Collection Development

Collection Development

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 building is large enough to permit the purchase of every worthy resource, 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.

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 access to legally obtainable materials, and policies should not exclude access to 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. 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.
  • An author or work’s endorsement or disapproval by any individual or community group.

Responsibility to the Community

The St. Clairsville 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 ages, 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 the principles 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 (see below).

Responsibility for Selection

The policies and mandates of the Board 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.

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 material that promotes continuing, independent learning, and makes an effort to provide some 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 in sufficient quantity to meet the assigned demands of local institutions, schools and colleges, or non-library reading groups.

Non-print Materials

Non-print materials should be an integral part of the collection, and within limits of usefulness.  Items are selected to meet the needs of the community.  Due to the cost of these materials, the budget can only strive to meet the state standards through the purchase of a limited selection.

  • No fee will be charged for use.
  • Book drop returns are accepted, but prefer that items be returned to the desk.
  • Each borrower is responsible for the use of material, including adherence to any copyright restrictions.  The library is in no way responsible for patron misuse.
  • The library is not responsible for damage to personal equipment from library items.
  • Censorship for using the collection lies with the individual, parent or legal guardian. Movies that are rated R will not be checked out on a juvenile card without advanced parental permission given on their library card.

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, use, timeliness, and accuracy, among other factors. The Director may sell or dispose of materials that staff have determined are no longer useful. When withdrawn materials cannot be readily or practicably sold by the library, it may offer withdrawn materials to the library Friends Group or other groups or organizations whose 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.

Request for Purchase

The library serves a diverse public, and, on occasion, a patron may think that the library should add a particular title to the collection.  Patrons may request the addition of a title by contacting library staff in person, and most requests are handled in this manner.  However, if a patron wishes, the request may be handled more formally by using the Item Suggestion Form.  Forms are available at the front desk or on the library’s website.  The completed form will be referred to the staff member responsible for selecting in that area of the library’s collection, and the patron will be contacted about the library’s decision.

Request for Reconsideration

It is the duty of the Library to keep on its shelves a selection of items in various formats in all subjects of interest to its readers and users and not prohibited by law, including items on all sides of controversial questions.  The Library has no right to emphasize one subject at the expense of another.  Rejection of an item by an individual or a group should not be the means of denying that item to all individuals or groups.  Censorship should primarily be an individual and personal matter, and while anyone is free to reject a title for himself, he cannot exercise this right for another reader.

The library serves a diverse public, and, on occasion, a patron may believe that a specific title or source should not be in the collection.  In this instance, the patron should first discuss his or her concerns about the material with the library staff.  If, following the discussion, the patron still wishes the library to reconsider the title or source, he or she must fill out a “Request for Reconsideration of Material” form. Forms are available at the library service desks.  Because items are evaluated as a whole, a title will not be reconsidered unless the patron making the request has read/viewed/heard the entire item.  A reconsideration form submitted without the name of the person making the objection will not be considered.  Also, if the material has been previously reconsidered, it will not be reconsidered again unless the more recent request is based on substantially different reasons than an earlier request.

The request will be referred to the Director for review. The patron will be informed in writing of (1) the receipt of the request and (2) the decision. If the patron is not satisfied with the decision, he or she may appeal in writing to the Board of Trustees.  The letter should be addressed to “President, Board of Trustees, St. Clairsville Public Library, 108 W. Main Street, St. Clairsville, OH 43950.  The Board will make a decision and inform the patron in writing, usually following the next regularly scheduled Board meeting.

The title under consideration will remain in the collection throughout the process to support the freedom of other patrons to read, view, or listen.