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 judgment 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 cancelling materials and electronic resources which are no longer useful.

3.2 Responsibility for Selection

The selection of library materials and 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 Director. He or she 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 (Mission Statement). 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.
C. Reflect the diverse religious, racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds of our community and our American heritage

The Library Board recognizes that many materials and electronic resources are controversial and that any given item may offend some patrons. Selection decisions, however, are not made on the basis of anticipated approval or disapproval, but solely on the ability of the work to serve the needs and interests of community 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. The works 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

3.5 Children’s Materials

Materials especially suited to young people from infancy through 8th grade are housed in the youth service areas of the Library. A collection of materials for young people of middle school and high school age is also housed in the Library’s Young Adult Services room (The Loft). 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 children’s materials is done according to prevailing norms as an aid to Library patrons. It is not intended to restrict any person in his or her use of the Library. All Library collections and resources are available to any Library user. Parents have the responsibility for the guidance of their child’s use of the Library and its resources.

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 books. 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 to disabled residents.

3.7 Weeding

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 listen to the question or objection 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 this item in the Library’s collection to be reconsidered, the patron should be given the “Citizen’s Request for Re-evaluation of Library Material” form. The form should be completed as fully as possible and returned to the Library Director.

The Library Director will convene a Materials Evaluation Committee consisting of the Unit Head where the concern originated, the staff person responsible for selection in this area, one other member of the staff, and the Library 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 meet to discuss and evaluate the material and the Library Director will prepare a report summarizing the Committee’s evaluation. A copy of this report will be sent to the person who submitted the “Citizen’s Request for Re-evaluation of Library Material” form.

If the patron is not satisfied with the Materials Evaluation Committee’s report, he/she can request a hearing with the Library Board. The members of the Board will be sent copies of the Committee’s report and the “Citizen’s Request for Re-evaluation of Library Material” form prior to the Board meeting at which the hearing 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

The Library accepts gifts of materials with the understanding that the same guidelines for selection are applied to gifts as to materials acquired by purchase. The Library reserves the right to evaluate and to dispose of gifts in accordance with the criteria applied to purchased materials. Gift material not added to the collection cannot be returned to the donor, but will be given consideration as book-sale items.

Funds for the purchase of memorials — books, periodical subscriptions, recordings, films, or other library materials — are accepted. The responsibility for selection of memorials rests with the Library’s staff following consultation with the donor on appropriate subjects. A memorial bookplate is placed in each item. The immediate family is notified promptly of any memorial gift and acknowledgment is made to the donor.

The Library has been particularly fortunate in receiving fine paintings, sculpture, furniture and equipment from donors. Although such gifts are usually welcomed and valued, the final decision on their acceptance rests with the Library’s Board of Trustees.

3.11 Security Deposits

When the Library Director determines that certain items in the Library’s collection are particularly prone to theft or to not being returned, he/she may place those items in a closed stack area of the Library and may require a deposit of ten dollars before the items can be checked out.

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