Material Selection Policy

PURPOSE:  The role of the Asotin County Library is to provide all people in the community with free and convenient access to information.  To achieve this goal, the Asotin County Library must make easily available all materials, print and non-print, and actively promote their use.

SELECTION OBJECTIVES:  A fundamental factor in the role of providing information is the selection of materials.  The following objectives of selection form the Materials Selection Policy of the Asotin County Library.

In recognition of the vital importance to every member of the community of free and convenient access to the world of ideas, information, and creative experience, the Asotin County Library incorporates as part of this policy the Library Bill of Rights, adopted by the American Library Association, and the Freedom to Read statement, adopted by the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council.

The very nature of the demands made upon the collection requires that selection be inclusive rather than exclusive.  For this reason, the selection process must provide materials of every format which:

  • Are designed to increase the individual’s ability to function effectively as a productive member of society through informal education and self-understanding.

  • Are of a contemporary nature representing various points of view, which are of current interest and possible future significance, including materials which reflect current conditions, trends, and controversies.

  • Are source materials and thoughtful interpretations which document and illuminate the past.

  • Provide a meaningful aesthetic experience, stimulate the imagination, and increase the individual’s potential for creativity.

  • Extend the individual’s capacity to understand the world in which he/she lives.

  • Entertain and enhance the individual’s enjoyment of life.

AUTHORITY FOR SELECTION:  The ultimate authority for selection rests with the Library Board through its role of setting and interpreting policy.

RESPONSIBILITY OF SELECTION:  Selection is to be based upon principle rather than personal opinion, reason rather than prejudice, and judgment rather than censorship.  It is the responsibility of the library to provide materials which will enable the citizen to form his/her own opinions.  Every attempt is made to strike a balance between selection of materials according to their value and selection of materials according to their demand.

Realizing that professional library staff members cannot be experts in all fields, materials selection aids are used in combination with personal knowledge of materials and a thorough knowledge of the interests of users and special interests of the community.

The ultimate responsibility for the selection of materials lies with the Administrative Librarian.

FACTORS IN THE SELECTION OF MATERIALS:  The general goal of the Asotin County Library is to develop a materials collection which meets the diverse informational needs of people of all ages, ethnic groups, and occupations within its service area.

The public library, as a tax-supported information agency, with the entire community as its constituency, has the responsibility to coordinate access to information throughout the community.  As such, it is imperative to take into account the various specialized materials collections that already exist, in order to avoid duplication and to assure continuing access.

  • Responsibility for curriculum-related materials belongs properly to the schools and colleges.  The public library will provide materials which supplement and enrich the reference, research, and recreational needs of student users of all ages.

  • Responsibility for materials specifically geared for the use of blind and physically handicapped persons belongs to the Asotin County Library.

  • Coordination with other libraries in the service area will attempt to address the specialized subject area needs of the community.

Expanding areas of knowledge, changing social values, technological advances, and cultural differences require flexibility of all library materials, old and new.  Newspapers, paperbacks, magazines, pamphlets, foreign language materials, films, recordings, and other developing types of materials are acquired and made accessible as they are judged suitable, meaningful, and relevant to the community.

Each piece of material must be considered in terms of its own kind of excellence and the audience for whom it is intended.  There is no single standard which can be applied in all cases when making an acquisitions decision.  Some materials may be judged primarily in terms of artistic merit, scholarship, or their value as human documents; others are selected to satisfy the recreational and entertainment needs of the community.  To build collections of merit and significance, materials will be considered according to objective guidelines.  All acquisitions, whether purchased or donated, are considered in terms of the following criteria:

General Criteria

     a) Suitability of subject and style for intended audience                                                                          

     b) Relation to existing collections and other material on subject

     c) Suitability of physical form for library use

     d) Present and potential relevance to community needs

     e) Appropriateness and effectiveness of medium to content

     f) Insight into human and social conditions

     g) Importance as a document of the times

     h) Reputation and/or significance of author

     i) Skill, competence, and purpose of author

     j) Attention of critics, reviewers, and the public

Specific Criteria For the Evaluation of Works of Information and Opinion

     a) Authority

     b) Comprehensiveness and depth of treatment

     c) Objectivity and integrity

     d) Clarity, accuracy, and logic of presentation

     e) Representation of challenging or minority point of view

Specific Criteria For the Evaluation of Works of Imagination:

     a) Representation of important movement, genre, trend or national culture

     b) Vitality and originality

     c) Artistic presentation and experimentation

     d) Sustained interest

     e) Effective characterization

     f) Authenticity of historical or social setting

     g) Sympathy and conviction

The several library factors influencing selection of materials are:  budget, space, the content of the present collection, and the organizational structure of the library, including cooperative relationships.

Within the restrictions of the library budget and space available, an emphasis is placed on quality rather than on quantity of materials purchased, keeping in mind that a balance must be struck between the value of materials and the demand for materials.

The content of the present collection is constantly being reviewed so that gaps in various subject areas, areas of special interest, and areas of special format may be filled, replacement of old or outdated materials may take place, and unnecessary duplication may be avoided.

The Asotin County Library has cooperative relationships with the local area libraries through VALNet.  Materials throughout the state and region are made available to borrowers through interlibrary loan arrangements.