Collection Policies

3. Materials Selection Policy

3.1 Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to guide librarians and to inform the public about the principles upon which selection and retention decisions are made. A policy cannot replace the expertise of professional library staff, but stating goals and indicating boundaries will assist them in both choosing from an array of materials and electronic resources and withdrawing or canceling materials and electronic resources which are no longer useful.

3.2 Responsibility for Selection

The selection of library materials and certain electronic resources within the framework of a Library Board-approved selection policy is an administrative function and is one of the duties and responsibilities of the Library Executive Director. They shall delegate this responsibility to appropriately trained and skilled staff members, who will be guided by this policy, literary standards, selection tools, the interests of library patrons, and the needs of the community and its individual members.

3.3 Objectives

The collections and electronic resources of the Evanston Public Library are the principal means by which the Library fulfills its mission as stated by the Library Board in its Mission Statement. The Library seeks to develop a meaningful collection that is positioned to meet the needs of the community and supports equity, diversity, and inclusion. The Library will strive to provide materials and electronic resources that:

A. Enrich, entertain, and serve the varied interests of community residents;
B. Provide community residents with reliable information sources for their personal needs; and
C. Reflect the diverse religious, racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds of our community and our world.

The Library Board recognizes that many materials and electronic resources are controversial and that any given item may offend some patrons. “Controversial” in this case is defined as “giving rise or likely to give rise to public disagreement.” Selection decisions are not made on the basis of anticipated approval or disapproval, but on the ability of the item to serve the needs and interests of Evanston residents. The Evanston Public Library Board of Trustees is bound by the democratic principles expressed by the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution and endorses the American Library Association’s “Library Bill of Rights,” and incorporates it as part of this policy.

3.4 Guidelines for Selection

Selection is a critical and interpretive process. Reviews are the principal tool used in the selection of library materials and electronic resources. Staff members selecting library materials and electronic resources are also assisted by bibliographic publications, authoritative discussions of the subject, publisher and vendor advertising and demonstrations, popular demand, and requests of library patrons. In selecting materials for the Evanston Public Library the following criteria will be used as they apply:

A. Comprehensiveness and depth of treatment; clarity, accuracy, objectivity and logic of presentation; artistic quality and/or literary style as established by reviews in standard selection sources
B. Permanence, current relevance, or social significance of the content
C. Reputation of author, producer, or publisher
D. Contribution to the diversity of viewpoints on controversial issues
E. Suitability of the physical format for library use
F. Local interest and popularity
G. Reference value

Selection of digital content can vary among the vendors who supply digital content to the library. In instances when individual title selection is not available, selection of the service will be based upon the reputation and overall content offerings of the vendor.

3.5 Youth Materials

Materials especially suited to young people from infancy through sixth grade are housed in the Youth Service areas of the main Library as well as the Library’s branches. A collection of materials for young people of middle school and high school age is also housed in the Library’s Teen Services room (The Loft), and in special areas of the branches. These materials are carefully selected for younger patrons using the same general guidelines as the adult collections. The assignment of maturity or reading levels to youth materials is done according to publisher and reviewer recommendations as an aid to library patrons. It is not intended to restrict any person in their use of the Library. All library collections and resources are available to any Evanston cardholder. Parents/caregivers/guardians have the responsibility for the guidance of their child’s use of the Library and its resources. The Library does not collect textbooks, academic, or technical materials unless they are considered useful generally or supportive to the Library’s Strategic Plan.

3.6 Format

The Evanston Public Library began as a collection of books and other printed materials and these remain the cornerstone of the Library’s collections. Almost from its beginning, however, the Library collected informational and cultural resources in audio and visual formats as well, and such resources represent an important component of the Library’s collections. Today, the Library also provides access to a variety of electronic resources that don’t exist as a physical presence in the Library’s facilities. Selection criteria for non-book formats are generally the same as for print materials. These materials may be available in a variety of formats. Factors governing the choice of format include anticipated use, storage requirements, ease of access, and the format of earlier editions. When all other factors are equal, ease of access by the public should be the primary consideration.
Availability of items in the format, the cost per item, and the Library’s ability to acquire and handle the items will be factors in determining when a new format will be collected. Similar considerations will influence the decision to delete a format from the Library’s collections.
The Library recognizes the importance of acquiring materials in formats that can be utilized by Evanston residents with disabilities. The Library will seek to match community demand with the existing collections of such materials, and will be alert for new formats that could be of use by residents with disabilities.

3.7 Collection Maintenance

The Library regularly withdraws materials that are out of date, no longer of interest, duplicated, worn, or mutilated. Weeding the collection in this manner serves three purposes. First, it keeps the collection useful to library patrons by withdrawing those materials that are too dated or damaged to be useful. Second, it makes it easier for patrons to use the collection by eliminating the necessity of sorting through those items that are no longer of interest or use. Third, it maintains the Library’s collections at sizes appropriate to the Library’s facilities. Frequency of circulation, community interest and needs, and the availability of newer and more useful works are the primary considerations when making decisions to withdraw library materials.

3.8 Re-evaluation of Library Material

When a member of the community has a question or an objection concerning the presence of a book or other item in the collection, library staff will give serious consideration to each patron’s opinion and inform the person of the Library’s Materials Selection Policy, especially the Guidelines for Selection. If this discussion does not satisfy the patron and the patron would like the inclusion of the item in the Library’s collection to be reconsidered, the patron should be given the “Resident’s Request for Re-evaluation of Library Material” form. The form should be completed as fully as possible and returned to the Library Executive Director.
The Library Executive Director will convene a Materials Evaluation Committee consisting of the manager of the department where the concern originated, the staff person responsible for selection in this area, the Collection Development Manager, one other member of the staff, and the Library Executive Director. All members of the Committee will read, view, or listen to and evaluate the material in question. Review sources will also be examined.
The Committee will then meet to discuss and evaluate the material, and the Library Executive Director will prepare a report summarizing the Committee’s evaluation. A copy of this report will be sent to the person who submitted the “Resident’s Request for Re-evaluation of Library Material” form.
If the patron is not satisfied with the Materials Evaluation Committee’s report, they can request that the Library Board review whether or not the Library Executive Director and Committee followed proper procedures. The members of the Board will be sent copies of the Committee’s report and the “Resident’s Request for Re-evaluation of Library Material” form prior to the Board meeting at which the review is scheduled.

3.9 Reference Collection

Reference materials, by their nature, are intended for use in the Library by all our patrons and must be available at all times the Library is open. Consequently, reference materials, including magazines (except for those subscriptions specifically purchased for circulation), cannot be checked out of the Library. In order to facilitate access, the Library will subscribe to or purchase online versions of standard reference and periodical resources whenever feasible.

3.10 Gifts and Donations

The Library accepts gifts and donations of materials in accordance with the Gift Acceptance Policy and our collection management strategy.

3.11 Use Limitations

Use limitations ensure fair and equitable access to materials. Access to some items may be limited by their rarity, value, uniqueness, fragile physical condition, or a combination of these factors. In-house and remote access to digital and electronic resources is provided within technical, budgetary, and licensing constraints.

3.12 Interlibrary Loan

Items that are not in the Library’s collection or in the CCS consortium may be obtained on behalf of the patron from another library system via established interlibrary loan networks. Conversely, Evanston Public Library’s materials may be lent to other organizations that also participate in the networks.

3.13 Policy Amendment and Review

The current policy was approved by the Library Directors and its Board on March 16, 2022. An attorney or other qualified individual and the Board will review this policy no less frequently than every five years in order to ensure accurate reflection of current laws.

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