Collection Development Policy


The collection development policy articulates the principles and guidelines for the development of a Library collection that is relevant, current, and balanced in its support of the teaching and research goals of the University. These guidelines inform the selection, evaluation, acquisition, and maintenance of purchased and licensed library materials.


St. Francis Xavier University is committed to academic excellence in teaching, research, and learning. The University outlines five pillars in its strategic goals and objectives: academic excellence; student experience and opportunity; social responsibility and innovation; equity and inclusion; and sustainability and stewardship. The Angus L. Macdonald Library strives to support the University by providing library resources that reflect the goals of the University. The Library collects materials that support the curricular and research needs of the University’s undergraduate and graduate programs and those of students and faculty.


Collection development is a collaborative process involving librarians and faculty. The primary responsibility for selection and deselection rests with the University Librarian, who is supported in this role by Liaison Librarians who collaborate with faculty.

Librarian Collection Responsibilities

Librarians serve as subject liaisons to academic departments at StFX. In this role, they are responsible for developing familiarity with the curriculums of their programs and with the relevant parts of the collection that serve their subject areas. Librarians also consult with faculty to stay aware of important changes to curriculum or faculty research. Librarians are responsible for developing and maintaining the collection in their subject areas based on their knowledge of the collection, expertise with collection tools and resources, and understanding of the resource needs of the library users. Liaison Librarians select library materials with input from faculty and library representatives in the academic departments.

Faculty Collection Involvement

Each academic department at StFX selects a faculty member as their library representative. All faculty members are encouraged to participate in collection development through consultation with their designated department library representative and/or their subject liaison librarian. This contribution to collection development is valuable for the in-depth knowledge that faculty members have of their specific subject areas and broad discipline, as well as their curriculum and research needs. The subject liaison librarian is the contact person for faculty to voice any questions they may have about the library’s collection and services, or to make suggestions.


Resources for the Library’s collection are selected to support and enhance the teaching and research needs of the University, as well as its strategic goals and objectives. The Library’s collection covers all subject areas of instruction at StFX and includes resources on current topics of significance that support strategic goals beyond academic excellence, such as social responsibility and equity and inclusion.

The Library focuses on selecting newly published materials that reflect the needs of the University. Librarians may also make retrospective selections to fill gaps or respond to requests in accordance with the selection guidelines.

The following criteria are considered when purchasing Library resources:

  • Relevance to the curriculum
  • Relevance to faculty and student research
  • Readership level (e.g., undergraduate or graduate)
  • Currency of content
  • Suitable format
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Availability
  • Language
  • Reputation of publisher
  • Reputation of author
  • Strength of present holdings in same or similar subject
  • Demand (as determined by circulation reports and/or ILL requests)
  • Space and storage issues
  • Accreditation requirements


Electronic is the preferred format for serials, high-use monograph titles, and materials required for distance courses. The Library will consider factors such as currency, ease of access, and cost when determining whether print or electronic materials best support the teaching needs.

The purchase of electronic books will often be prioritized over print books in order to improve access to the resource and reduce space constraints. Titles selected for the collection will be purchased in electronic format when available, except in cases where cost is prohibitive or where the need for a physical book can be demonstrated. Exceptions could include works of fiction or art and other materials uncommonly found in electronic format on library platforms.

Consortial Agreements

The Library participates in several cooperative and contractual collection development and resource-sharing agreements with various consortia. These agreements allow us to provide the greatest number of electronic articles, books, and non-text resources to the university community while conserving costs. These agreements increase the breadth and depth of all the partners’ collections, though they may include resources that fall outside the teaching and research at StFX. These consortia include Novanet (Consortium of Nova Scotia Academic Libraries), CAAL (Council of Atlantic Academic Libraries), and CRKN (Canadian Research Knowledge Network).

Open Access

The Library supports initiatives that increase the awareness, use, and collection of open access journals and books. Openly available resources of all types that meet our selection criteria are equally valuable to licensed or purchased resources in support of the University’s teaching and research goals, and of scholarship in general. These open access materials complement our existing strategies and methods and align with the library profession’s long-standing principle of equitable access to publications.


The Library does not collect more than one copy of an item unless this is warranted by heavy usage or if there is a need to have a copy in more than one location or in more than one format.


The Library collects materials primarily in English. Materials in other languages will be collected to support teaching as required for specific departments and courses at StFX.


The Library’s collection includes multimedia materials, such as DVDs, CDs, and other non-text materials that support instruction. These materials are selected based on the same guidelines and criteria as all other library resources.

Electronic Resources

Electronic resources include electronic databases, electronic journals, and electronic books. Electronic resources are often purchased in large, multi-disciplinary packages. Like all library resources, electronic resources are purchased based on specific criteria and are intended to support curriculum and research.

Gifts and Donations

Gifts of books and other materials that contribute to the development of the Library’s collection are given careful consideration. For additional information, please see the Library’s Guide for Prospective Donors.

Community Recommendations

The Library welcomes recommendations for new materials from StFX students, faculty, staff, and other members of the Library’s user community. Suggestions can be made by emailing @email. Faculty are encouraged to complete the online monograph request form, or to send their requests to either their liaison librarian or department library representative.

Faculty requests for new databases can be sent to the liaison librarian or the University Librarian. Databases are typically expensive, and it may be necessary to cancel a current subscription in order to subscribe to something new. It is recommended that faculty work with the Chair and the Dean to establish a case for any major database requests that would require additional funds to be given to the Library's budget.


The allocation of funds for the purchase of library materials is the responsibility of the University Librarian. In general, the following factors inform the allocation of funds across subject areas: the number of students and faculty in a particular program or department; cost of journals and books in a particular discipline; demand for library resources in a particular subject; uniqueness of our collection in a particular subject or discipline; and current topics of significance. All physical materials acquired with Library funds will be housed in the Library.


Collection maintenance involves structured and periodic review of the collection to identify materials for removal from the collection. The same criteria used when selecting material for the collection are also used when removing material from the collection. Additional factors to consider include lack of use, physical condition of the book, and obsolete or outdated information. Collection maintenance is an important function that ensures the collection remains current and relevant.