The library provides an impartial environment in which individuals and their interests are brought together with the universe of ideas and information spanning the spectrum of knowledge and opinions. The library board affirms the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to View, and Freedom to Read policy statements in support of acquiring and managing collections. The library upholds the right of individuals to access information and acknowledges that the library is one of the few places people may do so freely.
Selection Policy Objectives
The Pelham Public Library aims to meet the informational, recreational, educational and cultural needs of its community by offering a wide selection of library materials in a variety of formats and reading levels. The library attempts to provide the widest range of viewpoints based on quality, cost, and availability of the materials to purchase. The library staff builds and maintains a patron-oriented collection by anticipating and responding to needs and expectations.
Collection decisions are made in conjunction with the strategic initiatives, especially the following:
- Positioning the library as the preferred partner for lifelong learning
- To meet basic informational needs of the community which will enable patrons to make informed judgements in their daily lives
- Providing materials on a wide range of viewpoints and ideas that reflect the diversity of our community
- Developing library services that incorporate both physical and virtual collections
- Committing to excellence in service to improve effectiveness, remove barriers, and expand access
Responsibility for Selection
Under the guidance of the library director and professional librarians, materials are selected by trained staff in an effort to maintain a well-balanced, up-to-date, attractive, and useful collection of materials that will meet the needs of the community as a whole. The staff contributes to the development of patron-oriented collections by:
- Engaging in open, continuous two-way communication with library patrons and recognizing that individuals have different ways of expressing their needs based on age, language, economic status, culture, or other characteristics
- Interacting with patrons with understanding, respect, and responsiveness
- Handling all requests equitably
- Working in partnership with one another to understand and respond to community needs
- Understanding and responding to rapidly changing demographics, as well as societal and technological changes
- Recognizing that materials of varying complexities and formats are necessary to satisfy diverse needs of library users
- Balancing individual needs and broader community needs in determining the best allocation of collection budget for acquiring or providing access to materials and information
- Seeking continuous improvement through ongoing measurement
- Reviewing the collection on a regular basis to identify areas of community interest that may need to be strengthened
Public libraries are diverse and represent a broad demographic. With a patron base that can include infants to the elderly, selection criteria should take into account the various interests and needs of the patrons the library serves. The Pelham Public Library provides collections containing a wide variety of material formats, including print, audio-visual, and electronic. In selecting materials and developing collections for adults, as well as for children and teens, library staff includes materials that represent the broad range of human experience, reflecting the ethnic, religious, racial, and socio-economic diversity not only of the region it serves but also the larger global perspective. Library collections will provide a broad range of opinion on current issues.
Collections contain popular works, classic works, and other materials of general interest. Works are not excluded or included in the collection based solely on subject matter or on political, religious, or ideological grounds. In building collections, library staff is guided by the principle of selection, rather than censorship. Furthermore, the selection of a given item for a library’s collections should not be interpreted as an endorsement of a particular viewpoint. The library board will uphold the principle that while anyone is free to reject for oneself books which do not meet with the individual’s approval, one cannot exercise this right of self-selection to restrict the freedom to read of others. The responsibility for the choice of library material for minors rests with their parents or legal guardians.
To build a collection of merit, materials are evaluated according to one or more of the following standards. An item need not meet all of these criteria in order to be acceptable.
- Present and potential relevance to community needs
- Authoritativeness and accuracy
- Suitability of subject and style for intended audience
- Cost and format (the library does not purchase textbooks or books with moving parts, etc.)
- Current events, currency of information, timeliness, historical relevance
- Relation to the existing collection and to other materials on the subject (including relation to availability within the County library system); filling gaps in collection
- Media attention, bestseller lists
- Reviews and/or awards
- Potential user appeal and relevance to our community
- Popular interest, appeal, or demand (requests by library patrons)
- Comprehensiveness and depth of treatment
- Skill, competence, and purpose of the author
- Reputation and significance of the author or creator
- Consideration of the work as a whole
- Technical quality
- Representation of diverse points of view
- Representation of important movements, genres, or trends
- Artistic presentation and/or experimentation
- Sustained interest
- Relevance and use of the information
- Effective characterization
- Authenticity of history or social setting
- The library does not purchase self-published materials unless reviewed well in established publications or for some other reason that deems it beneficial for the community
- Reading list/school assignment materials: While we strive to support the local school curriculum, we are not able to purchase enough books for an entire class, nor are we able to acquire every book on a reading list. The library serves to supplement, not replace elementary, high school, or college libraries
- Parents/guardians are responsible for the selection of appropriate materials for their children. Children may use adult collections. Responsibility for the reading of minors rests with their parents/guardians.
- Duplication of materials occurs in response to community demand, taking into consideration budget limitations and resources available through interlibrary loan.
Special Considerations for Electronic Information Sources:
- Ease of use of the product
- Availability of the information to multiple simultaneous users
- Equipment needed to provide access to the information
- Technical support and training
- Availability of the physical space needed to house and store the information or equipment
- Available in full text
Website collection development
- Links to Internet sites from the library’s web pages are selected to broaden, enrich, and complement the library’s physical materials and digital resources.
- Most sites linked to by the library are sites that access library digital resources. Other sources are added at the discretion of the librarians to meet the needs and interests of library patrons. Sites are evaluated according to their credibility, quality, and usefulness.
- Other sites linked on the library’s website are separate and independent from the library. The library exercises no control over the content of the information provided by the producers of those sites.
- The library does not accept unsolicited suggestions of websites to add to our web pages.
Review Sources include but are not limited to:
- Library Journal
- School Library Journal
- New York Times Book Review
- Publishers Weekly
- Shelf Awareness
Cooperation with other Libraries
The Pelham Public Library expands the resources available to its patrons through interlibrary loan. Materials that cannot be located at the Pelham Public Library may be requested from other Shelby County libraries. Some materials not located in Shelby County may be requested from a library outside of Shelby County through Interlibrary Loan. Materials located at the Pelham library, but currently checked out, may be reserved.
The Pelham Public Library is a member of the Shelby County Library Cooperative. A Shelby County Library card may be used at the Pelham Library as well as any other Shelby County member library.
The Pelham Public Library has a number of selectors on the staff, each responsible for a different level of collection development:
- The library director is ultimately responsible for the overall selection and maintenance of all materials and formats within the collection of the library. However, individual collections are overseen by professional librarians. This responsibility is monitored by the library supervisors and is delegated to these individuals as a result of their education, training, experience, and job classification.
- All materials and formats are selected or approved for the library’s collection by a librarian, who is qualified to do so by reason of education, training, experience, knowledge of subject area, and job classification.
Selection of Materials on Controversial Topics
A balanced collection attempts to represent all sides of controversial issues as far as availability of materials, space, and budget allow. Selection is based upon criteria stated in this policy. The race, religion, nationality, or political views of an author or creator; offensive language; depictions or descriptions of violence or sexually explicit activity; controversial content of an item; or endorsement or disapproval by an individual or group in the community does not cause an item automatically to be included or excluded from the library’s collection.
All public libraries contain materials that some patrons may find objectionable. Others may feel that the library has omitted materials that should be included. In either case, the library has procedures that patrons may use in requesting the reconsideration of materials.
Gifts and Donations
Accepting gifts and donations is an important way for the public library to benefit from the generosity of the community it serves. Gifts and donations of materials are reviewed using the same criteria as purchases. The library reserves the right to dispose of any gifts that are given to the library. The library will determine how to best incorporate such materials into the existing collections. Materials not added to library collections may be used for programs or given to other local organizations such as schools and senior centers, or sold in library book sales.
The proceeds from book sales shall accrue directly to the benefit of the library, in a fashion consistent with accepted library policies and services as determined by the Board of Trustees. Any items unsold may then be donated to another organization or discarded.
Memorial and Honorary Donations
Funds may be given for the purpose of acquiring materials recommended by library staff as prescribed in this policy, or for purchase of specific items suggested by the donor. When the library receives a cash gift for the purchase of materials, the library staff must make the selection with the general selection principles set forth in this policy.
Collection Maintenance and Weeding Policy
The library continually withdraws items from the collection, basing its decisions on a number of factors, including publishing date, frequency of circulation, community interest, and availability of newer or more valid materials. Items dealing with local history are an exception, as are certain classics and award-winning children's books. Fiction that was once popular but no longer in demand and non-fiction books that are no longer useful are withdrawn from the collection. Library collections are constantly in need of refreshing through evaluation, addition, and removal in order to maintain a quality collection that can best serve the community.
Examples of criteria
- Physical condition of item
- Circulation statistics
- Publication date of material
- Superseded material
- Current interest
Additional guidelines from the CREW Manual (https://www.tsl.texas.gov) are followed by staff.
Withdrawn books are sold in library book sales. The proceeds from such sales are used for the benefit of the library.
Libraries do not necessarily replace materials that are lost, damaged or worn out. Current demand for the subject or title is considered as well as several other factors; duplicate copies, existence of adequate coverage in the field with remaining materials, copies elsewhere in the system, availability of more current and authoritative materials, and cost of materials. Every attempt is made to replace materials regarded as essential.
The Pelham Public Library supports the principles stated in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States as well as the principles documented in the Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read Statement of the American Library Association. Materials available in the library present a diversity of viewpoints, enabling citizens to make the informed choices necessary in a democracy. The library also selects a wide variety of library materials that satisfy the diverse interests of our community. The library upholds the right of the individual to access these resources, even though the content may be controversial, unorthodox, or unacceptable to some. The library’s varied collection is available to all; however, it is not expected that all of the collection will appeal to everyone.
Patrons who wish to request the withdrawal or reclassification of materials currently owned by the library are encouraged to discuss their concerns with a library supervisor or its director. If the patron is not satisfied with the response to their request, the manager will provide the patron with information and a form to request formal reconsideration of the library resource.
Procedures for Handling Informal Complaints
The process begins with a librarian discussing the complaint with the patron who brings it to the service desk. During that interaction, the librarian will respectfully explain that the library has materials for everyone, and everything goes through a selection process or is purchased because of patron requests. The librarian should offer to assist the patron to find alternate materials that would better meet the needs and interests of the patron and/or their family members. If the patron chooses to go forward with the challenge, the complainant should be provided with a request for formal reconsideration form. The staff member should then make the library supervisors and/or the director aware of the nature of the patron’s complaint.
Procedures for Handling Formal Complaints
The following steps will be used when an individual feels that further action is necessary to address concerns about a library resource. For the duration of this process, the material in question will remain in circulation in the library collection.
- A concerned patron who is dissatisfied with earlier informal discussions will be offered a packet of materials that includes the library’s mission statement, collection development policy, Citizen’s Request for Reconsideration form, ALA’s Freedom to Read Statement, and the Library Bill of Rights.
- Patrons are required to complete and submit a reconsideration form to the library director.
- If more than one item is to be considered, a reconsideration form will need to be submitted for each item.
- Materials that a patron may request reconsideration of includes but isn’t limited to physical library materials (ex book, DVD, game, etc.), library prepared bibliographies and lists, displays, programs, electronic materials, digital resource, or social media post.
- The director, with appropriate professional staff, will review the reconsideration form and the material in question, to consider whether its selection follows the criteria stated in the collection policy.
- Within 15 business days, the director will make a decision and send a letter to the concerned person who requested the reconsideration, stating the reasons for the decision.
- If the individual is not satisfied with the decision, a written appeal may be submitted within 10 business days to the library board. (PO Box 1627; Pelham, Al 35124)
- The board will not address an appeal on a specific material or substantively similar subject that has been reviewed within the last 3 years. The board will decide what qualifies as substantively similar.
- When the board addresses an appeal, they will do so at their next scheduled board meeting so long as the next meeting is not sooner than 10 business days.
- The board will vote on the request, and the library director will notify the concerned person of the decision in writing within 3 business days.
- The decision of the board is final.
- Library Board meetings are public meetings, but are not public hearings. Public comments are limited to 3 minutes per person.
This policy represents the official views of the Board of Trustees of the Pelham Public Library.