Materials Selection Policy


The mission of the Canton Public Library is to be a community information center that employs trained staff and offers a variety of collections, services, programs, and equipment to which Canton residents of all ages can turn for support of lifelong reading, learning, and personal enrichment.  In fulfilling that mission, the library seeks to build and maintain a collection of materials that meets the informational, cultural, and leisure-time needs and interests of the entire community.  The collection is developed for use by borrowers ranging in age from preschool to maturity.

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.


This Materials Selection Policy serves as a guide for authorized personnel in the selection and withdrawal of library materials.  It also serves to inform the public as to the criteria upon which library materials are selected and withdrawn. 


The responsibility for selecting materials for purchase and withdrawal is delegated by the Library Board of Trustees to the Library Director and, under his/her supervision, to other staff members who are qualified for this activity by reason of training and/or experience.


Reviews in library and publishing industry periodicals 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.  Suggestions from library staff and the general public are considered, as well.  Special consideration is given to books and audiovisual items created by local authors.


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. 

In general, the selection of books and other materials for all ages will take into account the following criteria: timeliness, accuracy, clarity, presentation, readability/sound quality/visual quality, interest expressed by library staff and/or the general public, value based on literary or scholarly excellence and other inherent qualities considered without regard to popular demand, listing in authoritative bibliographies, budgetary limitations, and availability from other sources in the area.

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.

It is the library’s goal to build a balanced collection comprising materials of popular interest as well as materials of permanent worth.  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.


As a rule, the Children’s Room collection contains materials best suited to the abilities and interests of library users from birth through Grade 6, while teen materials are those best suited to the abilities and interests of library users from Grades 7 to12.  Library materials for teens and children will be selected with the same care and judgment and following the same criteria as are 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 and cannot be purchased solely in response to student demands which the schools should properly be expected to meet.


The role of the parent or legal guardian in supervising the borrowing choices made by a minor child is recognized by this library.

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 selection of materials made by minor children.  It is the parents or guardians – and only these – who may restrict their children – and only their 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, or else they should advise the library staff.  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 adult readers.


An up-to-date, attractive, and reliable collection can be maintained only by purchasing and retaining appropriate materials, and by removing items that are seldom used, damaged, outdated, inaccurate, duplicating, superseded, or otherwise no longer useful.  Therefore, the collection will be evaluated by authorized and qualified staff on a continuous and systematic basis in order to identify materials that should be withdrawn.  Standard titles of permanent value and materials of local significance ordinarily will not be withdrawn even if they meet the above criteria.


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.  

The library cannot give a dollar valuation for gifts of materials, but it will provide a donor with a statement verifying the number and type of materials donated and accepted, upon request.


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.  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.


Formal complaints about items included in the collection must be made in writing on the form provided by the library.  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 he/she deems necessary.  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.

Adopted by the Library Board of Trustees, October 14, 2009

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Canton Public Library • 40 Dyer Avenue • Canton, CT 06019 • 860-693-5800 • Fax 860-693-5804