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Collections Development Policy


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Intent of Policy

This policy articulates the principles guiding library collection development and maintenance at the University of New Brunswick (UNB), and attempts to outline objectives, assign roles and responsibilities, and address issues such as resource allocation, cooperative arrangements with other libraries, and emerging models for scholarly communication. This version incorporates changes to the Libraries’ 2003 Collections Policy.

UNB Libraries operate within a bi-campus context. This policy governs the work of the Harriet Irving Library, the Science and Forestry Library , the Engineering and Computer Science Library, and the Hans W. Klohn Commons.

General Principles Governing Collection Development at UNB Libraries

  • UNB Libraries subscribe to the principles enunciated in the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) Policy Statement entitled “Freedom of Expression in Research Libraries” and the Canadian Library Association’s “Statement on Intellectual Freedom.”
  • As much as possible, resources serving undergraduate students are provided onsite or electronically. This recognizes the nature of undergraduate work which is characterized by numerous assignments on a variety of subjects due within short timelines.
  • The library recognizes its responsibility to respond to the research needs of graduate students and faculty. It does this, in part through collections development, in part through its commitment to provide access services including online databases for discovery, and document delivery.
  • The decision to purchase any item is governed by cost in relation to value, measured as expected use by faculty members and students.
  • UNB benefits through Library participation in national consortia whose goals include achieving equitable access to traditionally published research output, securing favourable license terms, and support for sustainable emerging models of information dissemination.
  • Emerging trends are closely monitored to harness the benefits of new models of scholarly communication and publishing.
  • UNB Libraries work in consultation with faculties to ensure that collections reflect both the teaching and research needs of our community.
  • In providing access to research resources, users’ rights to privacy are upheld.

Community Served

UNB Libraries support the teaching, learning and research activities of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and researchers, and provide access to print and online resources to students and faculty at St. Thomas University, which specializes in the liberal and applied arts and professional programs.

As a public institution, UNB Libraries have an additional mandate to serve as a resource for the wider community.

Materials Collected: Content

Content is the main consideration governing the selection of a particular resource. Content is evaluated against several criteria, amongst them:

  • Relevance to current academic programs and research
  • Level of scholarship
  • Reputation of the author
  • Reputation of the publisher
  • Diversity and representation of non-dominant perspectives
  • Language (Most works are acquired in English. Other languages are collected as subject areas warrant)
  • Geographic coverage
  • Licensing terms
  • Technical requirements
  • User authentication and remote access that protects users’ privacy.
  • Stability and ownership of the purchased content
  • Digital rights management and limitations of use through downloading, printing, etc.
  • Durable URLs to the content
  • Other convenient tools, such as capturing citation information, e-mailing content, etc.

Materials Collected: Types & Formats

The following is a comprehensive list of the types of materials collected. Noted are their attributes and their importance within the spectrum of information resources.

Discovery Tools

It is impossible for a library to own all the materials published in any discipline. Key discovery (abstracting and indexing) tools in all areas of inquiry are therefore a priority for collections development, with particular emphasis on areas of teaching at UNB and STU. These provide subject access to serial literature and monographs, enabling students and researchers to identify required or desired sources of information which, if not available onsite either in print or electronically, can be obtained through document delivery.


Monographs are selected primarily, although not exclusively, to serve the curricular needs of the University community. Highest priority is given to the acquisition of monographs in support of undergraduate studies, although higher-level materials are also purchased. As budgets do not allow for in- depth collecting, graduate students and faculty may be obliged to turn to document delivery services for some material.

Monographs may be purchased in print or e-book format, depending on expected use, reader preferences, and other considerations. UNB Libraries also subscribe to e-book packages which provide access to a wide range of titles at a reduced cost. Subscribed e-books should not be used for Reserves; a purchased license will be obtained whenever possible. E-book licenses vary and should be obtained to provide the best level of access for the most reasonable price. Access to e-books may be available on a variety of platforms, offering disparate functionality and usage options.

To compensate for budgetary constraints, gift monies (obtained through capital campaign funds and other donations) are targeted to the acquisition of monographs to support new courses and fill gaps in the collections.

Recognizing that the university is a place where students should indulge in a process of discovery that goes beyond meeting course requirements, an attempt is made to purchase additional titles for the purpose of satisfying intellectual curiosity and nurturing an inquiring mind. For example, award- winning titles in all disciplines are purchased selectively.

The humanities and social sciences tend to rely heavily on monographs for the transfer of knowledge, while the technical and scientific fields do so in a more limited way. It may be impossible due to budget constraints to establish and adhere to firm formulae. However, a balance must be maintained between spending on serials and spending on monographs. In the humanities and social sciences, spending on monographs should range between 30% and 70% of budget, while in the technical and scientific fields, a range of 10 - 30% is normally satisfactory. These percentages are based on historical patterns at this institution and reflect the trends reported by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) in the United States.

Textbooks and related instructional aids are normally not purchased, unless they are to be used as supplementary or collateral reading or are considered a core resource. For example, classic textbooks in business and the technical and scientific fields have become recognized as standard reference and review sources which should be acquired and retained. The library will circulate textbooks purchased with faculty or other external funding, as is the arrangement with the Faculty of Engineering. Because textbook costs are prohibitive to some students and are a barrier to equitable learning, UNB Libraries support the creation, adaptation, and adoption of open educational resources (OER). OER are openly licensed text, media, or other digital assets used for teaching, learning, and research. We work with regional and other consortia to provide access to an online platform for creating and using OER and will catalogue such texts that are used by the UNB community.

Softcover editions are preferred when available. Binding decisions are made based on expectation of use and the resulting wear-and-tear. Selections are made from vendor catalogues, reviews, prospectuses, and other sources. Vendor profiles are prepared to match curriculum and research interests. Profiles are reviewed and updated as required.

Monographs authored by UNB faculty are usually purchased.

For budgetary reasons, duplication of titles is avoided whenever possible. No more than three print copies of a single text will be purchased under any circumstances.


As serials imply a long-term and often expensive commitment, sufficient justification is required for the acquisition of a new title. Serials are carefully selected to meet curricular and research needs. Given budget constraints, a current title will normally have to be cancelled to finance a standing order on a new title.

In addition to the general criteria for selection that apply to all content, serials are evaluated against:

  • The perceived long-range value of the title. (New titles should not be added only to be cancelled the following year.)
  • Access to the content through indexing sources available in the library.
  • Guarantees of access to subscribed volumes in the event of cancellation.

Core journals in each discipline will be protected as resources allow, with a review of the core titles occurring on a regular basis to ensure they continue to reflect the teaching and research orientation of each department.

Due both to severe space shortage and costs, a print subscription is not maintained when a stable electronic equivalent is available.

The source of an electronic journal is carefully considered in the selection process. Journals for which the publisher is also the online vendor are preferred in that they offer greater guarantees of stability, ongoing access, and currency. (Publishers own the rights to the titles they publish and therefore have more control over their titles.)

Journals from most aggregator packages (such as EBSCOhost) are less stable: some titles may be embargoed for up to twelve months, others may not provide the complete content of a journal issue, and some may disappear altogether without warning. These will generally not be considered as substitutes for subscribed print journals. Aggregator packages are licensed, however, because they offer the benefit of access to a wide range of both scholarly and general interest journals on a multitude of subjects at an affordable price.

Reference Materials

Reference materials relevant to teaching and research at UNB and STU are collected. Emphasis is primarily on discovery tools and general reference books (such as encyclopaedias, handbooks, and dictionaries), and secondarily on subject bibliographies. To make reference materials available to students on both campuses while containing costs, online versions of appropriate titles will be acquired when possible.

Government Documents, Maps and Data

Government publications, numeric and geospatial data, and cartographic materials are acquired through official depository agreements, consortial arrangements, and focused collection activity. Contemporary government publications are predominantly born digital; therefore, UNB Libraries work to enable discoverability and access through our catalogue.

Key print and electronic publications, legislative tools, and cartographic resources are acquired from the federal and provincial departments and agencies outside the region, as well as from other governments and intergovernmental agencies. New Brunswick print publication are selectively collected in both official languages (2 English and 1 French when possible). Select electronic publications are also collected and depending on subject matter, printed and added to the collection. Select national, provincial, and municipal government publications are also collected in digital format for preservation.

Numeric and spatial data collections relevant to curriculum are acquired through consortial arrangements with Statistics Canada (DLI), the Inter-university Consortium of Political and Social Research (ICPSR), DMTI Spatial, and New Brunswick Dept. of Natural Resources and Energy Development (DNRED).

Maps and atlases relevant to the use of the collection and in support of the curriculum are collected selectively, along with supporting reference tools for all government publications, cartographic materials, and data files.

UNB Archives & Special Collections

UNB Archives is the official repository for inactive University records, which are the administrative records of enduring, evidential and historic value resulting from the functions and activities of the University of New Brunswick. UNB Archives documents the process of institutional evolution by retaining both the evidence which shapes decisions and the decisions themselves. This includes records from both the Fredericton and Saint John campuses (which include records from the old Bathurst campus, and the Moncton campus).

UNB Archives serves as UNB’s corporate memory and plays an integral role in the management and stewardship of records in all media, and formats and exists to preserve, protect and make accessible these records, which are crucial to:

  • supporting the transparency and authenticity of the past decisions of the University
  • the enhancement of a sense of community identity based on the collective memory of the University.
  • providing information that promotes the mission of UNB internally and externally.
  • supporting teaching and curriculum development
  • enabling research by faculty, students and other scholars, thereby promoting further understanding through discovery and dissemination of knowledge and introducing students to original research, enhancing their educational experience.

The Head of Archives & Special Collections and the archivists employed by UNB have the authority to make appraisal and acquisition decisions based on professional standards and practices and are responsible for access to and preservation of UNB’s documentary heritage. The Archivist responsible for university records, along with the Vice-President of the relevant unit, has authority to approve records retention schedules for university records.

UNB Archives works closely with the University Secretariat, and the Registrar’s Office where relevant, to implement policy related to access to information, records management, and protection of privacy in relation to records of UNB scheduled to be transferred to or held in the Archives.

UNB Special Collections acquires, preserves and provides access to New Brunswick literary papers; rare and unique books, including New Brunswickana; early historic records of New Brunswick; and essential research microform collections such as the New Brunswick newspapers and The Loyalist Collection, which contains archival collections relating to the Atlantic world.


In the interest of preservation, space-saving and cost reduction, many types of publications are collected in microform. They include newspapers, periodicals, theses, literary manuscripts, and historical records.

Electronic Files

Like microforms, electronic files can offer significant savings in space and cost and have the potential for greater availability and access. The Libraries may acquire electronic copies of archival or other historic materials (including newspapers and serials), to be made available to library users as technical and licensing requirements permit.

Theses and Dissertations

UNB doctoral dissertations and master’s theses are collected by Archives & Special Collections through an arrangement with the School of Graduate Studies. Since 2019, UNB theses and dissertations are submitted electronically and added to UNB’s institutional repository (see below). Bound preservation copies are collected by Archives & Special Collections. Historically, microform copies have also been collected. Circulating copies are sometimes available for the faculties of Computer Science, Engineering, Forestry and Science.

Film and Other Media Materials

We continue to collect film in physical formats (most often DVD) where availability and cost necessitate. Streaming films are acquired and made available in several ways:

  • under digital site license permitting local hosting in perpetuity
  • under single title limited term (usually 1 year) licensing and hosted remotely (e.g., and Alexander Street Video)
  • as part of a subscription package on a remotely hosted platform (e.g. Films on Demand and NFB Campus)
  • by patron-driven acquisition of a 1 year viewing license on accommodating platforms (e.g., Kanopy Streaming)

Other media materials, such as educational kits with manipulables, are acquired rarely and in consultation with requesting faculty.

Children’s Books

Children’s books and critical works on children’s literature are purchased for general circulation to support teaching and research needs of the degree programs in Education at UNB and STU. A separate collection policy governs the acquisition of materials for the Eileen Wallace Children’s Literature Collection.


Gifts are subject to the same criteria as purchased material in the selection process. A separate policy exists to address gifts of books and other materials. For details, refer to the University of New Brunswick Libraries' Gifts Policy (Approved May 31, 2002, revised 2019).

Authority, Roles and Responsibilities

Ultimate responsibility for the development and maintenance of collections rests with the Dean of Libraries. In practice, much of this responsibility is delegated to librarians.

The Director of Collections Services manages the Collections Development Department, coordinates the activities of liaison librarians, and chairs the Collections Development Committee.

The primary objectives of the Collections Development Department are:

  • To allocate funding in an equitable manner to support, within available resources, the breadth of programs offered by the University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University.
  • With the help of liaison librarians and faculty, to select materials needed to support UNB’s academic programs.
  • To ensure that a balanced collection of relevant materials is maintained for current use.
  • To coordinate collection management functions including planning, analysis and evaluation, and the review of collections for preservation, storage, and de-selection.
  • To monitor developments in scholarly publishing.
  • To participate in collaborative ventures (e.g., consortium purchasing and licensing of resources) with other academic libraries, thereby leveraging limited acquisitions funds, to the benefit of the University.

A liaison librarian is appointed for each academic department at UNB. The liaison librarian is responsible for developing the library collection in one or more specific areas and fulfills these responsibilities by working closely with faculty members and keeping them apprised of collection matters and library issues. Liaison librarians monitor departmental allocations and provide financial information to library representatives as required. Liaison librarians also order materials required to support academic programs, using departmental allocations when necessary, and will especially do so if budget targets are not being met. All liaison librarians are members of the Collections Development Committee. A smaller Collection Specialists’ group, formed with representation from the librarians’ disciplinary teams, meets regularly to debate issues, review policy and the allocation of resources, select materials, and offer advice to the Director of Collections Services.

Each UNB academic department is invited to name a faculty member to act as the departmental representative to the library. These faculty members work with the librarians to ensure that:

  • Collections relevant to UNB faculty and students are developed.
  • The needs of all faculty and students are considered in the selection process.
  • The library is informed about relevant departmental matters (for instance, the hiring of new faculty, the development of new courses and programs, etc.); and
  • All library services and programs are known and utilized by all those who need them.

All significant purchase requests are reviewed for adherence to the collection development principles and guidelines and must be approved by the appropriate liaison librarian and the Director of Collections Development. Student and staff requests for the acquisition of materials are also welcomed and are reviewed using the same criteria as requests from other sources.

Standing orders are created for selected monograph series and other multi- volume sets that are produced over time. These orders are reviewed to ensure that they continue to support the teaching and research of our community.

Collection development issues are brought before the Senate Library Committee as required or upon request by that group. UNB Libraries also welcome advice from the faculty and departmental library committees.


UNB Libraries’ acquisitions budget is divided into central funds and some 90 departmental funds to support specific fields of study. Central funds are allocated for the purchase of reference materials, electronic products, various interdisciplinary monographs, and serials, as well as to support acquisitions for Government Documents, Microforms, and Archives & Special Collections. Central funds also cover the costs of binding, preservation and HST.

UNB’s fiscal year runs May 1 to April 30. The library budget is distributed during May and June, once the previous year’s financial books are closed and carry-forwards are determined. Library representatives receive a budget package in June or July advising them of both encumbered and unencumbered funds for the current fiscal year.

Departmental allocations are usually divided into two funds, one for books and the other for serials. While the total allocation for a department does not change during the fiscal year, the breakdown between books and journals/serials is adjusted once the actual costs of serial renewals are known. Departments may obtain fund updates from their liaison librarian through the year.

Each year, departmental purchase requests should be sent to liaison librarians by January 31st. Librarians’ deadline for purchasing is normally March 31st.

Unspent funds at the end of the fiscal cycle are used to purchase serial back- files, e-book collections, and other one-time purchases, at the discretion of the Collections Specialist group.

Strategic Alliances, Partnerships and Cooperation

UNB Libraries pursue a policy of close cooperation with other university libraries and resources are often pooled to increase access to information for all. Cooperation can take the form of consortia licensing of electronic products, or the shared storage of collections, or document delivery agreements.

Cooperation occurs at the local, regional, national, and international levels to the benefit of library users locally and worldwide. Consortia have been particularly effective in driving down the costs of resources. For example:

  • The Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) has enabled smaller institutions including UNB to provide access to hitherto unaffordable materials, creating a more level playing field for students and researchers across the country.
  • Consortia Canada has taken the lead in negotiating several national licenses in which UNB Libraries participate.
  • Document delivery enables UNB Libraries to provide rapid access to millions of documents not locally owned. Agreements exist with several resource sharing systems including Relais and RapidILL.
  • The Council of Atlantic University Libraries (CAUL) has launched Atlantic OER, a platform for the creation and sharing of open educational resources such as textbooks, which have recently seen prohibitive pricing from traditional publishers.
  • Coalition Publica is a non-commercial strategic partnership between Érudit and the Public Knowledge Project to advance open source national infrastructure for digital scholarly publishing, dissemination and research in Canada. UNB Libraries are active participants in Coalition Publica, both strategically and through library publishing services.

Stewardship: Collection Management & Preservation of Materials

UNB Libraries recognize three separate components to the stewardship of their collections:

  1. The maintenance of current collections.
  2. The preservation of the physical item; and
  3. The preservation of the intellectual content, independent of format.

Maintenance of Current Collections

Location, binding, repairs, the replacement of lost, stolen, or damaged materials, and the de-selection of materials are the major concerns in the maintenance of current collections.

Location decisions are based on the type and content of materials and the use that will be made of them. Two broad designations are applied to print materials and other physical formats: circulating (stacks) or non-circulating (Reference and archival material for example). For web-based products, decisions are required as to the best location for easy access from the library web site.

Not all materials are bound as a matter of course. Softcover monographs are bound if use is expected to be high or if the item is too fragile to withstand even minimum handling and use. Higher-use serial runs are usually bound unless a particular item is only kept until the arrival of a microform or electronic equivalent.

For the general collection, most repairs of damaged materials are done in- house. Archival materials or items from the special collections may be sent for repair to an outside expert.

Replacement of lost, stolen, or damaged materials is decided on a case-by- case basis. Decisions are based on level of prior use and the continued value of the item in terms of current teaching programs and research.

The de-selection of materials for sale or discard and the identification of materials for storage are a necessary and ongoing part of collection management. No-longer required duplicate copies and outdated editions are routinely removed from the collections, as are print journal runs that are also available in online format through a trusted provider. Books in poor condition are also removed and are replaced with newer or sturdier copies, as required. Comprehensive weeding of the full collection or of a specific section is only infrequently undertaken and decisions are based on established guidelines. Serial titles are normally not cancelled without consultation with faculty members. No decision on retention or withdrawal of cancelled or ceased subscriptions will normally be taken before three years have elapsed.

Preservation of the Physical Item

Libraries have served from their very beginning as repositories and storehouses for the world’s recorded knowledge. Academic libraries particularly have taken this responsibility as a sacred trust and have been very reluctant to discard any materials.

UNB Libraries subscribe to the view that long-term preservation is a shared responsibility of libraries worldwide, with individual libraries or library systems each taking responsibility for a part of the world’s published heritage, in a coordinated way to ensure the preservation of the whole.

UNB Libraries contribute to the preservation effort by:

  1. Taking special responsibility for the preservation of materials relating to the history and culture of New Brunswick first, the Atlantic Provinces second, and Canada third.
  2. Providing financial support to the New Brunswick Conservation Coop (a program of the New Brunswick Provincial Archives) for the restoration of materials; and
  3. Working with the Council of Atlantic University Libraries (CAUL) on a plan for shared regional storage to ensure that one print run of every serial title ever acquired by a member library be preserved within the region for common access.

Preservation of the Intellectual Content

Under certain circumstances, local preservation may be limited to the intellectual content and not to the work in its original format. Specific examples would be:

  • New Brunswick and other newspapers that are preserved digitally or in microfilm; and
  • When storage space is lacking, journals that are digitized and available in a stable electronic full-text version.
  • There is a legitimate concern for the long-term archiving and provision of access to electronic journals and other resources. Several viable preservation models exist today: JSTOR; LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe); Portico; society archives such as those of the American Chemical Society; and publisher-library partnerships, such as Elsevier`s agreements with the University of Toronto and the National Library of the Netherlands. UNB Libraries already supports some of these initiatives and will continue to monitor developments in this area, implementing options that are judged to have the greatest long-term benefit.

Scholarly Communication

UNB Libraries share the concern of academic libraries around the globe that access to knowledge is threatened by the rising costs of journal subscriptions and the unchecked, increasing commercialization of scholarly publishing. Many initiatives have been launched in recent years to provide alternatives to these trends, and we support the creation of infrastructure for open access to transform scholarly and scientific communication.

Library support for open access includes:

  • Publishing services and support for open access scholarly publications hosted on open source platforms by UNB Libraries.
  • Supporting faculty in meeting funder open access mandates (such as those imposed by the Canadian Tri-Agency).
  • Offering free alternatives to publisher-endorsed open access options (author processing charges, or APCs) by hosting and maintaining an institutional repository for UNB research publications (UNB Scholar).
  • Negotiating reductions in APCs for the UNB community through CRKN and other consortia and;
  • ensuring that documents placed in UNB’s institutional repository have sufficiently robust metadata to be discoverable by others.

Repository Services

UNB Libraries currently hosts two repository platforms for the collection, description, preservation, and dissemination of faculty research. Each repository has its own comprehensive policy external to the collections policy.

UNB Scholar (the institutional repository) is focused on research publications from throughout the UNB community. This includes theses/dissertations, reports, articles, working papers, conference proceedings, presentations, and other works. Read the UNB Scholar Policy.

UNB Libraries’ research data repository, UNB Dataverse, is focused on research data, both primary and secondary.

Reporting and Review of Policy

Currently the Dean of UNB Libraries reports to the University Senates once a year on the state of libraries, their accomplishments, challenges, and financial requirements. The Dean also provides reports to the Senate Library Committee. This policy is subject to the approval of both bodies. Once approved, it will be reviewed periodically to ensure its accuracy and comprehensiveness.

UNB Libraries Collection Stats

Format 2021
Online discovery tools 140
Print books purchased 980,000
E-books purchased 730,000
E-books on subscription 469,000
E-journals on subscription 118,000
Print journals on subscription 900
Print Reference titles 10,000
E-Reference titles 1,055
  • Approved by the Library Board, February 2, 2022
  • Shared with UNB Senate, March 2022