Materials selection policies

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Materials selection policies

Library goals

  1. To develop collections of materials to meet the public’s diverse and ever-changing library needs: for information, research, learning and recreation.
  2. To provide library staff with a policy framework from which to select library materials.
  3. To provide the public with a statement of library policy as a framework for understanding or questioning selection decisions made by library staff.

Responsibility for selection

  1. The Board of Trustees is responsible for selection of materials under NJSA 40:54-12, @Trustees; powers; employees@ “The board shall hold in trust and manage all property of the library. It may … purchase books, pamphlets, documents, papers and other reading matter … make proper rules and regulations for the government of the library.”
  2. The Board of Trustees vest responsibility for selection in the Library Director, within the framework of this policy statement.
  3. The Library Director delegates selection decisions to staff members qualified by reason of education or training. All library materials selected under this procedure shall be held to be selected by the Library Director.
  4. The Library Director and Staff are responsible for encouraging public participation in selection of materials, through means appropriate to the library’s operation.

Statement of scope

This policy covers the selection of:

  • Books
  • Periodicals and newspapers
  • Documents, pamphlets, maps
  • Audio-visual material: records, cassette tapes, etc.
  • Other non-print materials: posters, puzzles, framed art prints, etc.

Criteria for selection

The library is committed to providing materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues of interest to the community. Decisions to include, exclude or remove materials will not be made on the basis of partisan or doctrinal approval or disapproval of the contents of the materials.

Use and usefulness

The primary aim of selection is to identify materials which will be used, and useful. The distinction between what will be used and what will be useful requires the exercise of judgment, based on other criteria following, on the merit, quality, excellence or significance of materials under consideration. For some materials, the question of usefulness relates not to quality or merit, necessarily, but to the personal interests, needs and purposes of the users.

Critical reviews

Reviewing media are selected for objective and informed reviews which will accurately assess the quality of materials and predict their usefulness for this community.

Requested or recommended materials will be considered for selection decisions on the basis of the other criteria in this section.

Public requests through “reserves” are used as a direct measure of the need for duplication of current materials. Public use as measured by circulation records is the main criterion for duplication of older titles for collection development.

Suitability of physical format

Regardless of quality or usefulness of content, materials should be capable of being used and returned in the same condition as when borrowed.

Relation to existing collection and other materials

Selection decisions will be made on the basis of comparison to the existing collection in the subject area of the item under consideration. Materials may be purchased to replace or augment; or may not be purchased, regardless of individual merit, because the existing subject coverage is sufficient to meet community needs.


Materials presenting new information not currently represented in the collection may be purchased even when criteria previously stated, are not met, with the understanding that they will be replaced when better quality and more useful materials in the subject area become available.

Reputation and status of the author

Either high reputation or notoriety may be used as a criterion for selection, particularly in the selection of current materials to meet popular interest. Decisions to exclude materials are not made on the basis of the race, nationality, political, religious, social views or sexual orientation of the author.

Age level

Materials are selected for general audiences or for specific age levels, with the knowledge that no restriction in their use shall be made on the basis of age alone. A separate policy more clearly defines the materials selection policy of the Children’s Department.

Availability in other libraries

When possible or appropriate, requested materials will be borrowed from other libraries in lieu of purchase.

Maintenance and development of the collection

Use: This library is a dynamic community resource, not a static repository. Use is the primary criterion for retention. Standards for retention of popular materials and research materials will differ.
Demand: Titles will be duplicated on the basis of expressed demand and heavy use ofthe subject area. Materials may be withdrawn selectively in subject areas on the basis of overall diminished use in the areas.
Accuracy: When accuracy is critical to the general health and welfare of potential users, it will be the main criterion for retention. When accuracy is non-critical other criteria will also be employed.
Subsequent improved coverage of subject: The Library will continually seek to improve the timeliness, quality, style of presentation and accuracy of information contained in the collections it maintains. Some materials will be replaced or withdrawn regardless of heavy use.
Individual requests for reconsideration: Public or staff may request reconsideration of materials owned by the Library. Criteria for reconsideration shall be the same as for selection and retention. A separate form is available for such a request.

Gift materials

A separate statement (“Gifts and Donations”) states library policy on gifts. The Selection of donated materials for inclusion in the collection is made using the same criteria as selection by purchase. Disposition of all gift materials not used will be at the discretion of the Library Director, or as he/she shall delegate.

Adoption of other policies

As part of the Materials Selection Policy of the Middletown Township Public Library, the following policies are also adopted.

ALA Library Bill of Rights
ALA The Freedom to Read statement
ALA Statement on Labeling
ALA The Freedom to View
NJLA People’s Library Bill of Rights

Children’s book selection

A statement of the philosophy, standards, and the principles which underlie the choice of books and other written materials purchased for the Children’s Room of the Middletown Township Public Library.

The philosophy of the Children’s Department is adequately summarized in the following statement:

“To place principle above personal opinion and reason above prejudice in the selection of materials of the highest quality in order to assure a comprehensive collection appropriate for the users of the library” – from the Book Selection Policy of the New Jersey State Department of Education, Division of the State Library, Archives and History, Public and School Services Bureau.

General Objectives

In selecting books and other library materials for children, the principle objective of the Children’s Department is to make available a collection that satisfies the informational, recreational, and cultural needs of children from infancy through Junior High School. Books are included which meet the general demands of the majority of children along with books whose special qualities make them valuable to children with special needs, talents, problems, or interests.

General Policies

The coordinator of Children’s Services, under the authority assigned by the Director of the library, has the responsibility for the selection of all juvenile materials. She works closely with the Branch librarians whose responsibility is to build and maintain their respective collections.

Principles of Evaluation and Selection

  1. Evaluation criteria used in the selection of materials: (not necessarily listed in order of importance.)
    1. Every book shall contain these elements of quality:
      1. literary merit and artistic worth
      2. permanent or timely value
      3. accuracy and lack of bias
      4. authoritativeness
      5. clear presentation and readability
    2. Books and other materials shall appear in one or more of the recognized reviewing media or approved lists, unless it is possible to examine and evaluate them carefully before purchase.
  2. Factors influencing selections are:
    1. Need to develop a balanced collection
    2. Size of Budget
    3. Reading interests and abilities of the children served in the library
    4. Backgrounds of children and their families served by the library
  3. Gifts of books and other materials are accepted by the Children’s Department with the explicit understanding that they are not necessarily to be added to the collection. The Department uses the same standards in adding gifts to the collection which it applies to book purchase.
  4. Textbooks are purchased only if they provide the only materials on a subject. The Department does not attempt to provide materials in quantity to meet school assignments.

Human Relations

We believe our aim should be to help educate all children to appreciate and understand each other. Books which have any serious discriminatory remarks or attitudes are not purchased. However, books which are of considerable literary merit are recognized as classics in the field are retained even though they may contain a word or phrase which is today unacceptable.

Sex Education

We believe it is the library’s responsibility to provide books for children written in simple, dignified, and a scientific manner on the processes of human physical development and reproduction.


We believe it is the library’s responsibility to provide books for children on the religious beliefs and practices of the world’s religions.

Challenged Material

Procedure when the inclusion or exclusion of any material is questioned by an individual or group as follows:

  1. The critic shall complete the form entitled “A Citizen’s Request for Reconsideration of Library Printed Materials.”
  2. The completed form will be considered by the Coordinator of Children’s Services, the Director of the Library, and the Members of the Library Board. A review of the challenged material will be treated objectively and the best interests of all Library patrons will be given the utmost consideration.
  3. A written reply concerning the Library’s decision will be sent to the citizen whose name appears on the form.

eBook collection development

To meet the public’s diverse and ever-changing need for information, research, learning opportunities and recreational materials, in 2011, the library began acquiring e-books, via content licensing. E-books are a supplemental format to print and audio materials, and as such, the selection criteria for e-books does not depart from the policy for other library materials, as outlined in the Middletown Township Public Library materials Selection Policy. Selection criteria includes reviews from professional journals, currency, publisher, authority of the author, accuracy, price, and appropriateness of the format to the intended audience.

Since this shall be a start-up collection in 2011, there will be some development of core collection of reading list titles for students, and classics of literature that are popular with readers today. In addition, the library will add e-books for readers for all ages, when age appropriate materials are available, and will focus on popular titles that are current/in demand and/or that have local interest to the community. Demand will be a strong driver in the selection of titles for inclusion – titles will be selected or duplicated on the basis of requests, holds and past borrowing experience of the library for works by titles, author or subject area The library will purchase series titles where there is current/in demand interest and will strive to buy all items in a series whenever possible and affordable.

Borrowers of e-books shall be advised that the use of e-content may not be protected by NJ Library Confidentiality Law, NJA 18A:73-43.1.

eBooks disclaimer

The e-books borrowed in Kindle format are provided by Amazon through the Middletown Township Public Library’s vendor, OverDrive. Consequently, Amazon is able to collect information on borrowing transactions information which it could conceivably put to its own use, information which the Middletown Township Public Library does not normally share. Thus, customers borrowing Kindle e-books have a direct relationship with Amazon and enter into an agreement with them by creating an Amazon account. This may result in some lack of usual control over borrower’s information, a situation beyond the library’s capability to amend. However, the loosening of any confidentiality which results from the Middletown Township Public Library’s lack of control over the interactions between the customer and Amazon does not reflect the library’s decision to treat this data any differently from that of other borrowing transactions. The library will continue to treat borrower information with the highest standard of confidentiality permitted by law.

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