Chapter: Collection Development
Policy Number: 4.01
Original Effective Date: 5/17/18
Revision History: 9/15/21
Menomonee Falls Public Library aims to select, organize, and preserve materials within the limitations of space and budget and to make them freely and easily available to the community. The Library strives to stimulate and expand the interests of our patrons. Offering a vast selection of materials representing multiple points of view and on a wide variety of subjects.
The Library endeavors to identify the informational needs and interests of the community and curate its materials, services, and programs to meet these needs and interests.
Authority and Responsibility for Selection
Final authority for the determination of policy in the selection and acquisition of all Menomonee Falls Public Library material resources is vested in the Library Board of Trustees.
Ultimate responsibility for the selection of books and materials rests with the Library Director who operates within the framework of Library policies adopted by the Board of Trustees.
Library staff members who are qualified by reason of education, training, or expertise, as assigned by the Library Director, apply their judgment and experience in selecting Library materials.
Guidelines for Selection
The Library strives to maintain a balanced collection in which diverse points of view regarding contemporary and historical issues are represented. The presence of any material or resource does not constitute an endorsement.
- Selection decisions are guided by the merits of the work, collection needs, and interests of a diverse community.
- Selection decisions are not influenced by the possibility that material may be accessible to children. The Library does not restrict access to any material by age, and leaves the responsibility for minors’ use of, viewing, or consumption of Library materials to each minor’s parent or legal guardian.
- Menomonee Falls Public Library affirms its support of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read, the Freedom to View, and Access to Library Resources and Services for Minors statements. (See appendices)
- The Library acknowledges a particular interest in local history, and will add to its collection works produced by authors or publishers with local connections that meet the purpose and objectives of this policy.
- The Library selects materials of varying complexity and format because it serves a public embracing a wide range of ages, educational backgrounds, interests, sensory preferences, and reading skills. When staff review and select materials for purchase, they consider the special needs of the community.
- The Library recognizes that materials and resources may be deemed or considered controversial. Library materials will not be marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of their contents, and no Library material will be sequestered, except to protect it from potential damage or theft.
Criteria for Selection
Selectors must consider each type of material in terms of its own merits and the audience for whom it is intended. No single standard can apply to all acquisition decisions. Some material may be selected primarily for artistic merit, scholarship, or value to humanity, while others may be chosen to satisfy the recreational and entertainment needs of the community.
- Existing collection needs
- Relevance to community needs and interests
- Current or anticipated demand
- Significant or relevant author or publisher
- Attention of critics and reviewers
- Important human or social insight
- Representation of current ideas and events
- Availability of item
Criteria for non-fiction works and periodicals:
- Accurate, clear, and logical presentation
- Comprehensive and complete treatment
- Author’s qualifications
- Of lasting value or current need
- Original point of view
Criteria for fiction works:
- Vitality and originality
- Artistic presentation or experimentation
- Well-developed plot and characterization
- Authentic setting
- Representation of important genre or trend
Criteria for non-print works (in addition to the criteria for fiction or non-fiction)
- Quality technical production
- Good sound/image quality
- Good performance quality
- Provides a presentation that is effectively delivered by the specific format
- Licensing/copyright compatibility with Library use
- For Library of Things items, the following will be considered: Needs and interests of patrons, storage and safety considerations, cost, longevity, ease of processing and circulation, maintenance needs, and consumer reviews.
Selection may also be limited by the following factors:
- Physical limitations of the building
- Price and format
- Availability of low-demand materials in other Library collections
As new formats emerge, the Library carefully monitors public response. Library collections evolve as technology and usage trends require. A new format may, therefore, be an addition to existing Library collections or a replacement for an obsolete one.
While the Library does not attempt to provide all curriculum materials needed by educators, it recognizes that many patrons’ information requests result from their status as students. The Library strives to acquire materials that meet their information needs, as well as materials that meet the information needs of the general public.
Tools used in selection include professional journals, trade journals, subject bibliographies, publishers’ promotional materials, online resources, and reviews from reputable sources.
Menomonee Falls Public Library is a member of the Bridges Library System, and, as such, provides access to materials from other system libraries to its patrons. The Library also participates in an interlibrary loan network throughout Wisconsin. Menomonee Falls Public Library does not have any control over materials loaned from other libraries.
Some digital materials and databases are provided to the Library through the state- or system-wide buying pool. These materials include audio, video, and electronic books, and are selected by the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium or the Bridges Library System’s appropriate committees. Other resources such as Hoopla have collections maintained by parent companies with no local control. Menomonee Falls Public Library has no direct control over this selection, other than to recommend titles. Relevant selection committee and collection development policies are set through the appropriate organizations.
Recommendations from Library users are welcomed and encouraged. Those that meet the established selection criteria are acquired. Requesters may suggest a purchase through an online form or by notifying reference staff.
Standing Orders & Automatic Purchases
Selective lists of Library materials are ordered on a continuing basis rather than by individual title. These lists include, but are not limited to:
- Updated editions of reference and nonfiction works already owned by the Library
- Nonfiction subject category series
- Books by notable and well-known authors whose new works generate high demand
Standing orders and automatic purchases plans are regularly reviewed and revised to maintain collection currency and relevance.
Evaluation and Withdrawal of Materials
An attractive and up-to-date collection is maintained through a continual discarding and replacing process. Materials may be withdrawn from the collection after careful consideration of these factors:
- Physical condition
- Currency of information
- Lack of use
- Superseded by a new edition or better work on the same subject
- Space needs
Although every effort will be made to replace needed materials which are withdrawn, the Library takes the position that it is better to have no information on a subject than to have materials that are inaccurate or in poor physical condition.
Materials withdrawn from the collection may be given to the Library Book Sale or disposed of by other means. Individual items that are being withdrawn will not be saved for specific individuals.
Request for Reconsideration
The Library understands that community members have diverse points of view. The choice of use of Library materials by its patrons is an individual matter. While an individual may reject materials for themselves, they should not attempt to exercise censorship to restrict access to the materials by others.
Residents of the Village of Menomonee Falls may request reconsideration of a selection decision. Formal review requires the submission of a written Request for Reconsideration form to the Library Director. Verbal complaints are not a substitute for a Request for Reconsideration form.
Within 30 days of filing the request, the Library Director and the material selector will review the request and send a written response to the complainant explaining their decision regarding the request. The response will also inform the complainant that, if the complainant desires, the request will be forwarded to the Library Board.
Within 30 days following the written response, if it is the desire of the complainant, the request for reconsideration along with the Library Director recommendation will be forwarded to the Library Board.
Within 90 days of the filing of the written request for reconsideration the Library Board will review the request and take final action on it.
All decisions will consider professional reviews and employ all the criteria of selection listed in this policy, including the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read and the Freedom to View Statements. The Board of Trustees has final authority in determining the retention or removal of challenged Library materials. The complainant will be notified in writing of the Library Board’s decision in the matter.
Request for reconsideration about a particular item will not be considered by the Library more than once within a 12-month period.
During the process of reconsideration, challenged materials remain in the active collection until an official decision is made.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
- Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
- A person’s right to use a Library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
- 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.
Adopted June 19, 1939.
Amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; and January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996, by the ALA Council.
The 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.
A Joint Statement by:
Subsequently endorsed by:
American Booksellers for Free Expression
The Association of American University Presses
The Children’s Book Council
Freedom to Read Foundation
National Association of College Stores
National Coalition Against Censorship
National Council of Teachers of English
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression
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 guarantees 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.
Access to Library Resources and Services to Minors
The American Library Association supports equal and equitable access to all library resources and services by users of all ages. Library policies and procedures that effectively deny minors equal and equitable access to all library resources and services available to other users is in violation of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. The American Library Association opposes all attempts to restrict access to library services, materials, and facilities based on the age of library users.
Article V of the Library Bill of Rights states, “A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.” The right to use a library includes free access to, and unrestricted use of, all the services, materials, and facilities the library has to offer. Every restriction on access to, and use of, library resources, based solely on the chronological age, apparent maturity, educational level, literacy skills, emancipatory or other legal status of users violates Article V. This includes minors who do not have a parent or guardian available to sign a library card application or permission slip. Unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness should be able to obtain a library card regardless of library policies related to chronological age.
School and public libraries are charged with the mission of providing services and resources to meet the diverse interests and informational needs of the communities they serve. Services, materials, and facilities that fulfill the needs and interests of library users at different stages in their personal development are a necessary part of providing library services and should be determined on an individual basis. Equitable access to all library resources and services should not be abridged based on chronological age, apparent maturity, educational level, literacy skills, legal status, or through restrictive scheduling and use policies.
Libraries should not limit the selection and development of library resources simply because minors will have access to them. A library’s failure to acquire materials on the grounds that minors may be able to access those materials diminishes the credibility of the library in the community and restricts access for all library users.
Children and young adults unquestionably possess First Amendment rights, including the right to receive information through the library in print, sound, images, data, social media, online applications, games, technologies, programming, and other formats.1 Constitutionally protected speech cannot be suppressed solely to protect children or young adults from ideas or images a legislative body believes to be unsuitable for them.2 Libraries and their library governing bodies should not resort to age restrictions in an effort to avoid actual or anticipated objections, because only a court of law can determine whether or not content is constitutionally protected.
Article VII of the Library Bill of Rights states, “All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use.” This includes students and minors, who have a right to be free from any unreasonable intrusion into or surveillance of their lawful library use.3
The mission, goals, and objectives of libraries cannot authorize libraries and their governing bodies to assume, abrogate, or overrule the rights and responsibilities of parents and guardians. As “Libraries: An American Value” states, “We affirm the responsibility and the right of all parents and guardians to guide their own children’s use of the library and its resources and services.”4 Libraries and their governing bodies cannot assume the role of parents or the functions of parental authority in the private relationship between parent and child. Libraries and their governing bodies shall ensure that only parents and guardians have the right and the responsibility to determine their children’s—and only their children’s—access to library resources. Parents and guardians who do not want their children to have access to specific library services, materials, or facilities should so advise their own children. Libraries and library governing bodies should not use rating systems to inhibit a minor’s access to materials.5
Libraries and their governing bodies have a legal and professional obligation to ensure that all members of the communities they serve have free and equitable access to a diverse range of library resources and services that is inclusive, regardless of content, approach, or format. This principle of library service applies equally to all users, minors as well as adults. Lack of access to information can be harmful to minors. Libraries and their governing bodies must uphold this principle in order to provide adequate and effective service to minors.
1 Brown v. Entertainment Merchant’s Association, et al. 564 U.S. 08-1448 (2011).
2 Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville, 422 U.S. 205 (1975): “Speech that is neither obscene as to youths nor subject to some other legitimate proscription cannot be suppressed solely to protect the young from ideas or images that a legislative body thinks unsuitable for them. In most circumstances, the values protected by the First Amendment are no less applicable when government seeks to control the flow of information to minors.” See also Tinker v. Des Moines School Dist., 393 U.S.503 (1969); West Virginia Bd. of Ed. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943); AAMA v. Kendrick, 244 F.3d 572 (7th Cir. 2001).
3 “Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” adopted June 19, 2002, by the ALA Council; amended July 1, 2014; and June 24, 2019.
5 “Rating Systems: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” adopted on June 30, 2015, by ALA Council; amended June 25, 2019.
Adopted June 30, 1972, by the ALA Council; amended July 1, 1981; July 3, 1991; June 30, 2004; July 2, 2008 under previous name “Free Access to Libraries for Minors”; July 1, 2014; and June 25, 2019.