Collection Management Policy

Purpose Of Selection

Library materials are chosen to serve the informational, educational, and recreational needs of the entire community. The primary goal is to provide the best possible collection with the financial resources available. The Library strives to create an attractive, up to date, balanced collection representing all fields of knowledge and all sides of issues in a neutral, unbiased manner, as budgets, availability of materials, and space permit. 

Library staff select materials covering a wide range of ideas, issues, and lifestyles, in a variety of formats.  Due to this diversity, there will always be some materials that appeal or do not appeal to specific individuals. The existence of a particular viewpoint in the collection is an expression of the Library’s policy of intellectual freedom, not an endorsement of that particular point of view.

The Library encourages free expression and free access to ideas, both essential elements in a democratic society, and does not knowingly discriminate in its material selection regarding age, race, beliefs, or affiliations of the author or producer. CRRL has adopted the American Library Association statements on these principles. (Appendices A–C.)

Responsibility For Selection (Legal And Delegated)

The Director operates within the framework of the policies determined by the Library Board and in turn delegates to the professional staff the responsibility for selection of books, for the development of the collection, and for access to information in electronic format.  Every member of the professional staff participates in the selection process so that the community may benefit from a variety of subject expertises. The Library welcomes from the public recommendations for purchase, but cannot guarantee purchase of any suggestion.

Criteria For Selection

The following factors will be taken into consideration when selecting items for the collection:

  •  Relevance to community needs and interests
  •  Current and projected demand
  •  Availability and suitability of physical format for library purposes
  •  Relevance to existing subject coverage in the collection
  •  Reviews from library professional journals, subject-specific sources, and popular publications
  •  Clarity, readability, and ease of use
  •  Timeliness or permanence of material
  •  Accuracy and authenticity
  •  Literary merit and inclusion in standard bibliographies and indices
  •  Current and historical significance
  •  Authority and reputation of the author, publisher, and/or producer
  •  Local authorship or production
  •  Initial and ongoing costs
  •  Overall quality
  •  Technical aspects of audiovisual materials
  •  Regional availability and accessibility
  •  Space and maintenance requirements
  •  User interface and content of electronic products
  •  Online, network, and remote access capabilities
  •  System resource demands (hardware and personnel)
  •  Vendor training, support guides, and technical support
  •  Lease or ownership of electronic products

An item need not meet all criteria to be included in the collection.

Selection of materials and information is not restricted by the possibility that children or adolescents may obtain material their parents consider inappropriate.

Because of the volume of material produced today, librarians cannot read, review, or purchase all material or information.  Although the selection of material is most commonly made on the basis of reviews and standard bibliographies, many valuable works are never reviewed; therefore, librarians sometimes select material or information using their professional judgment to assess the quality of work and its importance for the community.

Materials Requiring Additional Criteria

Materials for Children or Adolescents
Materials must be available on a wide range of reading and interest levels appropriate for the wide age range of the juvenile and adolescent audiences. Responsibility for the reading, listening or viewing of library materials by minors rests with the parents or legal guardians, and not with the library staff.

Curriculum-Related Materials
CRRL accepts responsibility, within space and budgetary constraints, for providing supplementary reading and research materials for students. Textbooks may be added to the collection in areas in which they may be the best source of information on the subject.  They are not selected for CRRL collections to satisfy the requirements of a specific school course.

Special Collections
The Library is committed to developing certain special collections in response to identified community needs. Among these are the Virginiana, Large Print, Juvenile Literature, Adult Literacy, Law, and Subregional Library collections.

    1. Virginiana Collection: CRRL develops a non-circulating collection of materials as a means of preserving the local history and the community heritage of the service area.  Genealogical materials collected are intended to aid in researching families with connections to the region. The Library will facilitate use of this collection for those without easy access to the Headquarters facility by photocopying articles and by placing circulating copies of current Virginiana material at the branches when budget considerations allow. Librarians will rely on interlibrary loan to respond to customers' requests to borrow items CRRL does not circulate or include in the Virginiana collection. 
    2. Large Print Collection: The Library offers large print materials as a means of extending library service to individuals with low vision.  Selection is based on broad appeal as well as standing order plans of newly released titles.
    3. Juvenile Literature Collection: The Library maintains a non-circulating collection of juvenile books to support children's classes and events.
    4. Adult Literacy Collection: Cognizant of the continuing adult illiteracy problem in the service area, the Library maintains and develops a collection of high-interest, low-reading-level materials for adult new readers.
    5. Law Collection: The law collection is supported by the imposition of an assessment fee placed on each civil action filed in the circuit and general district courts of Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, and Stafford in accordance with §42.1-70, Code of Virginia.  The collection reflects research needs of local attorneys, as well as the general public. It includes electronic resources, as well as a collection of standard and popular works for the general reader on such topics as divorce, landlord-tenant law, and small business law.
    6. Subregional Library for the Visually and Physically Impaired: CRRL operates a subregional library for the visually and physically impaired to facilitate library service to all customers. Materials are selected by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) on the basis of broad general appeal.  Materials consist mainly of biographies, best sellers, and general fiction and include some juvenile and young adult titles.  CRRL automatically receives one copy of each new release from the NLS.  (Braille materials are available through ILL.)  Retention and withdrawal of these materials from the collection is prescribed by NLS.

The Library purchases periodicals in print and electronic formats and in searchable databases of periodical articles in electronic format to provide current material not yet available in book form, to supplement the book collection, to provide recreational reading, to use as research tools by staff and public, to serve as collection development tools, and to provide a collection of professional literature for staff continuing education.  

Criteria used in the selection of periodicals include reputation for authoritativeness, access through standard indices, local interest, and demand.

Library materials may be purchased in a variety of formats. Popular titles may be selected in both hardback and paperback editions, as well as spoken word, or as digital resources. The physical formats can be lost and are susceptible to damage from high circulation; digital resources cannot be damaged or lost by customers and do not incur any overdue fees.

Musical Recordings
The Library maintains a collection of recorded music for adults, young adults, and children. Factors to be considered in the selection of recordings include popular demand, composition, performance, reputation of the artist, quality of interpretation, and quality of recording.

The Library is committed to the development of a circulating film collection in the appropriate format.  Films with anticipated demand and value to the collection are acquired for adults, young adults, and children.  When available, closed-caption films or descriptive videos are purchased to meet the Library's commitment to serve the visually and hearing impaired.  

Customer requests for specific titles and donations will be considered if the film is appropriate to the collection, as funding allows.  The collection will be developed according to the standards stated in the general materials policy.  Titles are considered for addition on their merit and are neither purchased nor excluded because of their MPAA rating. Any rating information included on the packaging is left as is.  The Library does not add any other type of rating labels, nor does the Library monitor access to audiovisual materials.  The Library subscribes to the philosophy outlined in the American Library Association Freedom to View and Library Bill of Rights documents. (Appendices C and A)

The Library collects a limited number of films with public performance rights to support library programming.   

Spoken-Word Recordings
The Library maintains a collection of unabridged spoken word recordings, such as CD audiobooks, as well as a downloadable audio collection. Book-CD packages are purchased for the juvenile and young adult collections based on quality of the title, previous purchase in book form, and quality of recording.

Gift Books
The Library accepts unsolicited materials with the understanding that they become the permanent property of the Library, and their disposition is at the discretion of the Library.  For inclusion in the collection, gift materials must meet the same selection criteria as purchased material.  If gift material of marginal value is offered, processing costs and optimum use of shelf space are considered before material is accepted.  While the Library will not set a value on gifts, it will issue, for tax purposes, a receipt indicating the number and kinds of materials received.  Materials not selected for the collection will be placed in the FOL booksale.

Cash gifts will be accepted and spent in the general areas indicated by the donor, but the actual selection of titles will be made by CRRL librarians.

The decision to purchase technology is made on the basis of such factors as appropriateness of format, availability and relationship of subject matter to the existing collection, demand by the public, and budget considerations.

Electronic Information Resources
CRRL collects material in electronic format that meets the Library's criteria for authoritativeness, currency, and demand. Additional criteria for selecting electronic resources include   appropriateness of the electronic format to the information provided, ease of use, and price. CRRL will apply its selection criteria to information, databases, and applications chosen for inclusion on CRRL's networked PCs and Web site.  Many selected resources enable direct connectivity to the Internet; therefore, some information accessed electronically may not meet CRRL's selection criteria.

Free Distribution Of Multiple Copies

Information presented to the Library for distribution must conform to CRRL materials selection criteria. CRRL distributes free brochures as a public service to disseminate current information of popular interest, not readily available in other forms or from other sources.

The following priorities will serve as guidelines:

  • Information generated by local, state, and federal government agencies
  • Civic, educational, historical, and cultural ephemera, such as tax forms, campaign literature, calendars, and adult education and performing arts announcements and schedules
  • Health and welfare information
  • High-interest consumer information
  • Travel, leisure, and recreational brochures

The availability of an item does not constitute a CRRL endorsement of any theory, idea, or policy contained therein.  Varying and opposing viewpoints on issues are welcomed for distribution as space permits.   Quality of writing style and format may also be considered in accepting materials for distribution.

Ultimate responsibility for accepting items rests with the Library Director.

Maintenance Of Collection

Evaluation of the materials already in the Library collection is as important to collection development as the selection of new materials.  Library collections are not static; the collections date quickly in many subject areas; and the shelf and storage space available in any library is finite and new items are being added continually. 

In addition to assessing materials for their physical condition and their use, collection management staff use community input, as well as statistical tools such as circulation reports, collection turnover rates, statistical samplings, collection analysis software, and new materials counts to determine how the collection is being used and how it should be modified to best respond to customer needs.  

Through ongoing quantitative and qualitative assessments, the Library monitors the collection to insure that it is serving its public. 

Continual review of collections supports the needs of library users, providing accurate and current materials for information seekers. Weeding appropriately frees shelf space for actively circulating titles and encourages the browsing customer to perceive the Library as a source of relevant, up-to-date materials.

The Library Administration Center includes a distribution and processing facility that allows the Library to maintain appealing branch collections by housing less frequently used materials, such as holiday collections and older backlist titles, in this offsite location. Daily courier service makes these materials available to fill requests. The public branch spaces are dedicated to popular and current materials, displays, and feature appealing, user-friendly layouts.

A.  System-wide Collection and Duplication

CRRL develops a single collection for use by all customers, shared among all of its branches.  All circulating materials are available for use by all branches, moving to fill customer holds, or by staff transfers which place items in the branch collections where data indicates they are most needed.  Decisions are frequently made to purchase multiple copies of a popular item, or to ensure that copies are readily available in several branches at the same time.  As demand lessens, excess copies are withdrawn.

Works may be purchased in multiple formats, in response to reader demand.  These formats may include print hardback, ebook, audiobook, downloadable audio, large print, and paperback.

B.  Replacement

Materials withdrawn because of loss, damage, or wear may be considered for replacement, based on demand for the specific title. Additional or other titles on the subject may be purchased if more current information is available.

C.  Periodicals Retention 

The Library maintains back files of print periodicals deemed to have demonstrated potential for circulation or research value. The Library provides access to comprehensive databases of periodicals articles which include extensive back files in electronic format. The digital magazine collection, purchased in conjunction with the Library of Virginia, also includes backfile issues.

D.  Withdrawals

 Material may be withdrawn from the collection for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Irreparable damage
  • Obsolescence
  • Insufficient use
  • Space availability

It is the policy of the Library to offer discarded materials that are not irreparably damaged to the Friends of the Library to be included in their book sales. Withdrawn materials may occasionally be offered to community organizations to be distributed for reuse, upon request.  Obsolete and damaged materials are donated for recycling.

E.  Reconsideration

Once material has been accepted for the collection, it will not be removed at the request of those who disagree with it unless it can be shown to be in violation of CRRL selection policies.

A request for reconsideration of any material included in the Library's collection may be made by letter to the Director stating the specifics of the objection or complaint.   

The Collection Development coordinator will research the title in question, relying on reviews, his/her expertise, and the expertise of other librarians.  The coordinator will forward a recommendation to the Director who will write a letter to the requestor explaining the Library's decision to keep or to discard the title in question.  Any appeal of this decision must be made in writing to the Library Board.  

Area Resources

CRRL service area is rich in library resources. The proximity of the University of Mary Washington, Germanna Community College, National Park Service, and Mary Washington Hospital libraries afford CRRL customers access to specialized and scholarly collections which are beyond the scope and budget of CRRL. 

CRRL actively seeks collaborative partnerships and reciprocal borrowing agreements with other libraries. CRRL remains committed to networking with all libraries throughout the Commonwealth.

Interlibrary loan services are provided to all library users following standard library procedures. Interlibrary loan is provided, regardless of the requesting customer's age or purpose, in the shortest possible response time.  The customer is responsible for return postage and any insurance coverage.

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