Important Changes at the Library this Fall
Since most of our buildings are closed, some in-person Library services or resources described on this page are currently unavailable. For more details on how the Library can help this semester, check out our services updates or feel free to email us, chat with us, or reach out to a librarian or specialist in your discipline.


Latest Updates

University of Ottawa Library’s Statement on purchasing eTextbooks

As we approach the Fall 2020 semester, Library staff are working hard to provide alternatives to the print course reserves collection, which is currently unavailable due to health and safety considerations. Many of the books on reserve are print copies of required textbooks that are not available to students in the current online teaching environment, and cannot be fully digitized for copyright reasons. With print reserves not available, many requests have been made for electronic versions of textbooks.

The Library is working to ensure students and instructors have access to the materials they need in a primarily online environment, however, this is a challenge as textbook publishers often do not provide electronic purchasing options for libraries, and when they do, the usage models are often not adequate for libraries. Approximately 85% of existing English language course textbooks are simply unavailable to libraries in any format other than print. For French language textbooks, even fewer are available electronically. Textbook publishing models are built around selling e-textbooks directly to students. Providing limited-loan print reserve copies was an alternative for students, but this option is unavailable in an online environment.

We recognize the academic freedom of instructors to choose course materials, and we are committed to helping interested instructors locate open materials and create digital course packs from licensed library resources. For assistance, professors are invited to contact.

For additional information on other available services, such as scan-on-demand or e-course reserves, please refer to our Library Services Update page.

(Adapted from the University of Guelph Library’s statement on textbooks, with permission)



The collection is at the heart of the University's mission to foster scholarship, innovation and knowledge creation. It is both a physical and a virtual collection. There is a wide range of other material acquired, such as journals, research databases, print books and ebooks, microforms, maps, evidence-based professional tools, government publications, and audiovisual items. It includes subscribed, purchased and open access resources that meet our criteria of value for the university community.

The scholarly communications landscape in Canada and worldwide is currently under technological and economic pressures that will inevitably lead to new models and approaches (CARL, 2016). The University of Ottawa is not immune to these global pressures.  Combined with the lack of indexation to address annual increases in the costs of scholarly materials, the absence of a mitigation strategy to address the problem of currency fluctuation and weakness in relation to the US dollar and the 2% university-wide budget cut in 2016-17, collections expenditures will be cut by a total of $1.927M.


Key objectives of collection management:

  • Ensuring a balanced and up-to-date collection across different types of material (e.g., books, journals, specialized resources);
  • Reflecting the diversity of perspectives, research areas, and publishing models within a discipline;
  • Delivering these materials in the format that is optimal for research, teaching, and learning; this increasingly means a digital format;
  • Developing a bilingual collection to the greatest extent possible;
  • Barrier-free, equitable access to our collections, to the greatest degree possible.


Key criteria used to develop the collection:

  • Intellectual significance and long-term value;
  • Relevance to the curriculum;
  • Measures of significance such as authority, originality, impact, timeliness, breadth or depth of coverage;
  • Appropriate formats in relation to ease of use and availability;
  • Application of these criteria to all resources, whether purchased, subscribed, or openly.

Acquisition strategies

Materials are acquired according to several strategies:

  • Recommendations from faculty;
  • Subject profiles with vendors, through which we automatically receive pertinent items such as books;
  • Subscriptions with publishers or vendors for important journals;
  • Selection decisions by subject librarians, based on their knowledge of the curriculum, faculty interests, and budget situation;
  • Identification and assessment of open access resources of value for research and teaching, and making these resources accessible to the university community;
  • Donations.

Did you know?

  • The Library licenses more than 150 research databases via consortial agreements (provincial, national, or based on other affiliations), thereby saving lots of money and benefiting from multi-year agreements and predictable costs.
  • The Library has digitized over 20,000 French books in the collection, in all subject areas. These are out of copyright (published before 1923) and can be freely viewed and downloaded on the Internet Archive. They are accessible from our catalogue. This means that a large corpus of material to support research into French culture and heritage is now available to everyone, thus showcasing our French resources to the world, and supporting the philosophy of Open Access.
  • Our institutional repository uO Research contains approximately 24,000 items (~17,800 of these are theses).
  • The Library has digitized over 13,000 theses from uOttawa students from 1910-2010, across all disciplines. These dissertations are available for viewing and downloading.
  • Over 5,290,250 total files have been downloaded from uO Research between January 2013 and January 2017.
  • The top 10 most consulted items on uO Research have been viewed collectively over 46,468 times.

Library Collection Budget - annual expenditures

Year Amount
2010-2011 $14,243,721
2011-2012 $14,698,131
2012-2013 $17,670,435
2013-2014 $16,532,627
2014-2015 $16,327,661
2015-2016 $16,624,830
2016-2017 $15,373,290
2017-2018 $15,766,173
2018-2019 $15,564,906
2019-2020 $15,562,789

Our collection - by the numbers

Collection type Number of items
Print books 2,440,928
E-books 2,427,304
E-journals 76,414
Databases 937
Government publications 1,023,632
Microforms 1,933,215
Map materials 423,988
Audiovisual items 25,547
Slides 217,939
Music items 87,835
Total 8,657,739

Last Modified: October 14, 2020

For any questions about this page, please contact the Associate University Librarian (Content and Access).

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