Avondale Public Library’s collection development policy represents the basic guidelines upon which the library’s collection is built. It was written by staff members using state and national standards, and is reviewed periodically and updated as necessary. It is available to anyone who may have an interest in knowing the philosophy which governs the library’s materials selection.
The purpose of this policy is to guide librarians in the selection of materials of contemporary significance and of permanent value and to inform the public about the principles upon which selection are made. Its primary objective, as it fulfills the library mission statement, is to ensure the library can provide the community with relevant materials in sufficient supply to make the library a dependable resource for most people most of the time.
- To select and purchase materials, within our financial ability, which will achieve a balance between materials of contemporary interest and permanent value and which will reflect differing points of view.
- To serve the community as a center of timely, accurate, and useful information.
- To provide an environment where citizens may encounter all types of ideas that are the basis of a free society.
- To select and provide easy access to materials, which will help meet the educational, informational, and recreational needs of all the people served by the library.
- In as much as the community is constantly changing, the library will continue to study the characteristics of its users. It will select materials suitable in form, subject content, and style to meet the present and future needs of the community.
Basic to this policy is the Freedom to Read Statement and Library Bill of Rights, as adopted by the American Library Association. This states, in part, “In no case should any book be excluded because of the race or nationality or the political or religious views of the writer. There should be the fullest practicable provision of material presenting all points of view concerning the problems and issues of our times – international, national and local; and books or other reading material of sound factual authority should not be proscribed or removed from library shelves because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval”. The aim of the library is to provide the public with the materials needed for general reading, reference and recreation.
Criteria for Selection
Certain factors influence the selection of library materials. All acquisitions, whether purchased or donated, will be judged in terms of the following standards:
- Patron interest
- The author’s reputation and significance as a writer
- The importance of subject matter to the collection
- Timeliness or permanence of the book
- Inclusion in standard bibliographies or indexes - - Journal reviews in Booklist, Library Journal, School Library Journal, American Libraries, and Horn Book
- Suitability of physical form for library use, as well as type and legibility
Using criteria listed above, materials are reviewed in professional library journals and recommended for purchase by professional staff. The final responsibility for selection of library materials lies with the Library Manager.
Selection Policies by Type of Material
The nonfiction collection is selected to support the needs, interests, and demands of the community. Materials are selected to support both current interest and permanent need. Books are selected across subject areas based on general demand. The levels of difficulty of materials are selected for the general public. Textbooks or extremely academic materials are not selected. Within subject areas with controversial topics or varying viewpoints, each side will be represented as fairly and factually as possible. Nonfiction is normally selected from review sources unless justification can be made for its purchase without such a review. Whenever there is enough demand or interest in a title or subject, an item with unfavorable reviews may be purchased. Patron requests for materials on popular subjects will be heavily considered.
In selecting fiction the existence of a variety of types of novels and the need to satisfy readers of differing tastes, interests, purposes and reading abilities are recognized. The library’s collection, therefore, includes representative novels of the past and present, notable for library quality and cultural value; historical and regional novels; novels related to the fields of art, industry, science, social problems, and the professions; satire, fantasy and humor; inspirational, mystery and suspense, science fiction, westerns and other adventure stories and romances. Patron interests and requests will factor in heavily in the selection of fiction. In the case of best sellers from the various best seller lists and other popular reading materials, demand will take precedence over all other selection criteria and titles will be purchased as demand dictates whether or not materials meet the library’s other selection criteria.
The selection of media, including DVDs, music CDs, and audiobooks, will follow the same general criteria as for print materials. Popularity and customer interest will be the prime factor driving selection, coupled with price and expected longevity. Materials which are extremely liable to theft or mutilation will be purchased at the selector’s discretion, and may not be replaced if lost or damaged.
Book Selection for Children
Materials for children are selected specifically for different ages, interests and development levels. Books, magazines, electronic resources and audiovisual materials should be made available to give children immediate reading pleasure; satisfy their curiosity and desire for information on all subjects; and encourage a love of reading through this satisfaction and enjoyment as well as a feeling of security in the knowledge that there are sources to which they can go for information and pleasure.
Selection is made by the same standards which apply to adult materials with these additional criteria applied:
- Suitability of content and vocabulary to age level
- Quality of visual art
- Contribution to an appreciation of reading
Well-written books of imaginative fiction and those which authentically portray a period, incident or way of life are selected despite the occasional use of an unacceptable word or illustration, provided the total impact of the book meets other basic criteria.
Parents or legal guardians have the responsibility of selecting reading materials that their children may borrow.
Book Selection for Young Adults
Young adult literature is chosen according to the basic collection criteria. However, recognizing the unique requirements of this age group, additional criteria to be considered are as follows:
- Inclusion of a wide range of subjects to meet the recreational reading interests of young adults
- Recognition that 12 to 18 year olds have many reading levels
- Selection of materials which encourage continued reading and which broaden the experiences of young adults
- Portrayal of people of all ages honestly
- Recognition of special characteristics of the teenage years: awareness of self, uncertainty and idealism often covered by aggression; need for a “hero” image and the close relationship with a peer group coupled with the need to conform to that group; breaking away from the family unit; uncertainty about the future while beginning to evaluate his or her own set of beliefs; sudden changes of interests, ideas, values and attitudes; and a desire to accept responsibility while striving for adult maturity.
When Library Material is Challenged
The choice of library materials by users is an individual matter. Parents and legal guardians are responsible for the materials their children borrow. While a person may reject materials for himself or for his children, he cannot exercise censorship to restrict access to the materials by others.
The Avondale Public Library supports freedom and endorses the “Freedom to Read” ALA intellectual freedom statement. Citizens wishing reconsideration of library materials must complete the “Statement of Concern about Library Resources” in its entirety. Only signed complaints will be considered. The form is available at the circulation desk. A committee of two library staff members and the Library Advisory Board will read and review the library material to ascertain whether the library material meets the standards set forth in the book selection policy, and to make a written recommendation to the library director as to the validity of the complaint.
The library manager, after reviewing the recommendation of the committee, decides whether the library material remains on the shelf or is removed and notifies the patron of said decision.
A copy of the complaint form will be mailed to ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee.
Replacement of Materials
The library will not automatically replace all materials withdrawn because of loss, damage, or wear. Decisions will be based on the following considerations:
- Demand for the specific title
- Number of copies held
- Availability of newer and better materials on the subject
- Available funding
The Avondale Public Library recognizes the need to continuously evaluate its collections in response to the changing nature and needs of its community, through the weeding (i.e., removal from the collection), replacement, and duplication of its titles. Weeding is a necessary function of selection because it systematically eliminates outdated materials, titles which are no longer of interest or in demand, unnecessary duplicates, and worn or mutilated copies.
Gifts and donations made to the library will be integrated into the collection following the same criteria used for selection. Any donations not used in the collection may be given to other organizations, sold or recycled.
Donated copies of books written by local authors are accepted at the library; however inclusion within the library collection will be determined by library staff following general selection criteria. Local books will not be considered for purchase unless they are available through our vendor.
Recognizing that the technological age is initiating a revolution in information access and distribution, Avondale Public Library will acquire various resource materials in various formats, as dictated through demand and price.