copies placed on course reserve.
  5. Print book format: the softcover or paperback edition of a book is normally acquired, rather than the hardcover edition.
  6. Removing books from the collection: the Library removes materials in order to maintain a viable and useful collection, and to ensure adequate space on the shelves for higher-use materials. Materials which are out of date, are no longer relevant, or are in poor condition are systematically reviewed for discard or replacement.

    In addition, monographs may be sent to the Depository if there has been no usage after 15 years of the item’s becoming available in the collection. If a borrower recalls a book from the Depository, it will be returned to the general collection. If, after 5 years, the book placed in the Depository has not been checked out, it may be removed from the collection.

    Books removed from the collection may be sold to a used bookseller, may be made freely available to the university community, or may be recycled.

    Weeding is the responsibility of the Collections Team, who may also call upon the assistance of the teaching faculty.

  7. Deadlines and budget limits: The normal deadline for all book orders for the fiscal year is January 31. No further orders are placed once the budget is fully encumbered.

Periodical collection

The periodical collection consists of print and electronic subscriptions to indexes, abstracts and databases as well as to the full-text of regional, national, and international journals and newspapers.

  1. Single format: as the Library prefers electronic formats, print journals are removed from the collection once there is perpetual access to the e-journal.
  2. Microforms: Microforms are acquired as necessary, although perpetual online access is preferred. Subscriptions are reviewed to determine if online formats have become available.
  3. Usage: as subscriptions and licenses to periodical content represent longer-term budgetary commitments, their usage is monitored.  Where usage is deemed to be low, or where the cost is deemed to be high for the level of use of a given product, it may be reviewed for potential cancellation for budgetary reasons.  While usage statistics are automatically generated for online products, manual processes apply to print resources; to facilitate the latter, users are encouraged not to reshelve items consulted.  

Recreational reading collection

English-language popular fiction and comics are collected for leisure reading and are accepted only as donations. Donations may be of the materials themselves or of funds earmarked for the purchase of recreational reading materials. Pocketbooks that have not been loaned for five consecutive years are removed from the collection to make space for new additions.

French-language leisure reading materials may be purchased from the library budget. The Francophone Services Librarian determines which materials should be removed from the collection.

Music Scores, Videos, and Sound Recordings

The Library acquires music scores, videos, and sound recordings. Titles that meet the Library’s mission may be acquired upon request, subject to the availability of funds.

Government Documents Collection

Managing the government documents collection is the responsibility of the Government Documents Librarian.

With developments in Open Government and the development of numerous archives of digital government information, the nature of government documents has changed significantly in recent years. The Library does not actively pursue the acquisition of government information with the exception of a current copy, in electronic format, of documents especially relevant to the teaching and research programs of the University. Rather than attempting to collect and catalogue individual documents, as had previously been the case, the Library now tends to direct users to the repositories of current and historical government information.

With the termination of the federal Depository Services Program on December 31, 2014, the Library is no longer a depository library for the Government of Canada. However, the Library retains a large collection of print government documents in the Government Documents collection to ensure perpetuity of access. Where documents are found to be adequately preserved through online sources (for example, the Government of Canada Publications website, the Internet Archive or, they may be removed from the collection. Where government monographs and/or research reports are deemed better suited to the circulating collection, they may be reclassified.

Government documents may be weeded where deemed unimportant or where deemed ephemeral. However caution is exercised when weeding since many government documents may be useful to historical research.

Geospatial Data, Map and Atlas Collection

Resources in this section refer to electronic geospatial (GIS) data, print maps and print atlases. Maps, geospatial data and atlases are the responsibility of the GIS Librarian.

  1. Geospatial data: geospatial data is available through open, online government portals such as GeoGratis and Land Information Ontario. Enhanced access to this data is available through the consortial Scholars GeoPortal product available through Scholars Portal. The library does not normally purchase geospatial datasets with the notable exception of the Postal Code Conversion File (PCCF) through Statistics Canada’s Data Liberation Initiative (DLI).
  2. Maps: the Library maintains a legacy collection of maps from the governments of Ontario and Canada, specifically maps of the National Topographic System and Ontario Base Maps. As newer government-issued maps are now openly distributed via portals such as GeoGratis and Land Information Ontario, the Library no longer actively collects print maps. The Library accepts donations of print maps only if they are relevant to current programs or to Northern Ontario.
  3. Atlases: the Library maintains a legacy collection of general atlases in print. New atlases are not normally acquired since comparable information is usually openly available online.

Data and Statistics Collection

The Library’s data and statistical holdings are the responsibility of the Data Librarian.

The Library subscribes to Statistics Canada’s Data Liberation Initiative (DLI) program and received enhanced access to this data through the consortial Ontario Data Documentation, Extraction Service and Infrastructure (<odesi>) service available through Scholars Portal. Data and statistics are also available through open, online government and intergovernmental portals such as CANSIM. The Library may also consider purchasing or negotiating access to other data sets from other sources that support the Library’s mission if budget permits. 

The Library also encourages the archiving of research data into repositories such as LU|ZONE|UL and Scholars Portal Dataverse especially, but not exclusively, in compliance with funder and publisher requirements.

Thesis, Dissertation and Essay Collection

The Library collects electronic copies of theses and dissertations in LU|ZONE|UL. It is mandatory for all graduate students to deposit a copy of their theses or dissertations upon final acceptance. Theses and dissertations may be subject to a one year embargo upon request, as per Faculty of Graduate Studies Regulations. Academic units have the option of depositing undergraduate Honours Essays in LU|ZONE|UL as well. Theses and dissertations deposited into LU|ZONE|UL are harvested by and accessible through Library and Archives Canada’s Theses Canada portal. The collection of theses and dissertations is jointly managed by the librarian responsible for the Institutional Repository and the System Librarian.

The Library holds a legacy print collection of Laurentian University graduate theses and undergraduate Honours Essays, which are housed in the Archives.

Fourth-year essays are added to the Library’s collection when supplied by the departments or programs, after they have removed all personal information. The Library will only accept those essays that have been verified by their program and do not contain any personal information, as defined by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). Theses and essays that do not conform to regulations regarding personal information will be returned to their respective departments or schools.

Laurentian Faculty Authors Collection

The Faculty Authors Collection is a repository of published monographs by University faculty members. The collection will not include books published before or after their appointment at the University. New faculty members may, however, donate previous publications for inclusion in the circulating collection. The Coordinator of Collections is responsible for the Faculty Authors Collection and the Archives hosts the collection.

Scholarly, peer-reviewed reports by a faculty member are also included. However, articles or book chapters are not accepted.

Faculty members are encouraged to deposit electronic versions of their work in LU|Zone|UL. Scholarly, peer-reviewed reports by faculty members may also be included. Faculty theses are not normally included in the collection.

Regional Collection

The Regional Collection consists of publications that deal with Northern Ontario, with a particular focus on Northeastern Ontario. The Coordinator of Collections is responsible for the Regional Collection and the Archives hosts the collection.

All subject areas and all types of publications may be evaluated for inclusion.

No Laurentian University publications (e.g., reports, studies, and statistics) are accepted into the Regional Collection.

Electronic versions are included in the Institutional Repository.

Rare Book Collection

The rare books collection consists of special editions, rare and unique publications of recognized value, or materials that are in fragile condition. Any addition to this collection will reflect program needs and be from donated materials, or will occur if the fragile state of the published work requires controlled access.

The Coordinator of Collections is responsible for the Rare Book Collection and the Archives hosts the collection.

McEwen School of Architecture Library

The McEwen School of Architecture Library is considered a branch of the Laurentian University Library & Archives. However, it is guided by a separate collection policy. Please see the McEwen School of Architecture Library Collections Policy for details.


The Archives participates in and ensures the preservation of the archival heritage of Northeastern Ontario. The Archives supports and serves the university community, the community of the region, and beyond. Archival donations are submitted to the Archivist. The Archivist is responsible for the Archives collection with input of the Archives Committee.

For further information on the Archives’ acquisition policy, please refer to the Acquisition Policy - Laurentian University Archives.

The Archives maintains a reference resource collection consisting primarily of finding aids to archival fonds. It also includes publications that complement the holdings of archival fonds, some Laurentian University publications, and official publications by national and provincial archives. The collection also contains official historical publications which are not available online.