Linguistics collections policy

The Linguistics Department offers courses in various branches of theoretical and applied linguistics, providing the opportunity for study towards the BA, MA, PhD and Certification.  The Department offers several undergraduate programs: an Honours, a Major, three Joint Majors (with Anthropology, Computing Science, and First Nations Studies), a Minor, and an Extended Minor. It also offers the Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language, the Certificate in Speech Science, and the Certificate in the First Nations language proficiency.

The Linguistics collection at the SFU Library seeks to support courses at the undergraduate and graduate level and to meet the research needs of faculty.

Faculty research and teaching areas

Applied Linguistics
Applied phonetics, computer-assisted language learning (CALL), second language acquisition, foreign language pedagogy (particularly teaching English as a second or other language - TESOL), quantitative research methods.

Computational Linguistics and Cognitive Science
Computational linguistics; cognitive science; corpus linguistics; machine translating;

Discourse Analysis, Pragmatics and Sociolinguistics
The Department has a limited concentration in these areas. There is emphasis on sociolinguistics and the systemic functional framework. Targeted areas: cleft sentences, cognitive status of referring expressions, coherence relations, cohesion, discourse markers, topic-focus articulation.

First Nations Languages
All aspects of linguistics structure, with an emphasis on British Columbia and North West Coast languages, especially Athabaskan, Algonquian, Salish & Halkomelem; field research; language maintenance and revitalization.

Linguistic Typology
Crosslinguistic analysis in morphology, phonology, syntax; language typology and universals.

Organization and content of the lexicon; phonology-morphology interface; syntax-morphology interface; theoretical morphology.

Phonetics and Phonology
Acoustic phonetics; experimental phonetics; historical change; phonological theory.

Syntax and Semantics
Formal syntactic theories (including Minimalism, HPSG); formal and functional semantics; model-theoretic semantics; morphology-syntax interface; syntax-pragmatics interface; syntax-semantics interface.

Areas of limited concentration

Dialectology & dialects; endangered languages; English as a Lingua Franca; first language acquisition; historical linguistics; Modern Greek linguistics; neurolinguistics; philosophy of language;  psycholinguistics.

Areas not collected

Extinct languages, including Classical Greek, Latin & Sanskrit; history of philology;  language policy and planning; Old and Middle English; rhetoric; semiotics; sign language; slang & argot; translating & interpreting (except machine translating).

Collection maintenance

Collection development responsibility

The Liaison Librarian for Linguistics is responsible for collection development. This Librarian maintains contact with the Linguistics Department through the latter's Library Representative and, occasionally, through discussions with individual faculty members. The Liaison Librarian is also in regular contact with other liaison librarians and teaching departments, and this nurtures the sharing of relevant material.

SFU Resources

The WAC Bennett Library is the major location for the University's linguistics collection. A significant and growing number of linguistics journals are available online through SFU library subscriptions.

Regional resources

The University of British Columbia also has a large linguistics collection encompassing many branches of the discipline.

Consortia and Document Delivery

SFU belongs to several consortia. Document delivery agreements exist with three of these consortia (BC Electronic Library Network; Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries, COPPUL; and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, CARL), which allow delivery of journal articles and books from member libraries in a timely manner. Holdings and direct requesting from over 40 libraries are accessible through the Interlibrary Loan webpage and from many databases, and interlibrary loans are also arranged with other libraries around the world, as needed.

Besides document delivery benefits, membership in these and other consortia, including the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN), also offers substantial savings on the collective purchase of licensed electronic resources.

General collection guidelines

Methods of acquiring materials

The Library uses an approval plan with a book vendor that canvasses a range of publishers. This plan is customized to provide approval books in a variety of vendor-described subdisciplines of linguistics. The emphasis is on monographs.

The Library also selects books through forms, vendor catalogues, requests from Linguistics Department faculty, and occasionally students. Throughout, the Liaison Librarian will exercise discretion in any of these categories.


Publications in English are emphasized, but those in French and other European languages may also be acquired.

Chronological guidelines

Not applicable

Geographical guidelines

Publications from North American and British publishers are emphasized, but publications from a variety of European publishers are also used as sources.

Treatment of subject

A scholarly treatment is emphasized; popular-level works are not collected. Theoretical and methodological works are widely acquired as are descriptive studies, e.g. reference grammars. Historical studies are selectively acquired.

Types of materials

Collecting is split between books and serial publications (i.e. journals and series). There is an emphasis on e-journals over print and other web resources. No more than 90% of the Library's Linguistics Department budget is to be spent on journals (electronic or print).

  • Biographies of linguists are collected selectively.
  • Conference proceedings are acquired upon request from faculty when they deal with subjects of major departmental research interest.
  • General dictionaries and thesauri of English are acquired by General Reference and therefore not collected by the Linguistics Department. Dictionaries of other languages are purchased selectively. Polyglot and pictorial dictionaries are not collected.
  • Self-teaching language videos, audiotapes, and other language learning materials are not collected.
  • Specialized linguistic reference materials, such as linguistic encyclopedias, linguistic atlases, bibliographies, and indexes are acquired selectively.
  • Theses and dissertations from other universities are acquired upon request from faculty when they deal with subjects of major departmental research interest. They are acquired in microform where possible unless there is a compelling need for a paper format.
  • Undergraduate textbooks and Custom Course Materials are not acquired.

Formats of materials

Print and electronic formats are normally acquired. Microforms and CD-ROMs of important materials are acquired only if there are no other formats available. Preference is given to hardbound books, but paperbacks and e-books are also collected.

Date of publication

Current publications are favoured. Older publications will be acquired as replacements for damaged or missing items. Occasionally, in the case of new journal subscriptions, back issues will be acquired.


Multiple copies of works are usually not acquired, but may be considered in the case of works that are of major interest to students. New editions are selectively purchased.


Gifts are evaluated by the same criteria as materials considered for purchase. Only material related to Linguistics Department teaching areas will be considered for retention. The SFU Library Gifts Policy provides additional guidance.

Coordination and cooperation with other campus resources

None at this time.

Coordination and cooperation with other library collecting areas

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of some aspects of linguistics, there is an inevitable, but slight, overlap with other Library collections including Anthropology, Computing Science (particularly computational linguistics), Education (particularly TESOL material), English, First Nations, and French.

Other factors for consideration

At the moment, the Linguistics Department jointly acquires material for the Cognitive Science program, along with Computing Science, Philosophy, and Psychology.

Subjects and levels of collecting

The levels of collection development describe current collecting goals and are subject to ongoing adjustment. Definitions of collection levels are provided on the Library of Congress website and are derived from the American Library Association’s Guide for written collection policy statements, 1989.

0 - Out of Scope (of the university curricula and research)
academic writing, style & composition; argumentation; Biblical languages; extinct languages, including Classical Greek, Latin and Sanskrit; history of philology; language learning and self-teaching materials; language policy and planning; lexicography; Old and Middle English; other 'old' languages; palaeography & inscriptions; rhetoric; sign language; semiotics; slang & argot; test-prep and student ESL books; TOEFL; translating & interpreting (except machine translating).  

1 - Minimal Level (peripheral to the university's curricula and research)
dialectology & dialects; history of linguistics; speech pathology & speech therapy; classroom-based language-teaching materials

2 - Basic Information Level (material that serves to introduce and define a subject)
historical linguistics; machine translating; neurolinguistics; psycholinguistics;

3 - Study or Instructional Support Level (maintains knowledge about a subject in a systematic way and is adequate to support independent study)
applied linguistics (TESL); computational linguistics; descriptive and theoretical studies in phonetics, phonology, morphology, pragmatics, semantics, and syntax; foreign language pedagogy; sociolinguistics.

4 - Research Level (materials required for dissertation and independent research)
reference grammars; typology

5 - Comprehensive Level (exhaustive collection of all significant works; maintains a "special collection")