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Collection Guidelines

Collection Guidelines

Formats by Type of Material

Monographs (books)

Books are non-serial publications that may be published in any format. Some general guidelines for the selection of electronic vs. print books are detailed below.

Electronic is preferred for:

  • Reference books, and other works not normally read cover-to-cover
  • Maximizing access to users
  • Books with added utility in the electronic format
  • Titles that undergo frequent revisions
  • Supporting online or mixed-mode courses
  • Books available on a vendor platform already offered at the library
  • e-book collections available in a cost-effective way via subscription
  • Titles acquired via patron-driven acquisition, including short-term loans

Print is preferred for:

  • Titles with visuals or graphics critical for use
  • Works with important content missing from the electronic version
  • Books that are not useable in electronic format

Both print and electronic formats may be acquired for:

  • Books available electronically from temporary or unstable web sites
  • Books with mutually exclusive utility in both formats e.g. literary texts that are read cover-to-cover in print, but analyzed electronically
  • Books preferred in electronic format, to which the Library would also like to ensure permanent access
  • Books selected in one format, with the alternative format provided at no additional cost

Print items: hardcover vs paperback

Hardcover is preferred for items of permanent retention. Paperback binding will be selected for materials whose content will be quickly outdated. If a significant price difference exists between hardcover and paperback editions, the latter may be selected and the item covered or sent out for binding.


Reference includes materials designed to be consulted when authoritative information is needed, rather than read in entirety. Types of reference materials collected include, but are not limited to, works such as atlases, concordances, dictionaries, directories, encyclopedias, handbooks, and literary and statistical compendia.

Reference selection criteria:

  • Materials which are current, authoritative, balanced and relevant to the major fields of study at the college
  • Materials which provide a comprehensive store of information on a wide range of subjects, including topics not in the general collection

Journals (periodicals)

Journals, magazines and newspapers are selected to support curriculum taught at Langara, to cover recent developments in a discipline, and to cover current events reading.

Selection criteria

  • Cover recent developments in a discipline
  • Cover current events reading
  • Newspapers selected for local, regional, national and international coverage
  • Recommended/requested by faculty
  • Indexed in a source available at Langara in print or online
  • Cost of subscription in relation to potential/actual use
  • Reputation of periodical
  • Usage data (for existing subscriptions)
  • Interlibrary loan requests for periodical articles

The Library supports both electronic and print formats, but in general prefers electronic format.

Electronic (Web) preference criteria

  • All articles are provided, preferably no later than the paper version unless an embargo period is deemed to be acceptable
  • Other content if deemed important to Langara users such as ads, graphics, supplements, etc. is included
  • Remote access is supported with IP authentication (no id/passwords for individual journals)
  • Archival availability - access to the journal is available for the desired retention period
  • Technical requirements are met for factors such as site licensing, server reliability, accessibility, image quality, ease of navigation/good layout, and ease of searching
  • License is not overly-restrictive and allows such features as printing, emailing, interlibrary loan, electronic reserves
  • Usage statistics are available

Print preference criteria

  • Faculty preference
  • Not available electronically or no site license option
  • Substantially cheaper than electronic
  • High general use for popular reading
  • High circulation
  • Usability better in print e.g. for browsing or theme issues
  • Good visuals or graphics critical for use
  • Important content missing from electronic version


All periodicals actively collected in a physical format will be assigned a retention period, based on projected use. Long-term retention is required for periodical titles with a projected long lifespan. Format choices for long-term retention include print and electronic (online or DVD); microfiche is supported but no longer collected. Print periodicals are not bound regardless of retention period.

For more detail, consult the journal retention guidelines:

Indexes, abstracts, and full-text databases

The library collects digital indexing and abstracting sources that provide article-level access to the periodicals collection. A very small number of print indexes have been retained in order to to maintain access to historic content. 

The library actively acquires aggregated third-party databases of electronic periodicals in order to provide both indexing and cost-effective access to full text periodical contents. Currently the library's full-text databases provide access to a greater number of journals than direct periodical subscriptions do, by a factor of at least a hundred. As with periodicals, databases are selected to support curriculum taught at Langara, to cover recent developments in a discipline, and to cover current events reading.

The library also actively collects databases which offer collections of e-books and e-reference materials, digital images, and streaming videos. 

Visual media

The Library collects DVDs and streaming videos, primarily to provide instructional support for instructors and students. The specific video format selected is based on factors such as cost, availability, faculty preference, and projected use. Aggregated third-party databases of streaming videos are also licensed in order to provide cost-effective access to a wide range of material. VHS and 16mm films are no longer supported, and titles have been replaced in digital format according to usage and budget allowances. 

The Library collects visual images to support teaching at the College, preferring digital images where available i) in a format supported by the Library; ii) with unrestricted educational use, and for use by authorized members of the college community from both on- and off-campus. Current formats collected include licensed Web-based image collections such as ARTstor, in addition to CD-ROM and DVD-ROM. 

Sound recordings

The Library collects sound recordings to support instruction at the College, in particular materials of interest to instructional departments such as Modern Languages, Continuing Studies, English, and Theatre Arts. Music is seldom acquired and by instructor request only. Digital formats such as audio CDs are collected; analogue formats are no longer supported. 


Print maps are a very small part of the collection. Local, city and regional maps are selected, as are topical or broad interest maps. Additional maps will be purchased as needed to provide direct support for classroom instruction and only at the request of the instructor. Atlases are included in the reference collection. Not selected: Geological Survey maps, detailed topological maps. These may be kept in instructional departments. National Geographic maps received as part of the periodical subscription are NOT retained or catalogued.

Digital maps are also a very small part of the collection. Formats collected include networked CD-Rom and selected free or government depository Web resources.