General collection development policy

Last updated: August 1, 2011

Collection principles and goals

Build a focused academic teaching and research collection

Wilfrid Laurier University Library’s collections support the teaching and research needs of the Laurier community. The Library aims to develop and maintain a core collection of research and scholarly materials; in addition, it acquires more specialized items in areas where university academic programs and research have an acknowledged strength. The selection and management of collections are based on the community’s current needs, as well as future needs, reflecting the long-range goals of the University. The Library does not typically duplicate non-scholarly resources purchased by other units, organizations, and research areas on campus to support their areas, including Career & Co-op Services, Learning Services, Human Resources, and various Research Centres and student organizations. The Library strives to balance the rapidly changing expectations of users for discovery and access to scholarly materials within the constraints of near capacity shelving, instability and limitations in new technologies, and a limited acquisitions budget.

The Library acquires or provides access to information resources in print and non-print formats required to support the following activities:

  • student coursework
  • graduate student research
  • faculty research
  • general academic scholarly information needs

Liaison Librarians, in cooperation with faculty, develop subject-based collection policies and the accompanying approval plans to focus and guide the systematic and reasoned selection of materials. Librarians are responsible for ensuring a balanced collection in their subject areas, and for liaison with faculty and students to facilitate the growth of a collection responsive to Laurier’s research and teaching activities.

Faculty liaisons are responsible for informing librarians about changes to their department’s research and teaching activities, for participating in the collection management process in conjunction with the appropriate librarian, and for helping to build a balanced collection in the discipline that supports departmental needs.

The Archives and Special Collections librarian is responsible for building Special Collections, in cooperation with liaison librarians and faculty liaisons in appropriate subject areas.

The Library also uses innovative new approaches to selection, including patron driven acquisition (PDA) and print-on-demand purchasing to complement traditional academic collection building approaches.

Develop processes and partnerships to ensure equitable, sustainable access to scholarly resources

The Library is committed to providing equitable, barrier free access to our collection, in accordance with the Access for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the Ontario Human Rights Code, and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions Declaration on Intellectual Freedom. The Library supports Open Access Scholarly Communication initiatives including the principles of the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI).

Cooperative arrangements with other libraries and institutions exist to supplement the local collections through such activities as interlibrary loan, reciprocal borrowing, co-operative purchasing, and shared long-term preservation and archiving of print and electronic collections. The Library works primarily with three consortia: the TriUniversity Group of Libraries (TUG) (with the University of Guelph (UG) Library and University of Waterloo (UW) Library); the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL); and the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN).

The Library endeavours to make its electronic collection available through accessible discovery interfaces available on and off-campus. Wherever possible, the Library attempts to purchase instead of lease resources and to ensure perpetual archival access to electronic resources through licensing agreements with vendors and through participation in initiatives such as Scholars Portal.

Lost, missing, brittle or damaged items are evaluated by Liaison Librarians for possible replacement. Criteria include prior use, content, current and anticipated demand, intrinsic value, and duplication within TUG as well as all other specific selection criteria for the subject area. Items may be replaced with equivalent rather than identical materials.

Gifts added to the collection must meet the same guidelines for selection as purchased items. See the Donations Policy for more details.

Minimize overlap in a multi-campus library environment

The Library strives to minimize duplication of materials and facilitate access to resources in our multi-campus environment. There is recognition that some core resources may need to be duplicated at multiple locations, but instead of purchasing multiple copies of the same format, the Library may acquire a digital and print format. The goal is to create one comprehensive collection library-wide and use the freely- available inter-campus delivery services to provide distribution of the collection to users at various campuses.

  • The Brantford and Kitchener campus collections are intended to be dynamic and support current use
  • The Waterloo campus collection is more comprehensive and contains more specialized research materials including Special Collections and the University Archives
  • The Annex, an off-site storage facility shared with the University of Waterloo Library and University of Guelph Library, houses the last copy materials in the TUG libraries. With the shift to electronic archival collections of journals, TUG libraries are systematically reducing print journals to a single print run to be held within the Annex. For more details, see the TUG Annex Last Copy Agreement outlines the criteria.

Preserve Laurier scholarship

The Library is committed to preserving the scholarship produced within the Laurier community through the following arrangements. In addition, the Scholars Commons (, Laurier’s new Institutional Repository will be used to promote and preserve various forms of Laurier scholarship.

  • Laurier University Archives: The University Archives is the repository for historic records of Wilfrid Laurier University.
  • Laurier Press: The Library receives two copies of each book published by the Press. One copy goes into the circulating stacks and a second copy is acquired for Special Collections.
  • Faculty Books and Media: The Library purchases all works substantially authored, edited, performed, or composed by Laurier faculty. One copy goes into the circulating stacks and a second copy is acquired for the Special Collections.
  • Theses: The Library archives one print bound copy, in Special Collections, of each Master’s thesis and Ph.D. dissertation created by Laurier students and one microfiche copy.

Priorities for types of scholarly works

Subject specific collection policies are listed at the bottom of this page. Materials not usually collected, except where specifically noted in subject policies, include:

  • juvenile literature
  • popular content books
  • ephemera and pamphlets
  • article reprints and photocopies
  • obsolete formats
  • realia
  • laboratory manuals and workbooks
  • materials considered vanity press
  • materials in languages not taught at the university


Due to limitations in the budget, recently published books have priority for available funds. Liaison Librarians decide whether a print or electronic format is purchased. Purchasing, not leasing, of electronic books (ebooks) is preferred with perpetual access guaranteed on the publisher site and/or local loading on Scholars Portal.

eBook publisher packages are used to strengthen and fill in gaps in subject collections and provide for larger scale retrospective purchasing, especially when new programs, research areas, or courses are added. Ebooks are also used to supplement local access to print collections, especially at the Brantford and Kitchener campuses. It is recognized that current interfaces and usability of Ebooks limits the desirability of this format with specific subject areas.

Academic and scholarly publishers from North America and Europe are emphasized. Books from other international publishers are acquired selectively. The Library obtains publications produced in India through the Canadian Library Program with the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute (SICI).


The Library does not normally collect required course textbooks or course packs. In exceptional cases, where the text or course pack is very expensive, the Library may purchase a copy to be placed on Reserve. Ebooks are also purchased to facilitate faculty integrating content into course management systems. Copies of course texts may also be placed on Reserve by faculty. The latest editions of previously used, donated textbooks are selectively added to the stacks collection.

Reference materials

The traditional reference book has been largely replaced with online databases and electronic book sources. The Library maintains a specialized, small print reference collection. For more details, see the Reference Collection Policy.

Journals and bibliographic/full-text databases

Web format is preferred for scholarly journals, bibliographic indexing tools, and full-text aggregator databases. To date, the Library has participated in consortial “big-deals” for publisher packages of journals complemented with individual print and/or online subscriptions for specialized titles. The Library prefers to subscribe to journals that provide post-subscription perpetual access and local loading on Scholars Portal.

News sources

Due to limited use and high costs, subscriptions to print newspapers and microform archives have been largely replaced with full-text aggregator databases of news sources. The Library has also invested in archival perpetual access to specific newspaper databases, with focus on Canadian newspapers. Online format is preferred for access to current and archival news sources. Microform is also considered as a second archival option.


Media items in various formats are purchased to support teaching and research needs. The collection includes audio-visual, visual, and audio media. For more details, see the Media Collection Policy.

The Library purchases DVDs and VHS films for classroom viewing, under the public performance rights provided by the University license with Criterion Pictures and Audio Cine Films Inc. The former Media Technology Resources (MTR) Collection is housed at the Waterloo campus library as is the Dept of English and Film Studies media collection. The Brantford and Kitchener campuses have small collections.

Externally-hosted streaming media collections are used to expand the breadth and depth of the collection. The Library has also licensed streaming rights with the National Film Board of Canada and select databases with Alexander Street Press (ASP).

The Library also has a limited collection of slides and digital image databases to support teaching and research programs. University Archives has a digitization program for the local university collection.


Print and online scores are purchased selectively by the Music Liaison Librarian. The Library also houses the Faculty of Music Ensemble Collection. For more details, see the Music Collection Policy.

Government information

As a member of the federal Depository Services Program (DSP), Laurier is a “select depository” for federal government documents. UW and UG libraries are “full” depositories for federal publications, and are relied upon as the source for archival retention if Laurier has titles which it no longer wants or can hold. All three libraries are select depositories for Ontario government documents, and UW is relied upon for most Kitchener-Waterloo municipal and regional material. A subscription service to Micromedia’s Microlog also provides access to federal documents and other provinces’, municipalities’ and Canadian associations’ publications on microfiche. Laurier receives a select number of government publications from the United Kingdom, the United States, several international organizations, and is a European Reference Centre for documents from the European Union.

Data (numerical and geospatial)

Laurier is a member of Statistics Canada's Data Liberation Initiative (DLI); the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), and provides researchers access to OCUL’s <odesi> data interface and holdings. Through Ontario-wide consortial agreements and subscriptions, the Library also provides access to a growing number of geospatial data sets. To support specific applications software (e.g. the sciences and GIS), the Library may also purchase select data sets and/or provide the hardware and software needed to work with such data.

Teacher curriculum materials

The Library purchases curriculum-based books, kits, posters, and media at the primary, junior, and intermediate levels for use by teacher-candidates in the Waterloo campus program. Through a co-operative arrangement with the Nipissing University Library (Nipissing), equivalent types of materials are purchased by Nipissing for use in the Brantford campus education program. For more information, see the Education Collection Policy.

Primary source special collections

Physical archive and manuscript collections, rare books, and other specialized or rare research materials are collected and housed in Special Collections. The Library also purchases perpetual access electronic collections of primary source materials. Membership in the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) provides users with additional digital and interlibrary loan access to specialized primary research resources.

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