Collection Development Policy

Goals of Collection Development

Staff develops and manage the Library’s collection to meet the majority of the cultural, informational, educational, and recreational needs of those in the Library’s service area. The Library builds and maintains a patron-oriented collection by anticipating and responding to community needs and expectations.

Responsibility for Selection

Responsibility for the selection of materials lies with Library staff designated by the Library Director, operating within the policies of the Library Board. Other staff members and the general public may suggest materials for consideration.

General Principles for Collection Development

The Library Board affirms the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to View, and Freedom to Read policy statements in support of acquiring and managing collections.

It is the responsibility of the Library to provide circulating, reference, and research material for the general public. When indicated by community interest, the Library will develop and maintain special collections such as genealogy, local history, career information, and municipal documents.

Staff make collection decisions in accordance with the Library’s mission and planning documents. Collection decisions position the Library as the preferred partner for lifelong learning, embrace diversity, incorporate both physical and virtual collections, commit to excellence in service, improve effectiveness, and remove barriers.

Staff contribute to the development of patron-oriented collections by:

  • Engaging in open, continuous communication with Library patrons.
  • Handling all requests equitably.
  • Working with one another to understand and respond to community needs.
  • Understanding and responding to changing demographics and societal changes.
  • Evolving the collection to reflect current electronic and audiovisual formats.
  • Recognizing that materials of varying complexities and formats are necessary to satisfy the diverse needs of Library users.
  • Balancing individual needs and broader community needs in determining the best allocation of collection budget.
  • Seeking continuous improvement through ongoing measurement.
  • Reviewing the collection regularly to ensure it reflects current areas of community interest.
  • Preserving local history materials as appropriate, such as the Library’s collection of historical local newspapers.

A balanced collection attempts to represent all sides of controversial issues as far as materials, space, and budget allow. The race, religion, nationality, or political views of an author or creator; language; depictions of violence or sexual activity; controversial content; or endorsement or disapproval by an individual or group does not result in the automatic inclusion or exclusion of an item from the Library’s collection. The Library may select materials that some patrons may find objectionable, and might omit materials some patrons feel are important. In either case, the Library has procedures for requesting the purchase or reconsideration of materials.

Responsibility for children’s choice of Library materials rests with their parent or legal guardian. Staff’s selection decisions shall not be inhibited by the possibility that some materials may inadvertently come into the possession of children.

Selection Criteria

Selection is based on the merits of a work in relation to the needs, interests, and demands of the community.

Staff follow these principles when selecting materials:

  • Contemporary significance or permanent value.
  • Accuracy of content.
  • Authority of the author or producer.
  • Relation 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 and Library System.
  • Patron requests and the authority of the requestor.
  • Popular demand: The Library should provide materials for enlightenment and recreation even if not of enduring value or interest. Staff will purchase a representative sampling of experimental or ephemeral material, but will not attempt 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.


Providing textbooks and curriculum materials is generally not the responsibility of the Library. Staff may purchase textbooks for the collection when they may be the best, or only, source of information on a subject.


All gifts to the Library are subject to the Gifts & Donations Policy.

A gift for the Library collection may consist of materials or funds. The Library encourages monetary gifts that are 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.

If the Library receives an offer of a gift of marginal value, staff consider processing costs and use of shelf space when accepting or declining the gift.

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.

Gifts that are not added to the Library’s collection but that are in suitable condition shall be forwarded to the Friends of the Oconomowoc Public Library, or to other organizations when the Library Director deems it appropriate. Any items unsold by the Friends of the Library may then be donated to another organization or discarded.


A replacement is 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.
  2. Demand for the specific title.

Binding & Mending

Keeping materials in good physical condition is essential. Staff shall decide how to handle worn materials —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 versus 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.


Weeding is the withdrawal of items no longer suitable or useful in the collection. Weeding is a thorough, conscientious, and continuous effort to achieve a well-balanced collection. The Library bases its weeding decisions on a number of factors, including physical condition, publishing date, frequency of circulation, community interest, and availability of newer or more current and/or accurate materials. Local history materials are an exception, as are certain classic and/or award-winning material, and material by local authors.

Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials

Library patrons’ choice of Library materials is an individual matter. While an individual may reject materials for themselves, they cannot exercise censorship to restrict access to the materials by others. Recognizing that a diversity of materials may result in some requests for reconsideration, the Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials Procedure ensures that objections or complaints are handled in an attentive and consistent manner.

Adopted 6/24/2009
Revised 9/10/2013
Revised 11/12/2020