Library Materials Evaluation and Selection

Purpose of this Policy

Building a library collection is an ongoing activity: the collection evolves as the needs of the community evolve and as changing technology provides additional or alternative resources. Because no library budget or library building is large enough to permit the purchase of all worthy materials, this policy guides the library staff in most effectively using the library’s financial resources to meet the present and anticipated needs of the community it serves. A policy cannot replace the judgment of trained and experienced staff, but stating goals and indicating boundaries will assist staff in selecting library resources, evaluating the collection, and maintaining the collection’s currency, relevance, and usefulness.

Responsibility to the Community

The Minerva Public Library plays an active and positive role in the community. The Board of Trustees, administration, and staff of the library are committed to these tenets: (1) that free and open access to information is necessary for citizens who think and make choices for themselves; (2) that by providing access to a wide variety of facts, opinions, and ideas the library helps to create a well-informed and enlightened populace.

The library fulfills its mission when it selects and makes available materials for the education, recreation, entertainment, and enrichment of the public; that public includes patrons of all age levels, of many levels of interest and ability, and of differing views and opinions. The library’s collection should include both materials that represent topics of current interest, as well as those of enduring value.

The Standards for Public Library Service in Ohio, 2002 Revision, states: "The library considers the diversity of community needs, interests and demands for titles and formats in the materials selection process." Material that inspires one patron may also sometimes offend another. However, by providing free and open access to diverse information and viewpoints, the public library may serve as a cornerstone of democratic society. Inclusion of materials in the library’s collection acknowledges the importance of a diversity of views and interests; it does not represent an endorsement or imply agreement with any particular viewpoint, or suggest approval or certification of the content of any item.

The library does not label materials except to aid the public in finding them in the library. Labels or ratings that provide assessments such as "This material contains language which some may find offensive" are not applied by the library.

The responsibility for monitoring a child’s reading, listening and viewing rests with the parent or legal guardian. Selection of materials for the library is not restricted by the possibility that children may obtain materials that their parents or guardians consider inappropriate. The library staff is willing to work with the parent or guardian to determine what materials are best suited for a child’s needs, within the framework or guidelines established by the parent or guardian.

All libraries are likely to contain some materials that some patrons may find objectionable. In addition, collections may not contain all materials that some patrons feel are important. In both cases, the library has established procedures to hear the voices of the community.

The Minerva Public Library’s Board of Trustees supports the latest revisions to the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights and the interpretations of that document including: The Freedom to Read Statement; The Freedom to View Statement; The Statement on Free Access to Libraries for Minors; The Statement on Labeling and Rating Systems; The Statement on Expurgation of Library Materials; and The Statement on Diversity in Collection Development.

Responsibility for Selection

The policies and mandates of the Library Board of Trustees govern the inclusion of materials in the library collection. Overall responsibility for the collection is delegated to the Director, and through him or her to library staff who are qualified by education, training, interest, and job classification to select materials.

Principles of Collection Development

Library staff have a professional responsibility to be inclusive, not exclusive, in selecting materials for the library collection and in providing access to materials through resource sharing. The library should work to provide patrons with access to legally obtainable materials, and policies should not exclude materials even if such materials offend a library staff member or some members of the community. When staff consider an item for addition or retention, that item is evaluated as a whole, not on the basis of a particular section or sections. Thus, an item will not be added to or barred from the collection solely because of:

  • An author’s race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or political or social views.
  • A work’s depictions or descriptions of violence or sexual activity.
  • A work’s controversial content.
  • A work’s endorsement or disapproval by any individual or community group.
Criteria for Addition and Retention of Library Materials

Because its ability to purchase and store materials is limited by the size of both its budget and its building, the library has established criteria for the addition and retention of library materials. These criteria may be applied to all formats and include, but are not limited to:

  • Current interest
  • Timeliness
  • Patron requests
  • Educational significance
  • Positive reviews
  • Recommendations by professionals
  • Accuracy
  • Contribution to the breadth of representative viewpoints
  • Value commensurate with cost and/or need
  • Reputation of author/publisher/producer

The library strives to provide resources that promote continuing, independent learning, and makes an effort to provide curriculum-related materials for area schools and other teaching situations. However, the library does not usually acquire textbooks, subscriptions to professional or academic journals, or other materials that directly support a particular curriculum except as such materials might also serve the general public, e.g. basic science books. Nor does the library purchase multiple copies of titles in sufficient quantity to meet the assigned demands of local institutions, schools and colleges, or non-library reading groups.

Resource Sharing with Other Libraries

The library is a member of the SEO library consortium made up of over 70 libraries across the state. Patrons are encouraged to use this network to borrow materials that the library does not own, and staff will assist patrons if necessary. Library staff can also assist patrons in borrowing items from libraries outside of the SEO consortium. See Section 2.4 for more details on current resource sharing services.

Reference Information Sources

The library maintains a basic print reference collection. Insofar as licenses and costs permit, electronic products subscribed to by the library are offered for use off-site as well as in the library building. The library provides access to the Ohio Web Library (OWL) and its contracted reference databases, many of which are available for use off-site as well. Both OWL and the library, through their respective websites, guide users to selected recommended Internet sites, and the library provides access to the full range of Internet sites permissible under Ohio law.

Collection Maintenance

In order to maintain a collection that is current and relevant to the community’s needs, library staff periodically evaluate the collection as a whole and specific items within it. When deciding what items to withdraw from the collection, staff may consider the material’s condition, frequency of use, timeliness, and accuracy, among other factors. The library may offer withdrawn materials to the library Friends group or other groups or organizations who purpose is consistent with, or furthers, the library’s mission. These groups may resell these materials, or use them for other purposes consistent with the library’s mission.

Gift Materials Guidelines

Minerva Public Library accepts or rejects donated materials at its discretion as described in Section 1.7. The library evaluates gifts with restrictions, and may choose not to accept them. Donated books and other materials are added to the collection according to the same general criteria applied to all other library materials.

Memorial Gifts

A gift of money for the purchase of materials, including memorial gifts, is a thoughtful way to honor someone’s memory or to honor and acknowledge a special occasion such as a birthday, anniversary or graduation.

The donor may suggest the subject areas or authors to be considered for purchase. Every effort will be made by selectors to choose materials that will both benefit the collection and please the donors. A gift or memorial plate will be placed in the material. Information on a Memorial/Gift Materials Donation Form is required.

All library materials are subject to theft, damage, wear, and lack of use, and the library cannot guarantee that “in memoriam” or gift materials will remain a part of the collection forever. These items will be maintained on the same basis as other items in the collection as described under the heading Collection Maintenance above.