Selection Policy

The purpose of the Scarborough Public Library materials selection policy to provide guidelines for the staff in their roles as selectors, and to acquaint the general public with the scope of the collection and with the principles of selection used to acquire library materials.

A. Purpose of selection policy 

The purpose of the Scarborough Public Library materials selection policy is twofold:

  1. To provide guidelines for the staff in their roles as selectors. 
  2. To acquaint the general public with the scope of the collection and with the principles of selection used to acquire library materials.

B. Selection objectives

Materials selection is carried out in such a way as to support the library’s mission as “a community based informational, educational, and recreational facility providing the diverse citizenry of Scarborough with superior service and the opportunity for life-long learning”. Scarborough Public Library recognizes the diversity of its users and potential users, and makes materials selections accordingly, striving, in general, for breadth rather than depth. In addition to providing information on a wide variety of subjects, the library makes an effort to collect material which represents varied points of view on topics which are open to interpretation. While students at all levels are an important part of the library’s clientele, and while many of the materials acquired may be useful to them in their courses of study, it is not the aim of this library to meet all of their research needs or to serve as a substitute for the libraries at local academic institutions. Likewise, Library materials are not intended to support professional activity or take the place of a professional library but rather to provide information adequate for the interested layperson.

C. Responsibility for selection

The responsibility for the selection of materials legally rests with the Board of Trustees of the Library. The Board in turn delegates this responsibility to the professional staff, which becomes responsible for the day-to-day development of the collection. 

D. Selection criteria

Materials in all formats are selected according to the following general criteria:

  1. Patron demand or interest.
  2. Need/relationship to other material in the collection.
  3. Quality (including accuracy, authority, and currency, in the case of non-fiction; production quality, in the case of audio-visual material; quality of illustration and reproduction in the case of picture books and art books, etc.)
  4. Appropriateness of format
  5. Cost
  6. Access, including quality and availability of indexing, especially in the case of periodicals.
  7. Professional judgment 

Additional considerations pertaining to the videotape collection are addressed in the Scarborough Public Library Video Guidelines

Selection Aids

Because it is not possible to personally view /listen to/read the large number of books and audiovisual materials published annually, selectors rely on reviews, lists of award winners, and standard bibliographies to guide them in their selections. Reviews found in professional and general periodicals and in regional newspapers are the primary tools used to determine the degree to which a particular title meets the selection criteria. While every reasonable effort is made to find one or more reviews of all titles added to the collection, items for which no review is available may be acquired if there is significant public demand or a strong need due to scarcity of material in the subject area.

E. Policy on controversial materials

Materials on controversial issues th at present only one side of a question or are written in a violent, sensational, or inflammatory manner will ordinarily not be selected. Obscene books and periodicals, which are lewd with deliberate intent, shall not be admitted to the library. However, no book shall be judged for exclusion by taking single passages out of context and basing condemnation of that book on such passages. 

Since it is possible to make a mistake in applying these principles, the Head Librarian stands ready to review individual decisions upon written request. Such materials will then be reconsidered by the Librarian and the Board.

F. Policy on gifts of materials 

Gifts of library materials are subject to the same selection criteria as material which is being considered for purchase (see above). The library’s professional staff reserves the right to refuse to accept and/or to dispose of, in any way it chooses, items which do not meet these criteria. Likewise, gifts will be shelved, classified, and circulated using the same criteria applied to purchased materials. In keeping with the Library’s general policy on gifts, any special stipulations on the part of the donor must be acceptable to the Board of Trustees.

Gifts of money for Memorial Books or other library material are also administered at the discretion of the professional staff. While donors are welcome to specify subject areas for their donations to be spent on, the selection of specifictitles remains the responsibility of staff members. An effort is made to purchase books of lasting value as memorials; however, the Library retains the right to remove memorials from the collection when deemed appropriate due to poor condition, lack of patron interest, inaccuracy of the information contained in them, or any other of the standard rationales for de-acquisition.

G. Policy on patron recommendations

Every effort is made to accommodate patron recommendations, especially those which reflect popular interests or a gap in our collections. However, the decision to acquire material is at the discretion of the professional staff, who retain the right to not purchase requested material if it does meet the selection criteria outlined in this document.

H. Collection maintenance: weeding, replacement and bindery decisions

Weeding and replacement activities, like selection decisions, are based on the overall goals and mission of the library, and are intended to keep the collection alive and useful. Weeding should be ongoing and based on multiple considerations, including condition, accuracy, past use, and perceived current or future interest. Weeding decisions will not be based on controversy about the material in question or its authors.

1. Intellectual freedom statement
2. Library bill of rights


Adopted 2/20/97

Video Selection Policy

This document is a guide to video collection development and covers the selection and withdrawal of materials.

I. Purpose and Scope of Collection

The collection is established to assemble and to organize a collection of visual non-print materials that are both entertaining and informational. The collection includes materials of interest to adults, teens, and youth.

II. Types of Materials to be Purchased

Materials are selected for the Library's collection with the following areas considered a high priority:

  1. Entertainment, instructional, and "nonfiction" videos for which there is public interest and demand; popular television series that for economic reasons are not freely available to members of the community (ex. cable-only programs).
  2. Titles covered by our motion picture licensing agreements to support our afternoon movie programs.
  3. Award-winning or nominated films, feature films, and international films that because of their content and reviews are or will become "classics".
  4. Videos for family viewing; and,
  5. Local presentations and events.

III. Materials Not Included

Works that achieve their appeal strictly through sensationalism or erotic, scatological, or exploitative means will not be added to the collection. Material that is strictly ephemeral in nature and is dependent upon speedy acceptance encouraged by massive publicity will also not be acquired. Curriculum support materials are not a part of the collection—we purchase instructional materials produced for the lay person.

IV. Selection Criteria

Consideration is given to: popular (and timely) demand for the item; relationship of the material to the existing collection and to other materials available on the subject; the likely attention of critics, opinion makers, and the public to the item; its importance to document our times; the cost of the item as compared with comparable material on the same subject; the cost to benefit compared with an alternative expenditure; and, the availability of the title in the Minerva collection.

The Scarborough Library selects titles on the basis of the content as a whole and without regard to the personal history of the persons involved in making the video. In no case is any item included or excluded merely because of the race, nationality, political or religious views or philosophic stance of the writer. Realistic representation of the human condition that includes material or dialogue that is sexually candid or violent is not considered a valid reason for rejection if the video otherwise meets standards for acquisition.

The Library recognizes that some materials are controversial and that any given item may offend one or more patrons. However, selection of titles will not be made on the basis of anticipated approval or disapproval, but solely on the basis of established professional standards and the principles stated in this policy. Materials will not be marked or identified by the Library to show approval, disapproval, or any other evaluation of their contents by the Library staff.

While every effort will be made to present all aspects of an issue, any film that has the overall intent to belittle or denigrate the ideas, opinions, or practices of individuals or groups will be excluded from the collection unless:

  1. the film accurately portrays events in the context of the historical record; or,
  2. in the judgment of the selector, availability of the film is important to furthering the discussion of issues raised by the film.

For general selection qualities see Appendix I.

The Library affirms that legal guardians have sole responsibility for the use of materials by their minor children. Selection of materials for Scarborough Library collection will not be inhibited by the possibility that materials may come into the possession of children.

The Library does provide patron information in the electronic catalog in the form of MPAA ratings, content annotations, and audience levels if that information is readily available on the package or from an acceptable bibliographic source.

V. Responsibility for Selection

The Library Board of Trustees has the legal responsibility for all materials in the library collection. The Board in turn, has delegated this responsibility to the professional staff as designated by the Library Director. This staff is responsible for the day-to-day development and maintenance of the Library video collection.

Selection decisions are based upon reviews in professional review magazines and books including Library Journal, Booklist, School Library Journal, Video Librarian, and magazines of popular culture.

VI. Weeding and Replacement of Materials

Weeding (de-accession) by virtue of lack of use, accuracy and currency of information, outdated format, damage to the item, loss, or a long overdue status is continuous. Material is discarded in an appropriate manner . Worn or damaged materials of continuing value or needed to extend the coverage of subject/genre in the collection will be replaced.

VII. Acceptance of Gift Materials

Gift materials will be accepted with the understanding that the same selection standards will be applied to gift materials as to those purchased for the collection. Final disposition of the gift(s) is to be left to the judgment of the collection manager.

VIII. Sponsored Films

Films funded by organizations and businesses for a specific purpose are referred to as sponsored films. Films that meet the criteria of film selection and that add scope to the collection will be gratefully accepted, providing no stipulation is made governing their use.

IX. Affirmations of Intellectual Freedom

The Scarborough Library subscribes to the standards set forth in the Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read Statement, and Free Access to Libraries for Minors as adopted by the American Library Association with regard to the loaning of materials to patrons of all ages. The Library does not restrict access to materials by the age of the patron.

X. Procedure for Handling Complaints

When a patron objects to a particular item, the objections shall be made in writing  The party registering the complaint will complete a copy of the Request for Reconsideration of Material" form. The request will be reviewed in keeping with Board policy for the review of materials.

12/16/99;  rev.  02/2013


Appendix I: General Quality Criteria

Some or all of the following may be considered when making a purchase decision:

  • Is the title of present or potential relevance to community interests?
  • Does it fill a weakness of the collection in a particular area?
  • Does it provide insight into human and social needs?
  • Does it accurately present factual information?
  • Is it useful for its intended audience?
  • Does it satisfy public demand resulting from the attention of critics and reviews?
  • Does it provide high quality performances and accurate content?
  • Is it produced with technical skill?
  • Does it provide information or presentation that is unique to or only available in the format?
  • What is the cost effectiveness of one format over another?
  • Is any commercialism minimal, not distracting from theme or content?

12/16/99;  rev.  02/2013