I worked with a team to create an original collection development policy and critique three existing policies for a fictional library. This was originally written for my Collection Development class in the Fall of 2018.

Outdoorsville is a quaint, small town located in the heart of breathtaking natural area surrounded by verdant mountains. Adjacent to a National Forest and state and local parks, it is a mecca for outdoors activities including hiking, cross country skiing, and mountain biking. Outdoorsville has a population of 7,423 full time residents, of whom 22% are under the age of 18 and 18% are over the age of 65. It has a median home value of $234,000 and a median household income of $58,320. Its residents are well-educated, with 93% high school graduates or higher and 46.9% holding a bachelor’s degree. Despite this, 15% of its residents are in poverty. Outdoorsville has several large employers, including tourism related services, a high tech outdoor equipment manufacturer, and an employee-owned natural food company that is distributed nationally in grocery stores.

Because of its idyllic setting and access to these natural recreation areas, Outdoorsville draws numerous visitors each year who are drawn by these outdoor activities. Year round residents and visitors contribute to a “big city in a small town” environment, with music, arts, a microbrewery, numerous restaurants, multiple festivals, and a strong participatory community. It is proud to frequently make the list of “Best Small Towns” in outlets like U.S. News & World Report, Outdoor Magazine, and Country Living.

Outdoorsville Public Library serves the residents of the town with one main library building and a bookmobile for outreach activities. OPL recently hired a new director who has brought a new vision and energy to the Library. One of the new director’s first initiatives is to review the Library’s policies and procedures. Unfortunately, OPL does not currently have a Collection Development Policy. The director has tasked us to create a new collection development policy for review for adoption by the Board of Directors. To begin, our team looked up collection development policies in similar libraries serving similar communities: Montpelier, VT, Brevard, NC, and Hood River, OR. We critiqued the strengths and weaknesses of each collection development policy. From these policies, we focused on the best elements of each to incorporate them into a new proposal for a collection development policy for Outdoorsville Public Library.

Critique of 3 policies by other libraries

1. Transylvania County Library: Brevard, NC

Collection development policy retrieved from: http://library.transylvaniacounty.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Collection-Development-Poilicy-2012-Approved-Version.pdf

1.1 Strengths:

General Objectives:

  • The Mission Statement is clear and concise as to the role of the library in the community and what the library’s goal is to provide “high quality programming, resources and customer service” that will allow the “community to thrive.”
  • The Purpose of the policy goes into depth about how the Collection Development Policy will help the library achieve the goals set out in the Mission Statement.

    • The phrasing of the policy makes it clear to the reader that the library places great importance on purchasing materials needed for the community, as well as the purchasing of materials desired by the community, insofar as the budget allows.
  • The policy makes clear the planning and responsibility in the purpose statement, mentioning the potential budget constraints, who is ultimately responsible for final selection, and approval of policy framework.

General Collection Policies:

  • The gift policy is fairly concise, making mention of the fact that books and other materials are often given to the library. The policy also mentions that these items are subject to review by staff and if the items are not selected for the collection, they might then be donated to the library’s Friends group.
  • The maintenance of the collection is made reference to in the policy. While there is no set time period for the deselection of materials, it does mention the need to weed items that are in poor condition or have multiple copies.
  • The “Intellectual Freedom Statement” and the “Reconsideration of Materials” sections are very detailed and concise about how the library deals with complaints about materials.
  • Lists the procedure of what happens with a challenged item in a clear timeline so that any patron who challenges an item understands the procedure.

General Priorities:

  • There is a list of how the selection of materials is determined, including:

    • Professional knowledge
    • Judgement of staff
    • Merit
    • Subject
    • Interest
    • Need in a certain area of the collection
  • The policy does mention that the library purchases and shares items within several consortia, such as, NCLIVE and the North Carolina Digital Library. The responsibility of the purchasing of these items is mentioned to have been shared across the libraries.

1.2 Weaknesses:

General Priorities:
  • Format of materials collected is not mentioned, nor is there mention of the type of materials the library does not accept as gifts.
  • No mention of any special collections or preference to materials collected, such as a state or local history collection

Collection Depth:

  • There is no mention of the depth of the collection and subjects collected.
  • The policy does not mention any special areas collected or the forms of items collected, nor is there mention of the selector who is primarily responsible for a certain field within the collection.

2. Kellogg-Hubbard Library: Montpelier, VT

Materials selection policy retrieved from http://kellogghubbard.org/images/pdfs/POLICIES/Materials%20Selection%20Policy%202017.pdf

2.1 Strengths

  • Mission Statement: The policy’s mission statement is clear. It states that it intends to meet “educational, recreational, cultural, and information needs” of its community. It also emphasizes “freedom of expression by representing varied viewpoints.”
  • Collection Depth: The policy states that it has an emphasis on local and Vermont authors.
  • Collection Responsibilities and Selection Procedures: The policy states who is responsible for the selection of materials. In particular, it names the Director of Library Services as the overseer of the selection. It does note that the director uses input from library staff, patrons, and community members. The policy mentions these criteria:

    • reviews from professional journals, websites, popular magazines and newspapers
    • expressed or anticipated patron demand
    • timeliness or permanence of the material
    • quality, accuracy or authenticity of materials
    • inclusion of materials in a special bibliography or index
    • scope and depth of our present collection or the availability of materials at other libraries in the area
    • reputation or authority of the author or publisher
    • format and price of material as well as space available to house it
    • appropriateness to the interests and skills of the intended user
  • Gifts Policy: The policy notes that gifts are reviewed according to the same criteria.
  • Collection Maintenance: The policy notes that the Director of Library Services can remove materials to ensure that the collection is “accurate, useful, current, and in good shape.” It also mentions space considerations when choosing to remove materials.
  • Complaints and Censorship: This is the most detailed and thorough part of the policy. It states that a community member may request a discussion with the Director of Library Services regarding any material. If the discussion doesn’t satisfy the individual, then they can submit a “Request for Reconsideration form.” The Director of Library Services and Executive Director will then review the form and the challenged material, possibly with an ad-hoc advisory committee. If the individual is still not satisfied, then the case can be appealed before the Board of Trustees, which will make a final decision.

2.2 Weaknesses

  • Purpose of the Policy: The policy’s purpose is only states that the policy “articulate[s] collection goals and objectives.” There’s no explanation of how the policy is used.
  • Clientele to be served: The clientele isn’t specific. The policy only mentions “community members.”
  • Gifts Policy: Although gifts are recognized by the policy, it does not address any special concerns for them, other than that they are reviewed according to the regular policy.
  • Collection Maintenance: The policy does not list specific weeding guidelines or anything regarding repair or rebinding.
  • Collection Responsibilities and Selection Procedures: The policy does not mention specific methods for selection.
  • The policy does not address the following George & Ginger guidelines:

    • Kinds of programs or user needs supported.
    • General subject boundaries of the collection.
    • Forms of material collected or excluded.
    • Languages collected or excluded.
    • Chronological periods collected or excluded.
    • Duplication of materials.
    • Funding considerations.
    • Regional, national, or local cooperative collection agreements.
    • Legal, regulatory, or policy requirements of the institution.
    • The library’s collection depth in most areas.

3. Hood River County Library, Hood River, OR

Collection development policy retrieved from https://hoodriverlibrary.org/wp-content/uploads/Collection-development-policy-2014-10-21.pdf.

3.1 Strengths

General Objectives

  • Mission - Although not explicitly defined as its mission statement, the introduction to the collection development policy clearly defines the Library’s goals and mission in regards to its collection. It firmly articulates its belief that it “provide free and convenient access to informational, cultural, educational, and recreational materials” and the need to ensure its collections “remain current and responsive to the needs of its patrons.”

General Priorities

  • Forms of material collected or excluded - The bulk of the policy deals with the specific depth of the collection. It defines what it does collect (materials of varying complexity, periodicals, local historical materials), and what it does not (textbooks, special interest items, curriculum).
  • Languages, geographical areas collected or excluded - A note on collecting in languages commonly spoken at home by its patrons both is easily identified but allows for change as the community demographics change.
  • Legal, regulatory, or policy requirements - The policy states that the Library subscribes to the ALA Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read, Freedom to View and Free Access to Libraries for Minors statements as official policy.

Collection Depth

  • Special Collections - The policy has a specific section dealing with its local and archival collection that clearly defines the forms of material collected and unique geographical and chronological periods for this collection, as well as differing maintenance practices.

General Collection Practices

  • Collection Responsibilities - The responsibilities for selection are clearly defined and allow for delegation to appropriate staff.
  • Selection Procedures - There is a robust list of selection guidelines that selectors “will follow” including literary merit, accuracy, entertainment value, reviews, and so on.
  • Gifts Policy - There is a gifts policy section that defines that maintains the “right to evaluate and dispose of such gifts in accordance with this policy.” It covers tax deduction and that the Library will not appraise gifts.
  • Collection Maintenance - There is a collection maintenance policy that defines criteria for withdrawal.
  • Complaints and Censorship - A clearly defined process and hierarchy for challenging materials is outlined, starting with a conversation with the Library Director, a formal written request using a form, a committee review, and ultimately an appeal to the Board of Directors. Examining the form, it has numerous well designed questions, including “Did you read, view, or listen to the material in its entirety? If not, what parts did you examine?”

3.2 Weaknesses

General Objectives

  • Purpose - The collection development policy does not outline the purpose of the document nor how or by whom it will be used.
  • Clientele - nowhere in the policy is the Library’s service population defined or described. Although it has statements such as “its patrons are diverse” and the “community’s interests,” the community is not well defined. Nor are the programs and user needs supported explicitly defined in the text.

General Priorities

  • Although the policy includes some information regarding what material is collected, and has a well-defined languages collected section, many of the considerations in George & Ginger’s section are not covered in this policy, including: duplication of materials, funding considerations, and any cooperative agreements. In addition, although the forms of material collected can be found within the text covering other sections, such as selection criteria, there is not a defined description of the collection anywhere in the document.

General Collection Practices

  • While this policy does at least cover gifts, maintenance and complaints and censorship, only the complaints and censorship portion covers all of the criteria recommended by George & Ginger. For example, the gifts policy does not define the materials allowable, and the maintenance section does not specify who does the weeding.


  • The collection development policy suffers from an overall lack of organization. Following an outline such as George & Ginger’s would have been beneficial in making sure the policy read more sequentially and grouped like items together.

Outdoorsville Public Library Collection Development Policy

The Outdoorsville Public Library collects materials in a variety of popular formats, which serves the informational, popular, and recreational needs of the general public, and reflects the diversity of the community.

1. Purpose

The Outdoorsville Public Library (OPL) Collection Development Policy, approved by the OPL Board of Directors, is the guiding document used to create and shape the Library’s collection. The policy outlines the practices used to maintain the collection over time and the guidelines that help the collection respond to community needs while protecting the collection from societal and political pressures. The policy will be used by the collection development librarian and the director of the library to guide the selection and maintenance process. This document outlines what types of materials are appropriate for the collection, the limitations of the library collection, who is responsible for the collection, and how complaints and challenges are handled by management.

2. Mission Statement

The OPL connects people with information, ideas and experiences to provide enjoyment, enrich lives and strengthen our community. OPL is committed to meeting the educational, recreational, cultural, and information needs of the Outdoorsville community. Central to the collection development philosophy is an appreciation for each customer of the Library. The Library provides materials to support each person’s journey, and does not value one customer’s needs or preferences over another. The Library upholds the right of the individual to access information.

3. Clientele and User Needs

The OPL serves many patrons with different interests and values. Its collection is optimized to primarily serve the residents of Outdoorsville. The Library also serves visitors to the area, and residents of surrounding communities who utilize our town’s library service. The Library strives to meet the educational, recreational, cultural, and information needs of community members through maintaining a comprehensive and diverse collection of materials in multiple formats. Our collection includes a special focus on the local offerings of our community and region, as well as materials that are of special interest to local businesses and students. It utilizes a bookmobile to deliver materials to underserved populations, including low income residents and homebound community members, as well as to provide outreach services at various festivals and events in our community.

The OPL makes a broad selection of library materials and information available for everyone, including children and teenagers. The reading and viewing activity of children is ultimately the responsibility of parents, who guide and oversee their own children's development. The Library does not exclude access to materials based on age.

4. Collection Parameters

OPL collects materials relevant to adults, teen, and children in the Library’s service area. It strives to maintain a balanced collection that provides for recreational reading as well as informational or educational literature. The Library aims to provide equal access to all people. To achieve this goal, the Library must ensure that its collections remains current and responsive to the needs of its patrons and that materials are easily accessible through appropriate technology. As of 2018, the collection includes 82,413 books.

The Library collects materials in a variety of formats, including print, periodicals, electronic, and various media such as audiobooks, CDs, and DVDs. We utilize interlibrary loan available through our county library system and state access program, and collaborate with our library district to purchase access to e-books and e-audiobooks. Responsibility for digital content selection in these consortia is shared among a variety of libraries and organizations. Materials are collected in the languages commonly spoken at home by our patrons.

The Library uses professional standards to consider items based on its type, the audience, and the suitability of its format for a library collection. Criteria include:

  • reviews from professional journals, websites, popular magazines and newspapers
  • anticipated or expressed patron demand
  • timeliness or permanence of the material
  • quality and accuracy of materials
  • scope and depth of our present collection or the availability of materials at other area libraries
  • reputation or authority of the author or publisher
  • format and price of material as well as space available to house it
  • appropriateness to the interests and skills of the intended user

Some materials may be judged primarily in terms of artistic merit, scholarship, or historical significance; others are selected to satisfy recreational and entertainment needs. With restricted funding and space, the Library emphasizes quality rather than quantity, balancing the value of and demand for materials. Final decisions are based on the value and interest of the item to the public, regardless of selectors' personal tastes.

In keeping with those principles, the Library will favor no viewpoint and subscribes to these basic documents as official policy as adopted by the Board of Directors:

  1. The American Library Association's (ALA) Library Bill of Rights;
  2. ALA's Freedom to Read statement;
  3. ALA's Freedom to View statement; and
  4. ALA's Free Access to Libraries for Minors statement.

5. Collection Responsibilities and Selection Procedures

Ultimate responsibility for collection development rests with the OPL Director, who acts under the authority of the Board of Trustees. The Director, in turn, delegates the authority for selection to the Collection Development Librarian and designated professional staff who make individual selection decisions. Selection of materials is based on the professional knowledge and judgment of the Library staff according to the guidelines outlined in this policy, whose expertise includes familiarity with all types of materials, familiarity with the strengths and weaknesses of the existing collections, and awareness of the needs of the community.

6. Gifts Policy

The Library accepts gifts of books and other materials with the understanding that they become the property of the Library and are evaluated in the same manner as purchased materials. Acceptance by the Library of any gift does not mean that the item will be added to the collection. Gifts may be tax deductible, and the Library will issue a receipt for donated items but will not appraise any gifts. The Library reserves the right to refuse any donation deemed unsuitable based on the collection development policy. Most donated books go to our Friends of the Library Bookstore, whose proceeds go to cover operating expenses unless specified for another purpose.

7. Collection Maintenance

The Library has an obligation to maintain a vital and useful collection that reflects the interests of the community. As items are added, others are reviewed for their ongoing value and sometimes withdrawn from the collection. Items that are designated for discard will be reviewed carefully by trained professional staff before they are removed from the collection. This decision can be based on the physical quality of the items, their continued relevance, how accessible their content or information is outside of the library, how regularly they circulate, and availability of shelf space. Items in acceptable condition may at times be made available to the Friends of the Library for sale or discard or donated to local prisons or other institutions that need books; or they are recycled.

8. Complaints and Censorship

When a community member has a complaint about the content of the collection, they may contact OPL staff to speak with the Director of Library Services, who is always happy to discuss the collection with anyone interested. If the individual is not satisfied with the outcome of the discussion, then they may request a Reevaluation of Material form. Once submitted, the Director will review the complaint along with the Collection Development Librarian. They will weigh the complaint against the selection policy and issue a decision in a timely manner. If the decision is still unsatisfactory, then the individual may file a complaint with the Library Board, who will review the situation and come to a final decision. No materials under complaint will be removed from use pending a formal review and decision.