Additional Selection Considerations

Appendix 3. Additional Selection Considerations Relating to Specific Types of Materials

Reference materials The Central Library acquires and maintains an accurate, up-to-date collection of reference sources in various formats; the discussion that follows refers primarily to print materials, but the same considerations apply to electronic formats, discussed below.

The Central Library maintains a substantial list of standing orders for reference titles. Since inflationary pressures hit these costly materials particularly hard, every effort is made to hone the list to the most useful, cost-effective titles, with consideration given to alternative electronic formats as discussed below.

The Central Library attempts to fill the information needs of the general community of Greater Springfield, but has a particular focus on the following areas:

  1. Educational community – Students in the Springfield schools look to the Library to provide information services tailored to their needs. The Library will acquire supplemental curriculum materials needed as indicated in Massachusetts’ Curriculum Frameworks. Emphasis is placed on materials which support the curriculum of students in Springfield schools through Grade 12, including both basic and in-depth reference materials and indexes which meet student needs.
  2. Business community – Materials that facilitate the investment strategies of individuals, the economic development of the Springfield metropolitan area (e.g., small business start-up and development), and local government decision-making, are acquired.
  3. Cultural communityThe Central Library, located in a metropolitan area that supports local museums, art galleries, a professional orchestra and many amateur musical endeavors, attempts to support the information needs of this community.

The branch libraries focus their much smaller reference collections on ready reference materials, and reference materials that support the needs of students in Springfield schools through grade 8. Electronic resources, including the Internet, give branches access to materials which serve more sophisticated educational and informational needs, but no attempt will be made to expand the print collections beyond these basics. The Central Library is available as the reference back-up to the branches; it alone has both the allocated space and the budget to maintain a wide array of in-depth print reference materials.

Online resources — Online resources include the Internet and databases, both locally and remotely loaded. The library makes the Internet available to the public see the library’s Computer Use and Public Internet Access Policy for general disclaimer and conditions of use. The library retains the option to restrict access to Web sites which have been determined to be inconsistent with its mission and goals. The library does identify and maintain links to individual Web sites in an attempt to guide users towards material of high quality. The library’s collection procedures manual, available upon request, includes guidelines for the selection and maintenance of online resources.

As with other library materials, users may request reconsideration of Internet sources using the Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form (see Appendix 4). This could be a request to restrict access to a site which is currently unrestricted by filtering software, a request to unblock a site which has been restricted by filtering software, or a request to eliminate the library-maintained link to an individual site. Users may also make suggestions for web links to be added.

“Selection” of online resources can mean either selecting to purchase or choosing to add a link from the library’s web pages. The general selection criteria apply to these materials, as do the following additional factors:

  1. Reputation of the publisher
  2. Origin of the content
  3. Comprehensiveness and scope of data
  4. Accuracy of indexing
  5. Ease of use for intended audience
  6. Preservation of older information files
  7. Quality of documentation
  8. Speed of access
  9. Reliability of vendor

Subscription databases are usually more costly than similar or equivalent print versions. Substantial consideration must be given, therefore, to the value-added aspects of online resources. Added value may be seen as: the aggregation of data from disparate sources; relative speed with which data is updated; indexing protocols; etc. Where possible, subscription databases should be continuously monitored for use. Every attempt should be made to ensure that databases are available both at the branches and remotely, however, in many cases, the cost of such additions is prohibitive. The factors influencing the purchase of online vis-à-vis print are listed below.

  1. Cost – Is an electronic version less expensive than a print version of the same or comparable source?
  2. Currency – How frequent are the updates or cumulations? Is the electronic or the print source more current?
  3. Frequency of Use – Is the source used constantly, once a month, or somewhere in between? Are many users likely to need the source at the same time?
  4. Type of Use – Is use a brief checking of dates or facts, such as in an index, or full-text reading, such as in an encyclopedia or work of criticism?
  5. Nature of User – Will the primary users of the source be staff, users, or both? If users, will they be adults, children, or both?
  6. Search Techniques – How easy is the source to use? Can most users complete a search independently, or is extensive assistance often needed? Does the source, even if duplicating a print source, offer search capabilities not possible in print?

Nonfiction (hardcover and trade paperback)The Central Library’s circulating nonfiction collection is developed to meet the same needs as the reference collection, described above. In addition, the Central Library acquires general popular materials and materials that will serve the more in-depth and diverse interests of the entire community. A lengthy portion of the library’s collections procedures manual, available upon request, articulates the intended scope for each Dewey area.

Selections are made from review sources such as Booklist, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly, from vendor catalogs, from information found online through vendors such as, and from distributors that represent an array of small press materials not regularly reviewed. When a choice exists between hardcover and trade paperback, the decision depends on the anticipated use of and relative cost of the item. Self-published and vanity press publications are generally not selected for purchase unless reviewed favorably in the standard review sources. Donations of such items by authors living in the greater Springfield area are encouraged. Textbooks are not acquired unless they are the best (or only) available source of information on a needed topic.

In the branches, circulating nonfiction collections meet both the needs of Springfield youth through grade 8 as well as general interest materials for users of all ages. Specific general interest subjects vary with communities served, but topics usually well-represented include: biography; health and exercise; nature; sports; test books for education and employment; travel, especially within the region; home and auto repair and improvement; personal finance; and language improvement. Standard review sources, vendor catalogs, and online listings are the primary selection methods. In all subject areas, branches will select materials that are geared to varying levels of ability.

Fiction (hardcover and trade paperback) — Hardcover fiction, especially at the adult level, is a key component in meeting readers= recreational needs. Fiction titles are purchased primarily on the basis of reviews and user requests. Weight is given to indicators of potential demand, such as the author=s reputation or popularity, proposed promotional advertising, planned author tours, etc. In addition to the usual review sources (e.g., Kirkus and Publishers Weekly), adult fiction titles may also be selected from vendor catalogs. Self-published and vanity press publications are generally not selected for purchase unless reviewed favorably in the standard review sources. Donations of such items by authors living in the greater Springfield area are encouraged. Youth fiction titles are selected primarily from review sources such as Booklist and School Library Journal.

When a choice exists between adult hardcover and trade paperback, the decision depends on the anticipated use of the item. If the selector needs to acquire several copies of a title made popular through book groups or other promotions, trade paperback would be preferable. If, however, the copy is to be displayed when new and then to become a part of the long-term collection, hardcover may be the better binding choice. When a choice between trade and library bindings exists in youth materials, the library binding is selected.

Multiple copies are purchased where justified by anticipated demand and where budgets allow. Reserves are monitored and additional copies purchased as indicated to ensure responsiveness to user demand. Bestseller lists and awards announcements are monitored for surprises and collections are adjusted accordingly. The Central Library makes an effort to offer a more comprehensive selection of fiction (including more mid-list titles, more short story collections, and more works in translation) than do the branches, which build fiction collections based primarily on actual and anticipated demand, and rely on swift delivery from the Central Library to meet more in-depth requests.

Materials in languages other than English — The library will purchase materials in languages other than English based on community demographics. Currently, the need is greatest for Spanish-language materials, followed by materials in Russian and Vietnamese. While the need for materials in one language or another varies throughout the city, the total need is growing. Selection methods include vendor catalogs, reviews in standard sources, visits to vendors, book fairs, discussions with community representatives, and vendor approval plans. Materials selected for both the reference and circulating collections in these languages include: materials in core curriculum areas (math, science, social studies, etc.); standard literary works that will help bilingual students keep pace with native English speakers; general adult interest titles on such subjects as health, home and automotive repair, and career-related information; and general leisure materials at all levels and in a variety of formats.

Mass market paperbacks — The library selects mass market paperbacks primarily to support the goal of providing satisfying entertainment and recreational experiences. Titles are selected from vendor catalogs. Selections are based on such factors as: popularity of author; popularity of series (especially in children=s paperbacks); popularity of title when in hardcover; genre variety (romances and mysteries are consistently very popular, though other genres, such as science fiction and westerns, are represented as well); and planned promotional efforts (e.g., ads in Romantic Times). For children=s and young adult collections, a paperback may be selected over a hardcover of the same title in response to demonstrated user preference for the paperback format. Paperbacks are sometimes selected to supplement a hardcover title that is either perennially popular or has become newly popular due to factors such as a film version. Occasionally, multiple copies are purchased. The library also selects graphic novels for all age levels.

To a lesser extent, mass market paperbacks also help to meet user’s educational and informational needs. In addition to popular paperbacks, youth collections include paperback copies of award winners, reading list titles, and study support materials such as dictionaries, report-writing guides and literature guides; the library makes a reasonable effort to provide multiple copies of summer and other reading list titles, based on budget, anticipated student demand, and timely communication with schools.

Government documents — In general, items are selected which have the highest potential for meeting the information needs of the largest number of people living within the geographic area served by the City Library.

The Library acquires publications of a general and statistical nature with strengths in demographic, business, social and educational materials. Current legal and regulatory publications are also collected.

Following the principles of the general selection criteria, the selection of government documents takes into consideration:

  1. Current relevance or interest
  2. Information requests from the public; demand
  3. Importance as an historical record; timeliness or permanence
  4. Relevance to existing collections; scarcity or abundance of other material
  5. Citation in special or significant bibliographies or indexes
  6. Relative cost, in terms of processing time and number of desirable/undesirable publications attached to the Item number
  7. Format; ease of use
  8. Availability elsewhere through interlibrary loan or other cooperative agreements.

The type and proximity of other depository libraries mitigates the Springfield Library’s need to acquire publications which focus on remote, narrowly defined subjects. No attempt is made to acquire materials which support an academic program or require the support of an academic program to understand. With the exception of tax forms and copyright application forms, forms required for doing business with various government agencies are not acquired. There is general cooperation with other local depositories — Elms College, Western New England College Law Library, and Hampden County Trial Court Law Library — in an attempt to minimize duplication of materials.

Periodicals — At the Central Library, the selection of periodicals is based on the general selection criteria suggested for other materials with first consideration given to those titles indexed in either InfoTrac or the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature, and then to the titles in other standard periodical indexes. Increasingly, InfoTrac offers full text articles; in those cases, the library must determine whether usage warrants maintaining a paper subscription as well. Careful attention is given to those titles available in other libraries in the area as indicated in the Union List of Serials in the Libraries of the Greater Springfield, Massachusetts Area, with the general policy being to augment rather than duplicate those titles. In addition, the Central Library offers an array of popular magazines in areas such as lifestyle, young adult and children’s titles, automotive, computers, health, home improvement, and sports.

The retention policy for the Central Library’s periodical collections is as follows:

  1. Gifts – 1 year
  2. Periodicals used only for the latest information – 3 years
  3. Circulating periodicals – 5 years in paper
  4. General reference/research titles – 20 years in paper with microfilm backup as possible
  5. Permanent cultural interest – complete in paper (some bound) with microfilm backup as possible.

At the branches, magazine titles are selected and maintained on the basis of use; lists are adjusted annually to reflect shifts in popularity. Areas usually covered include news weeklies, lifestyle, young adult and children=s titles, automotive, computers, home improvement and sports. The branches make no effort to maintain significant back files of any but the most long-lived titles (e.g., National Geographic). Each branch has a regularly monitored retention policy for all titles, ranging from current year only for ephemeral titles to 5 years or more for standards such as American Heritage. The branch print collections are supplemented by InfoTrac, which offers many full-text articles.

Media— Advancing technology and the availability of many media formats dictate that libraries have growing media collections. Specific formats may change over time. The library is prepared to embrace new formats when the potential user population has grown to a “critical mass” (e.g., the library will consider adding a new form of technology if and when a reasonable proportion of our users own the hardware needed for that technology), assuming that the new format is durable enough to stand up to typical library use.

In addition to the general selection criteria, media selectors consider:

  1. The technical quality of the title
  2. The appropriateness of the subject to the format
  3. The artistic merit and reputation of the artist(s)
  4. The quality of interpretation and reputation of the artist(s)
  5. Intelligibility, effective presentation (especially in spoken audio, video)

Current formats include:

Music compact discs/ music cassettes – The emphasis in the sound recording collection is the compact disc format. Aiming for an in-depth collection, the selection of the Central Library’s compact discs provides the listener with choices within a variety of musical styles throughout history as well as a wide range of performers. Branch collections emphasize current demand in CD selection, and do not aim for breadth or depth. The library retains a small collection of music cassettes of popular interest. A limited number will be acquired when and where appropriate.

DVD/Videocassettes – Videos are selected for educational, informational and recreational purposes. The Central Library acquires a wide array of nonfiction videos in an effort to make information available in formats other than print. Special Central Library video collections include: close captioned; Spanish, Russian, and Vietnamese language; citizenship; English as a second language; and employment resource center. Educational videos are selected which supplement school curriculum needs.

The Central Library acquires feature films for viewers of all ages. A continuing effort is made to add award winning and quality films, but Central=s dual role as system resource and neighborhood branch in its own right dictates that a good variety of popular feature films be available to browsers of all ages.

Branch video collections include primarily feature films in a variety of genres, children’s titles (both live action and animated), and popular non-fiction (e.g., cooking, travel, exercising). Spanish, Russian, and Vietnamese language videos are collected in branches according to demand. While videocassettes may still be acquired, emphasis is strongly on the DVD format.

Spoken CDs/cassettes – While spoken cassettes may still be acquired, the emphasis is on the spoken CD format. Titles are selected in English and Spanish, with Russian and Vietnamese titles added as available and appropriate for the collections. The Central Library’s spoken CD and cassette collections provide unabridged audio titles in popular, mystery and classic fiction as well as self-help and other areas of non-fiction (most notably, language instruction). Branch adult collections provide a combination of unabridged and abridged audio titles in various fiction genres, as well as language instruction, self-help, and other popular nonfiction areas. The unabridged/abridged decision is made on the basis of relative cost, availability, and the need to ensure that each location have sufficient new titles for browsers within the established budget; as unabridged prices drop relative to abridged titles, the former emerges as the preferred format. Youth spoken audio collections, at both the Central Library and the branches, provide unabridged audio titles.

CD-ROMs – As demand warrants, the library will purchase interactive multimedia CD-ROM software for circulation to the public, primarily children, taking all of the above selection criteria into consideration. Informational and educational titles are preferred over those which are purely recreational.