I. Purpose of a Selection Policy


     A written materials selection policy aids library staff in selecting and acquiring a useful, well-rounded collection of books and other materials to meet the needs of the community.

     A policy statement helps the library board determine whether the staff is doing an acceptable job of building a collection of materials that is relevant to community needs and that meets accepted standards of quality, and it is useful in instructing new board members in existing board policy.

     A policy statement helps answer questions by the public regarding the presence or absence of certain materials and helps explain the basis on which materials have been selected.


II. National Statements Concerning Intellectual Freedom


The Library Board and librarians believe that the right to read is an important part of the intellectual freedom that is basic to democracy, and hereby adopts these two basic documents as official library policy: The Library Bill of Rights; The Freedom to Read Statement.




III. Objectives in Materials Selection


     The purpose of Albemarle Regional Library System is to obtain, organize and make conveniently available to all the people of the community recreational, educational and informational materials in a convenient form, including books, periodicals, newspapers, pamphlets, micro-forms, recordings and other print and non-print materials. It is the policy of the library to maintain an up-to-date collection of standard works in all fields of knowledge that are of permanent value, plus timely materials on current issues and items in current demand.

     In addition to the requirements of the general public served, materials will be selected to meet the needs of business, the professions, government, and community organizations. Materials selection will also include consideration of the needs of the homebound, the visually, physically and mentally disabled and those individuals with learning disabilities. The needs of adult beginning readers and of people for whom English is not the principal language will also be considered. Both the adult and young people's collections will serve as supplementary sources for student use, but materials selected for students must also be useful to the general reader. Textbooks will not ordinarily be purchased.


IV. Responsibility for Selection


     The selection of materials as a privilege belongs to every member of the staff; as a responsibility, it rest finally with the Director.


V. Method of Materials Selection


General Principles:


Any materials selection policy must be fairly general, and librarians must always exercise their knowledge and experience of all library materials and of the community served. Certain methods and principles should be followed as closely as possible.


  1. Basic to this policy is the Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read Statement of the American Library Association.
  2. Selection is based on the merits of a work in relation to the needs and interests of the community and the existing materials collection and must meet anticipated needs of potential users as well as known needs of current users.
  3. Responsibility for guidance of reading and viewing by children and adolescents belongs to parents and guardians. Responsibility for the use of instructional materials including public performance videocassettes and other materials belongs to the presenter and should be previewed or read for content prior to use.
  4. Materials containing emphasis on sex or using profanity shall not be automatically rejected without consideration of literary or viewing value. However, the selection process will exclude from library purchase those materials that are characterized by calculated eroticism in the absence of redeeming social value.
  5. Selection must be based on the content as a whole including any type of illustration, without regard to the person reputation of the author, composer or producer.
  6. The collection should contain opposing views on controversial topics and should represent the best possible balance among all sides of public issues.
  7. The appearance of any material on a best-seller list does not in itself justify purchase.
  8. The same standards for the purchase of materials will be applied to gifts. No special shelves will be provided as a condition of acceptance. Exceptions will not be permitted without action of the applicable Board of Trustees. (See Gifts and Donations Policy)
  9. No more than two (2) items representing any religious denomination, political opinion or moral code, etc., can be accepted as gifts.
  10. There will be a routine withdrawal of damaged worn or outdated materials that are no longer useful in maintaining active collections. (See Book Withdrawal Policy) Except for this, only the Regional Board of Trustees may remove materials from circulation.
  11. Any person who wished to have materials removed from the collections must follow procedures outlined in the “Reconsideration of Materials Policy”.  The decision of the Regional Library Board of Trustees in this matter is final.




A. Criteria: Each type of material must be considered in terms of its own merit and intended audience. All selections, both purchases and gifts, must meet some of the following criteria:


1. Appeals to the interests and needs of individuals in the community.


2. Permanent value as source material or interpretation.


3. Vitality and originality of thought.


4. Contemporary significance.


5. Artistic excellence.


6. Entertaining presentation.


7. Accuracy and objectivity.


8. Suitability of physical form to library use.


9. Skill, competence and purpose of the author.


10. Relations to other materials and existing areas of coverage in order to maintain a well balanced collection.


11. Technical quality in selection of non-book material.



B. Reviews: Reviews in professionally recognized periodicals are a primary source for materials selection. Standard bibliographies, booklists by recognized authorities and the advice of competent people in specific subject areas will be used.


C. Requests: All requests from patrons for specific titles or subject requests will be considered. Whenever there is enough demand or interest in a title or subject, an item with unfavorable reviews may be purchased unless it is completely without literary or social value, or the subject in question is sufficiently covered by better materials.


D. Specialized Materials: Specialized materials of limited community interest will not ordinarily be purchased. Referral to other library collections and interlibrary loan will be used to supply patrons with these materials.


Supplementary materials for students and information for specialists are provided in a limited number of fields, the library taking cognizance of and avoiding unnecessary duplication in subject areas that are the special prerogative of other community resources.


VI. Replacement and Maintenance: The library keeps its collection vital and useful by retaining or replacing essential material, and removing on a systematic and continuous basis materials which are worn, out-dated, of little historical significance or no longer in demand.


VII. Access


A. Processing and shelving of materials shall in no way reflect a value judgment of the materials. There will be no labeling of any item or of its catalog cards to indicate its point of view or bias.


B. The library assures free access to its holding for all patrons who are free to select or reject for themselves any item in the collection. Individual or group prejudice about a particular item or type of material in the collection may not preclude its use by others.


C. Children are not limited to the juvenile collection, although juvenile collections are kept together to facilitate use. Responsibility for a child's reading/viewing/listening interests must rest with the parent or guardian, not with the library.


VIII. Statement of Specific Policies in Selected Areas:


A. Adult Materials


     Fiction: The fiction collection provides books in the English language for the wide range of interests of the general reading public, including classics in the field, titles representing periods of writing and those meeting the popular demand for light reading. Books which are obviously pornographic, should be excluded, but no book should be eliminated because of course language, or violence, or frank discussion of sexual episodes, and one of which may be objectionable to some people, if the author is justified in what he portrays, or when such episodes are pertinent to the plot or character delineation in a book. It is the library's responsibility to protect the rights of mature readers.

     Religion: The library attempts to maintain a well-balanced collection representing all the major religions and their sacred scriptures. Authoritative material that introduces and explains the basic concepts and practices of the various religions and beliefs are also included. The library does not add materials of a strictly proselytizing nature. The collection encompasses popular studies on new ideas and movements that are taking place in religion today. Books on astrology, witchcraft and other occult sciences should be limited to the best, most reasonably presented.

     Science and Medicine: The library generally purchases standard and popular materials in health, nutrition, hygiene, diseases and medicine that are primarily of interest to persons outside the medical profession.

     Authoritative, scientific and popular materials about sex are provided for the general reader at various age and reading levels. Books catering to morbid, esoteric or sensational interests do not come within the scope of the collection.

     Law: The library purchases standard and popular materials that deal with the philosophy of law and particular types of law such as real estate, taxation, marriage and divorce for the lay reader.

     Politics: In addition to a balanced collection on modern American and international politics and government, the basic doctrines of all political systems that have influenced, and do influence people, should be available to the public. Outright propaganda should be avoided except for a few representative items.

     Genealogy: Due to both financial and space limitations, genealogy collections will normally be housed at county libraries.  Except for a few elementary texts on genealogical searches, the library buys only materials which have general reference value, or which are of value to general readers and contains information of local and or regional interest. Individual family histories are rarely purchased unless they are of outstanding national or local importance.   The library will attempt to secure genealogical materials through inter-library loan whenever possible.


B. Juvenile Materials


     The Children's Department selects materials on subjects of interest to and within the comprehension of children from pre-school through the eighth grade.

     A few adult books of interest to students of children's literature, parents, and people working with children are also purchased. These include historical perspectives and evaluations of children's literature, information on children's authors and illustrators, and bibliographies of materials for children.

     Graded readers are bought sparingly for the primary grades. Abridged editions of the classics are purchased only when they retain the quality or flavor of the original. Paperback books usually duplicate copies of hardbound titles already in the collection. In addition, a few easy reading ephemeral books are purchased.


C. Young Adult Materials


     Titles of interest to persons of junior high school age are purchased by and shelved in the children's area.

     Specialized review sources are consulted as well as the standard journals.


D. Extension Materials


     The entire library collection with the exception of Reference and genealogy materials, are available for use through outreach services including, but not limited to nursing homes, homebound service and through inter-library loan


E. Non-Book Materials


     The library staff considers that non-book materials represent an alternative format and may be selected when the non-book form best meets the needs of the community. Materials in alternative formats may be phased out as their use declines, and should adapt to new formats as community needs or current trends dictate.  In general, the same selection policies will apply.


1. Periodicals and Newspapers: The library endeavors to provide the most representative periodicals in a wide range of subjects of reference value and recreational interest. Particular interest is given to titles included in periodical indexes. Specialized titles are considered in relation to subject needs and their unavailability in area and regional libraries. County libraries should when finance and space allows, maintain on microfilm a collection of local newspapers.


2. Maps: World, national, state and local atlases are also maintained in a specified area.


3. Microforms:  Some county libraries may maintain microfilm where finance and space allow. The local newspapers are maintained on microfilm where affordable as well as other data of local interest, i.e. cemetery records, birth, death and marriage records and U.S. Census data.


4. Recordings: The library maintains an active collection of music recordings. Books-on-tape are purchased with the intent of providing the public with recordings of some of the most popular current titles. No discernable preference is given to abridged or unabridged titles.


5. Videocassettes: Videocassettes are chosen to include informational and instructional materials, current community events, and artistic, or entertaining performances. Special emphasis is given to current popular movies when able to purchase at reasonable prices.


6. Online databases: The library may purchase subscription rights to materials available through online databases that would be of regional interest to its users. Special emphasis should be given to “remote access” privileges when considering these materials, a well as cost.


7. Equipment: Some libraries may have 16-mm projectors, filmstrip viewers


IX. Gifts - See "Gifts and Donation Policy".








Whenever any patron objects to the presence or absence of any library material, the complaint will be given hearing.

All complaints to staff members will be referred to a librarian who will discuss the matter with the complainant. If not satisfied, the patron may make an appointment with the Board of Trustees to discuss the matter further.


If the patron wishes, he/she will be supplied with the "Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials" form (appended below). The librarian will examine the item in question. If it is a request for withdrawal, check reviews, and determine whether it conforms to the standards for the Materials Selection Policy. If it is a request for an addition of an item that has been rejected by the library, the librarian will reconsider the addition. The librarian will decide whether or not to add, withdraw, to restrict the material in question and will write to the complainant giving the reasons for the decision. Materials subject to complaint shall not be removed from use pending final action.












Request initiated by:


Telephone: Address:


Complainant represents: Her/himself:_____; Name of organization:______________________________;


Identify other group:_____________________________________________


Use back of sheet if necessary.


1. To what in the materials do you object? (Please be specific)


2. What do you feel might be the result of reading or viewing this material?


3. For what age group would you recommend this material?


4. Is there anything good about the material?


5. Did you read or view the material in its entirety?


If not, what parts did you examine?


6. Are you aware of the judgment of this material by literary critics?


7. What do you believe is the theme of this material?


8. What would you like the librarian to do about this material?


9. What do you see as the purpose of this material?


10. What other material, serving substantially the same purpose, would you recommend in place of this?




Signature of Complainant_____________________________________




                                  BOOK WITHDRAWAL POLICY


Book withdrawal is an important aspect of collection development. When library books lose the value for which they were originally selected, they should be withdrawn so that the collection remains vital and useful. The withdrawal of books is based on the following guidelines:


1. To remove physically worn out or damaged volumes from the library.


2. To eliminate books containing obsolete information.


3. To remove duplicate copies of titles that have waned in popularity, eliminating those most physically damaged or worn.


3. To consider for withdrawal, books which have not been checked out for several.years. The library's rule of thumb on most materials is that if it has not been checked out in five years it may be discarded. Points to consider include the current popularity of the author and the historical and literary significance of the material in question.


Disposition of Withdrawn Materials:


     All materials withdrawn from the collection should be stamped as "discarded" or "withdrawn.


The Library Director in agreement with the Library Board of Trustees will make the final decisions regarding the disposition of materials withdrawn from the collection.




Possible options for withdrawn items and donated items not included in collection include:


1. Fundraising project for the libraries.


2. Other non-profit organizations or institutions.


3. Recycle when possible.