The purpose of this policy is both to provide the community with an explanation of selection criteria and methods for providing input into the library’s collections and to guide library staff in the selection and maintenance of library collections.
II. Library Mission
The Springfield City Library is a community and information center that engages a diverse population and connects them to timely, accessible resources through responsive public service in order to: promote the value of reading and self-expression in its young people; promote lifelong learning, independence and individual personal achievement for citizens of all ages; and to provide opportunities for community members to challenge and examine their world and to explore the diversity of other worlds and heritages.
III. Collection Objectives and Scope
In support of this mission, the library is thus responsible for providing a wide range of materials for users of all ages, backgrounds, and opinions. Fundamental to developing the collections of the library system are the Library Bill of Rights, The Freedom to Read, and the Freedom to View, all adopted by the American Library Association (see Appendix 1). As a forum for information and ideas, the library’s commitment is to diversity and a range of attitudes, not suppression and conformity. Using the Library Bill of Rights as a guide, materials are selected because of their potential benefits or usefulness to some portion of the library’s clientele. 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. The library does not endorse every idea or presentation contained in the materials it makes available.
While the library attempts to fill every informational or recreational request with appropriate materials, the library cannot make judgments related to appropriate materials for specific children. Only a child’s own parent or guardian can decide what material is suitable for reading, listening, or viewing. Neither the library nor anyone else has the right to make these decisions for other people’s children.
Materials selected for the Springfield City Library are intended to meet the diverse cultural, informational, educational and recreational needs of the residents of Springfield. The scope of the collection is intended to offer a choice of format (e.g., book, magazine, CD, DVD, etc.), level of difficulty, and language (materials are currently acquired in English, Spanish, Russian, and Vietnamese) so that most library needs can be met and service given to individuals of all ages, within budget constraints. The emphasis is on acquiring materials of wide-ranging interest to the general public. Textbooks are not usually acquired unless they are the best, or sometimes the only, source of information on a subject. While basic books on how to conduct genealogical research are acquired, in-depth genealogical materials are not, since the Local History and Genealogy Library at the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, located in Springfield, houses an extensive genealogical collection. The collections of the Springfield City Library are not archival. Current usefulness is the determining factor in how long materials is kept, and no extraordinary effort is made to preserve or protect the last copy of any title in the collection.
The Springfield City Library is a member of the Central and Western Massachusetts Automated Resource Sharing (C/W MARS), a network of over 140 public, academic, and special libraries in the area; this membership provides a gateway to the holdings of all Massachusetts regional library systems. The library is also a member of the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), a nonprofit community library service organization which provides access, through interlibrary loan, to the collections of many of the over 53,500 member libraries in 96 countries and territories. Through participation in these networks, Springfield is able to locate and borrow for our users most items not owned by the Springfield City Library.
IV. Selection process
A. Responsibility for Selection
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, along with the Youth and Outreach Services Manager, responsibility for establishing guidelines and procedures for day-to-day selection activities by professionals in the various departments and branches based on their training, experience, 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 may include centralized selection for designated collection areas.
Early each fiscal year, branch managers and Central Library selectors complete annual collection plans for their locations. These plans detail which areas of the collection will be emphasized during the year, which areas de-emphasized, and whether new collections (e.g., new formats, materials in a language with a growing population) need to be initiated. 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.
B. Community Participation
Community involvement in the collection shaping process is encouraged. Each summer, prior to the library director’s approval and finalization of the annual collection and spending plans, the library will formally seek community input on each location’s collection emphases during the coming year. Particular mechanisms could include surveys, focus groups, branch library advisory committee meetings, teen advisory boards, neighborhood council meetings, open neighborhood meetings, or other similar methods to elicit input concerning the shaping of each location’s collection during the coming year.
Beyond this formal input, 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 develop those areas.
Library users are also encouraged to submit suggestion forms (see Appendix 2) to ensure that particular library materials in which they have an interest are considered for purchase. These requests are subject to the selection criteria described below; for those requested items not selected for the collection, every effort is made to borrow the item from another library system for the requesting user.
C. 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 relevance or interest
- Requests from the public; demand and anticipated demand
- Author’s significance or reputation
- Favorable review in a standard reviewing source, such as 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
- Importance as an historical record; timeliness or permanence
- Relevance to existing collections; scarcity or abundance of other material or balance of different points of view
- Local interest and/or local author
- Citation in special or significant bibliographies or indexes
- Cost in relation to branch’s collection size and materials budget
- Physical quality of format for intended use
- Availability elsewhere through system-wide holds, interlibrary loan or other cooperative arrangements
No single criterion can be applied to all materials, and various criteria 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.
Additional selection considerations relating to specific types of materials can be found here (see appendix 3).
D. Reconsideration of Library Materials
Library users have the right to question the inclusion of materials in the 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 give the individual a copy of this policy.
Individuals still questioning library material may complete a “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials” form (see Appendix 4) This request goes to either the Collection Development or the Youth and Outreach Services Manager, depending on the type of material being questioned. The manager then drafts 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 is forwarded to the library director for approval. The library director then responds 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.
V. Collection Maintenance
Collection maintenance includes weeding, mending, binding, replacement, storage, duplication, preservation and disposal. Annual plans outline which portions of the collection are to be examined within the year.
Weeding is the continuous process by which obsolete, seldom-used, badly-worn, or no longer appropriate items are withdrawn from the collection. Weeding is as important as selection. Most of the materials kept in the collection should meet the guidelines for new selections. The process reveals subject strengths, weaknesses, gaps, excessive multiple copies, overkill in a formerly popular subject area, and items which need to be discarded, mended, transferred or replaced.
While the library attempts to maintain copies of standard and important works, it does not automatically replace all materials withdrawn due to loss or damage. Basic to the replacement decision is whether a newer, updated item or one in another format might better serve the same purpose. Other factors considered in the replacement decision are demand, cost, availability to purchase, and availability to borrow from other libraries.
C. Disposal of Withdrawn Materials
In general, the library will make every reasonable effort to see that the withdrawn material is disposed of in the most appropriate manner. This may include but is not restricted to the sale to commercial firms or to the public (e.g., through the Friends of the Springfield Library, Inc. book sales); sale or transfer to other libraries or agencies; or, assuming an inappropriate item has no intrinsic value in the judgment of the librarian, give-away to users or disposal. These decisions will be made individually and will depend on many factors, including the type, condition, and format of the individual items; their resale value; and cooperative interlibrary loan and collection development activities.
The library selectively accepts gifts of books, periodicals, audio and video recordings, and other material for public use. The appraisal of a gift for tax purposes is the responsibility of the donor. Gifts to the library are judged on the same criteria as purchased material. The library is unable to house and promote a substantial special collection. Conditions of display, housing, access, and withdrawal are considered when evaluating whether to accept donations of special items. Material that is not added to the collection may be offered to the Friends of the Springfield Library, Inc. for their book sales, or disposed of as outlined for withdrawn materials. Please see the printable copy of the Gift Policy and “Document of Transfer of Ownership.”
VII. Policy Review
The Springfield Board of Library Commissioners has approved the final version of this policy prior to its implementation. Sections will be reviewed and updated as needed throughout the five-year period, with approval of the Board sought if the changes are substantial. The next complete revision will be completed following the approval of the FY2011-2015 strategic plan.
Approved April 2, 2006 by the Springfield Library Commission