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Collection Development Guidelines: Home

Collection Development Guidelines

Approval Authority: Joy Muller, Associate Director of Libraries
Approval Date: May 24, 2018
Most recent edit: September 22, 2022


These Guidelines outline Seneca Libraries’ overall approach to collections acquisitions and management. Seneca Libraries collect, maintain, and make accessible materials relevant to the teaching, learning, research and recreational interests of Seneca College. Seneca Libraries also provides access to records deemed to be of archival value.


Seneca Libraries’ faculty and staff are individually accountable for compliance with these guidelines.

Key Definitions

Archival Value The ongoing usefulness or significance of records, based on the administrative, legal, fiscal, evidential, or historical information they contain, justifying their continued preservation. (SAA – Society of American Archivists)
Born Digital Information created in electronic format. Born-digital information is distinguished from digitized, the latter describing a document created on paper or film that has been scanned. (SAA)
Captioned Media A film resource whereby the audio content of the media is displayed as text on-screen and is synchronized with the dialogue of the speaker or additional auditory information such as sound effects.
Digital Learning Objects Resources in digital format that can be used to support teaching and learning. Digital learning objects can come in a variety of media formats such as text, video, audio, image or computer file.
Deaccessioning The process by which an archives, museum, or library permanently removes accessioned materials from its holdings. (SAA)
Deselection The removal of materials from the library collection. Often referred to as “weeding.”
ESL English as a Second Language.
Electronic Resources Information resources in online form such as e-books, e-journals and e-periodicals, streaming video titles, Seneca-created digital learning objects, maps and GIS data, statistics, musical scores, audiobooks, etc., as well as electronic collections.
Fonds The entire body of records of an organization, family, or individual that have been created and accumulated as the result of an organic process reflecting the functions of the creator. (SAA)
Liaison Librarian A librarian who provides liaison support for collections and resources (procurement) or teaching and learning.
Metadata A set of data that describes or provides information about a resource’s content.
Open Educational Resources (OER) Any teaching / learning materials that reside in the public domain or are available under an open license (such as a Creative Commons License) that permits access, distribution, editing, adaptation and redistribution within copyright legislation and fair dealing guidelines.  OERs include open textbooks and other course materials such as syllabi, videos, images, lesson plans, learning modules, games, data and software.
Seneca Archives Seneca Archives is a division of Seneca Libraries. The Archives collects records of long-term archival value produced by the various academic divisions and offices of the College, as well as the private records of individuals and organizations closely associated with the College.
Special Collection A special collection is a group of items, such as rare books, art or documents that are either irreplaceable or unusually rare and valuable. For this reason, special collections are stored separately from the regular library and archival collections in secure locations with environmental controls to preserve the items for posterity.
Textbook A book used as a standard work for the study of a specific subject.

Note that access to electronic resources is often not immediate. Depending on publisher restrictions, vendor processes and our library review protocols, in some instances it may take several months or longer to acquire access.

  1. Collection Goals of Seneca Libraries
    • Align library collections with Seneca College’s teaching, learning and scholarly activities. Seneca Libraries supports the direction and priorities of the college as expressed in the college’s business and strategic plans and other relevant documents.
    • Hold at least 90% of Seneca Libraries’ information resource holdings, in electronic formats.
    • Identify, preserve and make available for use Seneca’s records of long-term value, both in person and online.
  2. Collection Selection and Management Responsibility
    • Director of Seneca Libraries:
      • Ensures these Guidelines are implemented and maintained.
      • Allocates the information resources budget for Seneca Libraries in collaboration with the Associate Director.
    • Associate Director Information Resources, Digital Services and Archives:
      • Manages collection budget allocations, staffing and oversees processes associated with the development of archival collections, acquisition and maintenance of information resources and their access.
      • Manages processes associated with the deselection of materials. Manages the affiliated data collection for quality assurance.
    • Information Resource Librarians:
      • Profile curricula and collections use in specific subject areas to determine information resource needs.
      • Select materials for purchase.
      • Remove materials from Seneca Libraries’ collections.
      • Liaise with program faculty to raise awareness of existing resources and develop collaborative communication pathways for the assessment and acquisition of new resources.
    • Print and Electronic Resources Committee:
      • Meets regularly to discuss projects, challenges and successes in regards to collection development and management.
    • Community Input:
      • Faculty and students are encouraged to recommend information resources in their subject areas of expertise or study.
      • Faculty and alumni may play a role in the development of archival fonds and collections.
    • Archivist:
      • Identifies, appraises, acquires and classifies materials relevant to an academic research audience.
      • Liaises with internal and external community and performs outreach activities. Develops and revises Archival Guidelines.
    • Metadata Librarian:
      • Creates and maintains metadata for local collections of digital objects.
      • Acquires and manages local digital object holdings.
    • Digital Resources Librarian:
      • Establishes and maintains electronic resource vendor relations.
      • Discovers opportunities for consortia or group licensing of electronic information resources.
      • Collects and analyzes product holdings and usage data.
      • Prepares budget projections for licensed electronic resource collections.
      • Provides license term guidance to information resource librarians.
    • Technical Services Librarian:
      • Establishes and maintains product acquisition processes.
      • Prepares budget reports for information resource librarians.
  3. Clientele

    Seneca Libraries’ collections are intended primarily to support the information needs of students enrolled at Seneca College, as well as to meet the preparatory, instructional and research needs of faculty members. Other members of the Seneca community (including alumni) and the community in general also make use of Seneca Libraries’ collections and archives on site.

  4. Intellectual Freedom

    Access to ideas and full freedom of expression are fundamental to the education process. Seneca Libraries’ collection includes materials representing a wide variety of viewpoints. The library does not, at the request of any individual or group, add materials that do not meet the library’s stated selection criteria or remove materials that do meet the library’s stated selection criteria.

  5. Selection Criteria

    Access, currency, reliability (reputed authors, publishers and producers), usability, and relevance to the information needs of our clientele are the library’s main considerations in selecting materials for purchase. An item’s likelihood of use based on past usage trends also drives selection decisions. Consideration is given to whether potential acquisitions update or supplement existing items in the collection, address gaps or weaknesses or build comprehensiveness.

    Faculty recommendations are highly prioritized.

    Information resources must be suitable to the academic level of the courses taught at Seneca College. Licensed electronic resources must be accessible remotely via Seneca College authentication and ideally be accessible via Seneca Libraries’ discovery services or search platforms.

    Some materials not directly related to programs offered at Seneca will be considered for purchase if they are of informational or recreational interest to an educated and informed College community. Archival materials will be identified and appraised according to the Archives’ Guidelines.

  6. Books: Foreign Language Materials

    The library collects primarily English language materials, but also collects resources in other languages as required by the curriculum (e.g. dictionaries, films for French programs).

  7. Books: General Collection

    The majority of Seneca Libraries’ book resources are in electronic format.

    The print collection at each campus library reflects both the subjects/disciplines taught at that campus, and the publishing marketplace. As a result, the print subject strengths of each campus vary. In addition, the currency of print resources can vary by discipline or subject area due to marketplace constraints and a focus on electronic acquisitions when available.

  8. Books: Reference Collection

    The reference collection consists of online resources and by exception, non-circulating print materials, that are used to answer basic questions. Examples include directories, encyclopedias, and dictionaries.

    Multiple formats are generally not held due to cost constraints. The first priority format is digital online format.

  9. Books: Reserve Collection

    A reserve collection is maintained that is made up of frequently used materials. Loan periods / location for these items is limited in order to increase availability to as many to patrons as possible. Specifically, reserve material loan periods (in consultation with faculty) range from two hours (in library) to up to seven days, depending on the item in question.

    All reserve holdings must adhere to Seneca College’s Copyright and Fair Dealing policies. Student authored materials will only be held if consent forms accompany each item at the time of deposit with Seneca Libraries.

  10. Books: Textbooks

    As of March 2020, Seneca Libraries does not collect print textbooks.

    The library does, however, try to purchase electronic textbooks when these are available and affordable. Unfortunately, publishers rarely provide electronic textbook access to libraries.

    Seneca Libraries' collection includes a vast and constantly growing array of electronic books, some of which may be appropriate for use as textbooks. Whether or not an electronic book in the library's collection can be adopted as a textbook depends not only upon its content but also upon how many students can access the book at once. Selectors try to purchase unlimited access to e-books whenever possible, but sometimes only 3-user or 1-user access to e-books can be acquired.

    For students with disabilities, the library will provide or create alternative format copies of print textbooks as long as the student has purchased a copy of the print resource. Students may request this service via the college's Counselling department. 

  11. Books: Consumables

    Consumables, such as workbooks, lab manuals or study guides that are entirely composed of worksheets and are intended for personal use, and are not purchased or collected via donation, by Seneca Libraries. Acquisition of such resources would violate the College’s Fair Dealing Guidelines. One exception to this practice will be in the case of ‘consumable’ electronic books which may be acquired for the collection as long as institutional access is granted.

  12. Books: Fiction

    Seneca Libraries is committed to collecting course-related literature resources as well as award- winning fiction, with an emphasis on Canadian literature. A paperback leisure reading collection is also developed and maintained.

  13. Books: ESL Materials

    Seneca Libraries collect graded readers, English language grammar materials, and English proficiency test preparation resources (e.g., IELTS, TOEFL) to support Seneca College students who are ESL learners.

  14. Seneca College Authors

    Purchase of Seneca faculty, and staff, authored books and films is based on Seneca Libraries' collection development title selection criteria. Seneca Libraries will gladly review for acquisitions consideration, any print books authored or edited by Seneca employees.

  15. Magazines, Journals, Newspapers

    To maximize access and eliminate the need for print subscriptions duplications, electronic subscriptions are preferred over print subscriptions.

    Seneca Libraries prioritizes licensed journal collections over standalone individual subscriptions to magazines, journals and newspapers.

    New subscriptions require a use case (details on how the title will be used in a course or curriculum) prior to consideration for acquisition. Email distributed online newsletters are not collected by Seneca Libraries. Seneca Libraries does not purchase individual professional memberships for faculty.

    Seneca Libraries does not hold magazine, journal or newspaper titles in perpetuity.

  16. Films & Media

    The preferred format for films is video streaming, subject to availability, cost and technical access considerations.  Hosting films ourselves using MS Stream is preferred but, if not possible, films may also be hosted on third-party vendors’ own platforms. The alternative format is non-Blu Ray DVD. VHS is not acquired.

    Seneca College embraces the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and is committed to expanding access and support to all students, employees and visitors with disabilities, by having as its goal a barrier-free learning and working environment to enable academic and employment success.

  17. Electronic Resources

    Electronic resources are acquired under licence to meet the information, instruction, and research needs of Seneca library users. Seneca Libraries collects these electronic information resources:

    • e-books: textual and audio
    • streaming videos
    • e-journals / periodicals
    • digital learning objects generated by Seneca Libraries' collaborative projects
    • datasets
    • maps
    • musical scores

    Seneca Libraries can only collect titles that can be licensed for institutional use in an educational setting. Access to electronic resources is set in accordance with contractual obligations to vendors. Products with overly restrictive permitted uses or access management contractual requirements cannot be considered for licensing. Examples include:

    • databases or texts for which we are charged according to, and end-use is restricted to, specific students in specific courses in a specific semester only
    • video and audio direct-to-home streaming services (e.g., Audible, Netflix, Crave, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, etc.)
    • commercial canned courses (e.g.,Canadian Securities Institute course materials, etc.)
    • commercial tests (e.g., Myers-Briggs Personality Test, licensed research instruments, etc.)
    • direct-to-user resources that typically have individual usernames, registration keys, and/or PIN numbers for each faculty member or student that cannot be shared (e.g., teacher resources, e-textbooks direct from publishers, most business cases, RedShelfVitalSource, Campus eBookstore, etc.)
    • online textbook supplemental materials (e.g., test banks, presentation slides supporting the textbook, etc.)
    • email-delivered files that cannot be hosted by Seneca Libraries (e.g., organization newsletter PDFs, magazine PDFs etc.)
    • educational technologies, software and online apps (e.g., ArcGIS, legal document templates, SPSS, VR Modules, Blackboard-specific utilities, etc.)
  18. Data

    Seneca Libraries will license access to data that has a broad curricular and research interest. Single user datasets (those that allow only a single user or project team to use the dataset based on restrictive license terms or technical requirements) are not purchased or licensed.

    Joint data purchases between the Library, researchers, and/or departments, are encouraged.

  19. Open Educational Resources (OER)

    Seneca Libraries provides OER support in a number of ways:

    • Identifying relevant OER collections / search tools created by reputed authors, publishers or producers
    • Finding OERs, including open textbooks, covering specific subject and topics
    • Informing faculty about the Teaching & Learning Centre’s Open Educational Resources Guide
    • Encouraging initiatives that increase the awareness and use of open access books and journals

    Seneca Libraries does not acquire, hold or collect print copies of OERs.

    In addition to Seneca Libraries’ support for OERs, the Learning Portal (created by College Libraries Ontario in collaboration with the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) and the Ontario Colleges Library Service (OCLS)) has created an OER Toolkit. This toolkit provides an general explanation of OERs, Open Pedagogy and How to Find OER content, as well as specific strategies for adopting and creating OER content

  20. Archival Materials (Seneca Archives)

    Seneca Libraries recognizes the importance of preserving archival material for institutional accountability, research and teaching purposes.

    The Archives is responsible for the appraisal, acquisition, preservation and use of the college’s records of permanent value and the private records of individuals and organizations associated with the college.

    The Archives collects administrative records documenting the day-to-day work of the faculty, students, and staff from various academic divisions and offices within the College. The Archives also collects the private donations of faculty and alumni.

    The Archives collects a variety of formats, including paper records, photographs and negatives, architectural plans and drawings, audio-visual records, yearbooks, oral histories, objects, Presidents’ reports and other college publications. The Archives is not currently accepting born digital records.

  21. Special Collections

    Seneca Libraries will endeavor to identify, acquire, preserve, arrange, describe and provide access to rare/unique materials that support curricula and research at Seneca.


    • American Illustration Collection (York)
    • Ursula Franklin Collection (Markham)
  22. Participation in Library Consortia

    Partnerships with local, provincial and national purchase related consortia organizations are encouraged and supported in order to gain access to the greatest number of online articles, eBooks, and streaming media while minimizing costs.

  23. Donations

    Although valuable material may be obtained through donation, these resources, whether electronic or print, must be evaluated with the same criteria used for purchases. All donations are assessed for relevance and currency by the appropriate subject specialist.

    Using this criteria, Seneca Archives considers the acceptance of transfers from academic divisions and offices of the college as well as donations from Seneca alumni.

    Donations that do not meet the criteria for addition to the library collection or archives, will be returned to the donor, recycled, or added to book flows to BetterWorldBooks. Seneca Libraries does not provide tax receipts.

    Seneca Libraries does not purchase archival records from donors.

  24. Other Materials Not Actively Collected

    Student work is generally not collected with the exception of Bachelor's degree program capstone course projects. Government documents are not actively collected given their widespread availability online. Rare books and rare documents are collected on occasion, and are either held in the Seneca Archives or classified as special collections.

  25. De-Selection

    Seneca Libraries recognizes the de-selection of materials as an important part of the collection development process. De-selection criteria include: age, relevance, uniqueness of coverage, frequency of use, last use date, physical condition, reliability, duplication, and format.

    Newly acquired materials generally are not removed from the collection for at least three years after the date they were added to the collection.

    Seneca Libraries’ online information resources (eBooks, eJournals and streaming media), that are licensed for perpetual access, are subject to deselection activities. Leased collections of online information resources however, are not reviewed during deselection activities due to the fact that vendors perform their own deselection activities, on their own schedule. Suitable prior warning from vendors is neither available nor provided. Seneca Libraries does, however, regularly assess whether or not to continue, licensing leased collections as a whole, as opposed to reviewing specific titles within them for deselection.

    Seneca authored or published materials generally are not subject to deselection review.

  26. Replacement

    Seneca Libraries does not automatically replace all materials that are removed from the collection due to loss, damage, or wear. Decisions to replace items are based on the following considerations: demand for the title, existing coverage of the subject within the collection, and the availability of newer and revised materials on the subject.

    Many of Seneca Libraries’ online resources such as eBooks, eJournals, streaming videos, etc., are leased via licensing and are thus not owned in perpetuity. Titles can disappear, with or without prior notice, for a variety of reasons, at the discretion of the vendor. Requests to replace specific titles no longer available will be considered; however, it is entirely possible that access will not be able to be restored during a term in session due to marketplace constraints, long licensing workflows and/or a lack of available funding

  27. Fund Allocation

    Seneca Libraries reserves the right to determine fund allocation.

  28. Collection Development Guidelines Review and Changes

    Seneca Libraries’ Collection Development Guidelines is reviewed annually to ensure alignment with college teaching, learning and research practices, as well as fiscal resources.

    Questions regarding the Guidelines should be directed to the Associate Director of Libraries.

    Changes to the Guidelines are approved by the Associate Director of Libraries & Director of Libraries.