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Material Selection and Collection Development Policy

Last Updated Date
Policy Type
Policy Audience

This policy has been adopted by the Bloomington Public Library to guide collection decisions and to make information about the library collection available to library staff and customers.  The Material Selection Policy is approved and endorsed as the official policy of the Bloomington Public Library and the Board of Trustees and is reviewed biennially.

  1. Mission

The primary objective is to select material that supports the Library’s mission statement. 

We provide our diverse community with a helpful and welcoming place that offers equal access to the world of ideas and information and supports lifelong learning. 

  1. Responsibility for Selection

Authority and responsibility for selecting library material is delegated to the Library Director by the Library Board of Trustees and is, in turn, delegated to the librarians on staff.  Any material so selected shall be held to be selected by the Board of Trustees. 

The Bloomington Public Library Board of Trustees endorses and accepts as part of the Materials Selection Policy the following documents:

  • Library Bill of Rights*
  • Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials*
  • Access to Digital Information, Services and Networks*
  • Access to Library Resources and Services Regardless of Gender or Sexual Orientation*
  • Challenged Materials*
  • Diversity in Collection Development*
  • Evaluating Library Collections*
  • Expurgation of Library Materials*
  • Free Access to Libraries for Minors*
  • Restricted Access to Library Materials*
  • Labeling and Rating System*
  • Universal Right to Free Expression*
  • Freedom to Read*
  • Freedom to View**

These documents are available on the American Library Association website, www.ALA.org.  

*These documents are promulgated, adopted and interpreted by the American Library Association. 

**This document is adopted by the American Film and Video Association and endorsed by the American Library Association. 

The Library seeks to meet or exceed the IL Standards for Public Libraries for a growing community.  For the population category of 75,000 -99,999, this requires a base of 150,000 items plus 1.75 items per capita or 281,250 items for a population of 75,000. 

  1. Material Selection Process & Considerations

The Library seeks to maintain a current collection with an emphasis on popular materials, but with enough depth to meet the needs of our community. 

The Library is guided by a sense of responsibility to the past, the present, and the future in adding materials that enrich the collections and maintain an overall balance. The library seeks to provide, within its financial limitations, a general collection of materials embracing broad areas of knowledge which meet the following collection development objectives: 

  1. To provide a broadly based collection that supports recreational reading.
  2. To provide resources that increase an individual’s ability to function effectively as a productive member of society by encouraging lifelong learning. 
  3. To provide a collection that is wide ranging and represents multiple viewpoints on various subjects.
  4. To provide a collection that fosters an aesthetic experience, stimulates the imagination and might increase individual creative potential.
  5. To provide materials that meet the customers’ interests and needs in a timely manner.
  6. To provide materials to preschool, elementary school, middle school, and high school age customers to encourage and promote continued use of the library.
  7. To purchase materials in quantities proportionate to levels of demand, the library tries to maintain an appropriate hold ratio (the number of holds on an item before additional copies are purchased).
  8. To practice ongoing collection management using output measures, reports available from the online system, and other data for continuous collection evaluation.
  9. To keep current with technological changes that affect the development of the collection.

The selection of materials requires knowledge of broad subject areas, standard bibliographies, selection tools and review sources, the present development of the collection, and an understanding of the wants and needs of the community.  Reviews in professionally recognized periodicals, standard bibliographies, booklists by recognized authorities (including bestseller lists), and the advice of competent people in specific subject areas may be used. 

It is possible that as technology and formats change, entire collections may be eliminated. 

Selection criteria and purchasing levels vary by area, but in general all materials are selected based on the following guidelines:

  1. Individual merit of each item
  2. Existing library holdings
  3. Suitability to the community
  4. Budget
  5. Popular appeal and customer demand
  6. Critics’ and staff reviews
  7. Timeliness of the material
  8. Availability and suitability of format

Selections will not be made on the basis of any anticipated approval or disapproval, but on the merits of the material in relation to the building of the Library’s collections and in support of its stated mission. Purchase suggestions from customers are welcome and are given serious consideration.  

A library cannot provide all materials that are requested.  Therefore, interlibrary loan is used to obtain from other libraries those materials that are beyond the scope of this library’s collection.

  1. Gifts

A gift to the Library may consist of material or funds for the purchase of material.  In order to be added to the Library’s collections, gift material must meet the same criteria as purchased material.  Gifts not added to the collection will be donated to the Friends of the Library for sale. The Library accepts restricted funds only if the material to be purchased has been jointly approved by the donor and the Library.

Gifts are accepted subject to the following limitations:

1.   The Library retains full and unconditional ownership of all gifts.

2.     The Library makes the final decision on the use, display, housing, access, withdrawal, or other disposition of all gifts.

  1. Areas of the Collection

The collection is organized into three broad areas: Adult, Children’s and Outreach.  Responsibility for the selection of materials for each department is further divided and delegated. Using Section 3 of this policy as their guide, the librarians determine the appropriate parameters, objectives, and criteria for the material selections in their assigned areas.  Collection development paragraphs, written by the librarians/selectors, elaborate the detail of the selection approach for what is purchased for each collection area.  These paragraphs are available upon request. 

Adult Collection

Materials are collected in many formats. Collections are grouped to allow customers to browse and to find items easily using a call number; collections are grouped by format, by genre and/or by topic. 

Selection resources used vary widely, but include professional journals, awards lists and customer requests.

Children’s Collection

Providing current, popular, educational, and notable materials for preschoolers through middle school students as well as for parents, teachers, and others interested in children's literature, the children's collection consists of recreational and informational materials that foster a love of reading.  The library tries to anticipate and to meet the diverse skills and interests of readers at all ages from the preschooler to the beginning reader to the child ready for more advanced resources.

Materials are selected in response to the needs and interests of young people by recognizing their diverse tastes, backgrounds, abilities, and potential. Each item must be individually considered for its intended audience and is evaluated according to previously stated selection criteria with particular attention paid to reading level and age-appropriateness of content.  Children's materials are purchased in a wide variety of formats. As a general rule, the library does not acquire textbooks used in school as these materials are available elsewhere, curriculums are revised every year, and the required textbooks change frequently.

Selection resources vary widely, but include professional journals, awards lists and customer requests.

Outreach

Materials in the Outreach (OTR) collections are available to all library users.  They are housed in and near the OTR Department.  Holdings are listed in the library’s catalog and may be borrowed through the Bookmobile, the Check Out Desk, by placing Holds, and through other OTR services.  Specifically, the OTR collections support the Bookmobile (BKM), Home Delivery, Deposit collections, and Books-By-Mail.

OTR collections tend to contain new, popular items.  The nature of OTR services is to provide popular reading, viewing, and listening materials.  Items from the Main library collections are borrowed to fill customer requests that are outside the realm of OTR’s holdings.  Interlibrary loan is also available to OTR customers.

Items are selected based on reviews in professional resources, circulation of other items by the same author/performer, high initial print runs or large box office takes, and customer requests.

  1. Collection Maintenance

The collection needs continuous evaluation to ensure that the library is fulfilling its mission. Systematic weeding or de-acquisition of library materials is needed in order to maintain a vital, useful and up-to date-collection.  This task takes skill, care, time and knowledge of the materials. Each selector is responsible for ensuring properly maintained collections. Bloomington Public Library follows the CREW (Continuous Review, Evaluation & Weeding) method of weeding and augments it with weeding reports and other reports generated for specific areas.

Most areas of the collection are reviewed annually for de-selection. Items are withdrawn from the collection based on the MUSTIE formula:

M = Misleading or inaccurate

U = Ugly (worn or damaged)

S = Superseded (by a new edition or better book on the subject)

T = Trivial ( of no literary or scientific merit)

I =  Irrelevant to the needs and interests of the community

E = Expeditiously obtained Elsewhere

Because of current space limitations, the Library is forced to withdraw almost as many items as it adds each year. 

Obsolete formats may no longer be purchased and will be withdrawn as technologies and access change.

 Consideration is given to ensure that a core collection of definitive works in a given subject area  are retained regardless of condition or circulation. Worn or damaged items are identified for weeding on a continual basis.  While items are replaced, the library’s policy is not to automatically replace titles discarded, lost, or withdrawn. In each case, the need for replacement is based on the existence of adequate coverage of the subject, the timeliness of the title in question, the demand for the specific title, and the availability of the item.  Important works in poor condition may be repaired, if possible.  

WorldCat, Public Library Catalog, Fiction Catalog, Children’s Catalog and other similar sources are consulted before the last copy of a title in the library is withdrawn. The collection is not, however, archival and is reviewed and revised on an ongoing basis to meet current needs.

Titles in some areas of the collection go Lost Assumed or Missing frequently due to theft or customers keeping them.  A title is replaced up to 3 times.  

Materials which have been withdrawn and are in good condition will be given to the Friends of the Library for its book sale.  No items can be held for or given to individuals for personal use.

Adult Services

Using the CREW Method mentioned above, Adult Services staff weed material from the adult and teen collections in the Main library. 

Each selector follows a monthly weeding schedule to assure that collections are reviewed – shelf by shelf – on a rotating and regular basis. Smaller collections are reviewed each year.  Larger collections (such as Nonfiction) are reviewed every three years.  Reports generated by the integrated library system [SIRSI] support weeding. 

In addition, staff in Circulation and shelvers review items for condition when checking in and when shelving.  Items in poor condition are set aside for immediate review by the selector.

The Illinois Collection, while reviewed, has very limited, if any, deselection.  Items may be offered to the McLean County Historical Museum Library or the Friends of the Bloomington Public Library for special sale.  

Titles remain in the Most Wanted collection for approximately 9 months. If the shelves become crowded, prolific authors may be weeded so that only the most recent title is included. Copies that are removed from the Most Wanted collection are either added to the fiction collection or are removed from the collection altogether based on the condition of the item and demand for the title.  

Statistics from our website (“click throughs”) and from the vendor (number of searches and other statistics) are used to determine if the cost per use is reasonable and viable to renew or cancel the online resource. 

Children’s Services

Books for the youngest customers are reviewed and replaced at least annually and often more frequently because of their heavy use.  Picture book and beginning reader titles may be replaced many times over the years because of condition.  Fiction books for older readers will be evaluated every three years.  Condition, circulation figures, and literary merit are considered.  All fiction titles that have not been checked out in three years may be weeded.

Nonfiction is weeded at least every three years to update information.  Items not checked out in five years may be withdrawn from the collection.

Magazines are weeded once a year in August.  The circulation and condition of the magazines are considered. Magazines that are damaged or lost during the year are not replaced.

The AV collection is evaluated once a year.  Condition, circulation statistics, and literary merit are considered.

Outreach

There are three primary considerations for OTR weeding:

  • Maintain a current, popular collection
  • Condition
  • Shelf space

Many withdrawn OTR items are added to Main’s collections.  Often, OTR items become replacement copies or additional copies in Main’s holdings.  The appropriate selector is notified when there are withdrawn items to review.  So weeding materials out of OTR does not necessarily mean they are no longer available in the library.

  1. Reconsideration of Library Material

The Board of Trustees of Bloomington Public Library recognizes that all individuals have the right to choose which library material they will use.  No one individual, however, has the right to restrict access to library material by others.  No material is automatically removed from the collections because of an objection to it.  Library material will not be marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of the contents, nor will they be sequestered. The Library assures free access to its holdings for all customers who are free to select or reject for themselves any item in the collections. Children are not limited to material in the juvenile collections although juvenile collections are kept together to facilitate use.  Responsibility for material accessed by children and adolescents rests solely with their parents or legal guardians. 

It is an obligation of the public library to reflect within its collection differing points of view.  The Bloomington Public Library does not endorse any particular belief or view nor does the selection of an item indicate an endorsement of any viewpoint.  All circulating material will be made available to the public in the manner that best facilitates access by the public.  Materials are evaluated as complete works and not on the basis of a particular passage or passages.  A work will not be excluded from the library’s collection solely because it represents a particular aspect of life, because of frankness of expression, or because it is controversial.

Bloomington Public Library recognizes that a diverse collection of material may result in some requests for reconsideration. A “Complaint about Library Material” form and a "Request for Reconsideration of Library Material” form are available to all Bloomington Public Library cardholders for comments concerning the presence or absence of any library material.  See Appendix A and B.  Procedures for handling complaints about or requests for reconsideration of library material have been established and approved by the Board of Trustees. 

The Bloomington Public Library Board of Trustees endorses and accepts as part of the Materials Selection Policy the following documents:

  • Library Bill of Rights*
  • Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials*
  • Access to Digital Information, Services and Networks*
  • Access to Library Resources and Services Regardless of Gender or Sexual Orientation*
  • Challenged Materials*
  • Diversity in Collection Development*
  • Evaluating Library Collections*
  • Expurgation of Library Materials*
  • Free Access to Libraries for Minors*
  • Restricted Access to Library Materials*
  • Labeling and Rating Systems*
  • Universal Right to Free Expression*
  • Freedom to Read*
  • Freedom to View**

These documents are available on the American Library Association website, www.ALA.org.

  *These documents are promulgated, adopted and interpreted by the American Library Association.  

**This document is adopted by the American Film and Video Association and endorsed by the American Library Association. 

PROCEDURES:

FORM I, “COMPLAINT ABOUT LIBRARY MATERIAL”

FORM II, “REQUEST FOR RECONSIDERATION OF LIBRARY MATERIAL”

If Bloomington Public Library (BPL) users wish to file a complaint about library material, Form I, “Complaint about Library Material,” should be completed.  This form stays on file with the Department Manager; a copy of the form will be submitted to the Director.  The Department Manager may examine the material, as well as critical reviews of the material. 

If Bloomington and Golden Prairie residents wish to have materials reconsidered (as opposed to filing a complaint without definite action), they may fill out Form II, “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials.”

When Form II is completely filled out and returned to the Library, it will be submitted to the Library Director.  The Director will initiate the review process.  The Director, the appropriate Department Manager and other staff designated by the Director will review the completed form and the material to determine whether the material should remain or be removed from the collection. 

The Director will write a letter to the Bloomington or Golden Prairie resident who initiated the request for reconsideration, outlining the above procedures and announcing the disposition of the material in question.

[PLEASE NOTE: IN LIEU OF FORM I, THE LIBRARY ACCEPTS COMPLAINTS ABOUT LIBRARY MATERIALS VIA EMAIL OR VIA THE LIBRARY COMMENT FORM. FORM II IS AVAILABLE BY CLICKING DOWNLOAD POLICY BELOW.]

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