The Guidelines are designed to provide clear guidance for the selection and deselection of library materials. In addition they document the rationale for collection development decisions, and demonstrate accountability for disbursement of resources and selection decisions.

The Coordinator of Collection Development guides policy and planning decisions and chairs the Library's Collections Committee. The Collections librarians coordinate collection development within their areas of responsibility, with input from other librarians and faculty. Ultimate responsibility for managing the budget lies with the Director, Academic Innovation, and the Vice-President, Academic & Provost.

All materials purchased with Library funds are housed in the Library or accessed via the Library web site.


  • To support current course and program goals
  • General order of priority:
    • to support curriculum needs of students
    • to support instructional needs of faculty
    • to collect materials beyond the academic curriculum but related to academic success
    • to collect materials of current topical interest
    • to support faculty research related to course development
  • Other considerations for priority:
    • to remedy collection deficiencies and support the collection’s upgrading
    • to support new course or program materials, but with due consideration to factors such as the library budget or permanence of course


  • Relevance to the curriculum
  • Use by several disciplines
  • Merit of work:
    • Authoritativeness (author’s expertise and publisher’s reputation)
    • Accuracy
    • Appropriate level for college students
    • Scope of coverage (basic, study, research, comprehensive)
    • Presentation/style (accurate, clear, logical, visually appealing, physical quality)
    • Unique features (original approach, illustrations)
    • Currency
    • Projected shelf life
  • Regional relevance to British Columbia and Canada
  • Relevance to the existing collection (updates, supplements, completes or fills a gap)
  • Faculty recommendation
  • Availability through resource sharing activities
  • Cost relative to budget, or other comparable materials
  • Cost relative to the overall expenditure for the discipline
  • Repeated requests through interlibrary loans
  • Accessibility of materials for students and staff with perceptual disabilities, especially for media (audiovisual materials) and electronic resources

The library will collect materials in appropriate formats. Although content is the main criterion for selection, format is also a major factor. Increasingly, the same content may be published in more than one format, making clear guidelines about format preferences essential.

A major, ongoing format shift is the move from physical to virtual resources. Therefore, information found in electronic sources, both acquired and freely available, increasingly has an impact on the physical collection. Electronic resources may offer numerous benefits such as:

  • increased access in terms of location, hours and convenience
  • increased number of simultaneous users
  • more current information and frequent updates
  • improved searchability
  • decreased space/storage/handling requirements
  • integration into mixed-mode or online courses
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Electronic resources may, however, entail complications or drawbacks in areas such as:

  • content availability
  • cost
  • copyright and digital licensing restrictions
  • subscription to rather than ownership of content
  • ongoing or archival access
  • technical issues, both for the user and the library
  • usability

The library will monitor both the College and external information environments and adjust its format preferences as needed in order to remain responsive to user needs and make best use of the collections budget.

Some general format considerations include:

  • Appropriate format for the content
  • Cost relative to other formats
  • Convenience of use
  • Delivery method of curriculum
  • User preference for remote access
  • User demand or preference for format
  • Projected volume of use
  • Projected number of simultaneous users
  • Space and maintenance impacts
  • Availability of equipment necessary to support the format
  • Integration with rest of the collection

Types of materials collected and format considerations are listed below.

  1. Monographs (books)

    Books are non-serial publications that may be published in any format. Some general guidelines for the selection of electronic vs. print books are detailed below.

    Electronic is preferred for:

    • Reference books, and other works not normally read cover-to-cover
    • Maximizing access to users
    • Books with added utility in the electronic format
    • Titles that undergo frequent revisions
    • Supporting online or mixed-mode courses
    • Books available on a vendor platform already offered at the library
    • e-book collections available in a cost-effective way via subscription
    • Titles acquired via patron-driven acquisition, including short-term loans

    Print is preferred for:

    • Titles with visuals or graphics critical for use
    • Works with important content missing from the electronic version
    • Books that are not useable in electronic format

    Both print and electronic formats may be acquired for:

    • Books available electronically from temporary or unstable web sites
    • Books with mutually exclusive utility in both formats e.g. literary texts that are read cover-to-cover in print, but analyzed electronically
    • Books preferred in electronic format, to which the Library would also like to ensure permanent access
    • Books selected in one format, with the alternative format provided at no additional cost

    Print items: hardcover vs paperback

    Hardcover is preferred for items of permanent retention. Paperback binding will be selected for materials whose content will be quickly outdated. If a significant price difference exists between hardcover and paperback editions, the latter may be selected and the item covered or sent out for binding.


    Reference includes materials designed to be consulted when authoritative information is needed, rather than read in entirety. Types of reference materials collected include, but are not limited to, works such as atlases, concordances, dictionaries, directories, encyclopedias, handbooks, and literary and statistical compendia.

    Reference selection criteria:

    • Materials which are current, authoritative, balanced and relevant to the major fields of study at the college
    • Materials which provide a comprehensive store of information on a wide range of subjects, including topics not in the general collection

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    Journals, magazines and newspapers are selected to support curriculum taught at Langara, to cover recent developments in a discipline, and to cover current events reading.

    Selection criteria

    • Cover recent developments in a discipline
    • Cover current events reading
    • Newspapers selected for local, regional, national and international coverage
    • Recommended/requested by faculty
    • Indexed in a source available at Langara in print or online
    • Cost of subscription in relation to potential/actual use
    • Reputation of periodical
    • Usage data (for existing subscriptions)
    • Interlibrary loan requests for periodical articles

    The Library supports both electronic and print formats, but in general prefers electronic format.

    Electronic (Web) preference criteria

    • All articles are provided, preferably no later than the paper version unless an embargo period is deemed to be acceptable
    • Other content if deemed important to Langara users such as ads, graphics, supplements, etc. is included
    • Remote access is supported with IP authentication (no id/passwords for individual journals)
    • Archival availability - access to the journal is available for the desired retention period
    • Technical requirements are met for factors such as site licensing, server reliability, accessibility, image quality, ease of navigation/good layout, and ease of searching
    • License is not overly-restrictive and allows such features as printing, emailing, interlibrary loan, electronic reserves
    • Usage statistics are available

    Print preference criteria

    • Faculty preference
    • Not available electronically or no site license option
    • Substantially cheaper than electronic
    • High general use for popular reading
    • High circulation
    • Usability better in print e.g. for browsing or theme issues
    • Good visuals or graphics critical for use
    • Important content missing from electronic version

    All periodicals actively collected in a physical format will be assigned a retention period, based on projected use. Long-term retention is required for periodical titles with a projected long lifespan. Format choices for long-term retention include print and electronic (online or DVD); microfiche is supported but no longer collected. Print periodicals are not bound regardless of retention period. For more detail, consult the Journal retention guidelines

  3. Indexes, abstracts, and full-text databases

    The library collects digital indexing and abstracting sources that provide article-level access to the periodicals collection. A very small number of print indexes have been retained in order to to maintain access to historic content. 

    The library actively acquires aggregated third-party databases of electronic periodicals in order to provide both indexing and cost-effective access to full text periodical contents. Currently the library's full-text databases provide access to a greater number of journals than direct periodical subscriptions do, by a factor of at least a hundred. As with periodicals, databases are selected to support curriculum taught at Langara, to cover recent developments in a discipline, and to cover current events reading.

    The library also actively collects databases which offer collections of e-books and e-reference materials, digital images, and streaming videos. 

  4. Visual media

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    The Library collects visual images to support teaching at the College, preferring digital images where available i) in a format supported by the Library; ii) with unrestricted educational use, and for use by authorized members of the college community from both on- and off-campus. Current formats collected include licensed Web-based image collections such as ARTstor, in addition to CD-ROM and DVD-ROM.

  5. Sound recordings

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  6. Maps

    Print maps are a very small part of the collection. Local, city and regional maps are selected, as are topical or broad interest maps. Additional maps will be purchased as needed to provide direct support for classroom instruction and only at the request of the instructor. Atlases are included in the reference collection. Not selected: Geological Survey maps, detailed topological maps. These may be kept in instructional departments. National Geographic maps received as part of the periodical subscription are NOT retained or catalogued.

    Digital maps are also a very small part of the collection. Formats collected include networked CD-Rom and selected free or government depository Web resources.

The primary language of collecting is English. The library supports limited collections of foreign language materials as needed in order to support the College curriculum. The selection of non-english language materials to support study and instruction will be done by the subject librarian in close consultation with the department. Non-English language items will be interfiled in general collection under the appropriate LC call number.

ESL materials and new readers are selected if course-related, at faculty request, or for self-study purposes, and at the appropriate reading level. ESL instructional and test preparation materials such as TOEFL are purchased, and in a variety of formats.

  • Free materials may be retained using the same selection criteria.
  • Media items must meet appropriate licensing and performance rights requirements.
  • Free unsolicited materials are checked for strongly biased opinions, distorted or misleading information and extensive commercial messages.
  • Workbooks associated with current textbooks
  • Biographies, unless including significant historical/social commentary or other contextual value
  • Application software
  • Software manuals and other manuals
  • Recreational materials are not purchased, but donations may be accepted selectively
  • The library is not responsible for collecting or maintaining the College archives.

Further guidelines for specific formats and areas of the collection are presented under their own categories.

  • Duplicate copies are in general avoided. At librarian's discretion a second copy may be acquired, based on factors such as high use, instructional department request, and lasting content.
  • Lost or damaged copies will not be automatically replaced. Replacement will depend on relevance to the collection, circulation statistics, special demands and availability of better, newer materials and editions.
  • Any replacement charges are based on the replacement cost.

Library acquisitions are charged to the following accounts, based on a combination of factors such as the type of material and the purchase model (e.g. purchase or subscription). Library acquisitions are vetted by the Acquisitions/Orders Librarian or the Collection Librarian (or designate) as appropriate. All purchases are further coded by subject area.

  • Electronic Reference (TS) - Account 71214
    Subscriptions to materials that primarily support the Library's Technical Services & Systems. Some subscriptions are shared with Langara Contract Services. Items from this account may be accessible to library staff only. Subscriptions are reviewed annually.

  • Electronic Subscriptions - Account 71215
    Subscriptions that provide electronic access to collections of books, journals, or other non-media materials. Typically this type of subscription does not include ownership or archival access rights. Aggregator databases of journal articles, or online collections of e-books or reference works are included here. This account does not cover one-time purchases of collections or individual items, but it does cover annual hosting fee charges. Subscriptions are reviewed on an ongoing basis.
  • Media subscriptions - Account 712151
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  • Books - Account 891041
    Individual monograph purchases, regardless of format. 

  • Periodicals - Account 891042
    Individual periodical subscriptions, regardless of format. Subscriptions are billed in advance of shipping or online delivery. Magazines, journals and newspapers are included in this account. The periodicals subscription list is reviewed and revised annually. 

  • Standing Orders - Account 891043
    Orders placed with a publisher, jobber, or dealer to supply each volume or part of a specific title or type of publication as published, until further notice. Many but not all are reference works. Formats include both print and electronic. Unlike subscriptions, standing orders are billed as each volume is shipped. Titles may be purchased at specific intervals determined by the library, e.g. every 3 years, rather than every new issue from the publisher. Standing orders are reviewed annually.

  • Media - Account 891044
    Purchases of visual media and sound recordings, or collections of the same, regardless of format.

Reserve books, articles, and media items are placed in the Reserve Collection in order to hold them together in a convenient location and maximize availability to Langara students, staff and faculty.

Reserve items include:

  • High demand items for specific courses
  • High demand items of general interest (e.g. test preparation books like LET, LPI)
  • Donated copies of textbooks and study guides for current courses

Placement in reserve / weeding

  • Placement is initiated by either teaching faculty, Continuing Studies Coordinators, or librarians
  • Loan period is assigned by the person initiating the placement
  • All items need an end date when placed on reserve
  • End dates will be reviewed at the end of each term for weeding purposes
  • Usage data will be reviewed annually for weeding purposes
  • Withdrawal of reserve items from the library collection will be reviewed by at least two librarians


  • Reserve items may be held in print, media or electronic format (see “E-Reserves” below)
  • New requests for articles will be checked to see if an electronic version is available. If this is the case, a link to the electronic version will be placed in the catalogue
  • The maximum number of copies of photocopied articles is 3 per section of a course. Additional copies may be made at the discretion of a librarian.


  • Electronic reserve items (“e-reserves”) are direct, persistent Web links to articles or e-books from a number of online databases that the Langara Library purchases, subscribes to or that are freely available on the Web
  • Links to online articles or e-books can be created for faculty to place in course Web pages, in addition to or in place of e-reserves. For details about this service, see Library Services: Faculty: Reading Lists and Reserves


  • Textbooks adopted as "required" texts for class use may be purchased for the Reserves collection, based on demand and in consultation with course instructors and subject librarians, and subject to collection budget constraints. They are intended to provide short-term, convenient access and to enhance student academic success. Normally only one copy may be purchased by the Library. If additional copies are required, these copies should be purchased with instructional department funds.
  • Instructors are encouraged to donate a copy to be placed on Reserve. Examination, evaluation, review or desk copies of textbooks, intended solely for the use of an instructor, will not be accepted. 

  • Textbooks may be purchased for the collection in any format, although commercially-published electronic versions of textbooks are generally not available for institutional purchase.

Donated materials are subject to the same selection criteria as purchased materials. The library particularly welcomes donations of current textbooks.

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  • Items not suitable for addition to the collection will be disposed of as per the gift policy.
  • The library does not notify donors of the final disposition of individual items nor does it return items.
  • A receipt for income tax purposes will be issued for materials kept by the Library if they are valued at over $250.00. Tax receipts cannot be provided for publishers’ complimentary copies.
  • A signed Gift Agreement Form is required for issuing a tax receipt. The donor’s signature is taken as assurance that the materials donated are the property of the person to whom the receipt is to be issued.

Some exceptions will apply based on the Gift librarian’s recommendation.

Non-fiction donations

  • Donated non-fiction items in good physical condition will be assessed for content. If appropriate for the library, based on the Guidelines for Selection, they will be catalogued, given an LC call number and shelved in the stacks.

Fiction donations

  • Donated fiction hardbound items in good physical condition will be assessed for content. If appropriate for the library, based on the Guidelines for Selection, they will be catalogued, given an LC call number and shelved in the stacks.
  • Donated fiction paperbacks items in good physical condition will be assessed for content. If appropriate for the library, they will be catalogued, given a call number of FIC + first 3 letters of author’s last name and shelved in the Paperback collection.
  • When a bibliographic record for a hardbound fiction item with an LC call number already exists for a donated paperback title in good physical condition, the paperback item will be attached to that hardcover bibliographic record with a FIC call number.
  • Only one copy of each paperback title will be kept.

Media/audiovisual donations

  • Donated media items must include any licensing and public performance permissions required for use at Langara.

The library does not evaluate or issue tax receipts for gifts donated to other areas of the College, but will share its assessment procedures with other departments. For further information contact the Coordinator, Technical Services.

The library's collection of resources in all formats is systematically reviewed and assessed with an evidence-based approach to decisions on retention, renewals, format changes, cancellations, and deselection. Decisions are based on factors such as currency, relevance to the curriculum, cost, access, usage data, and consultation with faculty, students, librarians and library staff.

Collections librarians are responsible for managing selection in their respective areas: monographs, media, journals, and electronic resources. Subscriptions, licenses, and any ongoing commitments are reviewed on an annual basis.

Subject librarians are responsible for reviewing the print books in their liaison areas, for monitoring use, and for weeding. Subject librarians are consulted on any other collection decisions affecting their areas and are encouraged to suggest additions, changes or improvements.

The library collects materials containing a range of viewpoints. From time to time a library user may object to material in the collection, and request that it be withdrawn. Any challenges, complaints or requests for reconsideration concerning the collection should be forwarded to the Coordinator of Collection Development.

The library supports the BC and Canadian Library Association (pdf) statements on intellectual freedom. While all challenges to library material will be given consideration, the library’s goal in such cases is to uphold the principles of intellectual and academic freedom and contribute to an environment of openness, inquiry and innovation at the College.

Langara Library actively pursues cooperative arrangements and consortial arrangements with other libraries and library organizations to enhance the collection, and to improve access to information resources.

Reciprocal borrowing

  • Langara library has reciprocal borrowing agreements with other publicly funded B.C. post-secondary institutions. Details are described in the CPSLD Reciprocal Borrowing Policy.

Interlibrary loans

Consortial Licensing


Maintained by: Emma Lawson
Last updated: June 20, 2017.