We are currently working on a final draft of our updated collections policy. You can access it here. If you have any comments, please contact laura.newtonmiller@carleton.ca

Collection development activities are coordinated by the Head of Collections and Assessment. Scholarly materials are selected by the Library’s subject specialists and library representatives in the academic departments. They base their decisions on departmental subject profiles, disciplinary, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary needs, and they consult selection tools such as core academic lists, book reviews from reputable sources, citation lists and citation analysis tools.

Materials are also received through the approval plan program, serial subscriptions, memberships, and consortia purchases. With the approval plan program, the Library contracts the dealer to supply monographs automatically or query according to collection profiles. The demand driven acquisition profile is loaded into the Library catalogue and is primarily based on a defined set of subject-specific instructions, non-subject parameters and a targeted publisher list. Purchases are triggered by patrons when they download a book, browse a book for more than 10 minutes, or print off more than 10 pages.

In addition to monographs, the Library collects research reports, bulletins, special papers, lecture notes, conference proceedings, videos and films, government publications, maps and images, numeric and geospatial data, and games. Carleton University Library has made the transition from print to electronic journals. The Library is purchasing an increasing number of eBooks to support teaching and research although the majority of books are purchased in print format.

The Library is a member of the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN), Consortia Canada and the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL), and participates actively in consortial agreements for the purchase of electronic materials.


Collection emphasis is on current imprints. Materials are acquired from around the world but mostly from Canada, United States, and the UK. As well as selecting from the standard commercial publishers, the Library makes an effort to collect university press publications, research reports, bulletins, special papers, lecture notes and conference proceedings.

The monograph collection is in print and electronic format. Format preferences are assessed by the subject specialists, who take into consideration price, usability, and departmental preferences.

The Library strives to collect all publications published by faculty.

The Library purchases selected current material requested via interlibrary loan (ILL) which falls within our subject profiles.

Electronic Resources:

Collection development criteria is used for planning and creating an electronic information environment that will support the University’s teaching and research needs:

Evaluation and Functionality of Electronic Resources:

  • Simultaneous multiple user access is preferred to single user access. But assessment measures will be used to periodically to ensure the most appropriate level of access for cost efficiency.
  • Electronic Resources purchased from third-parties should be AODA compliant.
  • Electronic Resources should work with all web browsers.
  • Carleton Library prefers purchasing electronic resources that can be accessed remotely by all users of the academic community, regardless of departmental affiliation or patron status. CD-ROM products and other specialty hardware and software will be considered on a case-by-case basis; for example, when content is needed to support the research and teaching mission is not available by means of remote access (such as the Bloomberg terminals).
  • The product should be user-friendly, easy-to-use, and be intuitive to navigate. The product should provide the user with appropriate menus, help screens, or/and tutorials.
  • The electronic resource should support multiple export options (email, printing, and downloading) and work with multiple bibliographical citation utilities.
  • The Library prefers IP filtering to other methods of authentication, such as login and password authentication.

Selection, Review, and Renewal of Electronic Resources:

  • New purchases are generally made based on identification through quality assurance reporting via the cyclical program reviews, major modifications, and new programs; through Liaison contact with library Faculty Representatives; through fundraising efforts; through cancellations of existing resources in a particular area; and through consortia opportunities that arise in under-represented or high priority subject areas. The Library’s Collections Committee will generally be used for pre- and post-consultation on the acquisition of new electronic resources.
  • When electronic resource content is being purchased, or is available from two or more vendors, criteria for choosing include price, ongoing maintenance costs, direct or consortia purchasing options, access (DRM) restrictions, quality and availability of MARC records, local loading and perpetual access clauses, alumni access, reserves full-text linking, and ILL clauses.
  • Cancellation to electronic resources, when budget cuts necessitate it, will focus on identifying low use, high cost per use, and content overlap as the main criteria for consideration. Subject selectors will also use qualitative techniques to supplement decision-making.

Replacement Copies

Replacement copies are purchased at the recommendation of the subject specialists based on relevance to current teaching and research and past usage. The most recent editions are normally purchased as replacements.

Out of Print Books

Out of print books are purchased as replacement copies if they are readily available, in good condition and at a price which can be accommodated by the Library budget.

Multiple Copies

The Library normally purchases one copy of each title. We purchase multiple copies only for heavily used titles and course reserves.


The Library collects translations selectively, e.g. to support Comparative Literary Studies. Titles are selected by faculty and the subject specialists.


The Library will collect textbooks, primarily when they are requested for course reserves or reading lists.

Other Exclusions

The Library does not collect juvenile literature, popular fiction, how to guides and popular material unless they are subjects of study and research.


The primary language of the collection is English. Materials in other languages are acquired when there is a demand for the support of teaching and research in the University. Collections are developed in French to support programs in the French Department. We do not collect materials in languages which are not taught by the University.

Approval Plan

The Library maintains an approval plan for Canadian, US and UK books in most subject areas. The dealer is instructed to send automatically new imprints which match the Library’s subject and other approval criteria. These titles are reviewed by the subject specialists. Unwanted materials are returned to the dealer for credit. The dealer is also instructed to send query slips to notify the Library about new titles which are of secondary importance or which fall outside of the other approval criteria. The subject specialists select from these slip for ordering.

Individual Firm Orders

Library subject specialists select titles from book reviews, publisher catalogues and other sources for individual firm ordering. Titles requested by faculty are also firm ordered.

Standing Orders

Standing orders are placed for selected monographic series, yearbooks, multi-volume sets and proceedings to ensure that all volumes are received as they are published. Standing orders are reviewed periodically for relevancy to the University’s current teaching and research needs.


Carleton University Library prefers online journals over print. The Library cancels our print subscription when online becomes available. However, we take into consideration faculty’s special requests for the retention of print. The print version is retained if it contains images, graphics or other forms of non-text content which is not reproducible clearly or accurately online or if there is an embargo or moving wall for online. The Library purchases journal archives as our budget allows.


The Library repairs and binds/rebinds damaged material at the recommendation of the subject specialists. Material that is too bad to be bound is considered for replacement. All journals are bound.

Government Documents

Government documents are collected in print, microform and online formats. Collection emphasis is on Canadian federal, Canadian provincial, intergovernmental international organizations and European Union publications. These are supplemented by selected foreign documents and links to Internet sites.


Carleton University Library collects quantitative computer-readable research data from various disciplines in the social sciences, humanities, and life sciences. We collect surveys conducted by Statistics Canada and other organizations, including some international. We collect both longitudinal and cross sectional surveys which cover economic, social, financial, educational, tourism and industrial themes.


The Library collects atlases, sheet maps, wall maps, globes, air photos, microforms, digital mapping and cartographic reference works.


The Library collects geospatial data from different sources and from different areas of the world with emphasis on local Ottawa area data.


The Library subscribes to a limited number of English language newspapers in print. We also have historic issues of newspapers on microfilm from most major cities in Canada as well as, very selectively, newspapers of record from other parts of the world. We prefer online newspapers over print and have subscriptions to several newspaper databases, allowing full-text access, as well as cover-to-cover access to a wide number of local, regional, national, and international newspapers.


We prefer online reference resources over print. We prefer the full text edition of an abstract and indexing database if it is available. Print materials are acquired when online is not available. We acquire basic print reference works such as dictionaries, bibliographies, indexes, directories, encyclopedias and handbooks.


The Library keeps two copies of Carleton’s print theses. Most Carleton theses and theses from many North American universities are available online via a commercial database. Requests for other theses are processed by ILL.

Sound Recordings

The Library purchases online music databases, CDs and DVDs at the request of faculty. Gifts of CDs and DVDs are accepted if approved by faculty.

Digital Images

The Library collects digital visual images to support teaching and research in Art History and Architecture. Digital images are purchased only if the format can be supported by the Library.


The Library collects videos selectively to support teaching and research. We prefer DVD over VHS. We are a member of the Interfilm Watmedia group.

Games and Interactive Media

The Library collects contemporary games and interactive media to support teaching and research across a variety of disciplines. The scope of this collection is shaped by available platforms and operating systems. A companion collection of vintage titles is housed in the Archives and Research Collections.

Leisure Reading

The Library selects a representative cross-section of popular and classic reading material in a variety of genres for the leisure reading collection. Selection criteria include demand for the title, the quality of the writing and the production, the reputation of the author and the publisher, and the title’s critical reception. Donations to the leisure reading collection fall under the Library’s Gifts Policy and the Library reserves the right to decide on the retention, use and discardment.

Joy Maclaren Adaptive Technology Centre

The Centre provides adaptive technology and a quiet environment for persons with disabilities. The Centre does not collect material on the subject area of disability.


The Library welcomes gifts in kind which support teaching and research in the University. All gifts must meet the guidelines of the Library collection policy and subject profiles and be in good physical condition. The Library retains the right to accept or reject gifts in kind. The Library maintains the right to dispose of unwanted gifts in the most appropriate manner.

Archives and Research Collections

Archives and Research Collections contains print and manuscript materials which, because of age, format, content and value, need to be preserved or kept apart from the general collection. The use of these materials is carefully supervised, with their protection being a prime concern.The collections consist of rare books, journals, modern poetry, Library Archives, Carleton University Historical Collection and research collections such as the Novosti and Batchinsky collections.

New Programs

The Library adds materials to the collection to support new academic programs as our budget allows. According the University’s guidelines, all new undergraduate and graduate program proposals are required to address the need for Library resources.

Weeding and Storage

Weeding and transfer to storage are based on the material’s relevance to teaching and research, past usage, duplication, format, electronic access, currency (superseded editions), and the physical condition of the material.

Open Access

The Library supports access to Open Access publishing through its consortia arrangements with the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) and Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL). An example of such an arrangement is the small fee that the Library pays to OCUL to access the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), a service that provides access to quality controlled open access journals.

The Library also subsidizes Open Access article processing fees through the CURIE fund. The Library also hosts CURVE, an open access repository for academic research output and creative work voluntarily deposited by Carleton faculty, staff and students, as well as all dissertations and theses produced at Carleton.

Revised: June 2, 2017