Collection Development Policy
The purpose of this policy is to assure that the mission, goals, and objectives of the Library are reflected in its collections. In addition, it is intended to:
- Provide documentation of the current policies and procedures by which the Library manages collection development;
- Assure that the policies by which the collections are shaped are clearly stated and understandable to the public, the staff, the Library Board, and other interested parties;
- Provide guidance to the Board, the director, and the staff when encountering challenges to materials in the collection;
- Establish a framework for continuous collection evaluation and improvement.
2.0 Library Principles and Policies
The library’s vision is to establish and maintain, through courteous, qualified staff, accessible facilities, programs and quality services. These services include access to current resources for lifelong learning through general, special, and reference collections; children’s programs; educational and public forums; and technology.
The Mission of the Washington County Public Library is to provide the community with current resources for life-long learning, social exchange, pleasure, and entertainment.
3.0 Selection Process
The Washington County Public Library strives to serve impartially all members of its community, and to achieve excellence in both its collections and in its services. To this end, it maintains a core collection of books and other materials in a variety of formats that is current, balanced, and representative of the interests of the public, including materials that are timely and those that have withstood the test of time. The Library seeks to cooperate with other libraries in the area to provide the broadest possible access to information and to avoid unnecessary duplication of materials.
By necessity, the library’s selection decisions are influenced by budget and space considerations as well as the availability and accessibility of alternative information resources.
The library subscribes to the principles of intellectual freedom as stated in the Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read, and Freedom to View (American Library Association).
Responsibility for Selection
The responsibility for selecting materials for the collection legally rests with the Library Board. The Board has delegated selection to the Library Director and under his/her direction to the professional staff.
4.0 Selection Sources
Whenever possible, purchases are made on the basis of reviews from both professional library review sources and other sources. Selectors will have access to a wide variety of sources for reviews and information about publications. Every effort will be made to select the best literature publishes each year and to anticipate and fulfill community demand.
5.0 Selection Criteria
In general, materials are selected based on value, demand, need, format, and availability. Selections are made on the basis of reviews in recognized reviewing media whenever possible, and patron requests are given serious consideration. An item considered for purchase must be measured against other materials available; including what is already in the collection, to determine what seems wisest in view of needs and funds available. When considering particular titled for inclusion in the collection, critical questions to be considered: Does the title in question support service roles; and is the title most appropriate for the main library, a particular branch, or appropriate for all facilities. Balance is a desired factor, both in types of material and point-of-view.
At least one favorable review is usually necessary for selection. If the first review is not definitive, the selector usually waits for more reviews, or bases the selection decision on some of the other selection criteria.
Recognizing that fiction and nonfiction require selection standards, the following criteria are useful in judging nonfiction and reference materials:
- Authority of author, creator, or sponsoring group
- Significance of subject matter
- Accuracy of information, presentation, subject
- Aesthetic quality of writing, design, illustrations, or production
- Potential or known demand, including repeated Interlibrary Loan requests
- Importance to total collection
- Inclusion in bibliographies and lists
- Availability elsewhere in the community
- Availability and suitability of format
- Appropriate presentation for the interested audience
- Relevant to community needs
- Contemporary or permanent value
- Organization of the contents, including indexes and bibliographies
Fiction materials are judged on the following:
- Literary merit
- Characterization, theme, plot, and setting
- Popular or limited appeal
- Contribution to the value of the Library’s total collection
- Any appropriate non-fiction criteria listed above
Items will not be included in or excluded from the collection because of:
- Race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or views of the author;
- Depictions or descriptions of violence or sexual activity;
- Controversial content;
- Endorsement or disapproval by any individual or community group.
The following are considerations in the selection of audiovisual materials:
- Popular Music: The recreational interest of library users is a primary consideration.
- Classical Music: The quality of the recording as determined from reviews, and the need to adequately represent certain classical genres are important selection issues.
- Audiobooks: The expertise of the reader.
- Feature Films: Recreation is the primary consideration.
- Nonfiction DVDs: Reviews are important to identify quality titles.
The author’s qualifications and previous publications are major factors in selecting both fiction and nonfiction. For audiovisual materials, the expertise of the performer (reader, conductor, actor, director, musicians, etc.) is an important consideration.
The date of publication is not a factor in recreational reading or in titles of literary merit. In the area of informational materials, the publication date must be timely.
Adult fiction titles in considerable demand because of extensive publicity, local interest, author popularity or other factors are usually purchased, even if the title did not receive good reviews. Adult nonfiction titles in demand are also usually purchased, unless there are serious questions about the accuracy of their information or the qualifications of the author.
The library acquires materials in a variety of formats: books in both hardcover and paperback; periodicals and newspapers; compact discs; DVDs; books on CDs; and electronic databases and networks.
The library selects materials in the media most appropriate to their efficient use. In certain circumstances the same work may be acquired in more than one format.
The library continuously reviews and revises the mix of formats it acquires in response to the development of new media and to the demonstrated and perceived needs of its users and demand.
Each title considered for purchase is evaluated in terms of the library’s present holdings. If the library has sufficient titles in a certain area, the selector may not choose to add a new title, even though it has received good reviews. Alternately, the library may buy titles that are of somewhat marginal quality if nothing else is available on the subject.
Local and Recreational Authors
Every effort is made to acquire titles by local authors (Washington County) that are published by mainstream publishers. Titles by local writers that are self-published are not purchased unless there is a compelling reason to do so, such as valuable local content or high local interest.
Price is an important and necessary consideration, not only as a budgetary matter but also in determining the extent to which the items being purchased will add value to the collection. Consideration is also given to the patron, who must pay for items that are lost or damaged beyond repair.
Publishers tend to establish expertise in certain fields and this is taken into consideration in evaluating a title. Some publishers are so well known for their specialties and high quality products that selection decisions may be made on the basis of the publisher. Publishers who produce marginal works are avoided unless a work gets excellent reviews.
Self-published and desktop publishers produce works of varying quality and are seldom reviewed. These items are generally not purchased, unless the subject is in high demand and the books are examined and found to be of merit. Staff may exercise the option of accepting such material from a local or regional author when the item is donated rather than purchased.
Although series are selected on a title by title basis, if the library has purchased previous titles in a series, and those titles have been popular; the selector will usually buy others in the series. Ideally, the library maintains al titles in very popular series, but this ideal is difficult to achieve.
De-selection or “weeding” is the practice of systematically examining and evaluating materials in the
library’s collection to determine if they continue to fit the stated service roles of the library. This includes
materials that are damaged, contain obsolete information, are no longer frequently used, or otherwise do
not provide significant value to the collection and community.
Decisions may be based on the CREW (Continuous Review Evaluation and Weeding) method, and the professional judgment of designated library staff. The Texas State Library developed the CREW Method in 1976, and revised it 2012 to include electronic resources. It provides guidance in weeding for small and medium-sized libraries through a widely-accepted set of standard practices.
Materials that are removed from the collection are offered to the Friends of the Library for their book sales. In some cases, materials are used with one or more outreach programs.
7.0 Gifts and Donations
The Washington County Public Library accepts donations of material from patrons. The Library reserves the right to incorporate donated materials into its collection, to sell them in the Friends of the Library book sale, or to dispose of them as the staff see fit. The Library will not accept donations if the donor places restrictions on the disposition of the material. The Library cannot place a monetary value on donated materials, as it is an interested party in the transaction. When a donor requests it, a receipt noting the number of materials accepted is given.
Gifts must meet the same standards for inclusion in the collection as items that are purchased. Materials such as old textbooks and Reader’s Digest Condensed books are not accepted.
Donations of back issues of periodicals are not normally accepted by the Library, although exceptions may be made for titles for which the Library has specific need. Periodicals may be accepted for the book sale if the Friends Coordinator determines that there is a good market for the title being offered. National Geographic magazines are not accepted for either the Library or for book sales.
Free materials, such as newsletters, will be accepted under the same conditions as other gifts and donations, but the Library will not accept multiple copies of brochures, realtor lists, sales lists or other materials intended for distribution to the public.
- The Library encourages unrestricted monetary gifts to allow for the greatest flexibility in supporting the Library.
- Donors can recommend a type of material, their area of subject interest, and a preferred library branch location.
- Recommendations for purchasing specific titles are discouraged and the Library reserves the right to decline such monetary donations.
- All monetary donations will be acknowledged by the Library.
- Income from endowments and trust funds that permit the purchase of materials, such as the Davenport Endowment, will be used for the types of materials agreed upon by the Library and the donors.
Memorials and Other Special Donations
A memorial is created when money is donated to add one or more books or other materials to the collection, usually in memory or in honor of an individual or group. The following guidelines apply:
- The Library reserves the right to make the final decision regarding all materials.
- Materials may be purchased “In Memory of”, “In Celebration of” and “In Honor of”.
- A form should be completed for each memorial or other special donation.
- A separate fund will be set up when a group of materials will be purchased in memory of an individual.
- Gift plates, identification plaques or other appropriate recognition identifying the donor or person being honored may be displayed in items purchased from gift funds, upon request.
8.0 Request for Reconsideration
The purpose of this policy is to provide a process for guests to voice their concerns about materials in the collection or programs that they may find objectionable or inappropriate.
Washington County Public Library welcomes comments and suggestions regarding the continued appropriateness of materials in the collection or programs offered by the library. It is the obligation of any public library to offer differing points of view on any topic. WCPL does not promulgate particular beliefs or views, nor does the selection of an item express or imply endorsement of the viewpoint of the author. Library materials shall not be marked or identified to indicate approval or disapproval of the contents, nor will items be sequestered, except for the purpose of protecting them from damage or theft.
A formal, written request for reconsideration of materials/programs may be submitted to the Library Director. Copies of the “Request for Reconsideration of Materials/Programs” form are available at each branch library or from the administrative office.
For a request for reconsideration to be considered, the “Request for Reconsideration of Materials/Programs” form must be completed in full. The guest submitting the request must hold a valid WCPL library card. After consulting with the Reconsideration Committee, the Library Director will respond, in writing (either by email or regular mail) within thirty days of receipt, to the guest’s request for reconsideration. The response will indicate the action to be taken and reasons for or against the request.
The decision of the Library Director may be appealed by writing to the Washington County Public Library Board of Trustees. The Board will consider an appeal at their next regularly scheduled Board meeting to which the guest will be invited to share his/her views and concerns. The decision of the Board will be final.
The Washington County Public Library is not a judicial body. Laws governing obscenity, subversive materials, and other questionable matters are subject to interpretation by the courts. Therefore, no challenged material will be removed solely for the complaint of obscenity or any other category covered by law until after a local court of competent jurisdiction has ruled against the material.
Endorsements by the Library Board of Trustees
The Washington County Public Library Board of Trustees endorses the following statements of the American Library Association. The statements are contained in Appendix A of the Library’s policy manual.
- Code of Ethics of the ALA (endorsed 4/25/2023)
- Freedom to Read (endorsed 4/25/2023)
- Freedom to View (endorsed 4/25/2023)
- Library Bill of Rights (endorsed 4/25/2023)
- Policy on Confidentiality of Library Records (endorsed 4/25/2023)
- Diversity in Collection Development: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (endorsed 4/25/2023)
APPROVED BY THE WASHINGTON COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY BOARD OF TRUSTEES ON: August 26, 2008; revised 4/25/2023