Materials Selection Policy
This Materials Selection Policy serves to articulate the principles and criteria that guide the Canton Public Library staff in selection and withdrawal of library materials and to inform the public about those standards.
GOAL OF MATERIALS SELECTION
No library can reasonably acquire all published materials, nor can it keep all purchased materials indefinitely. This policy is in place to guide library staff in the selection and deselection of library materials within the financial and physical space constraints of the library.
The Canton Public Library’s collection is developed to meet the needs and interests of citizens of all ages who live in or pay taxes in the town of Canton, Connecticut.
As described in the Cooperation With Other Libraries policy, the Canton Public Library is able to obtain materials from other libraries through the Library Connection consortium and the State of Connecticut borrowIT and interlibrary loan programs. This extends the scope of the library collection through these shared resources; however, the Canton Public Library and its staff have no say in the collection development policies of other libraries.
RESPONSIBILITY FOR SELECTION
The responsibility for selecting materials for purchase and withdrawal is delegated by the Library Board of Trustees to the Library Director and, under their supervision, to other staff members who are qualified for this activity by reason of training in the principles and practices of materials selection; experience; or subject area expertise.
Some of the Library’s digital content is provided via third-party vendors. These vendors, not library staff, use their own criteria to determine the specific titles and resources available through these services. The Library also participates in a shared collection of electronic books and other materials. Materials selection for this resource is cooperative and serves the needs of the residents of over 30 Connecticut towns.
SOURCES FOR SELECTION
Reviews in library and publishing industry journals are primary sources for materials selection. Reputable bibliographies, booklists by recognized authorities, and the advice of competent individuals and/or entities in specific subject areas also are used. The Library also considers suggestions from library staff and the general public. Special consideration is given to books and audiovisual items created by local authors or pertaining to local history in keeping with the Collection and Usage Policy of the Margaret H. “Peg” Perry Local History Room.
CRITERIA FOR SELECTION
Library materials are diverse in topic, format, and other considerations. Each type of item must be considered in terms of its own merit and the audience for whom it is intended. No single set of selection criteria can be applied to all cases. Works of fiction are judged by different standards than nonfiction/informational works; in selecting fiction, it is the Library’s goal to provide items which meet the needs of users of varied backgrounds, interests, and reading abilities.
In general, the selection of books and other materials for all ages will take many factors into account, including but not limited to the following:
- Currency and accuracy
- Authority, expertise, or reputation of the author/artist
- Clarity, presentation, readability/sound quality/visual quality
- Suitability of the physical format for library use
- Relevance to the existing collection and historic circulation data
- Relevance to the experiences and contributions of diverse populations
- Value based on literary or scholarly excellence and other inherent qualities considered without regard to popular demand
- Anticipated demand
- Critical reviews and publicity
- Budgetary considerations and physical limitations of the library building
- Availability from other sources in the area
- Special needs of library patrons for materials in accessible formats
It is the Library’s goal to build a balanced collection comprising materials of popular interest as well as materials of permanent worth. Anticipated popular demand is a significant basis for selection. Conversely, many great works of scholarship and literature are keystones of modern knowledge and culture but may not necessarily be high demand items. The Library will select popular-demand items as well as materials of permanent value, regardless of whether or not they will be widely used.
Purchase requests from library users are welcome. These requests are considered using the same criteria as above. The Library will make every effort to obtain items that do not meet our selection criteria via Interlibrary Loan.
MATERIALS FOR TEENS AND CHILDREN
As a rule, the Children’s Room collection contains materials best suited to the abilities and interests of library users from birth through approximately Grade 6, while teen materials are those best suited to the abilities and interests of library users from approximately Grades 7 to12. Library materials for teens and children will be selected by professional staff who specialize in youth library services with the same care and judgment, and following the same criteria, as materials for adults.
In serving children of school age, the Library’s role is to provide supplementary materials to enrich the resources available to them and their teachers through the educational system. Textbooks will not be purchased unless they constitute the best available source of information on a subject. The purchase of multiple copies must consider the usefulness of the items for general library purposes.
CHOICE OF LIBRARY MATERIALS BY MINORS
The Library recognizes the role of the parents or legal guardians in supervising the borrowing choices made by their minor children.
The library staff and trustees are charged with the responsibility of providing free and equal access to library materials and services to all people. Moreover, it is impossible for them to know or predict the opinions of parents and guardians regarding the specific borrowing selections made by minor children.
Therefore, it is the policy of the Canton Public Library that parents and guardians, not the library staff or trustees, are responsible for monitoring and approving the borrowing of materials by their minor children. Only parents or guardians may restrict their own children from borrowing specific library materials. Parents or guardians who wish their children not to have access to certain materials should accompany or otherwise inform their children. The library staff and trustees cannot and do not act in loco parentis.
The selection of materials for the community as a whole cannot be restricted by the possibility that specific items could come to the attention of minors. Many items not suitable for children are appropriate and can be in demand by older readers.
The Library accepts gifts of books and other materials without commitment as to final disposition. It assumes unconditional ownership of all items donated and retains the right to use gifts, give them to the Friends of the Canton Public Library to sell, or otherwise dispose of them as it sees fit.
Gift items must meet the same selection criteria as do purchased materials. Materials in poor physical condition or containing out-of-date or inaccurate information will not be accepted. Duplicate copies of items already in the collection will be added only if needed. Gift materials will not be accepted with restrictions or conditions that necessitate special and separate housing, processing, or treatment. The only form of donor or memorial identification will be a gift plate.
Special consideration is given to items being donated for archival purposes in the Local History Room. Please refer to the Local History Room Collection and Usage Policy for details.
The Library cannot appraise gifts for tax purposes, but it will provide a donor with a statement verifying the number and type of materials donated and accepted, upon request. Appraisals are the responsibility of the donor.
Maintaining a well-rounded, vital collection necessitates not only purchasing new items, but also weeding ones that no longer meet selection criteria. Materials are regularly assessed for their condition, currency, circulation, relevance, and accuracy following standard professional guidelines. Qualified, trained staff evaluate the collection on a continuous and systematic basis in order to identify materials that should be withdrawn.
Materials withdrawn from the library collection may be offered to the Friends of the Library for their used book sales; offered to other community organizations; recycled; or disposed of, as appropriate.
BALANCE AND NEUTRALITY
Public libraries have a responsibility to provide materials presenting diverse points of view on the problems and issues of our time. It must be understood, therefore, that ownership of specific materials does not constitute an endorsement by the library of the ideas or viewpoints expressed within those materials, nor does the failure to purchase an item imply the library’s disapproval of these ideas. Library materials will not be marked in such a way as to indicate approval or disapproval of viewpoint and/or content. Items are not separated from the general collection except for the purpose of protecting them from damage or theft. In all cases, the quality of resources will be judged on the content as a whole, not by detached excerpts.
REQUESTS FOR RECONSIDERATION OF LIBRARY MATERIALS
Formal complaints about items included in the collection must be made in writing on the form provided by the library. The form must be filled out by a Canton resident or taxpayer.
Written requests for reconsideration of items will be directed to the attention of the Library Director, who will review the item at issue and perform such other investigation as they deem necessary, and respond in writing to the complainant within three weeks of receipt. The Library Director will report on the request for reconsideration at the next scheduled meeting of the Library Board of Trustees. The Library Board will review the request for reconsideration and will determine whether any action will be taken. The Board will file notice of its decision to the individual who made the request for reconsideration. The decision of the Library Board of Trustees is final.
A copy of the Request for Reconsideration form will be shared with the American Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee and the Connecticut Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee. Completed forms are also considered public record and, as such, are subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
As part of this Materials Selection Policy, the Canton Public Library subscribes to the Library Bill of Rights, the Intellectual Freedom Statement, and the Freedom to Read Statement adopted by the American Library Association.
Adopted by the Library Board of Trustees, October 14, 2009
Revised by the Library Board of Trustees, February 9, 2022