Materials Selection Policy
Final authority for the determination of policy in the selection and acquisition of materials is vested in the Board of Trustees.
Ultimate responsibility for materials selection, as for all library activity, rests with the Library Director, who operates within the framework of policies determined by the Board of Trustees. A Book Selection Committee composed of the Library Director, the Assistant Librarians and the Interlibrary Loan Officers shall meet once a month to select materials.
Formulation of selection policies necessarily begins with the assessment of the community, of the organization and existing collection of the library, and of the services which the library is expected to perform. Flexibility and constant awareness of the changing needs of many different kinds of people the library serves are essential in book selection.
The materials selection policy is intended to implement the general objectives of the public library. The purpose of the selection process is to obtain expertly selected books and other materials to further the library program of giving information, reference assistance, and help to those engaged in educational pursuits, as well as to provide general home reading.
In general, the library's policy has been to purchase the best materials which satisfy the clientele of the library within budget limitations, with no obligations to provide research materials, though frequently doing so incidentally. The established criteria for all fields include:
1. Permanent or timely value.
2. Accurate information.
4. Clear presentation and readability.
5. Social significance.
6. Avoid the unimportant, the cheap and trivial, the deliberately distorted, sensational or offensive, particularly in the fields of religion, sex hygiene, racial prejudice, political ideologies and fiction.
7. Present both sides of controversial issues.
8. Balance special group interests with general demand, e.g. religious books with a denomination viewpoint.
9. Include materials of doubtful value occasionally for their timeliness, such as campaign biographies, or a work of fiction about which curiosity has reached significant proportions such as those by Stephen King or Anne Rice.
10. Representative books, such as Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto are included where they have historical significance and provide information about those ideologies which differ from our democracy. A primary obligation of the library is to uphold the doctrine of freedom of speech and of the press. We subscribe to the
American Library Association Bill of Rights which says in part that censorship of books "That would establish a coercive concept of Americanism must be challenged...in maintenance of (the library's) responsibility to provide public information and enlightenment through the printed word." In administering this policy the library tries to keep a true balance between its duty to make available honest presentation of both sides of every public question, and its determination not to allow itself to be used as a propaganda agency by special interest groups.
11. Textbooks are not bought as textbooks.
12. Collector's items as such are not purchased.
13. Format may be a deciding factor. Possibility of rebinding is considered, as well as type and legibility.
The public library asserts its right and duty to keep on its shelves a representative selection of materials on all subjects of interest to its readers and not prohibited by law, including those on all sides of controversial questions. Materials on any subject, if published by reputable and well known publishers and sold without restriction in bookstores, are properly admitted to the public library. The public library has no right to emphasize one subject at the expense of another or one side of a subject without regard to the other side. It must carry important materials on all sides and all subjects.
If materials are not chosen for the library's collection, they have been excluded because they do not measure up to the criteria above; because the library already has adequate coverage on the subject; or because of budget limitations.
As a policy the library does not purchase materials written to trade on a taste for sensationalism or which are purely pornographic. On the other hand, serious works which present honest aspects of some problems, or of life, are not necessarily excluded because of coarse language or frankness.
The public library strives to maintain an impartial recognition of all religions while specializing in none. In the literature of religion, more perhaps than in any other class, library selection must be broad, tolerant, without partisanship or propaganda, yet consistently directed toward the choice of the best materials as regards authority, timeliness, and good literary quality.
As a rule the library accepts gifts without commitment as to final disposition. Generally, collections of materials will not be accepted with restrictions which necessitate special housing or which prevent integration of the gift into the general library collection. In determining whether a gift item is to be added to the library's collection, the same standards are applied with respect to a gift as are used in the selection of an item for purchase. The library might decide not to add a volume because it is a duplicate of a title already in the library, or is out of date, or is in such poor physical condition that adding it to the collection would be of no value. If the material presented to the library is useful but not needed, it may be offered to another library or governmental agency, or it may be sold.
The library shall not affix a value for income tax purposes to any gift accepted. This is the responsibility of the donor. The library will acknowledge the gift by letter. It is the donor’s responsibility to maintain all personal records pertaining to a gift for which he/she is claiming as a tax deduction. Because of limited storage space, a library may place limits on the number of gift items that may be taken at any one time. Gift items to be accepted: Paperback or hardback books in good condition;
DVDs in good condition with original packaging (sleeves, etc.), recent issues of popular magazines. Gift items that cannot be accepted: Old textbooks, worn or dirty items, outdated books and magazines, and items with mold or mildew.
Denominational periodicals, corporation house publications, and other special interest group publications are not purchased from tax funds, but maybe be received as gifts, and stamped with such comment as "This is a gift." Because of a lack of storage space, this material may not be archived.
The basic policy of book selection for children is to choose the best new books and replace and duplicate the older titles which have proved their worth. The selection includes books for recreation, books of lasting value, and books of information covering a wide range of knowledge that will satisfy the child's natural curiosity and widen his interests. Each book is judged on its own merits. It is considered also in relation to the collection as a whole and in relation to the children for whom it is intended.
MATERIAL SELECTION AIDS
Ideally, every material added to the library should be viewed before purchase by a librarian with trained judgment, knowledge of the library's present resources, and acquaintance with the requirements of local readers. Where circumstances make such perusal impossible or unnecessary the staff makes skilled use of selection aids, such as basic general lists, current general materials, and material reviewing journals. While reviews are a major source of information about new materials, they are not followed blindly. No one publication is relied upon exclusively; furthermore, the critical opinions of reviewers are checked against each other.
Special collections may be established if deemed necessary for the carrying out of a particular objective established by the Library Board. One example is the libraries’ genealogy collections. The library attempts to acquire genealogical materials that will be of interest to the community while at the same time not replicating the resources held by other libraries in the region. Material selection is the sole responsibility of the director, though suggestions from local genealogists will be considered. All care will be taken in the case of weeding the genealogy collection; however, physical condition may warrant selective weeding. No genealogical materials from the reference genealogy collection may be checked out. Genealogy materials seldom may be borrowed through Interlibrary Loan, but library staff will make the effort when desired.
The Library accepts donations toward the purchase of memorial or commemorative books. Library staff will select the title in accordance with the donor's wishes regarding the subject specified. The Library may accept a donation for a specific title if the title meets collection needs and selection policy standards. An identifying book plate shall be placed inside the front cover of each memorial or commemorative book.
Weeding is the systematic evaluation of the library's collection with an eye to the withdrawal of damaged or obsolete materials from the collection. This process is an integral part of collection development and maintenance. In general, the same criteria apply to weeding as are used in the selection of new materials.
Materials that fall into the following categories should be withdrawn:
1. Materials which contain outdated or inaccurate information;
2. Superseded editions;
3. Worn or badly marked items;
4. Duplicate copies of seldom used titles.
The Library Director is responsible for deciding which materials should be discarded.