Collection Development Policy
Russell County Public Library (RCPL) seeks to provide its residents with free and equal access to information, in paper, electronic, visual or audio form. A process of selection must take place, since no public library can afford to acquire or house the complete output of the publishing industry. Recognizing that an informed constituency is critical to the democratic process and that different viewpoints have varying degrees of validity, the public library strives to provide a collection that is current, balanced and representative of all fields of knowledge to the extent of its financial limitations. This document has been created to develop and maintain the library’s collections, to provide staff with guidelines for the selection of materials and to enhance public understanding of collection development as a facet of library operations.
RCPL serves a mostly rural area of 483 square miles with a population of 28,897 people (2010 preliminary.) In addition to the Main Library in Lebanon, there is one branch, the Honaker Community Library. The county also has public school libraries and proximity to two community college libraries. RCPL provides reference and interlibrary loan services, programs and services for children and adults, and public access to a circulating collection of books and other material for all age groups. Special collections include microforms and local history materials. A Books-by-Mail program provides additional outreach service to county residents who do not have easy access to the library facilities. Quarterly deliveries are made to all adult care facilities in the county who wish to participate. County residents also have access to libraries in adjacent Virginia counties through reciprocal borrowing agreements.
Books-by-Mail – The base collection includes hard back and paperback books for all age levels. Materials have been selected at the minimal level for children and young adults; it also includes fiction and non-fiction for adult readers, including large print. Books from any of the library’s collections may also be sent through the Books-by-Mail Program. Materials are added through donations and occasional purchases.
Juvenile (Children’s) Materials – This collection is aimed at responding to the needs and interests of children, preschool through grade six. Materials in print and non-print formats are selected for all levels of comprehension and reading abilities. The collection includes classic or retrospective titles and as well as current titles. The library makes no attempt to collect the complete school reading lists; however the library will house reading lists donated by the schools, for parents’ and students’ convenience.
Fiction – The library recognizes the value of the novel and other fiction as an interpreter of life, as a portrayal of the human condition and as a source of recreational pleasure. Fiction is chosen to tell what society thinks, feels, sees, and does, because it reflects the mind and spirit of its era. The collection will be maintained at a basic level, which includes recommended titles of major authors, a limited selection of titles by lesser known writers, and best sellers.
Kitchen Collection – This collection of paperbacks is almost exclusively Penguin paperback copies of literary classics, from the ancient to modern period. It is shelved in the kitchen and is currently not cataloged. Titles from this collection are added to the catalog as replacement titles as needed.
Local History Collection – The Local History Room serves as an archive for historical and genealogical records and books with a special emphasis on Russell County (since its founding) and the surrounding area. The library collects comprehensively on Russell County; material will be sought from local and regional authors as well as items from area schools, churches, businesses, and organizations. Due to the nature of the collection, items need not conform to the selection criteria used for the acquisition of other library material. Because many items are irreplaceable, material from this collection may not circulate and must be used in the library. It includes material in several formats, including microfilm, print and digital.
Duplicate copies of very popular titles may be purchased for the circulating collection. The collection is shelved in a non-traditional fashion and includes a Family History File and an Information File containing many items related to county history.
Development of a digital archive began in the twenty-first century with marriage licenses copied, scanned and indexed by the Russell County Genealogy Society with the cooperation of the Russell County Clerk of Court. The archive now consists of photographs—primarily black and white of county scenes–and documents such as marriage licenses and an obituary index of the Lebanon News.
While most items collected in the Local History collection are Russell County-related items, RCPL also strives to include materials from surrounding counties as well as rare Virginia materials, which may directly or indirectly relate to county history and genealogy.
Non-Fiction – This collection will be maintained at a basic level which will introduce and define a subject and indicate the varieties of information available elsewhere. It includes selected editions of important works, historical surveys, important biographies and bibliographies, as well as best-selling books. Many books on similar topics may be maintained to meet patron desire and demand.
Paperback – This collection is maintained exclusively through donations to meet the needs of patrons that prefer the format for current or pleasure fiction.
Parent Resource Center – Items in this collection at the Lebanon Library were originally selected by the public school system and donated to the library. Some were later donated by the Virginia Department of Health. They include print and non-print materials and are aimed toward the special needs of children with learning difficulties. These resources are intended for use by parents, as well as educators.
Periodicals and Serials – Periodical subscriptions, including newspapers, will be collected to represent a variety of subjects of current and popular interest. Titles are recommended and evaluated in the same manner as other materials. Selection is based on the ability to provide factual information, as well as recreational reading to the general public. Accessibility through indexes and abstracting services of print subscriptions is a minor consideration. The acquisition of print titles is highly selective due to the ongoing commitment of the funds and the individual cost. Academic and professional journals are generally not collected; requests for such will be referred to interlibrary loan or to the collections of academic libraries nearby. The library has retrospective collections of some major news periodicals in microform.
Reference – The Reference collection is composed of non-circulating electronic and print materials designed to provide quick access to information in all subject fields. Works selected for the collection should supply as many reliable facts as possible. Materials selected address the information needs of the entire population of Russell County. The collection includes major dictionaries and encyclopedias, almanacs, atlases, guides, literary criticisms, selected editions of important works, historical surveys, important bibliographies, and collections of biographies and indexes. Certain works are available only in electronic format.
Young Adult Materials – This collection supports the needs and concerns of young adults from grades seven through twelve. The young adult collection functions as a transition between the juvenile collection and the adult collection, providing materials relating to the current interest and personal growth of adolescents. It includes both popular fiction as well as non-fiction titles appropriate for research.
The Director of Library Services is ultimately responsible for the selection of materials. The actual process of selection involves the entire library staff. The director, public services supervisor, children’s services coordinator, technical services librarian, and the Honaker branch manager select materials and submit order cards to acquisitions. The public services supervisor makes the bulk of selection decisions. Material requests from the public are considered since they reflect the wants and needs of the community served. These requests, however, are subject to the same criteria applied to other requests.
Since the number of new materials published each year is vast, it is impossible to examine each selection prior to purchase. Therefore, reviews in various magazines and journals may be used for guidance. The following selection aids are among those consulted:
American Libraries Publishers Weekly
Booklist School Library Journal
Library Journal “Best books” lists
New York Times Book Review School reading lists
Collection Goals and Selection Criteria
The library’s mission is to access information and resources to make informed choices, stimulate the imagination, connect and engage the online world, and create young readers. Materials are sought and selected in order to help achieve the goals the library sets to fulfill its stated mission. Selection must be consistent with library goals as well as the need for broadening and deepening the scope of the library collection and the need to keep abreast of rapidly expanding and changing fields of knowledge. An item considered for purchase must be measured against other materials available, including what is already in the collection, as well as needs and the funds available. The overall value of the material is the chief criterion of selection.
Recognizing that fiction and non-fiction materials require different selection standards, the following criteria are useful in judging non-fiction and reference materials:
1. Reputation of the author, creator, publisher or sponsoring group
2. Accuracy of the information presented
3. Balance of bias in the scope of the collection
4. Depth of coverage
5. Recency of data
6. Adequate coverage of the topic
7. Appropriate presentation for the intended audience
8. Relevancy to the user’s experience
9. Interest or intellectual challenge of the material
10. Organization of the content, including indexes or bibliographies
11. Appropriate style
12. Aesthetic qualities
13. Technical aspects such as illustrations, sound, and clarity
14. Physical characteristics including typeface, paper, binding and durability
15. Presence of special features including bibliographies, appendices, and indexes
16. Relationship to the existing collection and library potential
17. Cost, including actual price, the processing and security costs, and the costs of any equipment or software needed to use the work
18. Contemporary or permanent value
19. Public demand, included repeated interlibrary loan requests
20. Attention of critics and reviewers
21. Accessibility through indexes and bibliographies
22. Purpose of the material
Fiction material may be judged on any appropriate of the above criteria as well as the following:
1. Literary merit
2. Characterization, theme, plot and setting
3. Popular or limited appeal
Audio & Musical Cassette Tapes – The library began withdrawing all materials on audiocassette tape in 2015 due to lack of use.
Binding – The library attempts to obtain sewn, hardback publications because of their greater durability. Paperback or softbound books are added only if a hardbound copy is not available, or if a desirable paperback copy is donated.
Compact Discs – The library maintains a basic 5” compact disk music collection including soundtracks, jazz, country, folk, rock, classical, and children’s recordings. The compact disk is the preferred medium for music. The library continues to purchase recorded books on compact disk in the mp3 format. Quality of sound and clarity will be considered for all disks.
Computer Software – Computer software is purchased for in-house public and staff use only. Stand-alone software programs will not be selected for circulation to the public.
Databases – The library will contract for access to computer searchable bibliographic and full-text databases through major database vendors and network suppliers. These services will provide subject search and data retrieval for local government and library patrons. The databases and their corresponding vendors will be selected according to their ability to provide appropriate coverage at a reasonable price to meet patron demand for information not available through other sources, and to replace hard copy materials when database access is more cost effective and expedient. Presently, the library has purchased annual subscriptions to Ancestry.com and Heritage Quest databases, as well as several ebook subscriptions for reference materials.
Digital – The library collects digital audio books, ebooks, and music. Audiobook books are purchased both in standalone (Playaway) format and downloadable format. (The library contracts with Overdrive Media via a consortium of southwest Virginia public libraries for digital books in general fiction and non-fiction, as well as with Recorded Books and Freading.)
Duplication of Materials – Duplicate copies of titles within the system is expected although duplicate copies in a library building is discouraged unless there is an existing or anticipated heavy demand, such as more than four people on the reserve list.
Films – The library will collect films to meet the educational, information, and cultural needs of its users. Classic films and children’s feature films will be collected, but because of the limited budget and the large number of feature films released each year, the library is very selective in its collection of current feature films. DVD format is the preferred format for purchasing. The videotape format (½” VHS) collection is being withdrawn due to lack of use.
Foreign Language Materials – The library does not routinely acquire foreign language materials, but will do so when needed or appropriate. The library collects bilingual and foreign language dictionaries as well as “self-instruction” books and recordings, and a small collection of juvenile Spanish books.
Large Print Books – Large print materials are acquired to serve visually impaired library users of all ages. The same selection criteria are applied as with other materials.
Maps – The library maintains a current collection of local maps, state maps and world atlases. Topographical maps are collected for Russell County, counties contiguous to Russell County, or areas that once formed part of Russell County. Maps of archival or historical significance are housed in the Local History Room or on closed reserve in the map case.
Materials for the Disabled – The library adheres to provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The library collects alternative formats such as large print books, books on CD and books featuring American Sign Language. Reasonable accommodations may include referral to other agencies that can provide access to a fuller range of services. Patrons are eligible for service from the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped if they have a visual or physical disability that prevents them from reading standard printed material. Patrons may also access materials through the Books-by-Mail program.
Microforms – The library collects items in microform on a limited basis. It is usually selected if it is the only or most archivally-stable format available, such as for old newspapers or census records.
Music – Music is collected on CDs as well as downloadable digital files.
Newsletters – The library will accept single copies of current newsletters of local and state interest for information files, but will not serve as a distribution point, except as noted in the Communication Policy.
Nonprint Materials – Non-print material will be collected in DVD, digital audio (typically Playaway books), and compact disc formats for recorded books, films, and music. A small collection of electronic books and downloadable books is also available to library patrons, by clicking this choice on the library’s home page.
Out of Print Materials – The library will generally not purchase out of print materials, but may accept them as donations. However, occasionally classic titles no longer in print may be needed or recommended for either local history or the general collection, and can be ordered.
Pamphlets – Donated pamphlets are available in public display areas such as the main entrance foyer. Emphasis is placed on current topics, curriculum-related subjects, consumer affairs and education, and Russell County information. (See the Communications Policy for distribution policy.)
Paperbacks – Paperbacks are collected for the sake of economy and to fill short-term demand for popular titles. Paperbacks may be selected as the popular format for the Young Adult Collection. Multiple copies cannot be acquired solely to meet the needs of school reading lists.
Phonograph Records – The library no longer acquires or maintains a collection of phonograph records.
Photographs and Posters – The library does not routinely purchase photographs or posters, except as programming and publicity material. Donations may be accepted, but not for circulation.
Printed Music/Musical Scores – Sheet music and musical scores are not generally acquired, though the library does have a small collection available to check out.
Programming Materials – Material may be purchased for in-house programming purposes. These materials may include, but are not limited to puppets, big books, and thematic materials.
Realia and Paintings – The library does not purchase realia or paintings except for programming purposes. Donations may be accepted but not for circulation.
Textbooks – The library does not add textbooks as a matter of course. Basic level textbooks may be added to the collection when no other material is available on a specific subject or when it meets an information need.
Videos – See Films
Most orders are submitted to the acquisitions assistant on order cards. RCPL buys the majority of its material from book vendors who provide discounts, generally limiting our business to one or two companies in order to minimize our administrative costs. RCPL also takes advantage of discounts available through our membership in consortia, such as MALIA. Several standing order plans are maintained to obtain material, such as large print and audio books, where demand is predictable and largely mimics demand for best-selling fiction and nonfiction. For non-print material, preference may be given to companies or vendors who will supply individual replacement discs at a modest cost.
The Russell County Public Library recognizes that gifts and endowments are an excellent means of extending the materials budget and of developing the collection. RCPL will accept gifts of new or used books, magazines, audiovisual materials, equipment, or other related materials. Such gifts are accepted on the condition that they are subject to the same selection criteria used for the purchase of new materials and that they may or may not be used in the library’s collections. All such gifts will be evaluated by library staff, which will determine their appropriateness to the collection and their disposition. Gifts not selected to be added to the collection will be turned over to the Friends of the Library for book sales or discarded, as deemed appropriate by staff.
Gifts of money to purchase memorial books are accepted by Friends of the Library. Other monetary gifts, gifts of stocks, bonds, endowments, estates, land, etc. are welcomed by the library, providing the Library Board of Trustees approves conditions of such gifts.
Russell County Public Library does not accept for deposit materials that are not outright gifts.
Upon the receipt of an approved gift/donation, the library staff will, if requested, provide a statement for tax purposes (Appendix D). The statement will describe the gift in terms of extent and condition, but will not include an assessment of value. While the donor may claim a deduction for a charitable donation, the library cannot determine the value of a gift. It will be the donor’s responsibility to determine the fair market value of all items to be donated before the donation is made.
Note: For guidelines on determining fair market value, refer to IRS Publication 561. If the donor intends to claim a deduction for a contribution with a claimed value of more than $5,000, he must obtain a qualified written appraisal of the property from a qualified appraiser. For guidelines on making charitable contributions, see IRS Publication 526.
COLLECTION ASSESSMENT AND MAINTENANCE
In order to maintain a collection of useful materials serving current educational, recreational, and intellectual needs of library users, collection evaluation and assessment must occur. Evaluation and assessment activities are conducted under the supervision of the director.
Maintaining an attractive collection in good order is one way of promoting use of the collections. To maintain the collection, the shelves must be routinely read and books in poor condition can be evaluated. Books will be replaced (or rebound) based on cost-effectiveness and long-term value of the book to the collection. The library does not automatically replace items withdrawn from the collection due to loss or damage. For replacement, the following criteria are considered:
1. Availability of newer and better materials in the subject
2. Requests for the title
3. Inclusion in standard bibliographies such as Public Library Catalog
4. Authority and importance of the author
5. Existence of other titles in the library on the subject
Inventory will be conducted regularly and the catalog will be corrected to remove lost books. Missing or lost books will be withdrawn after two years. Evaluating the physical condition of the collection can also be done during inventory or weeding.
Systematic withdrawal of material from the collection, known as weeding, is most conveniently done as part of direct examination of the collection during collection assessment. Under the supervision of the director the library, staff may conduct weeding. The director and another library staff member, such as the public services supervisor or assistant director, review items selected for discard before withdrawal.
The Procedures for Weeding includes the complete criteria for withdrawing material as well as guidelines for each collection. Primary criteria include the following:
Content – items with outdated, obsolete or inaccurate information, especially in the sciences, where items over five years old should be examined carefully
Condition – items that are worn out, books whose pages are torn, soiled, or missing, or with broken spines, torn covers or frayed bindings
Use Patterns – items that have not circulated for 5 years or that are no longer included in standard bibliographies should be closely examined
Withdrawn material will be made available to the Friends of the Library for sale or will be recycled depending on the condition.
Collection assessment is one way of seeing that the library’s collection is meeting the goals of the library. Assessment of the collection provides various ways of describing its strengths and weaknesses and of evaluating it. RCPL will attempt to assess specific portions of the collection annually and coordinate this with collection maintenance activities of inventory and weeding. The goal will be to assess one Dewey century of the non-fiction collections and another collection, such as reference, every other year.
RCPL will use techniques that are collection-centered (counting holdings and checking lists and standard bibliographies) and client-center (user surveys and collection use by patrons) and may include qualitative and quantitative techniques.
The Russell County Public Library is a repository for the recorded expression of thought, and provides free access for the public to all points of view. Items selected for inclusion in the collection do not necessarily represent an endorsement of any theory. The collection will include all sides of controversial issues as far as budget, space and availability of materials allow. Items will not be included or excluded due to political views, frank language, controversial content, the race, religion or nationality of the author, or the disapproval or approval of an individual or community group.
The processing and shelving of materials does not reflect a value judgment of the materials. A point of view or bias will not be designated with markings or labels on materials.
The library will attempt to select materials that represent a wide range of viewpoints and will make every effort to exercise impartiality in its selection activities. Circulation policies should provide adequate time for the use of material without having anyone monopolize an item at the inconvenience of others.
Reference staff should respond to all requests for assistance with equal diligence, with no distinction made according to the identity of the library user. The library recognizes its responsibility to have a representative selection of materials on subjects of interest to its users. The library welcomes patrons’ requests for purchase consideration.
Reconsideration of challenged materials
Individual use of library materials is a private and personal matter. All citizens are free to reject for themselves materials of which they may disapprove; no citizen may restrict the freedom of use and access for others. Responsibility for the reading, listening and viewing of library materials by children rests with their patents or legal guardians and not with the library staff. Selection of library materials is not inhibited by the possibility that materials may come into the possession of children.
The Russell County Library Board of Trustees endorses the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights and Freedom to Read Statement. (Appendix A and B)
If a library user voices a complaint, or objects to any item in the collection, a request for reconsideration of material should be made in writing. A form for this purpose may be obtained from any staff member. (Appendix C)
Individuals or groups wishing to lodge a complaint concerning materials in the library collection must use the following procedures.
1) A Request for Reconsideration must be completed and signed.
2) The completed request will be forwarded to the director.
3) The director will meet with the complainant to discuss the nature and extent of the complaint within two weeks.
4) If after meeting with the director, the complainant wishes to continue their complaint, the request will be given to the Intellectual Freedom Review Committee appointed by the Chair of the Library Board of Trustees. This committee will make report at the following meeting of the Trustees.
5) Any decision concerning an item will be recorded in writing by the director and sent to the complainant with a copy circulated to the library staff.
Collection Development Policy Revision
In order to maintain an up-to-date collection and to encourage continued growth and development, the director will review the Collection Development Policy during every odd-numbered year. The Library Board of Trustees must approve all recommendations for change.
Appendix A: 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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgement of free expression and free access to ideas.
5. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background or views.
6. 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 Jun 18, 1948. Amended February 2, 1961, June 27, 1967, and January 23, 1980, by the ALA Council.
Appendix B: 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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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:
American Library Association
Association of American Publishers
LABELS AND RATING SYSTEMS
An Interpretation of the LIBRARY BILL OF RIGHTS
Libraries do not advocate the ideas found in their collections or in resources accessible through the library. The presence of books and other resources in a library does not indicate endorsement of their contents by the library. Likewise, the ability for library users to access electronic information using library computers does not indicate endorsement or approval of that information by the library.
Labels on library materials may be viewpoint-neutral directional aids that save the time of users, or they may be attempts to prejudice or discourage users or restrict their access to materials. When labeling is an attempt to prejudice attitudes, it is a censor’s tool. The American Library Association opposes labeling as a means of predisposing people’s attitudes toward library materials.
Prejudicial labels are designed to restrict access, based on a value judgment that the content, language or themes of the material, or the background or views of the creator(s) of the material, render it inappropriate or offensive for all or certain groups of users. The prejudicial label is used to warn, discourage or prohibit users or certain groups of users from accessing the material. Such labels may be used to remove materials from open shelves to restricted locations where access depends on staff intervention.
Viewpoint-neutral directional aids facilitate access by making it easier for users to locate materials. The materials are housed on open shelves and are equally accessible to all users, who may choose to consult or ignore the directional aids at their own discretion.
Directional aids can have the effect of prejudicial labels when their implementation becomes proscriptive rather than descriptive. When directional aids are used to forbid access or to suggest moral or doctrinal endorsement, the effect is the same as prejudicial labeling.
A variety of organizations promulgate rating systems as a means of advising either their members or the general public concerning their opinions of the contents and suitability or appropriate age for use of certain books, films, recordings, Web sites, or other materials. The adoption, enforcement, or endorsement of any of these rating systems by the library violates the Library Bill of Rights. Adopting such systems into law may be unconstitutional. If such legislation is passed, the library should seek legal advice regarding the law’s applicability to library operations.
Publishers, industry groups, and distributors sometimes add ratings to material or include them as part of their packaging. Librarians should not endorse such practices. However, removing or destroying such ratings—if placed there by, or with permission of, the copyright holder—could constitute expurgation (see Expurgation of Library Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights).
Some find it easy and even proper, according to their ethics, to establish criteria for judging materials as objectionable. However, injustice and ignorance, rather than justice and enlightenment, result from such practices. The American Library Association opposes any efforts that result in closing any path to knowledge.
Adopted July 13, 1951; amended June 25, 1971; July 1, 1981; June 26, 1990; January 19, 2005, by the ALA Council.
Appendix C: Patron’s Request for Reconsideration of Material
Reconsideration of Material Form (a printable form)
Patron’s Request for Reconsideration of Material
Publisher & Year (if known) _____________________________________________________
Name & Address of Individual Initiating Request
__________________________________________ Phone: _______________________
1. To what exactly do you object to in this material? (Please be specific and cite pages where possible.)
2. Did you listen to, read, or view the entire work? ________________________________
3. For what age group do you feel this material is appropriate?
4. What do you think is the theme of this material?
5. What exposure have you had to this author or title?
Patron’s Request for Reconsideration of Material
6. What other judgments of this work have you examined (book reviews, etc.)?
7. What action would you like to see the library take in response to your complaint?
8. Is there another title you would recommend in place of this one?
9. Do you have any other comments you would like to make about this material?
(You may use the space below or attach a page if you have additional comments.)
Thank you for your comments. The Library Director will call you for an appointment within 2 weeks to discuss your concerns more fully.
Appendix D: Statement on Accepting Gifts
RUSSELL COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
Policy on Accepting Gifts of Materials and Donations of Money
Library Board approved 03/20/01
Russell County Public Library will accept gifts of new or used books, magazines, audiovisual materials, equipment, or other related materials. Such gifts are accepted on the condition that they are subject to the same selection criteria used for the purchase of new materials and that they may or may not be used in the library’s collections. All such gifts will be evaluated by library staff, who will determine their appropriateness to the collection and their disposition.
Russell County Public Library does not accept for deposit materials which are not outright gifts.
Gifts of money to purchase memorial books are accepted by the Friends of the Library.
Monetary gifts, gifts of stocks, bonds, endowments, estates, land, etc. are welcomed providing conditions of such gifts are approved by the Library Board of Trustees.
Upon the receipt of an approved gift/donation, the library staff will, if requested, provide a statement for tax purposes. The statement will describe the gift in terms of extent and condition, but will not include an assessment of value. While the donor may claim a deduction for a charitable donation, the library cannot determine the value of a gift. It will be the donor’s responsibility to determine the fair market value of all items to be donated before the donation is made.
Note: For guidelines on determining fair market value, refer to IRS Publication 561. If the donor intends to claim a deduction for a contribution with a claimed value of more than $5,000, he must obtain a qualified written appraisal of the property from a qualified appraiser. For guidelines on making charitable contributions, see IRS Publication 526.
for Gifts of Materials
and Donations of Money
Statement for Tax Purposes
Donor’s Name and Address:
Description and condition of gift / donation:
RCPL Staff Signature Date
Revised by the Library Board of Trustees 2011-4, reviewed 2015-12