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Licensing Principles Policy


Content licensing activities are guided by several principles that are designed to ensure alignment with our core mandate, namely, to build and curate robust collections that support curricular and research needs and to facilitate and advocate for fair access terms. These principles flow from the priorities expressed in both the York University Academic Plan (Priority 2) and the York University Libraries Strategic Plan 2021-2026 (Leading the way to accessible knowledge) and reflect our departmental values: responsiveness, sustainability, curiosity, transparency and inclusivity.

While these principles pertain specifically to the licensing of electronic content, they are informed by and intersect with our general collection development policy.


We license resources that support the current and anticipated teaching and research needs of the York University community. Relevance is determined through regular monitoring of new program and course offerings, suggestions for purchase, use patterns, and evaluation of peer institution holdings. In assessing relevance, we attempt to strike an appropriate balance between “point of need” materials and those which hold long term research value. We are also attentive to supporting research intensification on the campus.

Equity of Access

We license resources that are for the benefit of all current students, faculty and staff at York University, along with in-person guests who are visiting any of our library locations. Normally, we do not license products that are only available to a subset of the campus or to individual users.


We license resources that have clear and transparent costs and terms of use. As per our statement on non-disclosure agreements we do not normally sign contracts that require nondisclosure of pricing or other information that does not constitute a trade secret. Additionally, we require that all contracts provide a clear breakdown of fees and renewal terms. We privilege content that can be purchased outright and owned in perpetuity over that which is leased and/or incurs ongoing costs.


We license resources that comply with applicable Canadian laws relating to accessibility and prioritize agreements that openly adopt technological means for adapting to evolving accessibility standards.

Functional Requirements for Discovery

We license resources that meet our functional requirements for ensuring discoverability. We prioritize content that includes well-structured metadata for indexing in our discovery systems and that are interoperable with our existing systems.

Open Access

We license resources that provide a sustainable path to open access. Increasingly, we are prioritizing license models that allow for immediate or barrier-free access to all content or that are transitioning from subscription to fully open access while still offering fair and sustainable pricing.

Diversity & Inclusion / Social Responsibility

We license resources from third parties who can demonstrate alignment with our commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). As we work to integrate EDI principles into our selection and licensing workflows, we are increasingly prioritizing vendors who can demonstrate positive change and social responsibility in their own business models and practices.

Sheril Hook
Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning
(416)736-2100 x 55601

Adopted: February 2022