SFU Library collections policy statement


This policy was adopted in February 2024.


One Collection, One Library, Multiple Locations


The main purpose of the Simon Fraser University Library collection is to support research, teaching and learning at the University.  The Library acquires and retains quality materials appropriate for both current and reasonably anticipated future use to meet the needs of the wide range of subject areas taught and researched at SFU.

Significant changes have occurred in scholarly communications and publishing in the last few decades; most notably the global proliferation of electronic and print resources.  In response to these changes, academic library collections have transitioned from relying almost entirely on local collections to relying on a combination of local collections and access to resources held elsewhere.  Academic library services and spaces have adapted to changing needs of research and teaching.  As a result space allocated solely to collections no longer represents the great majority of library buildings.  To facilitate broad access to, and effective stewardship of, scholarly resources, the Library participates in a wide range of cooperative resource-sharing and print archiving activities.

Values and principles

The Library supports the SFU Aboriginal Reconciliation Council’s calls to action. The Library is  dedicated to providing access to Indigenous scholarship and knowledge in accordance with diverse Indigenous cultural protocols of knowledge sharing, intellectual property rights and access restrictions. This includes, but is not limited to, information about current issues, cultures, peoples, Indigenous-settler relations and histories.

Openness is reflected in the collection by enhancing discovery of authoritative, academic-level open access resources, and by supporting collaborative and internal initiatives to increase open access to scholarship and other resources, such as Open Educational Resources. SFU Library has many other open initiatives which demonstrate its commitment to open scholarship.

Diversity guides the Library’s efforts in collection development by valuing and respecting a diversity of knowledge and ways of knowing. We build collections intentionally selected from a variety of publishers that aim to include historically underrepresented groups and perspectives as well as to address the accessibility needs of users.

Creativity encourages exploration and innovation in how we use and acquire resources (space, personnel, budget). The Library creatively responds to, reflects and develops best practices in consultation with our communities.

Intellectual freedom and challenges to library material

The Library is committed to maintaining and defending academic and intellectual freedom. The Library adheres to the policies expressed in the SFUFA - SFU Collective Agreement on academic freedom, as well as to the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) Statement of Freedom of Expression and Inclusive Libraries.

Environmental impact / ethical sourcing

SFU Library is committed to considering factors related to the environmental impact and ethical sourcing in the development of the collection. The Library is informed by key documents such as IFLA’s Access and opportunity for all: how libraries contribute to the United Nations 2030 Agenda, and will continue to consider new developments in this evolving area.


SFU authors

The Library strives to acquire and preserve the monograph publications of SFU Faculty and SFU Graduate theses, projects, and capstones.


The Library will consider purchasing materials in any format, with a preference for electronic formats. Other considerations to be factored in decisions include accessibility, sustainability, and disciplinary needs. 

Ebooks and ejournals provide access to content 24/7, regardless of location and often to multiple users simultaneously. These resources can be made available within days, save shelf space, are protected from physical damage, and can offer better accessibility.

In selecting ebooks and ejournals, the following criteria are desirable:

  • Minimal restrictions on use and excellent interface features, e.g., multiple users can access at once; can copy, print and download; mark-up, highlight text, take notes, etc.
  • The cost of the electronic version is not prohibitively expensive when compared to the print version.
  • The content of the book is best supported by the electronic format, such as reference works and edited collections.

The following exceptions and factors will be considered: 

  • There is no electronic version available in an acceptable time frame.
  • The electronic version does not contain all content available in the print version.
  • The content is better suited to the print format (e.g., quality of images, works of significant length intended to be read cover to cover, etc.)
  • If the ejournal subscription does not include perpetual access to years subscribed and Interlibrary Loan would not be a sufficient alternative.
  • If the subscription is not intended to be retained indefinitely in print (e.g., Current two years only).
  • The researcher or learner requires print, or the disciplinary practices require print.

The library generally acquires single copies of resources. This includes avoiding duplication between print books and ebooks.

Librarians will assess ebook and ejournal purchasing practices on an ongoing basis taking into consideration the evolving nature of scholarship and academic publishing.


Other than textbooks specifically requested for course reserve by instructors, the Library does not generally collect textbooks. 

Languages of the collection

English is the primary language of the collection.  The Library also holds notable collections in other languages, such as French, to support University programs.  Content in various languages may be acquired to support research and teaching needs.  Materials in other languages are also made readily available through the extensive interlibrary loan program.


Deselection refers to the withdrawal of items from the Library’s collection. Items include, but are not limited to, books, journals, newspapers, magazines, media, and microforms. Deselection applies to items at all SFU Library locations. For Special Collections and Rare Books, see their De-accessioning Policy.

Deselection occurs in alignment with the general collection policy, which describes the Library’s goals of supporting research, teaching and learning and preserving the scholarly record in collaboration with consortial partners.

Deselection supports Library services and operations by ensuring space for ongoing additions to the collection and increasing ease of access. It responds to ongoing and increasing storage constraints and recognizes that retaining and maintaining items involve ongoing costs. 

Principles for retention and deselection

The Library considers a combination of factors when deciding whether to retain or withdraw items in the collection.  Deselection occurs on an ongoing basis as items meet withdrawal criteria based on these principles.

The Library prioritizes retention of an item in the following cases:

  • the Library has a commitment to retain it as a trusted partner (e.g., to other university libraries or institutions)
  • it is a book that was written or edited by an SFU faculty member
  • it has been recently used or recently added to the collection

The Library also considers:

  • degree of relevance to the purpose and values guiding the development of the collection
  • specific disciplinary needs
  • input from liaison librarians and from consultation with faculty members and other librarians as needed  
  • whether the item is retained by trusted partners (e.g., other university libraries, institutions)
  • the existence of duplicate copies or different editions in Library holdings
  • the existence of reliable online equivalents accessible to SFU researchers
  • the item’s physical condition

Principles for disposal of deselected items

The Library prioritizes methods that allow for the efficient reuse of items approved for deselection and may take actions such as the following:

  • transferral to Special Collections and Rare Books
  • donation to organizations
  • environmentally responsible disposal

Deselected items cannot normally be offered to departments or individuals due to logistical constraints. 

The Associate Dean of Libraries, Collections & Content Strategy retains final authority over decisions on matters of deselection and retention.


This policy will be reviewed as required, at a minimum every five years.

Adopted February 2024

Related collection policies

Questions or comments?

Please contact  Mar González Palacios  at  margp@sfu.ca  with any questions or comments.