Policies and Guidelines

Collection Development Policy


The Collection Development Policy of MacEwan University Library articulates the principles and standards governing the acquisition of library resources. Collection development encompasses the selection and management of materials owned by the library, and of electronic resources to which the library provides access. Collection development is a continuous and dynamic process designed to meet current and future scholarly and information needs of the MacEwan University community.

Library Mission and Collections Goals

The Library Mission supports the university community by advancing learning, teaching, scholarly and creative endeavours, in part through innovative services, knowledgeable staff, and extensive collections.
Collections goals are to:

  • select, acquire, curate, organize, and manage materials that support the learning, teaching, and scholarly and creative endeavours of the university community
  • provide on-site and off-campus access to collections (to the extent possible)
  • regularly evaluate the collection, ensuring that it remains relevant to the needs of the university community
  • maintain awareness of, anticipate, and respond to external changes and technological innovations in content delivery

General Principles

MacEwan is an undergraduate university that offers baccalaureate degrees, diplomas, and certificates. Collection development is guided by curriculum, user need, and demonstrated use of content. Supporting an undergraduate institution, and therefore without a research-intensive focus, the library’s mandate is to build strong undergraduate collections. Foundational works are collected but the proliferation of information sources, along with finite space and financial resources, make it impractical to attempt to build comprehensive collections. Specialized research level materials are not normally collected unless they support the undergraduate curriculum. Materials falling outside the scope of the collection policy are available to the university community through interlibrary loan. The library strives to balance ownership of print and digital material with access to content through subscriptions. Normally, electronic access is preferred for owned and subscribed content, whenever possible. 

Community Served

MacEwan students, faculty, staff, and administrators comprise the primary community served by the MacEwan Library collection.
Library collections are also available to consortial partner member libraries’ users, by way of consortial lending agreements, interlibrary loan, and on-site access to physical and digital resources. On-site access to the library’s information resources is also extended to retirees, alumni, and members of the community at large.

Roles and Responsibilities

The Associate Dean oversees Collections Services, administering the library collections budget and providing leadership in developing and managing collections. Librarians within the Collections Services Unit have responsibility for all collection development activities including monitoring the budget, investigating and negotiating license agreements, overseeing and managing approval plans, assessing the collection, evaluating donations, developing procedures, and monitoring external trends and issues. The Collections Team, comprised of collections and subject librarians and Collections Support Services staff, acts as an advisory body and participates in strategic initiatives.

Collections librarians collaborate with subject librarians and teaching faculty in the development of the library collection. Subject librarians consult teaching faculty regarding curricular or program changes, and purchase recommendations are encouraged. Subject librarians stay abreast of scholarly needs and use their subject knowledge to work with collections librarians in building accurate approval plan profiles, and strong and relevant collections, as well as evaluating donations in their subject areas.

Consortia and Partnerships

The library participates in several cooperative partnerships that broaden access to collections. Consortia arrangements relieve the high costs of electronic resources through access to shared license negotiation. Partnerships also expand access to print materials for students and faculty far beyond a single library's ability to provide them. MacEwan University partnerships include Edmonton Public Library (EPL), The Alberta Library (TAL), NEOS, the Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL), the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN), and the Health Knowledge Network (HKN).


The library collections budget is divided into capital (one-time expenditures) and non-capital (recurring or subscription) funds. Capital funds are allocated primarily to a central library collections budget, the print approval plan, and the demand driven acquisition (DDA) plan. Non-capital funds are used for annual subscription costs of journals, databases, and other electronic resources. Aligning the budget in this way allows the library to be responsive to program and curriculum changes, changing student numbers, external costs and price increases, currency fluctuations, and other market forces.

When a new degree is approved, non-renewable start-up funding in support of collection development for the degree may be received. If funding is not received, the library may reallocate internal resources to ensure new degrees and programs have access to needed information sources. Internal reallocation of collections funds is done with immediate needs and equity in mind. It is important to note, however, that such fund reallocation does sometimes negatively impact the availability of collections resources in other disciplines.

MacEwan University's fiscal year runs July 1 – June 30. Funds must be expended by year-end since carrying funds forward is not usually permitted.

Intellectual Freedom and Challenged Materials

The library and its employees endorse the principles expressed in the Canadian Federation of Library Association’s Statement on Intellectual Freedom and Libraries, and acknowledge their responsibility to "safeguard and facilitate access to constitutionally protected expressions of knowledge, imagination, ideas, and opinion, including those which some individuals and groups consider to be unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable" when choosing material for the collection.
On occasion, a member of the MacEwan community may question the inclusion of content in the library’s collection for reasons of scholarly validity, or for personal, religious, political, moral, or other reasons. The item in question may be print or electronic. If electronic it must be established if the item is subscribed to or owned content. Information regarding the item and details of the complaint will be escalated to the Associate Dean. It is important to note that while the library will review a resource that may be of concern to a member of the MacEwan community, the principles of intellectual freedom and academic freedom will be sustained. Such a review may include information gathering, consultation with vendors or other outside sources, and communication with the challenger.

Selection Criteria

The following are general considerations that apply to the selection of all materials, regardless of format or method of acquisition:

  • Relevance to curriculum, and student and faculty information needs
  • Cost
  • Comprehensiveness and depth of coverage
  • Scholarly value and academic level
  • Currency, timeliness, and enduring or archival value
  • Reliability and reputation of publisher or vendor 
  • Preference for English language content (except material supporting Languages courses; bilingual works may be included so long as one language is English)

In addition to the above criteria, the acquisition of electronic resources is dependent on technical criteria, including: 

  • Trial period for technical and content evaluation 
  • Remote access via IP authentication
  • Discoverability of content
  • Compatibility with campus equipment standards
  • Availability on all workstations (no stand-alone requirement) 

In order to expend the budget judiciously, multiple copies are not generally purchased. An additional copy or an alternate format may be purchased where the need is clear or when there are compelling program requirements. Items that are more appropriately purchased by other types of local libraries, such as the Edmonton Public Library, are normally not acquired.

Out-of-print books may be purchased in electronic or print format, as available, and at a moderate cost. The search for an out-of-print publication will cease if standard out-of-print sources are unable to supply the item within a reasonable time.


The library collects all relevant and contemporary formats that support the university’s teaching, learning, and scholarly activity. These include books, e-books, print and online journals, CDs, DVDs, databases, and streamed video and audio. Non-standard formats may be purchased, if appropriate.

Obsolete formats are not collected and are removed from the collection as necessary. It may be permissible to convert library-owned materials in an obsolete format into a currently-used format, if the process complies with copyright or other relevant laws and agreements, and the item cannot currently be purchased.

Microform – Microform is selected only if no other format is available, or for archival purposes.  Normally, content in this format supports faculty research with a direct and demonstrable tie to the curriculum.

Oversized Materials – Books that are greater than 32 cm in height are shelved in the Oversize Collection. Items that are too wide or awkward to fit on regular library shelving may also be considered for placement in this collection, in consultation with the senior cataloguer, Borrower Services staff, or collections librarians.

Serials – Electronic serials are the preferred format; print serials are only acquired if the title is not available electronically, if there is a significant embargo period, or for reasons of discipline-specific format requirements. Interlibrary loans may also be requested to fulfill requests for serials not in the collection. Backfiles are purchased only if a current subscription is in place. Missing print files may be replaced at the discretion of the subject librarian and collections librarians. 

Theses and Dissertations – A select number of undergraduate theses produced and voluntarily submitted by MacEwan students are available in the institutional repository. Theses and dissertations from other institutions are normally purchased only if requested by a faculty member.

Video – Streamed video files are the preferred format for acquisition. Streamed video is acquired through subscription or demand driven acquisition databases, and individually purchased titles. DVD continues to be collected for reasons of availability, faculty preference, or cost. Blu-ray or subsequent video formats will be considered for collection if supported by campus audiovisual resources. Videos that are available as DVDs with the right to convert to a locally hosted digital file, as well as downloadable digital video files for hosting on the library’s local server, will be collected when available only in that format.

Open Access

Subject librarians and the Manager – Alberta College Library curate and facilitate access to quality open access scholarly information resources. The shift to new, sustainable economic models of scholarly communication is supported by redirecting a portion of the collections budget to open access scholarly publishing initiatives. Collections funds may be used to support the following:

  • Indexes that enhance discovery of open access materials
  • Platforms that host open access journals, books, and other scholarly content
  • Initiatives that support the migration of journal and book publishing to sustainable open access models

Approval and Demand Driven Acquisition Plans

Subject and collections librarians employ a combination of tools to facilitate efficient and evidence-based decision making including a demand driven acquisitions (DDA)-preferred and print approval plan, for monograph acquisition.
The library’s primary book vendor expedites the selection and delivery of new material based on the development and application of an exacting library profile. Subject and collections librarians specify parameters including: subject, academic discipline, interdisciplinary topics, price threshold, format, academic readership level, preferred publishers, and editions. The profile undergoes regular review to ensure continued relevance and can be modified at any time.

Limited space for collections growth dictates that ebooks are preferred whenever possible and appropriate. However, discipline-specific preferences are taken into consideration when determining the acquisition of books in electronic or print format. In addition, subject librarians select and purchase books and ebooks that cannot be included in the approval plan for various reasons, or to enhance particular subject areas of the collection. Some subject areas are not suitable for heavy reliance on the approval plan. These subjects often require a hybrid approach, with more active material selection by subject librarians. In addition, the interdisciplinary areas of sustainability, gender, and Indigenous content are a curricular focus across all disciplines, and special emphasis has been placed on acquiring interdisciplinary materials in these area through the approval plan profile.

Additional DDA agreements will be considered in the context of added value and the vendor’s ability to ensure content is not duplicated.


The library licenses electronic resources for use by students, faculty, staff, and on-site users for noncommercial, educational, and research purposes. The terms and conditions of license agreements with vendors and publishers regulate the use of these resources. When signing a license or terms of use agreement, collections librarians follow best practices and direction set in model licenses from major national and regional library consortia, including CRKN, COPPUL, and TAL. Ideally, elements such as the following should be included in, and permitted by, an agreement:

  • Search, retrieve, download, display, print, save, and persistent linking to material
  • Inclusion in course packs, electronic reserves, and classroom handouts
  • Interlibrary loan and scholarly sharing
  • Text and data mining
  • Walk-in user on-site access to content
  • Legal jurisdiction within Canada or remains silent
  • Format alteration, for reasons of accessibility
  • Favourable perpetual access clauses
  • Provision of COUNTER-compliant usage data
  • Alignment with Canada’s fair dealing legislation

The library makes every effort to negotiate license agreements that include as many of these elements as possible. However, there will be rare instances where a vendor will not negotiate on a particular clause, and if the information resource is unique and required by an academic department, the library may consent to the less desirable terms. The library may ask vendors to consider revision or striking of non-disclosure agreements with regard to negotiated pricing, and the addition of mutual indemnification clauses.

Special Collections

The library supports the following special collections, comprised of materials housed or designated separately due to the unique nature of their content, format, reading level, authorship, or curricular need:

Artists’ Books – A collection of limited edition or one-of-a-kind books conceived and published by artists, supporting the curriculum needs of Fine Art and Design Studies. This diverse collection is located in a secured area, with special access granted to faculty and staff via the subject librarian. Typically purchased from Canadian and American independent presses, new acquisitions in any given year may be dependent on budget and space limitations.

CD Collection – A collection consisting of recorded audio works in all genres, but with primary emphasis on canonical works in jazz, theatre, and contemporary popular music, supporting the curriculum needs of the Bachelor of Music. Secondary selection criteria focus on MacEwan, Canadian, and underrepresented or marginalized artists and genres.  Duplicate works are collected where there are significant differences between editions, or where demand requires more than one copy.

Children’s Collection – A collection comprised of fiction, nonfiction, and audiovisual media appropriate for children up to grade three, with a strong emphasis on picture books and illustrated chapter books aimed at the preschool level, supporting the curriculum needs of the Early Learning and Child Care diploma. Purchase criteria include, but are not limited to, English-language works and award winners.
Child and Youth Care Games Collection – A collection comprised of board games and activity cards that support the curriculum needs of the Department of Child and Youth Care. While the focus is on games that provide assistance to high-risk children and youth, suitable games or activity cards for all age groups may be acquired.

Data – A collection consisting of public use microdata files, databases, and geographical files, at the local, national, and international level. Some of the material is available freely online. Access to restricted data files may be limited to current faculty, staff, and students. Mapping or statistical software may be required to view some of the data files. Content, availability, and conditions of use are outlined in the Data Services Policy.

Distance Reserve Collection – A small collection of required course readings available for an extended five-week loan. It serves the needs of students residing outside the metropolitan Edmonton area who are registered in MacEwan distance credit courses.

EAL/ESL Collection (Alberta College Campus Library) – A collection of readers, primarily fiction, that are written or adapted for English language learners.  The EAL/ESL collection is graded to language proficiency levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

Fitt Collection (Michael S. Fitt Collection of Jazz) – A collection consisting of approximately 13,000 phonographs – mostly jazz – in various formats, as well as a small collection of print monographs on jazz discography and several boxes of archival documents representing Fitt’s discographical research. The collection also incorporates approximately 600 jazz LPs donated by Craig Magill, as well as a small collection of LPs formerly housed in the CFAC Library.

Graphic Novels – A collection consisting of works written in a sequential art format and comprised of both fiction and non-fiction titles. Special consideration is given to works with a Canadian or Indigenous focus. Books that are about sequential art are excluded from this collection.
Leisure Reading Collection (Alberta College Library) – A browsing collection consisting of recently-published popular novels. Individual titles are shadowed in the catalogue and are thus not discoverable.

MacEwan Authors – A collection of print monographs and other types of published creative works or media that have been authored/co-authored, edited/co-edited, translated, composed, or illustrated during the period of an individual’s employment at MacEwan. Works created before or after an individual’s time working at MacEwan may be added at the discretion of the library.

Musical Scores – A collection of scores supporting the curricular needs of music and theatre, including conductor scores, multi-part arrangements for ensemble, lead sheet compendia such as fake books, transcriptions for multiple instruments and voice ranges, and theatrical scores.

Pop-Up Book Collection – A collection consisting of books with three-dimensional or moveable parts. The focus is on books for adults, although children’s books may be purchased. All subjects are represented, with a focus on titles in the literary arts, or fine art and design.

Reference Collection – A compact collection housed beside the Reference Desk and consisting of reference works, such as dictionaries and encyclopedias, that are meant to be utilized within the library for a short duration.

Reserve Collection – A collection comprised of works selected by faculty to support specific, current courses. The collection is located behind the Borrower Services desk at both the John L. Haar and Alberta College Campus Libraries, and materials circulate for abbreviated loan periods due to high demand. Faculty may request that titles from the Main Collection be moved to the Reserve Collection on a temporary basis.

Textbook Collection – A collection consisting of current required course textbooks. Parameters for the collection include: serving classes of at least 20 students, a minimum $50 price threshold, supporting on-campus classes only, and one copy per 100 registered students to a maximum of five copies. Consumable formats (loose-leaf, workbooks, study guides) are usually excluded, as are supplemental texts. The collection is restricted to print textbooks only, due to publisher restrictions on many online textbooks. Requests to add textbooks that do not meet these criteria will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The collection is housed behind the Borrower Services desk at the John L. Haar Library. Alberta College Library also maintains a textbook collection with slightly different parameters to serve the needs of that campus population.

Zines Collection – A collection consisting of small magazines with specialized or unconventional subject matter. Titles may be unique and stand-alone, or may have subsequent issues. The collection chiefly supports the curriculum needs of the Art and Design department but may also support other programs and the kihêw waciston Indigenous Centre. Zines created by MacEwan students may be selected to enrich the collection.

Subject-based Exceptions

Classics – Preference is given to print monographs. Materials in Latin and Ancient Greek are selectively collected. When deselecting, only titles that have not circulated within the past ten years will be considered. Primary documents and classic texts will be retained.

English – Primary texts, classic secondary texts (regardless of current curriculum usefulness), and works written by faculty members will be collected and retained. Superseded editions containing unique information will also be retained.

History – Print monographs are preferred. Microform may be purchased or duplicated in the print collection. When deselecting, only titles that have not circulated within the past ten years will be considered. The following types will be retained: primary documents, classic texts, and books that reflect the attitudes of another era, regardless of the accuracy of the assumptions, in order to provide a historical perspective to the values and beliefs of previous generations.


The library may accept donations of books and other materials as outlined in the Donations Policy. Financial gifts are accepted by the office responsible for fund development.

Materials Not Collected

While the library focuses on collecting titles that will be of use, there are exceptions to what will be made available in the physical collection or online through the library catalogue. The following list briefly describes items that are normally not collected:

  • Most maps, except those utilized in courses
  • Freely available online information and documents
  • Most government documents
  • Items deemed by collections and subject librarians to be more suitable for public libraries
  • Specialized databases that are geared toward specific courses, which would more suitably be purchased by the academic department
  • Esoteric resources acquired solely for faculty research
  • Gray literature such as pamphlets and unpublished manuscripts

Collections Assessment

The currency, relevance, and usability of the collection is assessed on an ongoing basis. Assessment activities may include the following:

  • Database usage and content overlap analysis
  • Stakeholder consultation pertaining to library resources
  • Resource cost analysis including return on investment principles
  • Large-scale analysis of collection holdings including associated strengths and weaknesses, age, use, and projected need
  • Circulation review of the physical collection


Collection management practices include assessment of the collection and removal of materials to: maintain currency and relevance; liberate space for new materials; remove obsolete media; withdraw damaged or worn material; and, in the case of electronic resources, rationalize costs. 
For physical items, removal typically depends on the following criteria:

• does not support current curriculum 
• is in an obsolete format
• has not circulated within a specified time
• is factually inaccurate or contains outdated information
• is one of multiple copies
• has been superseded by a newer edition 
• is in poor physical condition and is beyond repair

Deselection criteria can vary between disciplines. Materials for programs with a high need for currency, for example, should be withdrawn and replaced regularly with up-to-date content.

If a physical item withdrawn from the collection is a last copy in the NEOS consortium, it is evaluated regarding its condition and enduring value, and may be offered to the University of Alberta Libraries, acceptance of which will be contingent upon NEOS criteria.

In addition to criteria established above for physical items, electronic resources may be cancelled or removed from the collection due to the following criteria:

•    has low demonstrated demand and use
•    is no longer needed for course support or e-reserves
•    has problematic licensing terms
•    has a high or unjustified cost
•    has significant content duplication with another database
•    has issues with discoverability, with indexing not available through any source

The library may consult with faculty members in matters of deselection, as appropriate.

Maintenance of the Collection

Retention of materials in the library’s collection is dependent upon their utilization, within accepted standards, subject-specific parameters, and their ongoing value and relevance to the MacEwan University community. Titles may be deselected based on established deselection criteria as outlined above.
Whenever possible, repairs are made to library materials before replacement. When repairs are not an option, replacement may be considered, in consultation with the collections librarians or the subject librarian. If requested by a faculty member, it will be determined if an interlibrary loan is available and suitable. If not, a replacement may be purchased. Year of publication, availability on the market, suitability for the current collection, and format are some of the factors that may be considered.

Policy Review

This policy should be reviewed every three years or as required.

Policy Authorship and Approval History

Approved: Learning and Instructional Services, May 2, 2008
Revised: October 2, 2009
Revised: December 2, 2011
Revised: May 5, 2014 
Revised (incomplete): June 2015 (Yvonne Rezek)
Revised: January 2018 (Roxy Garstad and Sandy Stift)