5.1 Materials Selection Policy



The purpose of the Materials Selection Policy is to guide librarians in building and maintaining the library collection and to inform the public about the principles upon which selections are made.

The word materials includes books, magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, filmstrips, video recordings, audio recordings, art works, and other forms of media.

The word selection refers to both the acquisition of new material for the collection and the retention of material already in the collection.

Major Goal

As reflected in its Mission Statement, the Library strives to provide informational, educational, cultural and recreational materials in all media, both published and unpublished, within the constraints of budget and space, and recognizing the wide diversity of tastes, interests, educations, and cultural background of the residents of the communities it serves.


Final responsibility for materials selection is vested in the Library Director by authority of the Board of Trustees. The selection of print materials for the adult collection is delegated to the Adult Services Coordinator. The selection of print materials for the children’s collection is delegated to the Youth Services Coordinator. The selection of nonprint materials is made by the Library Director or designee.


This policy will be reviewed periodically by the staff, and revised as needed.  It will also be formally reviewed by the Board of Trustees at least every five years.

Criteria for Selection

Consideration of potential selections shall be guided by the following criteria:

General Criteria (not in priority order):

  • Insight into human and social conditions
  • Suitability of subject and style for the intended audience 
  • Present and potential relevance to community needs and interests
  • Timeliness or permanent value 
  • Relation to the existing collection 
  • Attention of critics and reviewers 
  • Scarcity of information in the subject area 
  • Availability of materials elsewhere in the community 
  • Price 
  • Format


Specific Criteria  for Works of Information and Opinion:

  • Authority
  • Ease of use
  • Comprehensiveness and depth of treatment
  • Clarity, accuracy and logic of presentation
  • Statement of challenging or original point of view


Specific Criteria for Works of Imagination:


  • Representation of significant literary or social trends
  • Vitality and originality
  • Artistic presentation
  • Authenticity of historical, regional or social setting
  • Sustained interest and entertainment

The selection of any material should not be construed as an endorsement, by the Library, of the views contained therein.

Aids to Selection

The librarian may use any of the sources listed below in making selections. The sources on this list are ones which are referred to most frequently.

Current Sources

Booklist, CMJ New Music, Downbeat, Entertainment Weekly, Foreword, , Horn Book, Journal of Youth Services In Libraries, Kirkus Reviews, Kliatt, Library Journal, Pulse, School Library Journal, Science Books & Films, Video Librarian, and VOYA, etc. 

Retrospective Sources

A to Zoo, Children’s Catalog, Fiction Catalog, Guide to Reference Books, Junior High School Library Catalog, Magazines for Libraries, Penguin Guide to Compact Discs, Public Library Catalog, Rolling Stone Guide to Jazz & Blues, Rough Guide to World music.

On Line Resources

All Movie Guide, All Music Guide, CD Hotlist, efilmcritic.com, filmcritic.com, Internet Movie Database, Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun Times), and rottentomatoes.com

Budget Allocation

The annual budget for materials will be allocated between adult and children’s materials, both print and nonprint, depending on each area’s needs, which may vary from time to time.


Other Considerations


Multiple copies of items in popular demand will be provided but will generally be limited to one copy for every three reserves, not to exceed six copies.

Rental Collection

In order to satisfy temporary demand, the Library may maintain a rental collection holding multiple copies of current bestsellers and other items of timely interest.

Curricular Materials 

While the collection should contain materials for varying levels of literacy on many subjects, the Library will not attempt to provide curricula or multiple copies of other materials just to satisfy demand caused by school assignments. School libraries should be the primary source for materials for school assignments. Consideration will be given, however, to provide materials for people engaged in independent study.

Reevaluation and Withdrawal  

Materials are subject to periodic reevaluation and discard, including nonfiction that contains obsolete or dated information, and fiction no longer in demand.  Factors to be considered include physical condition, number of copies available, use, adequate coverage in the field, and availability of similar material.  Withdrawn materials are handled according to the Library’s policy on “Disposal of Withdrawn Materials”.


While the Library attempts to have copies of standard and important works, it does not automatically replace all materials withdrawn. The same criteria that apply to original selection will apply also to replacements.


Unconditional gifts and memorials are accepted without commitment as to their final disposition. The same criteria used to select purchased materials apply also to retention of gifts.  The Library will make reasonable effort to obtain fair value or best use when disposing of gift materials that are not retained.

The Library will provide, upon request, a receipt indicating the date and the number of pieces donated, by format, but will not provide a value for tax purposes. As librarians are not professional appraisers and would not be credible as such in a court of law, the Library will not attempt to appraise gifts made to it.

The acceptance of a gift which has been appraised by a third party does not imply endorsement by the Library of the appraisal. The cost of any such appraisal will be borne by the donor.


Exclusion of Materials

The library recognizes that some materials are controversial in nature and may offend some patrons. However, disapproval of an item by an individual or group should not be the criteria which dictate denial of that item to all individuals or groups.

Library materials are not labeled to indicate approval or disapproval of their content. Although materials written solely to exploit sensationalism are not knowingly added to the collection, materials that otherwise satisfy the selection criteria (above) will not be excluded simply because of frankness, language or description.

The Library heartily supports the American Library Association’s “Library Bill of Rights, the “Freedom to Read Statement” and the “Freedom to View Statement” which are attached.

Challenged Materials

Criticism will be registered and presented on a “Request for Materials ReEvaluation” form (a sample is attached) and signed by the person challenging the item. The item will be reviewed by a committee composed of the Director and the Assistant Directors. The committee will decide whether to retain the item or remove it from the collection. The challenger will be notified in writing, explaining the reasons for the decision. If the challenger wishes to appeal, he or she may schedule an appearance before the Board of Trustees whose decision will be final.


Additional Selection Criteria for Various Formats and Topics

Mass-Market Paperbacks

Massmarket paperbacks, most of which are donated to the Library, will be considered for the collection if in suitable condition and warranted by popular demand (temporary in nature).


The Library does not collect 16mm films, Beta videocassettes, 8mm films, or 35mm slides.  Textbooks are purchased only when no other source of information is available or the textbook represents the best information source available.


Histories of specific, nonlocal, small geographic areas and genealogies of individual families will not be added to the collection. The collection concentrates on the geographic Great Lakes region, as well as regions east of the Mississippi River and the eastern provinces of Canada.


Provision of law materials for the professional lawyer is beyond the scope of the Library except when those materials can also be used by laypersons and are requested by the Law Library

 The Library will limit its law selection to materials that are authoritative, current, and understandable on common legal matters for the lay person.


Local Works

Due to such factors as limited availability, local significance and the lack of published reviews, special consideration will be given to works by local authors and artists.  Whenever possible, a preview copy will be obtained for examination for purchase consideration.


Provision of medical materials for the healthcare professional is beyond the scope of the Library. The Library will limit its medical selection to materials that are authoritative, current, and understandable on common health and hygiene matters for the lay person.  Materials covering alternative medicine will be considered if there is credible support for them.



The Library will not purchase partisan works promoting current candidates or political agendas unless a balanced selection can be maintained.


As an unbiased institution, the Library recognizes an obligation to identify and eliminate sectarian propaganda and proselytizing which tend to foster intolerant attitudes toward other groups. The selection must be broad and tolerant.

Human Sexuality

The Library has a responsibility to obtain materials suitable for the lay person at various levels of educational background and social skills. Materials are selected as to accuracy, simplicity and dignity of presentation.

Revised 13 February 2003

Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials


Most of the items we add to our collection are done so based on critical reviews. We also understand that not everyone shares the same viewpoints and tastes. By submitting this form, you are asking us to remove a particular work from our collection because of some objection you have to it. Please be as specific as possible and remember that you must sign and date the form as well.


Your Name  ____________________________________________________________


Address  _______________________________________________________________


City, State & Zip  ________________________________________________________


Phone No.  _____________________________________________________________


Please check the material’s format: ☐Book  ☐Audio  ☐Video  ☐Magazine  ☐Other


Which Library did you borrow this from?  ☐Woodmere  ☐East Bay  ☐Kingsley


Title  __________________________________________________________________


Author/Performer  _______________________________________________________


Publisher/Producer  ______________________________________________________


The following questions are to be answered after you have read, listened to or watched the work in its entirety. If you need more room, please attach additional sheets.


  1. To what in the material do you object? (please be specific, citing pages, minutes into a movie, tracks on a CD, etc.)














more …

  1. What do you believe is the theme or purpose of this material?








  1. What do you feel might be the result of someone using this material?








  1. What did you find worthwhile in this material?








  1. What recommendations do you have for other titles on the same subject and in the same format?








Signed _______________________________________  Date _____________________


After completing this form, you may drop it off at the check-out desk or mail it to us at this address:


Reconsideration Request

Traverse Area District Library

610 Woodmere Ave

Traverse City, MI 49686


We will review the item that you are requesting we reconsider. You should expect a written response to your request in a week to ten days.


Thank you for your interest.

Revised 20 February 2002

Download: 5.1 Materials Selection Policy