Collection policy


Our Vision

  • Everyone in BC has ready access to the legal information & resources they need.

Our Mission

  • We provide the legal community and public with legal resources, librarian expertise & informed referrals, to help people research and manage their legal issues.

Our Values

  • Accountability, Excellence, Service, Equity & Inclusion, Adaptability, Kindness

Our collection development policy guides our purchase decision processes for the acquisition and management of the information sources we collect in support of our strategic plan. Courthouse Libraries BC’s collection development policy aims to advance the following CLBC Strategic Goals:

Strategic Goals

  • Expertly curate and protect the quality of our legal information & resources
  • Reduce barriers to accessing high quality legal information & resources

Courthouse Libraries BC curates a practice-oriented collection of digital and print information resources. We primarily collect BC and Canadian legal resources, including:

  • case law
  • legislation
  • practice manuals
  • textbooks
  • forms & precedents
  • continuing legal education
  • practice management & technology resources

CLBC purchases print resources and licenses digital products to help meet client information needs. CLBC generally acquires English language materials and supports French language practice with our licensed digital resources. Additional French language print resources may be acquired to support BC Lawyers in practice.

The collection may be supplemented with selected US, UK, and international resources to support specialized areas of practice. In some cases, CLBC may be able to arrange for resource sharing with other Law Libraries across Canada.

In addition to CLBC’s print and digital collections, we support access to legal information for the general public primarily with the LawMatters program in public libraries and free online information through Clicklaw and Clicklaw Wikibooks.

Occasionally we purchase resources to assist staff in answering client questions.

We strive to make our collection accessible to as many of our clients as possible within our budgetary limits. A core collection of digital and print resources are available, for use by all clients, free of charge, in the 30 locations CLBC operates across the province.

CLBC is committed to acquiring information in digital format to offer system-wide access to information to achieve the best coverage and availability for clients. To support access to justice, CLBC offers free access to online subscription products in our courthouse libraries that permit our clients to research, save, print and/or email materials. When feasible, we negotiate licenses that allow us to deliver digital resources to the desktops of BC lawyers and notaries via our remote access to subscription databases.

The print collection is treated as one entity, housed across many locations and the size and breadth of individual branch collections vary. Generally, the acquisition of multiple copies of print texts is limited, as purchasing numerous copies of one text reduces the number of unique resources we can purchase. To facilitate province-wide access to print resources, CLBC offers inter-branch loans, document delivery service, and return shipping via Canada Post at no charge for eligible borrowers. 

Many criteria may be assessed when purchasing or licensing a resource, but the following are always considered:

  • significant subject area, practice area/client interest and/or jurisdiction considered highly relevant
  • known or anticipated legal information needs of clients or communities
  • contribution to the equity and diversity of the collection
  • usage of existing print and digital holdings or comparable resources
  • jurisdiction
  • currency
  • credible source, by experience or accreditation
  • accessible - format appropriate to content, ease of use, indexing/search aids
  • appropriate purchase or licensing costs
  • value for money
  • Licensing terms and conditions allow for reasonable usage by clients and staff
  • indirect costs - processing and administration

Truth and Reconciliation

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2012

27. We call upon the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to ensure that lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

In response to Call to Action #27 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Courthouse Libraries BC collects materials that support legal professionals in continued knowledge building of Indigenous legal systems and the legacy and ongoing impact of colonialism on Indigenous legal issues in Canada.

Please see our TRC Response webpage for a more detailed and complete description of our ongoing work including collections and Indigenous subject headings.

Social justice and responsibility

To help address systemic power imbalances in the Justice system and in society generally, Courthouse Libraries BC collects materials to create a more inclusive collection with diverse voices and marginalized perspectives.

Cataloguing online information

Courthouse Libraries BC will include independent catalogue records or links to digital content:

  • When the electronic version is available for a print resource that already exists in the collection.
  • For government (provincial or federal) created content, such as legislation, reports, and other publications.
  • Online resources created by a government or reputable legal and/or not-for-profit organizations.

We do not catalogue websites or any material assessed as: primarily intended to advance the agenda of a political party, defamatory or discriminatory, promoting illegal activities, soliciting business for a commercial law firm or legal service, having no substantive legal information, e.g. marketing materials, order forms, general newsletters about an organization’s activities.

We continually assess our collections and make decisions about retention and weeding according to the following criteria:

  • Significance of the work for practitioners
  • Usage statistics indicate ongoing usage of the item
  • Physical space: shelf space, storage
  • Duplicate copies available in the library system
  • Availability of more current versions of content
  • Availability of content in other formats
  • Physical condition of the item

Library borrowers are responsible for all materials borrowed and any charges incurred for lost or damaged items. When items are identified as lost, missing, or damaged, CLBC assesses whether to purchase a replacement based on the same selection criteria used for purchase of new materials.

CLBC does not have a mandate to preserve materials acquired in the past through purchase or donation which no longer meet the current or anticipated legal information needs of our clients.

CLBC will happily consider offers of donated books. For more information regarding the donations of print resources, please see our donations webpage.

Last updated March 2021