Collection Development Policy

Resolution Number 2020-39 | Adopted Date October 20, 2020

BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED by the Board of Trustees of the Stark County District Library

Executive Summary

The Stark Library Collection Development Policy presents the strategies to develop, expand, diversify and build 21st Century library collections meeting the needs of the Library and the diverse Stark County population.

Collection Development Policy Objectives:  

  • To provide well-rounded and balanced collections which are comprised of new and popular materials; reference tools; and materials that assist in life-long learning.
  • To formulate cooperative agreements with organizations and groups to expand the Library’s capacity to make more information and resources accessible to residents. 
  • To continue the Library’s tradition of staying abreast of new and emerging resources and incorporate them into the collections as appropriate. 
  • To ensure intellectual freedom for all users.   


The Mission of Stark Library is “to spark curiosity and foster knowledge by connecting everyone to resources, services, and opportunities.” At Stark Library, we invite everyone into a welcoming place, inform them with resources that will help them grow, and then send them back out to change and transform the world. We think of this ongoing, lifelong process as our purpose.

The Collection Development Policy reflects the mission of the Stark Library.  The Collection Policy serves as a guide to staff in the selection and retention of materials.  It also provides to the public information on the principles which support selection decisions.  The Library serves patrons who represent the entire community, birth through seniors. The community is comprised of diverse cultures, religious beliefs and identities.

Collection Development refers to the ongoing process of assessing the materials available for purchase or licensing and making decisions regarding their inclusion, and on their retention. This policy outlines the relationship among collection development and management of the Library’s goals, general selection criteria, and intellectual freedom and is reflective of the organization’s strategies and objectives.

Intellectual Freedom

A democracy presupposes an informed citizenry, and the public library has an integral role in achieving that goal. The Library provides an impartial environment in which individuals and their interests are brought together with the universe of ideas and information spanning the spectrum of knowledge and opinions. The Library Board affirms the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, and The Freedom to View and The Freedom to Read policy statements in support of acquiring and managing collections.

Collection development and management decisions are based solely on the merit of the work as it relates to the Library’s mission and its ability to meet the expressed or anticipated needs and interests of the community; decisions are not made on the basis of any anticipated approval or disapproval of the material. The inclusion of an item in the library collection in no way represents an endorsement of its contents. Library materials are not marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of the contents, nor are materials sequestered.

The Library recognizes that many materials are controversial and that any given item may offend some. Only individuals can determine what is most appropriate for their needs.

Parents and legal guardians have the responsibility for their children’s use of library materials. Parents and legal guardians are encouraged to define what material or information is consistent with their personal and family beliefs; only they can apply those values for themselves and their children.

Materials Selection

Collection development and management is the responsibility of the Library Director who operates within the framework of policies determined by the Library Board of Trustees. The Director for Library Collections, the Manager for Selection, Inventory and Processing and the Collection Development Coordinators are librarians with professional education and public service training who assist the Library Director in materials selection and deselection.

The Purpose of the Library Collection:

The Library materials collection is developed and managed to meet the majority of the cultural, informational, educational, and recreational needs of library patrons in Stark County.  The collection is meant to anticipate, support and respond to the diverse informational, cultural and leisure needs of community residents of all ages and backgrounds.   The Library builds and maintains a patron-oriented collection by anticipating and responding to needs and expectations. Allocation decisions are based on several factors, including but not limited, to demand, cost of materials, publishing trends and changes in the marketplace and community demographics.

Scope of the Collection

The collection offers materials in a choice of formats and levels of difficulty. “Materials” has the widest possible meaning and includes but is not limited to print, audiovisual, electronic and physical object formats. The collection may consist of materials in physical or electronic format.

The collection is reviewed and revised on an ongoing basis to meet contemporary needs. The collection is not archival, nor are materials available in other area libraries needlessly duplicated. Materials are withdrawn from the collection in order to maintain the collection’s usefulness, currency, relevance and condition. When designated staff makes a final decision to withdraw materials from the library system, they are made available for sale through Friends of the Library groups or through vendors who specialize in the acquisition and sale of used materials.

Collection Structure

The Library provides a system-wide collection in a variety of environments: library buildings (Main Library and nine Branches) throughout Stark County, Bookmobiles, Outreach Services and through digital collections. In order to maximize the physical collection uses, the library has implemented a floating collection process that allows the collection to move freely throughout the system and then remain in the library at which it was returned. This results in a reduction of wear and tear on library materials but also allows the collection to meet customer demands regarding what is read or viewed.

Due to the increased opportunities for and ease of resource sharing, copies of every title, print or non-print, purchased by the library are not necessarily available in the main library collection, but may be housed at one or more of our branch locations.  These items are readily available to all Stark Library patrons.

Collection Development Principles

Collection development and management is achieved through the cooperative efforts of centralized Collection Development Coordinators and branch/department managers. Centralized selection provides continuity in collections through an organized structure for planning, budgeting, selecting, acquiring and managing library materials.

Anticipated demand, community interests, strengths and weaknesses of the existing collection, system-wide availability, physical space limitations, acquisitions procedures, and available budgets are all factors taken into consideration.

Materials are acquired in multiple formats when appropriate and available, including print, audiovisual, and electronic resources. Highest selection priority is given to those materials in formats having the broadest appeal.  Materials that are suggested by the community are given high consideration; however, those materials that have a narrow focus, limited audience, high cost of ownership, or do not meet the criteria of our usual selection parameters may not be added.


Publishing has seen a rise of self- published works. The library reserves the right to only purchase self-published books that are reviewed in professional journals. When professional reviews do not exist, the library may accept some self-published books containing local information and local history. The designated library selectors will review the books and decide if they are suitable for the library collection. Self-published titles requested by patrons will also be considered on a title by title basis in accordance with collection guidelines & criteria.

Local Authors

The Local Authors Collection provides an ongoing way for primarily Stark County residents who have published books to be part of the cultural conversation, where the work would not otherwise be selected for inclusion in the Library’s collection. A single copy only, of a book by a Stark County resident, may be donated for inclusion in the collection as long as the title meets the general criteria for addition to the collection. Once accepted the title will be housed on the Local Author shelf at the Main Library and will be subject to the same standards for continued inclusion in the collection as all other materials.

General Selection Criteria 

The following criteria are used to evaluate and select items for the collection and are implemented through the selectors’ training and subject knowledge. An item need not meet all of these criteria to be selected. Certain materials are selected to address local community needs.

  1. Relevance to current and anticipated community needs 
  2. Intended audience
  3. Suitability of subject and style for intended audience 
  4. Critical reviews and other evaluative sources 
  5. Number and nature of requests from the public
  6. Relation to the current collection and other materials on the subject
  7. Reputation and qualifications of the author/artist and/or publisher/producer 
  8. Local significance of the author or topic 
  9. Comprehensiveness of treatment 
  10. Representation of majority and minority points of view 
  11. Usefulness to patrons with special needs 
  12. Relevance to the experiences and contributions of diverse populations 
  13. Quality of illustrations and effective characterizations 
  14. Suitability of physical form for library use 
  15. Cost

Selection and Acquisitions

 A variety of review sources are consulted when purchasing materials, including professional journals, consumer publications and online sources, customer requests and recommendations.

  1. The Library recognizes the missions and resources of other libraries in Stark County and surrounding areas and does not needlessly duplicate functions or materials.
  2. The Library supports the goals of formal education programs in Stark County and provides curriculum-related and recreational reading materials, which complement, but do not duplicate, school libraries. The Library does not purchase textbooks.
  3. Legal, medical, technical and academic resources are acquired only to the extent that they are useful to the layperson.
  4. The Library collects materials in a variety of formats, including, but not limited to, books, magazines, newspapers, comics, DVDs, CDs, audiobooks, electronic resources, physical items and downloadable materials. New formats are evaluated for inclusion based on existing collections and suitability for library users.
  5. The Library also selects materials in languages other than English. These materials are not meant to be comprehensive but are a revolving selection of materials for these population groups.

Community Role

The community has a role in shaping collections by participating in the process as a partnership with library staff working together to provide quality collections.A patron “Request a Purchase” form and a general “comment and suggestion” form are available on the Libraries’ website and at all library branches. All patron requests and recommendations are subject to the selection criteria outlined above. Acceptance of the form does not guarantee inclusion in the collection.

Collection Evaluation & Maintenance

Once materials have been added to the Library’s collection, they are managed through an assessment and evaluation process to ensure that ongoing collection priorities are met; that collections remain up to date, balanced, and attractive; and that space limitations are minimized. This process identifies items for replacement, retention or de-selection. Library staff utilizes professional judgment and expertise in deciding which materials to retain, replace, repair or de-select

Materials within the library collections are constantly and consistently monitored and evaluated by the Collection Development Department and Library managers. Along with the same criteria used to select new materials, general criteria for retaining, replacing, repairing or de-selecting include:

  1. Availability of item in alternative formats
  2. Feasibility, cost of repair
  3. Historical significance, interest, or value
  4. Physical condition
  5. Relative usefulness of item
  6. Space considerations
  7. Superseded, inaccurate, or out-of-date content
  8. Usage


De-selection (removing items from the collection) is an integral part of collection development. De-selected materials will, at the Library’s discretion, be donated to the Friends of the Library groups for book sales or disposed of through other means or companies determined by the Library. The Library retains those materials that continue to have enduring or permanent significance to its mission and overall collection goals.

Donation of Materials and Monetary Gifts

The Library accepts gifts of materials but reserves the right to evaluate and dispose of them in accordance with the criteria applied to purchased materials. No monetary appraisal is made of donated materials.

A new item donated in memory of a loved one or in honor of an event will be gift plated and a letter of thanks, and, if requested by the donor, a letter of acknowledgement to the family will be sent by the Library Executive Director or designee.

Access to the Collection

Access to materials is ensured by the manner materials are organized, managed, and displayed and by the way staff interact with patrons, and through the delivery of materials. All library materials are accessible when items are not in use by other patrons or for library use only. Patrons may place holds on items already checked out.

The Library organizes its collection through a cataloguing and classification system. The Library participates in sharing consortiums with other libraries for the purpose of providing access to materials, both physical and digital, which are not in the Stark Library collection. To ensure equitable and efficient access, materials may be subject to use limitations. Remote electronic access to the library catalog and electronic resources is provided with technical, budgetary and licensing constraints.

Reconsideration of Library Materials

The Stark Library is a tax-supported institution which provides books, other printed materials, databases, various non-print media, and audio and video recordings to meet the needs of people regardless of age, race, sex, nationality, economic and social background, educational level, or political affiliation. To serve such a diverse public, the library offers information on as many subjects as possible representing varied, and potentially conflicting, viewpoints.

Occasionally, library patrons are concerned about certain titles that the library purchases. In that case, the library invites the customer to use the following “Procedure for Reconsideration of Library Materials.”

  1. If the title that the patron wishes to have reconsidered is part of a branch collection, the patron should first discuss concerns about the title with the Branch or Department Manager.
  2. If the patron still wishes a title to be reconsidered following this discussion, the customer must complete a “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials" form and have it submitted to the appropriate Collection Development coordinator in the Collection Development Department for further review.
  3. The coordinator will review the material as well as research reviews and additional information about the work. After completion of the review, the Director of Library Collections, the Manager of Selections and the Collection Development Coordinators will meet to evaluate the Request for Reconsideration. Once a decision has been reached the patron will be contacted to be informed of the decision.
  4. The Library takes patron concerns about the collection seriously and a written response will be returned to the patron. If the patron disagrees with the response, they may appeal the decision to the Stark Library Board of Trustees.


This policy will be reviewed by the Library Board at least every four years.

This policy was originally adopted April 15, 2003 (Resolution Number 2003-120) by the Stark County District Library Board of Directors; revised October 21, 2008 (Resolution Number 2008-56); revised October 20, 2020 (Resolution Number 2020-39), Stark County District Library. We welcome your comments and suggestions.


Library Bill of Rights

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

  1. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
  3. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
  4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
  5. A person's right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
  6. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

Adopted June 18, 1948. Amended February 2, 1961, and January 23, 1980, inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996 by the ALA Council.


Freedom to View

The FREEDOM TO VIEW, along with the freedom to speak, to hear, and to read, is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In a free society, there is no place for censorship of any medium of expression. Therefore these principles are affirmed:

  1. To provide the broadest access to film, video, and other audiovisual materials because they are a means for the communication of ideas. Liberty of circulation is essential to insure the constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression.
  2. To protect the confidentiality of all individuals and institutions using film, video, and other audiovisual materials.
  3. To provide film, video, and other audiovisual materials which represent a diversity of views and expression. Selection of a work does not constitute or imply agreement with or approval of the content.
  4. To provide a diversity of viewpoints without the constraint of labeling or prejudging film, video, or other audiovisual materials on the basis of the moral, religious, or political beliefs of the producer or filmmaker or on the basis of controversial content.
  5. To contest vigorously, by all lawful means, every encroachment upon the public's freedom to view.

This statement was originally drafted by the Freedom to View Committee of the American Film and Video Association (formerly the Educational Film Library Association) and was adopted by the AFVA Board of Directors in February 1979. This statement was updated and approved by the AFVA Board of Directors in 1989.

Endorsed by the ALA Council January 10, 1990

Freedom to Read Statement

The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label "controversial" views, to distribute lists of "objectionable" books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as citizens devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.

Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary citizen, by exercising critical judgment, will accept the good and reject the bad. The censors, public and private, assume that they should determine what is good and what is bad for their fellow citizens.

We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they need the help of censors to assist them in this task. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be "protected" against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression.

These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet. The problem is not only one of actual censorship. The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy.

Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change. And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension. Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain. Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.

Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections.

We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture. We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of Page 10 of 12 limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend. We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings. The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights.

We therefore affirm these propositions:

  1. It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox or unpopular with the majority.
    Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different. The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested. Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy. The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process. Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these. We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.
  2. Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.
    Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought. The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.
  3. It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.
    No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.
  4. There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.
    To some, much of modern expression is shocking. But is not much of life itself shocking? We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers from dealing with the stuff of life. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves. These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared. In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others.
  5. It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept with any expression the prejudgment of a label characterizing it or its author as subversive or dangerous.
    The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for the citizen. It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.
  6. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people's freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large.
    It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group. In a free society individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive.
  7. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a "bad" book is a good one, the answer to a "bad" idea is a good one.
    The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader's purpose. What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has Page 12 of 12 been thought and said. Books are the major channel by which the intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth. The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all citizens the fullest of their support.

We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.

This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers. Adopted June 25, 1953; revised January 28, 1972, January 16, 1991, July 12, 2000, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee.


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