Mercer County Public Library
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Materials Selection Policy

I. PURPOSE

The purpose of this policy on materials selection is to guide in the selection of materials and to inform the public about the principles upon which selections are made.

II. OBJECTIVES OF SELECTION

The Library acquires, organizes, makes available and encourages the use of all media that:

1. Contribute constructively to the individual's awareness of self and community while providing insight into a wide range of human and social conditions and various cultural heritages.

2. Meet the informational and recreational needs of the entire community.

3. Stimulate thoughtful participation in the affairs of the community, the state, the nation, and the world.

4. Give access to a variety of opinions on matters of current interest.

5. Assist the individual to grow intellectually and culturally.

6. Reflect minority opinions as well as those of the majority.

III. RESPONSIBILITY FOR SELECTION OF MATERIALS

The responsibility for the selection of books and other library materials is delegated to the director and/or designee, as is the responsibility for coordinating requests and recommendations within the framework of policies determined by the Board of Trustees.

IV. CRITERIA FOR SELECTION

Each type of material must be considered in terms of it's own excellence and the audience for whom it is intended. No single standard can be applied in all cases when making an acquisition decision. 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.

New types of materials are acquired and made accessible, as they are judged suitable, meaningful, and relevant to the community. Expanding areas of knowledge, changing social values, technological advances and cultural differences requires flexibility, open-mindedness, and responsiveness in the evaluation and re-evaluation of all library materials, both old and new.

Specific Factors Guiding Selection

1.      Suitability of physical form for library use.

2.      Suitability of subject and style for intended audience.

3.      Present and potential relevance to community needs.

4.      Appropriateness and effectiveness to community needs.

5.      Insight into human and social conditions.

6.      Importance as a document of the time.

7.      Relation to existing library collections and other material on the subject.

8.      Professional and literary significance of the author.

9.      Attention to critics, reviewers and the public.

10.  Authority.

11.  Comprehensiveness and depth of treatment.

12.  Objectivity.

13.  Clarity, accuracy, and logic of presentation.

14.  Representation of challenging, though extreme or minority, point of view.

15.  Representation of important movement, genre, or trend of culture.

16.  Vitality and originality.

17.  Artistic presentation and experimentation.

18.  Sustained interest.

19.  Availability of material in other libraries or in print.

20.  Price.

Not all of these specific factors apply to every book. Works of imagination are judged on different factors than are works of information and opinion. The aim of this policy is to facilitate the building of a diversified library collection of merit and significance that reflects the interests and needs of the total community within the fiscal constraints that are a part of all human endeavor.

V.               PROCEDURES FOR SELECTION AND PURCHASE

 In selecting materials for purchase, the director and/or designee evaluates the existing collection, it’s strengths and weaknesses, lists titles under consideration, and consults;

1.      Reputable, unbiased, professionally prepared selection aids and book reviews.

2.      Specialists in the designated area of need or interest.

VI.            STATEMENT OF SPECIFIC POLICIES IN SELECTED AREAS

FICTION

The fiction collection provides books for the wide range of interests of the general reading public. This will include classics in the field, titles representing periods of writing and those meeting the popular demand for light reading. Books which are obviously pornographic and/ or which come within Kentucky's definition of obscenity, as set forth in the KENTUCKY REVISED STATUTES, Chapter 531, ('Obscene means: (a) To the average person, applying contemporary community standards the predominant appeal of the matter, as a whole, is to prurient sexual conduct; and (b) The matter depicts or describes the sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and (c) The matter, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.) should be excluded; but no book should be eliminated because of coarse language, violence or frank discussion of sexual episodes -- any one of which may be objectionable to some people-- if the author is justified in what he portrays, or when such episodes are pertinent to the plot or character delineation in a book.

RELIGION

The library attempts to maintain a well-balanced collection representing all the major religions and their sacred scriptures. Authoritative materials which introduce and explain the basic concepts and practices of the various religions and beliefs are included. The library does not add materials of a strictly proselytizing nature.

SEX

The library will purchase accurate, scientific, and current books on this subject for readers of all ages and various backgrounds. Some areas covered are sex education for parents, children and young adults, marriage manuals and family planning.

PSEUDOSCIENTIFIC AND OCCULT MATERIALS

In the fields of pseudoscience and pseudo psychology, spiritualism, witchcraft, Satanism and the occult, representative books to provide information to the general reader are purchased. Care is taken to avoid the sensational, poorly written and unsound materials. Serious works on parapsychology, psychic research and hypnotism, which meet general selection standards, are purchased.

JUVENILE COLLECTION

The objective in providing reading material for children is to guide the child toward the enjoyment and appreciation of reading. The library tries to meet the diverse skills and interests of the reader at all ages and levels of ability. Juvenile materials are selected on subjects of interest and within the comprehension of children from pre-school through ninth grade. Abridged editions of the classics are purchased only when they retain the quality and flavor of the original.

YOUNG ADULT MATERIALS

Titles of interest to persons of high school age are purchased and shelved in the respective adult subject areas. In selecting items for purchase, specialized review sources are consulted as well as the standard journals.

NON-BOOK MATERIALS

PERIODICALS

The library endeavors to provide representative periodicals on a wide range of subjects and of both recreational interest and reference value. Particular emphasis is given to titles that are included in the general periodical indexes. Specialized titles are considered only in relation to subject needs.

NEWSPAPERS

Newspapers are a valuable updating material on the local, state and national level, yet the number of newspapers subscribed to is limited by space and funding.

MUSIC COLLECTION

 Providing music selections for a wide range of patron interests, as well as the importance of composers, performing organizations, and reproduction quality are the foremost considerations given to music purchases. The collection includes both tape and compact disc formats. Collection encompasses selections of classical music, semi-classical, popular, jazz, gospel and international.

AUDIO COLLECTION

 An audio collection of books on tape is provided for both children and adults. These selections are made based on the same criteria, for which fiction and non-fiction books are selected, with the additional criterion of production quality and replacement capability.

DVDs and VIDEOCASSETTES

DVDs and Videocassettes will be purchased on a limited basis. The video collection is built and supplemented by the following criteria:

1. Composition

2. Recording quality

3. Demand

4. Price

5. Range of use

COMPUTER SOFTWARE

As technology is becoming more prevalent and needful in our community, the library will select software that provides the most current, economical programs that uphold the same standards by which printed materials are chosen. The library seeks to make on-line services available when economically feasible. When such services are provided, it must be kept in mind that Mercer County Public Library is not responsible for the content in a network situation.

VERTICAL FILE

Materials selected for the Vertical file will be oriented to our local area, meaning we will file printed items, which are not available in book form, only on subjects which refer to Mercer County history, genealogy, business, and special interests.

FILMS

The Mercer County Public Library will make no purchases of 16mm films, since the Department of Libraries and Archives in Frankfort, Kentucky maintains a collection for loans to public libraries in the state. Films are too delicate and too expensive to warrant extensive purchase by the individual library.

The Department of Libraries and Archives has set forth the policy that films borrowed from their collection must be used by groups, clubs, and organizations only, and not for personal home or classroom use.

MICROFILM

The library maintains a limited collection of materials which are unavailable in other forms, or which are too fragile or too bulky to retain in the original form.

V.               GIFT ACCEPTANCE, SELECTION AND WEEDING PROCEDURES

The library will make clear to the donor the stipulations involved in accepting gifts. To avoid misunderstanding of this policy and to avoid claims by donors of misuse of their gifts, by either separation or disbursement, the library will implement a standard form to be read and signed by the donor.

The remaining books not selected for the library collection following the accepted book selection policy will be returned to the donor upon request. Otherwise the library is free to dispose of the remaining books as it sees fit.

An acknowledgement letter will be sent to the donor upon request, indicating that x number of books were accepted by the library. The appraisal of gifts to the library for tax purposes is to be the responsibility of the donor, since they are the one who benefits from the possible deduction for the donation, and therefore is not the responsibility of the library. The library is not equipped, nor are the librarians qualified to appraise the value of gift books due to variance in age, condition, subject matter and usefulness, and due to the constant inflationary measures affecting market prices.

If the library accepts gifts that have been appraised, it should be made clear to the donor that this acceptance does not imply endorsement of the appraiser's evaluation as accurate.

Donations of money in the memory/honor of a relative or friend will be limited to new purchases made specifically by the library in accordance with the needs of the collection, with the subject matter selected so that it compliments an interest or hobby of the person of whom it is in memory/honor.

VI.            PAPERBACK BOOKS

Paperbacks form an appealing collection for many people and cover many subjects not always found in hardback editions. The library will accept paperback donations with the same stipulations as for other gifts, and with the understanding that those not designated for cataloging and inclusion into the regular shelf collection will be processed and included in the general paperback collection.

The paperbacks are not subject to replacement when lost or damaged, unless they are on a subject cataloged and relevant to the collection. However, purchase of paperbacks is deemed necessary to fill ephemeral demand for hardcover titles, to replace out-of-date materials, and to provide original works appearing only in paperback editions.

VII.        CENSORSHIP

 The selection of library books and materials is predicated on the library patron's right to read and similarly, the patron's freedom from censorship by others. Many books are controversial and any given item may offend some persons. Selection by the library will not, however, be made on the basis of anticipated approval or disapproval, but solely on the merits of the material in relation to the building of the collection and to serving the interests of the readers. The library holds censorship to be a purely individual matter and declares that; while anyone is free to reject for him/herself books and other materials of which he/she does not approve, he cannot exercise this right of censorship to restrict the freedom of others.

With respect to the use of library materials by children, the decision as to what a minor may read is solely the responsibility of the parent or guardian. Selection will not be inhibited by the possibility that books may come into the possession of minors.

VIII.     CHALLENGED MATERIAL

Occasionally, objections to a selection will be made by the public despite the care taken to select valuable materials for the public use, and the qualifications of persons who select the materials.

The principles of the freedom to read and the professional responsibility of the staff in serving the objectives of the library must be defended, rather than the materials.

Whenever any patron objects to the presence of any library material, the complaint will be given a fair hearing. All complaints to staff members will be referred immediately to the Director, who will discuss the matter with the complainant. If the patron wishes, he/she would be supplied with the Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials Form, appended hereto. The Director will examine the item in question, check reviews, and determine whether it conforms to the standards of the materials selection policy. The Director will decide whether to withdraw or restrict the material in question and will write to the complainant giving the reasons for the decision. The library Board of Trustees will also be notified of the complaint and the Director's decision.

IX.            LABELING OF MATERIALS

The fact that materials are purchased, processed and added to the collection shall in no way reflect a value judgment on the materials. There will be no labeling of any item, or of its computer cataloging, to indicate its point of view or bias.

X.             ACCESS TO MATERIALS

All materials will be shelved in their proper order on open shelves, freely and easily accessible to the public except for irreplaceable or frequently stolen materials, which need to be protected from theft and/or damage.

Children are not limited to the juvenile collection, although juvenile collections may be kept together to facilitate use. Responsibility for a child's reading must rest with the parent or guardian, not with the library. Request for circulation cannot be judged or denied since library employees cannot know the maturity of every child nor can they know every parent's wishes in this area.

This statement was approved and adopted by the Mercer County Public Library Board of Trustees which assumes full responsibility for all legal actions which may result from the implementation of any policies stated herein.

THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THIS LIBRARY FURTHER DECLARE THAT IT ADOPTS THE LIBRARY BILL OF RIGHTS AND SUPPORTS THE FREEDOM TO READ STATEMENT.

Both are included as appendices to this material selection policy, and interpreted to include all library materials regardless of format.