Material Selection Policy
- Purpose of Policy
The Materials Selection Policy of the Seymour Public Library has been formulated to serve as a document for the Library Director and Board of Directors in the selection of library materials, and to inform the public clearly as to the principles upon which selections of library materials are made.
- Statement on Intellectual Freedom
The Seymour Public Library subscribes to the Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read Statement, and the related supportive documents of the American Library Association, which affirms, among other principles, its belief in the following basic policies:
1. As a responsibility of library service, books and other library materials selected should be chosen for values of interest, information and enlightenment of all the people of the community. In no case should library materials be excluded because of the race, gender, nationality, social, political, or religious views of the authors.
2. Libraries have a responsibility to provide books and other materials presenting several diverse points of view concerning the problems and issues of our time. No library materials should be proscribed or removed from libraries because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
3. Censorship should be challenged by Libraries in the maintenance of their responsibility to provide public information and enlightenment.
4. The rights of an individual to the use of a library should not be denied or abridged because of age, race, gender, religion, national origins, or social or political views.
Copies of the Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read Statement, and other pertinent documents can be found in the appendix of this policy statement.
III. The Library’s Service and Collection Goals
The purpose of the Seymour Public Library is to provide free library service on an equal basis to all residents of the Town of Seymour, as well as, to library card holders from other communities throughout Connecticut under the deliverIT CT program. The Library seeks to provide such service to the best of its ability with the means available, and to increase those means whenever possible.
In order to provide useful and high-quality library service, the library acquires, organizes, and makes available materials for the educational, informational, cultural, and recreational needs of the community as determined by the Board of Library Directors and the Head Librarian. Such materials typically include, but are not limited to, books, magazines, newspapers, audio recordings, video, downloadable audio and eBooks and online databases, i.e. Consumer Reports online.
- Responsibility for Selection of Materials
Final responsibility for selecting new books and other library materials lies with the Library Director, who may delegate, to such staff members as are deemed qualified by reason of education and/or experience, authority to make selections in designated areas. Should there be community concern about specific items in the library collections, this should be brought to the Library Director for resolution. The Library Director will confer with the Library Board of Directors referencing the American Library Association Bill of Rights.
All materials etc. selections should be made in conformity with the principles and criteria set forth in this policy statement.
- Selection Sources
Sources from which library materials will be selected for purchase include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Current review journals (Library Journal, School Library Journal, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, etc.).
2. Newspaper review columns.
4. Bookstores (First: local stores Second: national stores).
5. Book salespersons.
6. Displays at library meetings
7. Publisher catalogs and announcements.
8. Demonstrated usage of existing materials.
9. Online resources.
- Criteria for Selection
The selection of books and other library materials, whether acquired by purchase or gift, will be based on the following criteria:
1. The appropriateness of the material in relation to the interests and needs of the Library’s users and of the community as a whole.
2. The value of the material for educational, informational, cultural, and recreational purposes.
3. The timeliness of information.
4. The contribution of the material toward strengthening the existing collection or expanding its scope.
5. The accuracy, authoritativeness, and competence of presentation.
6. Requests from individuals to which the above criteria can be applied.
7. The permanent value of the material based on literary or scholarly excellence and other inherent qualities, considered without regard to demand.
8. Budgetary limitations.
It is the goal of the Library to build a balanced collection characterized by materials of current popular interest as well as materials of permanent worth. While popular demand is a significant basis for selection, it must be borne in mind that many great works of scholarship and literature are keystones of modern knowledge and culture but may not necessarily be high-demand items. It is Library policy to select, along with popular-demand items, materials of permanent value.
Textbooks will not be considered for purchase unless such items constitute the best available source of information in a subject. Such materials must serve the general public and the adult learning community in order to be considered.
Every attempt will be made through the Bibliomation Network or other equivalent resource to procure as many copies of title as possible for student projects or community activities. However, multiple copies cannot be purchased in response to student academic projects or related work, which the school curriculum should properly be expected to meet.
It is not the Library’s policy automatically to replace every item when lost or worn out. Need for replacement is weighed in relation to the number of duplicate copies already owned; existence of adequate coverage in the subject field; other similar materials in the collection; and the demand for the specific author, title or subject. It is often more desirable to purchase more up-to-date materials than to continue replacing older ones.
VII. Materials for Children and Young Adults
The children’s collection contains materials most suited to the abilities and interests of library users between the ages of pre-school and eleven, while young adult materials are those most suited to the abilities and interests of library users between the ages of twelve and fifteen.
Both children’s and young adult materials are selected with the same care and judgment, and following the same criteria, as are adult materials. Also like adult materials, they will be as varied in format, content, reading level, etc., as possible within existing budgetary limitations.
It is the Library’s policy to allow children and young adults free access to the adult collection for the use of advanced materials for personal and educational enrichment.
The Library recognizes and accepts the role of the parent or legal guardian in supervising the reading material of their child. The Library staff cannot be expected to know the content of every book in the Library or to supervise the reading of every young person who uses the Library. The staff is not in a position to judge parental concern and control of reading materials for juvenile users.
Selection of library materials for the wider community cannot be inhibited by the possibility that specific items of an advanced nature may come into the possession of children.
The Library has a responsibility to provide books and other materials presenting several diverse points of view concerning the problems and issues of our time. It must, therefore, be understood clearly that ownership of library material does not in any way constitute an endorsement by the Library of the ideas or viewpoints expressed therein.
Selections of library materials are not made on the basis of any anticipated approval or disapproval by specific individuals or groups, but solely on the merits of the works in relation to building the collection and serving the needs of library users and the community as a whole. While the Library is aware that one or more persons may take issue with the selection of specific items, the Library does not have to remove from the collection items purchased in accordance with the criteria specified above. Nor will library materials be marked in such a way as to show approval or disapproval, and all materials will stand on open shelves, except to protect specific items from damage or theft or as a result of other unavoidable physical restrictions (materials placed on reserve, lack of sufficient shelf space necessitating basement storage, etc.).
- Weeding and Withdrawing
Weeding is important to maintenance of a good library collection and should be performed with the same careful thought and judgment as is selection.
To keep the collection up-to-date and useful, materials should be re-evaluated at regular intervals, with decisions made as to whether to withdraw, repair, rebind, or replace. Materials that should be withdrawn include the following:
1. Those proven to be unused over significant periods of time, as defined in accepted professional standards.
2. Those known to be dated and no longer accurate.
3. Those too badly damaged, worn, soiled, etc. to be repaired or rebound, unless unique.
4. Those with unattractive formats (small print, yellowed paper, etc.), unless the contents are unique or irreplaceable.
Final responsibility for re-evaluating the library collection and making decisions to withdraw, repair, rebind, or replace lies with the Library Director, who may delegate, to such staff members as are deemed qualified by reason of education and/or experience, authority to re-evaluate designated areas. Items removed from the collection, if in suitable condition, may be distributed to the community for free provided this is accomplished in a fair and equitable manner.
Unusual problems are to be referred to the Library Director for resolution.
As a rule, the Library will accept gifts without commitment as to final disposition, as follows:
1. If the material is already in the collection, it will be added only if it is in good condition, if a duplicate is needed, if existing copies need replacement, and if the material has not been superseded.
2. If the material is not already in the collection, it will be evaluated following the criteria specified in Section VI above. Currency and reliability of information, adequacy of the library collection in the subject field or the author’s work, historical value, local interest, and physical condition all must be considered before expending the time and money to add gifts to the collection.
3. Gifts not needed, if in good condition and of the proper type, will be offered to other libraries or institutions.
4. Gifts not usable in the library collection or elsewhere will be sold, disposed of, or placed in the Library’s book sale.
5. Generally, collections of materials will not be accepted with donor restrictions or conditions which necessitate special housing or which prevent integration of the gift into the general library collection with like materials.
6. Gift materials will be subject to the same standards of classification, cataloging, circulation, weeding, and withdrawal as are purchased materials.
7. Librarians are not professional appraisers, and the Library cannot provide dollar valuations for gift materials received. The Library will provide the donor with a statement showing the number of items and type of material accepted.
8. The Library welcomes gifts and bequests of money made by individuals or groups for the purchase of library materials. Such gifts may be restricted to the acquisition of specific types of materials, provided they conform to the criteria specified in Sections VI and VII above. Otherwise, choice of materials purchased with these monies will be determined by the Head Librarian, in conformity with this policy.
- Local History and Genealogy
A collection of useful materials pertaining to the history and genealogy of Seymour, the Naugatuck River Valley, New Haven County, and the State of Connecticut will be maintained. Materials such as books and manuscripts can be accommodated. Artifacts or other items which, in the judgment of the Library Director, the Library is unable to care for will be referred to the Seymour Historical Society or to other appropriate agencies.
XII. Extending Resources
The Library endeavors to add as many new and varied materials to its collection as possible within the confines of budgetary limitations, but cannot purchase every item needed or requested. It will at all times attempt to extend its resources through cooperation with other libraries and information resources and through active use of the interlibrary loan system.
XIII. Requests for Reconsideration of Materials
Individuals with objections to specific materials in the Library’s collection should bring their concerns to the attention of the Library Director. If, after discussing their concern with the Library Director, the patron wishes to pursue the matter further, they will be required to state their specific complaint in writing by completing the Seymour Public Library’s “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials” form (copy attached). All parts of the form must be completed and the form signed and dated. The form will then be reviewed carefully by the Head Librarian and a reply will be made to the patron after the review process is completed.
If still dissatisfied, the patron may, at this time, ask that their “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials” form be brought before the next meeting of the Board of Library Directors. Such a request must be made only after the Library Director has reviewed and denied the original request. The Board will then review its original request and the decisions of the Library Director, discuss the issues raised, and respond to the patron after the review process is completed. The decision of the Board of Library Directors will be final.
Review of Materials Selection Policy
This policy will be reviewed periodically, if changes are required then the Library Board of Directors will vote on such changes proposed. This material will be distributed to all new members of the Library Board and the original copy will remain with the Library Director.
As approved by The Board of Library Directors 12/12
Seymour Public Library Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials
The Board of Directors of the Seymour Public Library has established a materials selection policy and developed a procedure for requests for reconsideration of particular resources in the collection. Completion of this form is the first step in that procedure. If you wish to request reconsideration of a resource, please return the completed form to the library director.
Seymour Public Library
46 Church ST
Seymour, CT 06483
Your Name __________________________________________________________
City ____________________________ State/Zip _______________________
Phone __________________________ Email __________________________
Do you represent self? ____ Or an organization? ____ Name of Organization ___________________________
- Resource on which you are commenting:
___ Book (e-book) ___ Movie ___ Magazine ___ Audio Recording
___ Digital Resource ___ Newspaper ___ Other
- What brought this resource to your attention?
- Have you examined the entire resource? If not, what sections did you review?
- What concerns you about the resource?
- Are you aware of the judgement of this material by literary or educational critics?
- Please state the age group for which you feel this resource would be suitable.
- Are there resource(s) you suggest to provide additional information and/or other viewpoints on this topic?
- What action are you requesting the committee consider?
ALA Library Bill of Rights
I. 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.
II. 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.
III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
VI. 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.
VII. All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use. Libraries should advocate for, educate about, and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information.
Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; January 29, 2019.
Inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.
ALA Freedom to Read
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.