Newspapers are maintained by McMaster University Libraries to support the University's teaching and research requirements and to provide current information to members of the University community (students, faculty and staff).



The term "newspapers," as used in this document, refers to serial publications originally produced on newsprint which report on a broad range of current events. The publications can be targeted to the general public or to a special clientele. In their original form, newspapers are typically published tabloid size or larger, with the text appearing in columns. Issues are produced without a cover, but with a masthead or banner. Newspapers appear at least biweekly.

Trade and professional journals and government newspapers are excluded from this definition.

This policy covers newspapers produced in all formats, including machine-readable format. Current formats include paper, microfilm and online.

In addition to the "newspapers of record," McMaster maintains strong collections of: - early British newspapers (18th and 19th century) - early Canadian newspapers

Primary Selection Criteria

          The Library will acquire newspapers which:

  • support campus programs of instruction and research
  • enhance the University community's awareness of current events throughout the world

Additional Selection Criteria

Influence / "Newspapers of Record".

In selecting newspapers for purchase, the Library will attempt to acquire titles that are recognized throughout the world as "newspapers of record." These titles are considered to be of the highest journalistic quality. Typically, these titles report on a wide variety of political, cultural and economic events. Some are known for their exceptional coverage of specific subjects. Most have high circulations throughout the world.

Geographic Area

  • Local / Regional Papers: The Library will subscribe to the local newspaper, The Hamilton Spectator.
  • Ontario: The Library will attempt to collect newspapers from major cities in Southern Ontario. Some attempt will be made to provide coverage of Northern Ontario.
  • Other Canadian Provinces/Territories: The Library will attempt to acquire at least one newspaper from each province and territory in Canada.
  • National: The Library will acquire and permanently retain Canadian newspapers which are national in scope and coverage (Globe & Mail and National Post). The Library will make every effort to obtain for the permanent collection the edition that is indexed and preserved.
  • International: The Library will collect selective "newspapers of record" from around the world. No attempt is made to provide newspapers from all political viewpoints in a specific country or from all countries represented by students attending McMaster.


The Library will primarily acquire newspapers written in the English language. The Library will also attempt to acquire newspapers of record written in the other modern languages taught at McMaster (French, Italian, German and Spanish).


McMaster will attempt to acquire newspapers for which indexing is readily available (e.g., Globe and Mail, New York Times). If indexing is not readily available at the University, very little use will be made of the newspaper, regardless of its content or journalistic merit.

Cost Factors

  • Subscription Cost: Annual subscription costs must be proportional to anticipated use over time. Expensive titles can be justified if the products are used heavily and/or satisfy other criteria as outlined in the document.
  • Processing Cost: The cost of processing the newspaper (i.e., the amount of staff time required to place subscriptions, obtain and paying invoices, claim, sort and check in a title) will be considered in making acquisition or cancellation decisions. Titles with limited audience or potential use will not be purchased if the processing costs are too high.
  • Storage Cost: Consideration is given to the amount and kind of physical space required to store the material. How many shelves, cabinets are required?


All newspaper titles held at McMaster University Libraries are catalogued and accessible through the Library Catalogue.


Microfilm is considered to be the permanent backfile (archival format) for newspapers of record and other important newspapers.

Newspapers collected by the Library will be assigned to one of the following retention categories:

Current Print Issues Only
When the newspaper title is of interest for current awareness purposes only (i.e., not relevant to the University's teaching or research needs), only the newsprint issues for the latest three months (or other suitable) period will be retained. In many cases, newspapers falling into this category are not indexed in any major source.

Microfilm Only
A small number of newspapers are acquired in microfilm only (i.e., no current paper issues). Typically, titles are acquired this way when the newspaper is important for historical purposes, but the current issues are either too expensive relative to anticipated use or take too long to be delivered.

Online Only
The Library will purchase online copies of newspapers as a cost-effective means of filling gaps in the collection, but when a permanent backfile is not required. (Online newspapers typically do not include the advertisements, photographs, obituaries, and other elements necessary for many kinds of academic research).

Print Plus Microfilm
The Library will maintain subscriptions for both the newsprint and the microfilm when there is anticipated need for both currently published issues as well as the permanent backfile.

Print Plus Online
Some paper subscriptions include current week(s) online.

Print Plus Microfilm Plus Online
The Library will maintain subscriptions for the newsprint, microfilm and online versions when there is anticipated need for currently published issues, a permanent backfile and a searchable archive.      

The University Library Newspaper Group

 The University Library Newspaper Group is comprised of the following individuals (or their delegates):

  • Director of Library Liaison
  • Library Director, Business
  • Supervisor, Mills Learning Commons
  • Associate University Librarian, Collections & Facilities

The Newspaper Group is responsible for:

  • recommending the purchase or cancellation of newspapers either to the Associate University Librarian, Collections & Facilities or, in the case of electronic products, the IRMC (Information Resources Management Committee).
  • recommending the retention policy for new and existing newspapers
  • ensuring that adequate access is provided to the collections via both the library catalogue and web site
  • reviewing the University Library's newspaper holdings and Collections Policy each year to determine if changes are required.