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Collection Development Policy

Resolution Number 2003-120 | Adopted Date April 15, 2003

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


This policy defines the basic elements of collection development and management and provides the necessary framework and support to facilitate the writing of a collection management handbook. This handbook will provide procedures which the materials selectors will utilize for the future development of the library system’s collections.


Stark County District Library Mission: The Stark County District Library will provide equal and timely access to all library and information resources. We will provide the community and each other with helpful, accurate, courteous and professional service. We look to the future with commitment toward improvement and growth.

The Library’s system-wide materials collection, one of SCDL’s major assets, is developed and managed to meet the majority of the cultural, informational, educational, and recreational needs of library patrons in Stark County. The Collection Development Department (CDD) materials selection coordinators build and maintain a patron-oriented collection by anticipating and responding to needs and expectations. Staff recognizes the necessity of balancing budget, staffing, and building concerns when making decisions either to acquire or to provide access to materials and information. Materials budget allocation is set annually. Allocation decisions are based on a number of factors including, but not limited, to demand, cost of materials, publishing trends and changes in the marketplace, SCDL allocation formulas and SCDL strategic initiatives, priorities and outcomes, especially the following:

  1. Position SCDL as the preferred provider and partner for lifelong learning
  2. Embrace diversity
  3. Develop and maintain library services incorporating both “bricks and clicks”
  4. Incorporate and enhance the use of technology in all library services and operations and explore emerging technologies
  5. Commit to excellence in service redesign to improve effectiveness with available resources, remove barriers and increase the ability of the user to become self-reliant


This policy guides staff and informs the public of the principles upon which Collection Development and Management decisions are based. Collection Development refers to the ongoing process of assessing the materials available for purchase or licensing and in making decisions, first, on their inclusion, and second, on their retention. This policy describes the role of collection development and selection, provides a plan for the continuing development of resources, and identifies collection strengths. It outlines the relationship among collection development and management of the Library’s goals, general selection criteria, and intellectual freedom.

Scope of the Collection

The collection offers materials in a choice of format, treatment, and level of difficulty. “Materials” has the widest possible meaning and includes but is not limited to print, audiovisual, and electronic formats. The collection is defined as materials that are selected; those selected materials may be physically owned by SCDL or may be accessed electronically. “Selection” refers to the decision that must be made to add a given item to the collection, or to provide access to it through electronic sources. Not all materials and information found via the Internet are part of the collection. The Library is strategically developing its electronic resource collection to meet the global information revolution. Library materials were once limited to container-based objects (e.g. books, compact discs, and videos/DVDs). Today, they are taking on increased dimensions and include digitized content that can be distributed broadly and quickly over the Internet.

The collection is reviewed and revised on an ongoing basis to meet contemporary needs. The collection is not archival nor is material available in other libraries needlessly duplicated. Staff makes a final decision to withdraw materials from the library system, making them available for sale by library agencies or friends’ groups. Materials are withdrawn from the collection in order to maintain usefulness, currency, and relevance.

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 County District Library customers.

Collection Development Criteria

To build a collection of merit, materials are evaluated according to one or more of the following standards. An item need not meet all of these criteria in order to be acceptable.

General Criteria:

  • Present and potential relevance to community needs
  • Suitability of physical form for library use
  • Suitability of subject and style for intended audience
  • Cost
  • Importance as a document of the times
  • Relation to the existing collection and to other materials on the subject
  • Attention by critics and reviewers
  • Potential user appeal
  • Requests by the public

Content Criteria:

  • Authority
  • Comprehensiveness and depth of treatment
  • Skill, competence, and purpose of the author
  • Reputation and significance of the author
  • Objectivity
  • Consideration of the work as a whole
  • Clarity
  • Currency
  • Technical quality
  • Representation of diverse points of view
  • Representation of important movements, genres, or trends
  • Vitality and originality
  • Artistic presentation and/or experimentation
  • Sustained interest
  • Relevance and use of the information
  • Effective characterization
  • Authenticity of history or social setting

Special Considerations for Electronic Information Sources:

  • Ease of use of the product
  • Availability of the information to multiple simultaneous users
  • Equipment needed to provide access to the information
  • Technical support and training
  • Availability of the physical space needed to house and store the information or equipment
  • Available in full text

Collection Structure

The Stark County District Library provides a system-wide community-based collection in a variety of environments. The Main Library acts as the major resource center for the county with the nine branches serving their respective communities. Youth Services has two Kidmobiles which serve day care centers and kindergarten classes. Extension Services has two Bookmobiles which serve schools to supplement the school library, or, in some cases, to serve schools which do not have a library. They also serve communities in our service area that do not have a branch nearby. Outreach Services serves our aging Page 4 of 12 population as well as homebound patrons by calling at homes and taking books to nursing facilities and area senior centers.

Libraries are organized into administrative units; collection management and development reflects that organization. Collections provide general coverage of subjects and reflect the characteristics of the community. Collections are current and popular. System-wide and individual library roles and services further define collections.

Collection Responsibilities

Collection development and management is achieved through the participatory efforts of centralized materials selection coordinators and branch/department managers. It is the responsibility of the staff to communicate requests and needs; this communication among library staff is essential to patron-oriented collections.

Staff contributes to the development of patron-oriented collections by:

  • Engaging in open, continuous two-way communication
  • Recognizing that individuals have different ways of expressing their needs because of age, language, economic status, culture, or other characteristics
  • Interacting with understanding, respect, and responsiveness
  • Handling all requests equitably
  • Working in partnership with one another to understand and respond to needs
  • Understanding and responding to rapidly changing demographics, as well as societal and technological changes
  • Recognizing that materials of varying complexity and format are necessary to satisfy diverse needs
  • Balancing individual needs and broader community needs in determining the best allocation of collection budget for acquiring or providing access to materials and information
  • Seeking continuous improvement through ongoing measurement

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 Associate Director for Collection Development and the Materials Selection Coordinators are librarians with professional education and public service training who assist the Library Director in materials selection and deselection

Centralized Selection provides continuity in collections through an organized structure for planning, budgeting, selecting, acquiring and managing library materials. The community has a role in shaping collections by participating in the collection development process and is in partnership with library staff as we work together to provide quality community-based collections.

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, 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.

Access to Collection Materials

Library materials are available for use by all patrons. Access to materials is ensured by the way materials are organized, managed, and displayed; by the way staff interact with patrons, and through the delivery of materials.

The Library organizes its collection through a cataloguing and classification system that is understandable. Staff is available in all library agencies to assist patrons in the selection and location of materials of interest. The Library participates in the interlibrary loan networks of OCLC and M.O.R.E. for the purpose of making materials not in the SCDL collection available for patrons. Electronic resources and online databases are selected with the same criteria as printed materials with some special considerations listed above in the” Collection Development Criteria Section.” These resources are made accessible through Main Library Reference Services and theTechnology Center and at all of the library’s branches with a focused approach to meeting cultural, informational, educational, and recreational needs. The changing nature of Internet-accessible databases and World Wide Web sites makes it imperative that the library examine and evaluate electronic resources on a regular basis to assess their continued value to our patrons.

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

Individuals may request reconsideration of a selection decision or classification of library material by submitting a written request for reconsideration using established Library procedures and guidelines. The Request for Reconsideration forms are available at the customer service desk in each of our agencies. The Collection Development Department communicates by phone, email and regular mail to patron requests in an attentive and consistent manner. There are documents and guidelines in the Materials Selection Procedures to fulfill this service.

Donation of Materials and Monetary Gifts

Materials donated to the Library are received with the understanding that they are subject to the same selection, evaluation and disposal criteria as materials acquired for purchase. Donated materials must be in good condition, and items not added to the collection are not returned to the donor. Donors may be given a receipt for gifts of used materials, but the Library does not give appraisals of value.

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

A most welcome gift is one of money through which the donor recognizes the Library’s ever-present need for materials. These gifts will enhance the Library system’s services and programs. Donations of money are acknowledged with letters of thanks.


American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights

The Freedom to View policy statement


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). 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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