Collection Services

Collection Services acquires, manages, and provides access to books, journals, video and more, both in print and online, for the McMaster community in the humanities and social sciences (Mills), science and engineering (Thode), and business (Innis).

Collection Services


About Keep@Downsview

The University Library has partnered with four other Ontario research libraries to share collection preservation and storage facilities and services. McMaster joins the University of Toronto, University of Ottawa, Western University, and Queen’s University in the Keep@Downsview partnership.

Joining Keep@Downsview ensures that infrequently used items in the Library's print collections are preserved and readily available to McMaster faculty, students, and staff for generations to come. Preservation of these scholarly but seldom used materials remains an important role for a research library like McMaster in supporting our academic community.

The Keep@Downsview partners share a high-density storage facility, optimized for long-term preservation and access to print materials. Located at the University of Toronto's Downsview campus, the facility opened in 2005. A new addition to the facility, shared by the partners and funded in part by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, increased the building's capacity to five million volumes.

Keep@Downsview FAQ

McMaster University Library is collaborating with the libraries at the University of Toronto, Western University, Queen’s University, and the University of Ottawa in a new partnership to preserve and ensure ongoing access to low-demand print materials. Extending the University of Toronto’s Downsview facility, Keep@Downsview brings together a purpose-built, high-density storage facility that supports long-term preservation, an existing retrieval and transportation network, and new models of desktop delivery, ensuring that low demand print materials remain available for research and study within the province.

Over the years, the University Library, like research libraries elsewhere, has acquired a sizeable collection of print books and journals. Historically, the purchase of print volumes in advance of anticipated need was the only reliable means of providing the scholarly resources needed to support research and teaching, and building such collections was the primary function of an academic research library.

Studies of the usage patterns of research library collections conducted over many years, using a variety of methodologies, and at a variety of institutions have demonstrated that large portions of these print collections are never or seldom used by the academic community that the library supports. The overall circulation rate of print materials—the number of checkouts annually—is also steadily declining in research libraries across North America.

We believe it is important for these low-demand collections to remain available in support of the research and educational activities of McMaster’s academic community. Participating in Keep@Downsview allows us to ensure that this occurs, while creating space within the library to foster new types of scholarship, offer new library services, and support both collaborative and individual work. The University Library’s Master Space Plan recognizes and incorporates the need to maintain a significant print collection in the campus libraries and will help to guide development and balance across all of these areas.

Yes. University libraries across North America are working together to ensure that infrequently used print materials remain available for research and study. The Center for Research Libraries currently lists many such projects on their Print Archives Preservation Registry.

A good example in Canada is the work of members of the Council of Prairie and Pacific Libraries on the Shared Print Archive Network (SPAN). Participants in SPAN include major research libraries at the University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Saskatchewan. Also, the Tri-Universities Group—the University of Waterloo, University of Guelph, and Wilfrid Laurier University—has a longstanding partnership that includes a shared storage facility for library collections.

All titles that are transferred to Downsview will continue to appear in the Library’s catalogue. From our catalogue, you will be able to request that books be returned to campus, just as you can with our current storage collection. The delivery of requested materials will not normally take longer than the two-working days expected with our existing storage collection. Requests for individual chapters from a book may be delivered to you as a scanned PDF, just as chapter scanning can be requested from our print monographs in Thode, Mills, and Innis.

Journal articles will generally be provided via a scanned PDF of the article, in the same way that scans can be requested from our print volumes in Thode, Mills, and Innis. If necessary, physical volumes can be shipped back to campus, but we anticipate this will be a relatively rare need. As with books, all journals that are transferred to Downsview will continue to appear in the Library’s catalogue.

No, the selection and purchase of new books will continue as usual, and current issues of journals received in print will remain in the campus libraries.

In terms of our book collection, we are fortunate to have a great deal of historical data available to us. The circulation (checkout) history stored in the Library’s management system extends back to 1997. Circulation is not the only type of use, of course, and we recognize that reference and multi-volume works in particular will need additional considerations, but overall, this data is the most reliable indicator that we have to assess the usage of physical volumes. We will be considering only those books that have been in the Library’s collection for some years to be sure they have had sufficient time to be discovered and used, and initially we are looking only at books that have no record of being checked out.

Journals, not having circulation data, require a different approach. We will consider a number of factors, including whether we have a currently active subscription, the availability of online backfiles, the age of the volumes, and the language of the journal, as well as the subject area covered.

Yes, there are several areas of the Library’s collection and some specific types of materials that will not be considered in the Keep@Downsview program:

  • New and recently acquired books and current issues of journals that we receive in print.
  • Many indexes and bibliographies, particularly large ongoing works that would be difficult to retrieve effectively from storage, will be kept onsite as finding tools.
  • Multi-volume monographs will not normally be split between locations, and reference-type publications will need specific consideration as they often are easily used within the Library.
  • Books, journals, and other materials held in the Library’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections are not under consideration. In certain circumstances, materials from the general stacks may be identified during this process for transfer into Archives and Research Collections.
  • A number of special formats are beyond the current scope of the program, including LPs, CDs, DVDs, and other audiovisual materials; music scores; sheet maps; and microfilm and microfiche.

Yes. We are glad to have your thoughts about materials in your discipline so that we can factor them into our decision making process, and we would appreciate your ideas on materials in your subject area that could be placed at Downsview without causing undue difficulty for academic activities on campus.

The Library does currently use offsite storage located in Dundas. This space was not designed with the storage of library materials in mind. Keep@Downsview will provide a better environment for the long-term preservation of these materials, as well as make the retrieval of items easier. Subsequent collection decisions have also changed the usage pattern for portions of the existing storage collection. As part of our Keep@Downsview process, we plan to return more frequently requested materials from storage to the campus libraries.

Yes. The University Library retains its ownership of materials included in the Keep@Downsview program. All of these volumes will continue to appear in the Library’s catalogue and will be included in the statistics that we provide to various reporting bodies. The Keep@Downsview agreement also provides for the partners to share ownership of volumes that they hold in common and choose to include in the program.

Yes. These items won’t appear in McMaster’s Library catalogue but they will be available via RACER request in the same way as items from the partners’ on-campus libraries.

Yes. Community members may continue to access materials from McMaster’s collection that move to Downsview. Items may be obtained using interlibrary loan from the requestor’s home library and checked out according to normal interlibrary loan policies. Library Services staff at McMaster may also request that volumes be sent to one of the campus libraries for community members to use on-site in the library or to check out in accordance with existing borrowing privileges. Volumes transferred to Downsview have been identified as low-usage materials and we do not anticipate great community interest in these volumes.

If you have further questions, please contact Wade Wyckoff, Associate University Librarian, Collections.

Faculty Representatives

Faculty Liaisons

Library materials are obtained in a variety of ways, including firm and standing orders, monograph approval plans (in some areas), print or online subscriptions, consortial e-journal and e-book packages, and user-driven acquisition. Each department nominates a Faculty Library Representative from among their faculty. The function of the Library Representative is to serve as a communications link between the department and the Library, to assist us in making decisions about the value to students and faculty of new or existing electronic resources or serial subscriptions, and to recommend monograph titles for acquisition by the Library.

For 2018/19, the faculty representatives for each department are:


Program/Dept/School Faculty Representative Faculty Contact
Anthropology Aubrey Cannon website
Art / Art History Alison McQueen website
Arts & Science Jean Wilson website
Biology Suleiman Igdoura website
Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research       Bruce Gaulin website
Business Glen Randall
Chris Longo
Chemical Engineering Robert Pelton website
Chemistry Gary Schrobilgen website
Civil Engineering Mohamed Hussein website
Classics Martin Beckmann website
Communication Studies & Multimedia Terence (Terry) Flynn website
Computing and Software Ryan Leduc website
Divinity Michael Knowles website
Economics Maxim Ivanov  Maxim Ivanov
Electrical & Computer Engineering Jun Chen website
Engineering Physics Ryan Lewis website
English, Cultural Studies & Critical Theory David Clark website
Environmental Science (Earth Sciences) Alan Dickin website
French William Hanley website
Gender Studies and Feminist Research Gena Zuroski-Jenkins website
Geography & Earth Science Richard Harris website
Globalization Robert O’Brien website
Health, Aging & Society Randy Jackson website
History Stephen Streeter website


Indigenous Studies Rick Monture email
Ext. 27615
or 27426
Kinesiology Krista Howarth website
Labour Studies David Goutor website
Linguistics Victor Kuperman
Daniel Pape
Nikolai Penner
Ivona Kucerova
Materials Science Engineering Igor Zhitomirsky website
Mathematics & Statistics Fred Hoppe website
Mechanical Engineering Stephen Veldhuis website
Music Michael Schutz website
Peace Studies Bonny Ibhowah website
Philosophy Nick Griffin website
Physics & Astronomy Ralph Pudritz website
Political Science Michelle Dion website
Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour Steven Brown website
Religious Studies Zdravko Planinc website
Social Work Ameil Joseph website
Sociology Gregory Hooks website
Theatre & Film Peter Cockett website
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