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Selecting Materials

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The purpose in building a collection is to make available to all people who enter the library as comprehensive a collection of recorded knowledge as possible within the limits of funds available and the needs of the community. The library recognizes the needs of the community are of primary importance in selection and because the community is a conglomerate of individuals, each individual's needs will be considered in conjunction with the majority of the present and potential patronage. An effort is made to include information representing all sides of controversial issues as such material becomes available. The criteria for the selection of controversial materials are the same as for any other materials. Controversial materials have no distinguishing labels and are shelved in the general collection. Responsibility for the reading choices of children rests with their parents or legal guardians. Selection for the adult collection will not be inhibited by the possibility that materials may inadvertently fall into the hands of children. An open shelf policy will be followed at all times.

In accordance with the recommendations of the library's Board of Trustees, the Carbondale Public Library will allocate not less than 20% of its total budget on resources and materials for patrons every year. Serving Our Public: Standards for Illinois Public Libraries recommends a minimum of 12% for this purpose.

Statement of Purpose

This selection policy defines the standards and outlines the responsibility for materials selection for the Carbondale Public Library. Within these guidelines, the librarians use their professional judgment to determine the materials which best meet the objectives of the Library and the needs of its patrons.

Objectives in Materials Selections

The general objectives in materials selection are to carry out the Library's goals of providing the community with a variety of significant media to meet their informational, educational, and recreational needs.

Responsibility for Selection

Overall responsibility for collection development rests with the Library Director who operates within this framework of policies determined by the Library Board of Trustees. Typically, the Library Director delegates or shares this responsibility with designated members of the staff. No employee may be disciplined or dismissed for the selection of library materials when the selection is made in good faith and in accordance with the written policy required to be established pursuant to Illinois Library Law. Suggestions from patrons are welcome and will be considered using the same criteria as all other selections.

All requests are given serious consideration An attempt will be made to borrow through interlibrary loan any requested item which is out of print, or that the Library determines does not meet the criteria for purchase.

Criteria for Selection

The general criteria considered in selecting materials include: 1) significance and permanent value to the existing collection, 2) qualifications of author or producer, 3) suitability of subject and style for intended audience, 4) quality of format, 5) currency or timeliness if applicable, 6) demand by patrons, 7) price, 8) attention given to the item by reviewers and general news media, 9) availability of materials in other libraries, and 10) technical quality of non-book materials. In selection, consideration will be given to the work as a whole. No work shall be excluded solely because of specific passages or pieces taken out of context.

Selection Tools

Because it is impossible for librarians to examine all items being considered for purchase, they depend on reliable selection aids. The librarians regularly depend on the reviews found in standard sources. Other selection aids such as "Notable Book" lists chosen by the American Library Association, National Book Awards lists, Pulitzer Prize lists and published lists of bestsellers may also be used as required.

Scope of Collection

Materials will be selected in a variety of formats including, but not limited to, print, video, sound recording, and electronic media. Each type of material must be considered in terms of its own excellence and the audience for whom it is intended. No single standard can be applied in all cases. Some materials may be judged primarily in terms of artistic merit, scholarship, or value to humanity; others are selected to satisfy the informational, recreational, or educational interests of the community.

Through careful selection, the Library strives to maintain a diverse collection of quality materials, including items of contemporary significance and permanent value, as well as a selection of materials concerning social issues and ephemeral items. Circulating materials are supplemented by a variety of reference materials for in-house use. Because the Library serves a public embracing a wide range of ages, educational and cultural back-grounds, and reading skills, it will always seek to select materials of varying complexity.

Statement of Specific Policies in Selected Areas

  • Materials for Children and Youth

In general the Carbondale Public Library subscribes to a policy of free access to library materials for minors. However, the library's Internet access is filtered and minors must have a signed parental permission form on file in order to use this resource. Children under 10 must have a parent/guardian present when using the Internet. At the Carbondale Public Library, children and young people have access to all parts of the Library; however, collections in Children's Services serve children and young people from preschool through eighth grades and their parents and care givers.

  • Materials appropriate for the interests and needs of the ages served are chosen for this collection.

Collections in Children's Services include traditional picture books, beginning readers, junior non-fiction, junior fiction, junior high fiction, periodicals, nonbook materials, reference materials, and a collection on parenting. This last collection contains some duplication of materials on parenting found in the adult collection. A sampling of children's books in a variety of foreign languages is also selected for the Children's Services department. The junior high fiction collection is selected especially for the needs and interests of 7th and 8th graders. It contains some duplication of classic titles found in both the adult and junior fiction collections, but is also strongly stocked with those titles that deal with the contemporary scene as it concerns 12 to 14 year-olds. Young people in the 7th and 8th grades are expected to use non-fiction materials throughout the Library in preparing school assignments or for any other reason.
  • Materials for Adults and Young Adults
The materials in Adult Services are selected primarily to serve the needs of adults and high school students; consideration is also given to the non-fiction needs of the middle school/junior high students. The collection includes reference and circulating non-fiction books, fiction books, and non-book materials.
  1. Fiction: The fiction collection provides books for a wide range of interests of the general reading public, including classics, titles representing periods and styles of writing, current titles of a lasting nature, and those titles meeting popular demand for recreational reading.
  2. Business Section: The Library purchases standard business directories and reference materials as well as popular circulating items which are of interest to the general public.
  3. Foreign Language Materials: Materials in foreign languages are considered as community needs change. Individual needs for foreign languages not purchased by the library may be served by requests through interlibrary loan.
  4. Literacy: Materials in the Literacy collection are selected to serve the needs of new adult readers and persons for whom English is a second language. There is heavy emphasis on materials teaching the basics of the English language and grammar, materials on coping with everyday life situations, and other high-interest, low reading-level fiction and nonfiction.
  5. Textbooks: Although the Library tries to serve students' needs as much as possible, textbooks are not purchased unless they are the best source of information on a given subject. The library policy is to purchase materials which will also supplement and complement the curriculum offerings of the public and private schools within the city.
  • Non-Book Materials
The criteria for and the methods of selection of non-book materials are listed in Section IV.

Non-book items purchased by the library for in-house use or for circulation may include pamphlets, art prints, computer software, microfiche, compact discs and cassettes, recordings of books on cassette, cassette/book kits, games, toys, puzzles and puppets.

The acquisition of a variety of non-book materials is under constant evaluation and is subject to change. Cost of items, budget, use, and availability of new items are the determining factors in selection.


Strong objection to any library material must be made in writing according to "Procedures for Handling Complaints about Library Materials" provided at the end of this policy. Examination and reconsideration of materials, if necessary, will be handled as outlined in these procedures. A copy of these procedures as well as forms for registering complaints may be obtained from the circulation desk or the administrative office.

No book or other material in question is automatically removed from the collection because of an objection to it.

Collection Maintenance

  1. Duplicate Copies: The number of copies purchased varies with the expected use of any item. As extensive use for individual titles is demonstrated, duplication to meet the demand is implemented.
  2. Weeding: In order to maintain the best possible collection of materials, a continual weeding process takes place. Items are discarded if they are outdated, if they no longer circulate, if there are more duplicate copies than needed, or if they are in poor physical condition. Items discarded are plainly marked and may be donated to the Friends of the Library for sale.

Revision of Selection Policy

Because the needs of the community change, this materials selection policy is revised as needed and/or is reviewed at least every five years.
Procedures for Handling Complaints about Library Materials

  1. If patrons wish to file a complaint about library materials or to have materials reconsidered, the Complaint/Reconsideration Form should be completed. This form stays on file with the Library Director. The Library Director will examine the material, as well as critical reviews of the material.
  2. The Library Director will write a letter to the patron who initiated the complaint or request for reconsideration outlining the above procedures and announcing the disposition of the material in question. The letter may also include a statement inviting the patron to the library to discuss the matter with the Library Director.
  3. After an interview with the Library Director, a patron desiring further action can make a request in writing for a hearing before the Library Board of Trustees, who have final authority.

Adopted 1/12/2000

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