Collection Development Policy

Collection Development Policy

Approved by the Springfield Library Commissioners, November 4, 2020


Library’s Mission

The Springfield City Library actively connects with its diverse community and provides effective resources and a safe space for all. Our library is a hub for free access to information and technology, social and civic engagement, and support of personal enrichment, well-being, and lifelong learning.

Library’s Vision

The Springfield City Library is the center of city life and culture. The Library is vital to a safe, healthy, educated, and thriving community. We embrace our diversity and celebrate learning, creativity, and innovation.

Purpose of Policy

The development and thoughtful maintenance of the Library’s collection is an essential part of fulfilling the mission of the Springfield City Library. This policy outlines how the selection, organization, and maintenance of library materials, including electronic resources, support that mission, and guides library staff in successfully carrying out collection work

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

The Springfield City Library is committed to providing an equitable basis for purchasing materials, ensuring that consideration of the needs of historically oppressed, underrepresented, and underserved groups is integral to collection development and management. The library regularly reviews the current and emergent demographic trends for the library’s constituent populations to inform collection development and management. The library regularly assesses the adequacy of existing collections to ensure they meet the needs of the library’s constituent populations.


Philosophy of Collections

The Springfield City Library maintains curated, quality collections tailored to the needs and interests of Springfield residents as a means of fostering their success. Library patrons will find a collection consisting of current, reliable information, a broad range of titles of lasting value, and appealing recreational materials for all ages. The collection is distributed throughout all branch locations, taking into consideration the needs and interests of neighborhood library users while serving a citywide objective.

In addition to these curated collections, the Library has ready access to over 8 million items from 149 libraries in the Central/Western Massachusetts Automated Resource Sharing (C/W MARS) network and millions of additional items through the Commonwealth Catalog. This allows library users to locate and request materials from all across the state and have them delivered directly to their home branch. Depending on demand, needs, and interests, borrowing a particular item or material on a subject from another location may be more appropriate than adding it to the collection.

Collection Scope

Materials selected for the Springfield City Library are intended to meet the diverse cultural, informational, educational, and recreational needs of the residents of Springfield, within budget limitations. The scope of the collection is intended to offer a choice of format, level of difficulty, and language to maximize accessibility. The emphasis is on acquiring materials of wide-ranging interest to the general public. Through selection, the Library aims not only to meet the current needs of the community, but also to anticipate their future needs. The collection at individual branch locations is developed with particular consideration for the needs of surrounding neighborhoods.

Freedom of Access

In support of its mission and vision, the Springfield City Library endorses the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights (see Appendix A or and the Freedom to Read Statement (see Appendix A or As a forum for information and ideas, the library’s commitment is to diversity and a range of attitudes. The Library will be responsive to public suggestions of items and subjects to be included in the library collection. Materials that meet selection criteria will not be excluded due to the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation. Individual choice is paramount and protected; the Library recognizes that while an item is useful to one group of users, it may not be useful or may even be distasteful and objectionable to others. See “Requests for Reconsideration,” below, for information about how patrons may dispute the inclusion of materials in the Library’s collection.

Access to Library materials will not be restricted except for the express purpose of protecting them from damage or theft. The reading, listening, and viewing activity of children is ultimately the responsibility of parents and legal guardians. The Springfield City Library does not intrude on that relationship. The Library is committed to taking steps to create positive and clearly identified opportunities for youth to make appropriate use of library resources, to support parents and legal guardians in their efforts to guide their own children’s choices for reading, viewing, and listening, and to assist parents and guardians to understand the library materials selection and electronic access process and policy with respect to children.

The Springfield City Library is part of the national information infrastructure providing people with access to global electronic resources and the opportunity to participate in the online community. Materials selection and access to electronic resources are integral to fulfilling the mission of the Library, but access is not the same as selection. Connection with electronic information, services, and networks provides access and information transfer rather than selecting and acquiring materials in the traditional sense. The Library can and will, however, use criteria to select the electronic services and databases licensed for system-wide access, and to select the Web sites linked to the Library website. Access to some digital or electronic materials may require the use of a valid Springfield City Library card for authentication, and some electronic materials must be used from one or more Springfield Library locations based on licensing agreements.


Selection Responsibility

Ultimate responsibility for materials selection rests with the library director, who operates within the framework of policies determined by the Springfield Board of Library Commissioners. The library director delegates to the Collection Development and Technical Services Manager responsibility for establishing guidelines and procedures for day-to-day selection activities by other professionals based on their training, experience, interest, and available time, as well as on the guidelines set forth here. The Collection Development Manager oversees the selection process and tracks the materials budget to ensure a flow of new materials throughout the year according to budget allocations. Selection procedures vary over time, and include centralized selection for most collection areas.

Early each fiscal year, supervisors and/or managers complete annual collection plans for their locations. These plans detail which collection areas will be priority for new acquisitions, and whether new collections (e.g., new formats, materials in a language with a growing population) need to be instituted. Factors taken into consideration when developing plans include Library and departmental objectives and activities for the year, actual and anticipated usage, identified collection gaps, and public input. This information translates into each location’s spending plan, which outlines how much of its overall budget is allocated to each collection area. Staff at each location are strongly encouraged to provide ongoing feedback regarding how their collection needs are being met, and to make specific title or subject suggestions.

Selection Criteria

To aid in the selection process, the following criteria are among those used by selectors to determine whether to select an item and if duplication is appropriate:

  • Current and anticipated needs and interests of the public; requests from the public
  • Favorable review in a standard reviewing source (e.g., Booklist, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews); reviews and discussion in national newspapers and magazines, local publications, broadcast media, and reputable online sources
  • Contribution to the diversity or breadth of the collection; presentation of unique or controversial point of view
  • Accuracy and timeliness of content
  • Author, artist, or publisher qualifications, significance, or reputation
  • Receipt of or nomination for awards or prizes; or inclusion of title in standard bibliographies or indexes
  • Price, availability, and location’s collection space and materials budget
  • Relevance of format and content to intended use and audience
  • Effectiveness and suitability of format in communicating content
  • Local interest and/or local author

No single criterion can be applied to all materials, and various criteria may carry different weights in different circumstances. Librarians exercise judgment, experience, and expertise in the application of these criteria; the critical determinant for acceptance or rejection is a work’s overall contribution to the collection.

Independently Published and Local Author Materials

The Library is sometimes asked to include items in the collection that are written and/or published independently, including both self-published/produced and published through a vanity press. The Library seeks out material with local connections and collection relevance that will appeal to a wide audience. Work by Springfield authors will receive principal consideration in this category, especially if the author will also be participating in author-based programming. A donated copy of a Springfield author’s book will often be accepted, keeping general selection criteria in mind. The Library will consider purchasing such material if it is available through its major vendors, Ingram and Baker & Taylor, though the Friends of the Springfield Library will often purchase one copy of a Springfield author’s work unavailable through these vendors. For independently published/produced material with no local connections, a positive review in one or more library review journals, including those that specialize in independently published material, along with potential wide appeal and/or ability to fill an otherwise hard-to-fill collection gap, are the strongest indicators for purchase.

Floating Collections

Collections are said to “float” when they remain at the Springfield branch where they are returned. The decision to float may range from a few collections to nearly all collections. Presently the Library floats only large print and spoken audio materials, with the goal of making these relatively small collections more accessible to all users. Staff at each location maintains these collections to determine which items should be weeded or relocated. Floating will be evaluated periodically to determine whether to maintain, expand, or discontinue.

Purchase Suggestions

The Springfield City Library encourages input from the community concerning the composition of the collection. Purchase suggestions, Appendix C, are subject to the same selection criteria as all materials and are not automatically added to the collection. For those suggestions that are also requests for individual use, every effort is made to borrow the material from another library system if it is not purchased for the collection.

Beyond these formal purchase suggestions, library staff regularly note topics and titles of interest to the community that are frequently requested but not readily satisfied by the current collection, and make every effort to add those titles and develop those subject areas.

Requests for Reconsideration

Library users have the right to question the inclusion of materials in the Springfield City Library collection. The Library will give serious consideration to each person’s opinion. Individuals questioning material in the library’s collections may ask library staff about such material. The staff person in charge of the location at the time will discuss these concerns and may give the individual a copy of this policy.

Those still opposing the inclusion of individual items in the collection may complete a Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials Form, Appendix D. This request will go to the Collection Development Manager, who will draft a recommendation based on such factors as the information provided by the user, how well the item meets the criteria for materials selection, consultation of review sources for the item, how the item fits in with the overall collection, personal examination, and consultation with appropriate library staff. This recommendation will be forwarded to the library director for approval. The library director will then respond to the individual in writing with the library’s decision.

Individuals who still have concerns about the material may request a hearing before the Springfield Board of Library Commissioners by making a written request to the Chair of the Board. The Board reserves the right to limit the length of presentation and number of speakers at the hearing. After receiving testimony from the public and from the library director, the Board will decide, based on the library’s policies, whether to uphold or override the decision.

Gifts and Donations

The Library welcomes gifts of books and other materials, but reserves the right to decline donations and to keep, discard, sell or make other appropriate disposal of donated materials that it does accept based on its mission and needs. Materials will only be accepted in good or better condition. Items not accepted as donations include:

  • Material in poor condition (e.g., stains, water damage, writing, mold, loose binding or pages, odors)
  • Formats not currently being collected by the Library (e.g., audio and video cassettes)
  • Book club editions
  • Textbooks and encyclopedias
  • Magazines, newspapers, and magazine gift subscriptions

Those with materials they would like to donate are requested to contact the specific branch to discuss the details of the intended donation and the logistics involved in delivery or pickup. Donations should not be left in or near Library book drops.

Monetary donations for materials, including but not limited to those given in memory, are gratefully accepted, with every effort made to select materials both appropriate to honor the donor or honoree’s interests and useful to the collection; these materials will be given personalized bookplates if requested. Substantial monetary donations with restrictions that would significantly change the scope of any part of the collection must first be approved by the Library Director and Library Commission.

Monetary donations to the general collection fund can be sent by check to the Director’s Office, 220 State Street, Springfield, MA 01103. Monetary donations of $1000 or more, whether intended for materials or other uses, should be sent by check to the Springfield Library Foundation, 220 State Street, Springfield MA 01103.

See full Gift Policy and Transfer of Ownership Form, Appendix B, for more details.



The Library’s collection is a living, changing entity. As items are added, others are reviewed for their continuing value and are sometimes removed from the collection. Weeding, the process of evaluating an item to determine if it will be retained, relocated, or replaced, is essential both to ensure the currency and relevance of the collection and to optimize the use of library space for collections, programs, and other public use. The process provides a more appealing, up-to-date collection, safeguards a reputation for reliable information, and allows us to adapt to the changing needs and interests of our diverse community.

The process reveals collection strengths, weaknesses, and gaps; excessive multiple copies and overabundance of materials in a formerly popular subject area; and items which need to be discarded, mended, transferred, or replaced. The process is also an opportunity to maintain the integrity of the library catalog by identifying missing or misplaced items, and either returning individual items to the shelf or proceeding with deletion and possible replacement.

Collection maintenance also includes periodic consideration of how areas of the collection are cataloged, with the goal of identifying any areas in which the arrangement could be made more equitable and accessible.

Maintenance Responsibility

The final authority for the Library collection rests with the Board of Library Commissioners. Implementation of the collection development policy and maintenance of the collection is assigned to Library staff. Professional staff at each location are responsible for maintaining that location’s collections under the direction of the Collection Development and Technical Services Manager.

Weeding Criteria

The collections of the Springfield City Library are not archival. Current usefulness is the determining factor in how long materials are kept, and no extraordinary effort is made to preserve or protect the last copy of any title in the collection.

Usage is a key indicator of whether an item still merits a place in the collection. The most recent circulation date, along with the total number of circulations, is of primary importance. The exact parameters to use for a particular collection in a particular location depend on a variety of factors, including space considerations and collection emphasis. Selection of materials for weeding is based on the CREW method of Continuous Review, Evaluation, and Weeding. This system uses the acronym MUSTIE to help evaluate an item for weeding:

  • Misleading and/or factually inaccurate
  • Ugly (worn out, torn beyond mending, stained, defaced)
  • Superseded by a new edition or a better source
  • Trivial (of little overall merit)
  • Irrelevant to the needs and interests of the community
  • Elsewhere (the material may be easily borrowed from another source)
Replacement Criteria

While the Library strives to maintain copies of standard and important works and items that have enduring value to the community, it does not automatically replace all materials withdrawn due to loss or damage. Crucial to the replacement decision is whether an updated item or an item in another format might better serve the same purpose. Other factors considered are demand, cost, availability to purchase, and availability to borrow from other libraries.

Disposal of Withdrawn Materials

The Library will make every reasonable effort to see that withdrawn material is disposed of in an appropriate manner. Through donation to the Friends of the Springfield Library, Inc., this may include but is not restricted to the sale to commercial firms or to the public (e.g., in-person book sales or online listings); sale or transfer to other libraries or agencies; or, assuming a withdrawn item has no intrinsic value in the judgment of the librarian (poor condition, outdated format or information, subject or author not in demand) give-away to users or disposal. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and depend on many factors, including the type, condition, and format of the individual items and their resale value.


This policy will be approved by the Board of Library Commissioners before taking effect, and will be reviewed and revised following the approval of the next strategic plan. Changing community needs may lead to an earlier policy review and revision as necessary to provide guidance for implementing changes in the collection.


A.     Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read Statement

B.     Gift Policy and Transfer of Ownership form

C.     Purchase Suggestion Form

D.     Request for Reconsideration of Materials Form


American Library Association 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.

I. 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, age, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

II. 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.

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

VI. 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.

VII. All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use. Libraries should advocate for, educate about, and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information.

American Library Association 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 counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals 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 individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. 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 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 or unwelcome scrutiny by government officials.

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 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, unpopular, or considered dangerous by 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 the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression 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 others. 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; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.

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. Further, democratic societies are more safe, free, and creative when the free flow of public information is not restricted by governmental prerogative or self-censorship.

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 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 Americans 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.


Gift Policy and Transfer of Ownership Form

Click link for form.


Materials Purchase Consideration Online Form

The Library welcomes input from the community regarding the collection. Please check our catalog first, then use this form to suggest a title if you don’t find what you’re looking for. Please submit suggestions for e-books and downloadable audiobooks directly through OverDrive.

Suggestions are evaluated according to the Library’s Collection Development Policy. Not all suggestions will be purchased, especially older or more specialized items, though we may be able to get many items for you from other libraries.


Request For Reconsideration Of Library Materials

Click link for form.