Collection Development Policy
Request for reconsideration of library materials form can be found under the paragraph “Reconsideration of Material Already in the Collection”.
Statement of Objectives
The primary objective for collection development of the Middlebury Public Library is to provide the resources and services necessary to meet the educational, recreational, cultural, and informational needs of the population served, in accordance with the broad service goals of the Library.
The Library provides access to information in the most appropriate formats, whether print, non-print, or electronic. Materials are selected in anticipation of, and in response to, identified community and personal needs. The Library represents as many points of view as possible, irrespective of their general social acceptability, to provide a place where anyone may encounter the original, sometimes unorthodox, and critical ideas so necessary in a society that depends for its survival on free competition of ideas.
*No material is excluded because of the race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political or social views of the author.
**Selection of materials by the Library does not mean the Library endorses the contents or the views expressed in those materials.
***The Library endorses the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights (see Appendix B) and follows these guidelines as they pertain to collection development.
Authority & Responsibility for Collection Development
The ultimate responsibility for the selection of all library materials rests with the Library Director, and, under their direction, is given to the professional staff, who are qualified for this activity by reason of education, training, and experience.
Gift materials are accepted with the understanding that they will be used or disposed of as the Library sees fit. The same criterion for their inclusion in the collection is used as for the purchase of new materials. The Library does not provide an evaluation of any gifts for tax deduction or other purposes.
Criteria for Selection
- Availability, suitability, and quality of the physical form
- Suitability of subject, style, format and use for intended audience
- Special consideration taken for materials intended for our youth services department:
- Children’s materials are considered for those patrons aged newborn-5th grade
- Young Adult (YA) materials are considered for those patrons aged from 6th-12th grade
- Critics’ reviews and information in professional selection aids
- Need for balance of subjects within the collection
- Need for diverse opinions (minority and majority) on a subject
- Reputation of author, publisher, composer and/or performer
- Availability of shelf space
- Artistic, literary, historic and/or scientific merit
- Awareness of significant new trends in literature, technology, and formats
- Community requests and/or anticipated popular demand (based on usage statistics)
- Relationship to existing materials in collection
- Relative importance in comparison with other materials available on the subject
- Cost relative to budget and anticipated use
Materials are selected to appeal to all age groups. The Library will not attempt to duplicate the collections maintained by various educational institutions in our service area, i.e. school curriculum centers and university media collections. Materials produced primarily for classroom use are not included because, as with other teaching material, they are the primary responsibility of the schools.
The principle of intellectual freedom (definition in Appendix A) applies to the selection and retention of all types of library materials. Replacements will be added when damaged materials are deemed worthy of replacement, according to the selection guidelines and circulation records.
The Library encourages public suggestion of items and subjects to be considered for the collection. Serious consideration will be given to purchasing patron requested materials when the requests meet collection objectives. Remaining requests may be met through resource sharing with other libraries, electronic retrieval or other means.
External Electronic Information Resources
Providing connections to global information, services, and networks is not the same as selecting and purchasing material for a library collection. Determining the accuracy or authenticity of electronic information may present special problems. Some information accessed electronically may not meet a library’s selection or collection development policy. It is, therefore, left to each patron to determine what information is appropriate to their needs.
Weeding – Middlebury Public Library is not a library of historical record, except in local history. To ensure a vital collection of continued value to the district, materials that have outlived their usefulness are withdrawn. An item is considered for discard when it is:
- Obsolete or outdated
- Worn beyond use
- No longer circulating and/or used for reference purposes
- One of many copies of a formerly popular title
Replacement – Replacements will be added when damaged materials are deemed worthy of replacement, according to the selection guidelines and circulation records. The Library does not automatically replace all materials withdrawn from the collection. The need for replacement is judged by the age of the material and the existence in the system of more current coverage of the same subject; availability of more recent and/or comprehensive materials, or similar material in different format; number of additional copies available in the library; public demand for the title; cost.
Use of the Collection
While anyone is free to select or reject materials for themselves or their own minor child(ren), the freedom of others to read or inquire will not be restricted. Only parents and guardians have the right and responsibility to guide and direct reading, listening, and viewing choices for their own minor child(ren). The Library does not stand in the place of parents (in loco parentis). Parents and guardians, not the Library or staff, have the responsibility to guide and direct the reading, listening, and viewing choices of their own minor child(ren).
The Library collection will be organized, marked, and maintained to help people find the materials they want. Any labeling, sequestering, or alteration of materials because of controversy surrounding the author or the subject matter will not be sanctioned. Library materials are not marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of their contents.
Reconsideration of Material Already in the Collection
A patron who wishes to make a formal complaint about a book or other material may engage in an informal conversation about their concerns with the Library Director. If the complainant is unhappy with the Library Director’s response, they may fill out a Patron’s Request for Reconsideration form, and the matter will be reviewed by the appropriate department head, who will respond in writing within 15 business days. If further review is requested, the item will be reviewed by the Director and appropriate staff. A letter will be sent telling the patron what actions are being taken and provide reasons for these actions. If the patron is not satisfied with the decision, they may appeal through administrative channels to the Library Board.
While an item is being reviewed, copies of the item will remain on active status in the collection.
Intellectual Freedom Statements
The library endorses the following statements as approved by the American Library Association:
- Intellectual Freedom (Appendix A)
- Library Bill of Rights (Revised) (Appendix B)
- Freedom to Read (Appendix C)
- Freedom to View (Appendix D)
AMENDED: March 13, 1997
ADOPTED: November 9, 2000
AMENDED: December 8, 2005
ADOPTED: December 8, 2005
AMENDED: October 14, 2021
ADOPTED: October 14, 2021
Appendix A: Definition of Intellectual Freedom
The American Library Association (ALA) defines intellectual freedom as:
Intellectual freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question cause or movement may be explored.
Appendix B: American Library Association Library Bill of Rights
The American Library Association (ALA) Library Bill of Rights
The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.
I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.
VII. All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use. Libraries should advocate for, educate about, and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information.
Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; January 29, 2019. Inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.
Appendix C: American Library Association Freedom to Read Statement
The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label “controversial” views, to distribute lists of “objectionable” books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.
Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be “protected” against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression.
These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet. The problem is not only one of actual censorship. The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy or unwelcome scrutiny by government officials.
Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change. And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension. Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain. Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.
Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections.
We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture. We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend. We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings.
The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights. We therefore affirm these propositions:
- It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority.
- Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different. The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested. Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy. The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process. Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these. We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.
- Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.
- Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought. The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.
- It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.
- No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.
- There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.
- To some, much of modern expression is shocking. But is not much of life itself shocking? We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers from dealing with the stuff of life. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves. These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared. In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others.
- It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous.
- The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for others. It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.
- It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people’s freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.
- It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group. In a free society individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive. Further, democratic societies are more safe, free, and creative when the free flow of public information is not restricted by governmental prerogative or self censorship.
- It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a “bad” book is a good one, the answer to a “bad” idea is a good one.
- The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader’s purpose. What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has been thought and said. Books are the major channel by which the intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth. The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all Americans the fullest of their support.
- We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.
This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers. Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.
Appendix D: American Library Association Freedom to View Statement
The FREEDOM TO VIEW, along with the freedom to speak, to hear, and to read, is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In a free society, there is no place for censorship of any medium of expression. Therefore these principles are affirmed:
- To provide the broadest access to film, video, and other audiovisual materials because they are a means for the communication of ideas.
Liberty of circulation is essential to insure the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.
- To protect the confidentiality of all individuals and institutions using film, video, and other audiovisual materials.
- To provide film, video, and other audiovisual materials which represent a diversity of views and expression. Selection of a work does not constitute or imply agreement with or approval of the content.
- To provide a diversity of viewpoints without the constraint of labeling or prejudging film, video, or other audiovisual materials on the basis of the moral, religious, or political beliefs of the producer or filmmaker or on the basis of controversial content.
- To contest vigorously, by all lawful means, every encroachment upon the public’s freedom to view.
This statement was originally drafted by the Freedom to View Committee of the American Film and Video Association (formerly the Educational Film Library Association) and was adopted by the AFVA Board of Directors in February 1979. This statement was updated and approved by the AFVA Board of Directors in 1989.
Endorsed January 10, 1990, by the ALA Council