This policy governs the selection and maintenance of the Essex Public Library’s collection of materials.  In keeping with the library’s mission statement, collection development should enrich life, inspire lifelong learning, foster literacy and stimulate the imagination.  Through this policy the Essex Public Library strives to offer free access to information reflecting differing viewpoints, needs and interests in order to support an open and democratic society.  This Collection Development Policy is in accordance with the American Library Association guidelines including the Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read statement.


The intention of this policy is to guide selectors in the process of evaluating and selecting materials which anticipate and satisfy the needs of the residents of Essex County as well as to explain the collection development process to other staff and patrons of the library.  The main points of this policy include: objectives, responsibility of selectors, criteria for selection, collection maintenance, gifts, and requests for reconsideration.


The Essex Public Library will make available a wide variety of print and non-print materials that improve, change, enrich and provide enjoyment even if the materials do not have permanent relevancy or value.

  1. The collection is not archival and is continuously reviewed to make the best use of space and to remain contemporary.
  2. The collection will reflect a variety of opinions (minority and majority) on a subject.
  3. The collection will meet the needs of a broad range of people while paying special attention to local concerns and interests.

Responsibility of Selectors

The responsibility for selecting materials for the collection legally rests with the Library Board. The Board delegates selection to the Library Director and his/her designees. Department heads participate in the selection process and all staff are encouraged to submit recommendations for purchase.

Criteria for Selection

Selection of materials, whether purchased or donated, is based on the informational, educational, or recreational need of the community and is dependent on space, budget and availability.

No single selection standard can be applied to all acquisitions to the library.   Each item should be considered individually and take into account its intended audience. When available, annotations or descriptions should be taken into account.  Some items, however, may be chosen simply on artistic value or scholarship.

In order to build well-rounded collections the following criteria will be applied to selecting items whether they be purchased or donated:

General Criteria:

  1. Appropriateness and effectiveness of format.
  2. Suitability of subject, style, and reading level for intended audience.
  3. Opinions from critics, reviews, public opinion, and professional selection aids.
  4. Present and potential relevance to community needs.
  5. Importance as a document of the times (publication date).
  6. Reputation and/or significance of author, producer or publisher.
  7. Prize or honor received.
  8. Relation to existing collection and other materials on the subject.
  9. Availability and accessibility of the same material in the SOVALUe electronic collection.
  10. Demand or request for materials.

Patron requests:

Patrons of the library may request specific item titles to be considered for the collection. In most cases the request will be granted.  However if the item does not meet the general criteria, the selector reserves the right to reject the request.

Collection Maintenance


All collections of the library should be weeded over the course of the year. Weeding of the collection insures that materials found in the library are useful and accessible. Collections should change over time to meet the changing needs of the community, the advancement of science, changes in the world and goals of the library.

Weeding decisions ultimately depend on the professional judgments of the library staff.  Removal of damaged or antiquated materials should be a continual process.

Criteria to consider for removal of an item:

  1. Publication date
  2. Accuracy of information
  3. Circulation statistics
  4. Last use vs. date added
  5. Subject material
  6. Duplicates
  7. Physical condition or overall appearance of the item

Extensive information on weeding is provided in CREW: A Weeding Manual for Modern Libraries (, which is the Library’s preferred guide to weeding its collections.

Criteria of what not to weed:

  1. Local history items
  2. Items by local authors or artists

Withdrawal Process:

Items are regularly withdrawn from the collection to make room for items newer, more useful or popular. The following are the steps to be taken when discarding an item:

  1. Change the status of the item record to “Withdrawn” in the automated library system.
  2. Stamp books “Withdrawn.”  Try to stamp in places where the book has identifying markings such as the title page and the item barcode.
  3. Note date withdrawn on inside cover
  4. Place items on our book sale shelves for sale 3 months.
  5. After 3 months put items with other donations to be considered for donation or disposal.


A replacement is an item purchased to take the place of an identical title previously in the collection.  A selector should consider replacing an item that has been damaged, stolen or lost using the same criteria used in considering an item for purchase.  Not all items that are damaged, stolen or lost should automatically be replaced.  Donations may be considered as replacements.

Gift Books:

Gift books are books purchased with money donated for that specific purpose. It is the responsibility of the selection team to select the books. Donors may suggest ideas for subjects or designate a reading level.


Donations of books and other materials are accepted with the understanding that the items might be added to the collection, placed on the sale shelves, or disposed of.  New titles acquired in this manner are subject to the basic standards of selection, and replacement and duplicate copies are added to the collection only if needed.

The library will provide receipts indicating the number of donated items upon request for gift books for tax deductions or other purposes.

Reconsideration (Challenges) Procedures

The Essex Public Library recognizes that differences of opinion may exist in the community about the validity and value of materials in the Library’s collection. It is the library’s position that while anyone is free to reject for himself materials of which he does not approve, he cannot exercise this right of censorship to restrict the freedom of others.

Responsibility for the reading of children and young adults rests with their parents or legal guardians. Essex Public Library does not stand in loco parentis. It is the responsibility of parents to monitor what their children check out.

Library materials are not marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of the contents.  No book or other library material is sequestered, except for the purpose of protecting it from injury or theft. Items that have been accepted into the collection as qualifying under the criteria for selection will not be automatically removed at the request of those who disagree with its content. The following procedures are a guide for handling a request for reconsideration.

  1. A member of the Collection Development Team should informally explain the selection process of the library to the person who is making a challenge.
  2. If that does not resolve the protest, the complainant will need to fill out a “Request for Reconsideration of Library Material” form.
  3. Inform the Library Director of the issue.
  4. The challenged material remains on the shelf until a decision is made.
  5. Director appoints a Review Committee made up of a member of the staff, the library director, a board member, and a non-partial community representative.
  6. The following steps are carried out by the Review Committee
  • Read, view, or listen to material
  • Reference general acceptance of the item by reading reviews and consulting recommended lists.
  • Determine the extent to which the item meets the selection policy, and consider the written complaint.
  • Discuss the material confidentially.
  • Write a report.
  • The library director then presents the committee’s decision.


This policy was adopted on October 17, 2012