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Collections Policies

Policy: The Washington County Free Library acquires and makes available materials which inform, educate, entertain and enrich persons as individuals and as members of society. Since no library can possibly acquire all print and non-print materials, every library must of necessity employ a policy of selectivity in acquisitions. The Library provides, within its financial limitations, a general collection of reliable materials embracing broad areas of knowledge.Included are works of enduring value and timely materials on current issues. Within the framework of these broad objectives, selection is based on community needs, both those expressed and those inferred from the study of community demographics and evidence of areas of interest.

The Library’s mission is not to underwrite curriculum.Textbooks are acquired if they serve the general public by providing the best source of information on a given subject. However, the Library wishes to partner with local schools in providing sources and information to meet homework needs.  In selecting materials for the collection, librarians will consider general educational, commercial, cultural and civic enterprises of individuals and organizations within the community. Choice of library materials by a customer for personal use is an individual matter. Any customer is free to reject materials for his/her own use if that customer does not personally approve of them.

These policy statements govern the selection of the Washington County Free Library System's collection of materials. They may be subject to revision as changes occur in the needs of the community, in the emphasis of the Library's objectives or its organization and procedures.

Library materials are selected, organized, and made accessible in order to anticipate and meet the needs of the community the Library serves. The Library recognizes the importance of materials of permanent value and timely materials on current issues. Materials are purchased in whatever format best suits the users' needs.  As technology is developed, these formats may change.

Authority: The Washington County Free Library; The American Library Association; The American Library Association Library Bill of Rights; The Freedom to Read Statement, Book Selection Policy


Responsibility for the Selection of Library Materials

Final responsibility for selection lies with the Board of Library Trustees.  However, the Board delegates to the Director authority to interpret and guide the application of the policy in making day-to-day selections. The Director will authorize other staff to apply this policy in building collections.Unusual problems will be referred to the Director and in exceptional cases the Director will present comprehensive information to the Board.


Criteria for Selection:

No item in a library collection can be indisputably accepted or rejected by any established guide or standard. However, certain basic principles can be applied as guidelines.  Every item must meet such of the following criteria as are applicable to its inclusion in the collection.

1. The degree of to which the work meets the most broadly based interests of library users.

The first step in selecting any item is to determine how successfully the goals of the work itself are met. Then, materials are evaluated to determine how effectively they address the known and anticipated needs of library users.The majority of library materials acquired are for home use, i.e. to be circulated to borrowers.The interests of these users have a pattern of predictability that allows the selection of material in various formats and across all subject interests.

2. Clarity and accuracy of presentation appropriate to the skills of the user.

The library will include materials that represent subjective opinions of their authors. In that context, "accuracy" cannot be objectively established and is a decision to be made by the user. To meet the interests of the users, the library collections will require a variety of materials at differing skill levels, e.g. for children or for newly literate adults.

3. Relative importance in comparison with other materials on the subject.

Because the library cannot acquire all materials on every subject, selection decisions must be made. Collection development is an art, not a science; a judgment factor based on staff knowledge and skills is a necessary part of the selection.

4. Relationships to existing collections.

The library has extensive factual data on the use of its collections. Assessment of the need for materials is based, in a large part, on this ongoing reporting of interest and use in every subject area. The copy coverage of titles selected will reflect the expected use; but multiple copy buying will not be allowed to the exclusion of subject coverage in areas with lesser demands than the most highly popular titles.

5. Reputation of the publisher or producer; authority and significance of the author, composer, filmmaker, etc.

Staff knowledge and skill are essential factors in the selection process; the library recognizes prominent individuals in some fields or areas of study whose expertise or reputation are contributing factors in selecting some materials.


Guidelines for Selection

Materials are evaluated as a whole and not on the basis of a particular section or sections. A work will not be excluded from the Library's collection because it presents an honest aspect of life or because of frankness of expression.

While a single standard cannot be applied to each potential item for selection, materials are judged by appropriate criteria. In some instances, these criteria include artistic merit, scholarship, or the value of the material to the informational needs of the community. Purchase requests from patrons are given serious consideration.

1. Availability and suitability of format. The closed-captioned format for dvds will be selected when this is available. 
2. Suitability of subject, style, and reading/viewing level for the intended audience.
3. Critics' and staff's reviews.
4. Reputation of the publisher or producer; authority and significance of the author, composer, filmmaker, etc.
5. Timeliness or permanence of the material.
6. Quality of writing, design, illustrations, or production.
7. Relevance to community needs.
8. Relative importance in comparison with existing materials in the collection on the same subject.
9. Price.
10. Significant customer demand for item or material.
11. Appearance of title in special bibliographies or indexes.
12. Availability of materials elsewhere (state).
13. Scarcity of material on the subject.

Any customer is free to reject materials for his/her own use if that customer does not personally approve of them.


Visual Media Selection:

The library attempts to have a visual media collection consisting of movie classics, general family films, feature films, popular entertainment, children’s films, educational and how-to, and major movie award winners. Selection of visual media is influenced by:

1. Media favorably reviewed by reputable, nationally recognized critics and popular review.
2. Media of current/patron interest
3. Media that are literary adaptations.
4. Media of great cultural significance or considerable cult status.
5. Media included in the National Film Registry.
6. Media included or nominated for nationally recognized awards and festivals.
7. Price.
8. Relevance of media to community needs.
9. Popularity of title as construed by box office reciepts.
10. To fill library sponsored programming needs.


DVD selection criteria for Library-sponsored film programs: 

These materials should fall within the parameters of the selection policy for the collection .  Only materials covered by paid viewing rights for public performance will be shown, in accordance with state, federal and international laws regarding copyright and intellectual property.  Materials that do not fall under the jurisdiction of such paid rights will not be shown without express release or permission from the creator(s) of the materials in question. A library staff member or volunteer should be present at all times during the library-sponsored viewing.


Standard Selection Tools

Because it is impractical for staff members to read, listen to, or view every item added to the collection, professionally recognized reviewing tools are used in the selection process.

Titles not included in these selection tools are considered on a title-by-title basis by the library's selection staff using guidelines 1 - 10 above.


Replacement of Library Materials

A replacement is an item purchased to take the place of that same title previously in the collection. It is the Library's policy not to automatically replace all materials withdrawn because of loss, damage, or wear. The need for replacement in each case is judged by these factors:

1. Existence of adequate coverage of the subject area, especially if more current material is available.
2. Demand for the specific title.
3. Appearance of the title in standard selection tools and bibliographies.


Materials Preservation

Certain materials of long-term value and/or usefulness may be preserved through binding, microforming, digitizing or other techniques.



Duplicate copies of certain titles are appropriate in cases of consistently heavy demand. Duplication should not occur to such a degree, however, that it adversely affects the breadth or scope of the Library's collection.



Materials representing various points of view are acquired by the Washington County Free Library System. Works normally are not excluded because of language or explicit text or illustrations if they meet the criteria stated in the Library's Materials Selection Policy. 

The choice of library materials by a customer for personal use is an individual matter. Any customer is free to reject materials for his/her own use if that customer does not personally approve of them, however he/she cannot restrict access to materials by others. The Library does not remove materials because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval. The Library cosiders requests for inclusion of materials based on The Materials Selection Policy. 

Procedure: The Library will consider removal or inclusion of materials at the request of a registered borrower of the Washington County Free Library System. The following steps are taken for reconsideration of library materals.

  1. All objections and complaints are handled in an attentive and consistent manner.
  2. Staff are to be courteous and if necessaru may refer the patron to the Librarian in Charge, the Collection Development Librarian, or Administration.
  3. Those wishing a formal reconsideration of library materials should complete "The Request for Review of Library Materials" form (Attachment A). They will be shown a copy of The Materials Selection Policy. (see COLLECTION 001)
  4. The reconsideration form is then submitted to the Director with a copy of the material in question.
  5. After evaluation, the Director will make a devision concerning the material. This process will result in maintaining the current status, a change in location, or removal of the material.
  6. A letter will be written to the compaintant explaining the Library's decision concerning the material.
  7. Complainys may appeal in writing the Library's deciion to include or exclude material from the collection to the Library Boar of Trustees. 

Authority: Washington County Board of Trustees, The Materials Selection Policy, The Library Bill of Rights, The American Library Association's Freedom to Read Statement and Freedom to View Statement