5.1 Materials Selection Policy

The purpose of the Collection 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 all circulating and reference only materials such as books, magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, video recordings, audio recordings, e-resources, Library of Things items, and digital devices.

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

The Traverse Area District Library (TADL) strives to connect people to the transforming power of knowledge. The Library strives to provide current, credible, and authoritative informational, educational, cultural and recreational materials in all media, both published and unpublished, within the constraints of budget and space, while recognizing the personal, educational, and, and cultural diversity of the residents of the communities it serves.

This policy operates in conjunction with the documents of the American Library Association approved by the TADL Board of Trustees: 

  • The Library Bill of Rights Policy 
  • Freedom to Read Policy
  • Freedom to View Statement Policy

Final responsibility for materials selection is vested in the Library Director by authority of the Board of Trustees. Direct responsibility for the selection, maintenance, re-evaluation, and withdrawal of materials is delegated to professional librarians and staff.  

Selection Criteria
The selection of any material should not be construed as an endorsement, by the Library, of the views contained therein. 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 
  • Cost
  • Format
  • Demand
  • Diversity of point of view

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

Selection Criteria for Select Formats and Topics


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

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.


Provision of law materials for the professional lawyer is beyond the scope of the public 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 History/Archival Collection 

The archival collections are composed of original materials of a documentary nature centered on the Greater Grand Traverse area. This may include the following, but is not restricted to; individual and organizational records, diaries, church records, maps, visual images of various formats, oral histories, scrapbooks, and Traverse and surrounding area newspapers. 

The library generally does not collect materials that are considered realia, or three-dimensional objects, and does not collect the official records of the City of Traverse City.

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.

Mass-Market Paperbacks

Mass-market 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).


Provision of medical materials for the healthcare professional is beyond the scope of the public Library. The Library will limit its medical selection to materials that are authoritative, factual, current, and understandable on common health and hygiene matters for the lay person.


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.

Collection Considerations

Challenged Materials

Challenges to library collection material(s) are required to be presented on a “Request for Reconsideration of Library Collection Materials” form (supplement attached), signed and dated by the person challenging the item, and returned to the Library as directed. The item(s) will be reviewed by a committee composed of the Director and a minimum of two members of the library Leadership Team. The committee will decide whether to retain the item(s) or remove it/them from the collection. The challenger will be notified in writing, explaining the reasons for the decision. If the challenger wishes to appeal, they may schedule an appearance before the Board of Trustees whose decision will be final.

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.


Multiple copies of items in popular demand will be provided but will generally be limited to one copy for every four reserves.

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.

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.

Gifts and Donations

Unconditional collection material gifts, donations, and memorials are accepted without commitment as to their final disposition. The same criteria used to select gifted materials for the collection will follow the same criteria used to select purchased and adhere to the Library Gift Policy.


The library collection will be organized, cataloged, and marked for the primary purpose of helping people find the materials they want. The library does not label, alter, or shield materials due to the nature of the content or imagery. The library does not add or remove evaluative labels from library materials, such as MPAA ratings on some motion pictures, or language ratings on some audio materials.

Patron Suggestions

Suggestions are welcome and often provide valuable information about community interests and unmet collection needs of patrons. All suggestions are assessed with the same selection criteria as other items added to the collection.

Re-evaluation and Withdrawal  

Materials are subject to periodic re-evaluation and discard, including non-fiction 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 Disposal of Withdrawn Materials Policy.


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.

Rental Collection

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

Review and Revision

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.


Revised on February 13, 2003 / Revised on September 16, 2021

Request for Reconsideration of Library Collection Materials 2021-09 (Form Supplement to Policy 5.1)