Materials Selection and Maintenance Policy

Purpose of the Policy

The purpose of the Oconomowoc Public Library materials selection policy is to guide librarians and to inform the public about the principles upon which selections are made.

A policy cannot replace the judgment of librarians, but stating goals and indicating boundaries will assist them in choosing from the vast array of available materials.

Definition of Materials Selections

“Selection” refers to the decision that must be made either to add material to the collection or to retain material already in the collection.

“Library Materials” and other synonyms as they may appear in this policy have the widest possible meaning; all forms of contemporary, recorded mass communications, from the traditional printed forms to the latest development in nonprint media, are therefore included in this definition.

Goals of Materials Selection

The primary goals of materials selection are: to maintain a well-balanced and broad collection of materials for information, reference and research; to support the democratic process by providing materials for the education and enlightenment of the community; and to provide recreational and cultural resources.

Responsibility for Selection

Responsibilities for the initial selection of books and other materials lies with library staff members designated by the Library Director. These designated staff members are responsible for the development of their assigned areas, keeping in mind how those areas fit into the total library collection picture. Other staff members and general public may recommend materials for consideration. The ultimate responsibility for selection rests with the Library, operating within the framework of policies by the Library Board of Trustees.

General Principles for Selection

Selection is based on the merits of a work in relation to the needs, interests and demands of the Oconomowoc community. Basic to this policy are the “Library Bill of Rights” and the “Freedom to Read Statement” as adopted by the American Library Association, and to which this library subscribes. (Copies of these two documents are appended as part of this policy.)

Responsibility for the reading of children rests with their parents or legal guardians. Selection should not be inhibited by the possibility that some books may inadvertently come into the possession of children.

Materials, including but not limited to, i.e. those with an emphasis on sex, containing profane language, other controversial topics, are not automatically rejected. Selection is made on the basis of whether the item presents life in its true proportions, whether characters and situations are realistically presented, whether the item has literary or artistic merit, and whether the item is representative of a current trend or genre.

Based on the services it is expected to perform, it is the responsibility of the library to provide circulating, reference, and research material for the general public and students. Special collections (genealogy, local history, career information, municipal documents, etc.) will be developed and maintained when indicated by community interest.

Specific Principles for Selection

The following principles will be taken into consideration when selecting items to be added to the collection:

  • Contemporary significance or permanent value.
  • Accuracy of content.
  • Authority of the author or producer.
  • Relations of the work to the existing collection.
  • Price, format and ease of use.
  • Scarcity of information in the subject area.
  • Availability of material elsewhere in the community—Holdings of other libraries in the area are considered in developing the library’s collection. Materials, particularly those of a highly technical nature, may be borrowed from area libraries through interlibrary loan.
  • Patron requests and the authority of the requestor.
  • Popular demand—the library should make available materials for enlightenment and recreation even if not of enduring value, interest or accuracy. A representative sampling of experimental or ephemeral material should be purchased but no attempt will be made to be exhaustive.
  • Duplication of materials already in the collection—Purchase of additional copies of materials should be governed by intrinsic or historical value and need. Paperbacks or leased books may be used to satisfy a temporary heavy demand.


Providing textbooks and curriculum materials is generally held to be the responsibility of the schools. Textbooks should be purchased for the collection when they supply information in areas in which they may be the best, or the only, source of information on the subject.


A gift for the library collection may consist of materials or of funds for the purchase of materials. Funds may be given for acquiring materials recommended by the library staff or for the purchase of specific items suggested by the donor. The library encourages gifts not earmarked for specific items in order to permit the most flexible use of the donation for the enrichment of the collection.

Gift additions must meet the same selection criteria as purchased materials. In some cases, titles are received or purchase which could not have been acquired from library funds because of budget limitations.

If gifts of marginal value are offered, processing costs and use of shelf space are considered before the gift can be accepted.

Any gift accepted by the library is subject to the following conditions:

  1. The Library retains unconditional ownership of the gift;
  2. The Library makes the final decision on its own use or other disposition of the gift;
  3. The Library reserves the right to decide the conditions of display, housing, and access to the materials.

Any offers of substantial monetary gifts, or offers of equipment, art objects, special collections, etc. should be referred to the Library Director following the Gifts and Donations Policy. Such offers will be accepted/rejected based on considerations of need, appropriateness, maintenance, precedence, etc. Any gift accepted will be subject to the same conditions of acceptance as outlined above.

The library will not affix a value for income tax purposes to any gift accepted; rather this is the responsibility of the donor. The library will, however, upon request, acknowledge the gift by letter, and specify the type, quantity, condition, etc. of the gift for the donor’s records.

See also – Gift & Donations Policy


A replacement means an item purchased to take the place of an identical title previously in the collection of which the last copy has been withdrawn.

It is the library’s policy not to automatically replace all books withdrawn because of loss, damage or wear. Need for replacement in each case is judged by two factors:

  1. Existence of adequate coverage in the item’s field by similar material especially if this is later and better material; and
  2. Demand for the specific title.

Whenever possible hardback editions will be purchased as replacement copies, if in print. Paperbacks bought as replacements should be reinforced or bound and cataloged before being added to the collection.

Binding and Mending

Keeping materials in good physical condition is essential. Decisions must be made continuously on how to handle worn books—whether to mend, bind, or withdraw them. Each decision is based on the actual condition of the book, current validity of its contents, availability for reorder and cost of binding vs. replacement. Replacement is preferable to binding if costs are comparable. Binding is preferable to mending if a title is expected to have long-term usefulness. Mending is done only when need is detected early except in special cases. In general, little attempt is made to mend non-accessioned materials, e.g. pamphlets, circulating duplicates of magazines, paperbacks, etc.


Weeding is selection in reverse—it is the withdrawal of items no longer suitable or useful in the collection. Weeding is a thorough and conscientious effort to achieve a well-balance collection and it should be a continuous process.

Factors to be considered in weeding are:

  1. Physical condition of the book;
  2. Slow moving material not listed in standard sources: e.g. Fiction Catalog;
  3. Items containing subject matter no longer of current interest;
  4. Multiple copies of titles no longer in demand;
  5. Old editions replaced by later revisions of non-fiction titles;
  6. Retention of local materials and materials by Oconomowoc and Wisconsin authors.

Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials

The suitability of particular books or other materials for the library collection may occasionally be questioned by individuals or groups. All such criticism should be presented in writing to the Library Director on the citizen’s “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials” form.

Adopted: 6/24/2009
Revised: 9/10/2013

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