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Collection Management Policy

Collection Management is the ongoing process of assessing the materials available for purchase, subscription or licensing and making decisions about their inclusion and retention within the Library. Collection Management supports the priorities of the Library's strategic plan and includes the selection and deselection of Library materials. Materials may be dropped or added to the collection as community needs dictate. Collection Management also facilitates access to electronic resources.

Philosophy and Scope of the Collection

St Charles City-County Library serves a large population that is diverse in age, race, ethnicity, culture, education, socioeconomic level and lifestyle. Within the constraints of its budget, the Library selects a diverse range of materials in a variety of formats to support the informational, educational, cultural and recreational needs of the population it serves. The Library provides a general collection of circulating materials embracing broad areas of knowledge and literary and cultural genres. Included are works of enduring value and timely materials on current issues. Collections are reviewed and revised on an ongoing basis to meet contemporary needs.

Patron use is the most powerful influence on the Library's collection. Serious consideration is given to purchasing patron-requested materials when these requests meet collection objectives. In addition to purchase requests, circulation and holds levels are all closely monitored, triggering the purchase of new items and additional copies of high demand titles. In addition to patron demand, selections are made to provide depth and diversity of viewpoint to the existing collection.

Inherent in the collection development philosophy is an appreciation for each resident of St. Charles County, and recognition of the diversity of the community served. The Library upholds the rights of each individual to privately read, listen to, and view the full range of published thought and ideas. All materials selected under this policy are protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Collection development and management decisions are based on the merit of the work as it relates to the Library's mission and its ability to meet the needs and interests of the community. Decisions are not based on any anticipated approval or disapproval of the material. Only parents and guardians have the right and responsibility to guide and direct the reading, listening, and viewing choices of their own minor children. The Library does not stand in the place of parents (in loco parentis).

Selection Criteria

Ultimate responsibility for the selection of materials lies with the Chief Executive Officer within the framework set by the Board of Trustees in this Policy. Direct selection of Library materials is delegated to employees qualified for this duty by education, training, interest and job classification.

All St. Charles City-County Library materials are part of one collection, which is physically distributed among the branches and bookmobile or accessible electronically via the Library's website. Selections are made to provide a broad, popular, and relevant collection, while being good stewards of the community's tax dollars. Selection is based on awareness of community interests and concerns, national and international issues and events, publishing trends, societal trends, and the professional judgment of selectors regarding the material's value to the Library's collection. Selection of materials by the Library does not constitute endorsement of the material's content or the views expressed. The Library participates in resource sharing with other institutions through its Interlibrary Loan service, reciprocal borrowing agreements, and access to Internet resources in order to fulfill requests for materials that are beyond the scope of the Collection Management policy.

The general criteria listed below apply to the selection of all materials for the St. Charles City-County Library. Materials are evaluated as complete works and not on the basis of a particular passage. No materials that meet St. Charles City-County Library selection criteria will be excluded because of the origin, background or views of those contributing to its creation. Factors considered when adding specific material to the Library collection include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Current and potential relevance to community needs
  • Local demand, interest, or significance
  • Reviews in professionally recognized sources
  • Timeliness and/or significance of the subject
  • Cost, availability and impact on materials budget
  • Contribution to diversity, depth, or breadth of collection
  • Authority and competence of the author and/or reputation and standing of the publisher

These factors are considered for all age categories of materials. The intent of the author and publisher is the driving factor determining the age-appropriateness of any selection, including electronic materials. Because reading levels, maturity, and interests vary, all materials are accessible to all patrons. Each individual reader, or in the case of a minor, their parent or guardian, is the final arbiter of what is appropriate for them.

Electronic databases extend the collection by providing timely and versatile access to information in electronic format. Typically, the content of an electronic database is not customizable with subscription granting access to the entirety of its contents. As such, they are evaluated for inclusion in the collection as a whole based on their ability to enhance and supplement the print collection. Subscription to an electronic database does not constitute endorsement of the electronic content patrons may access.

Collection Maintenance

The Library's collection is a living, changing entity. Ongoing evaluation of materials is necessary in order to maintain a current, accurate and appealing collection. As items are added, others are reviewed for their ongoing value and removed from the collection. This process improves the accessibility of remaining materials, enhances the appearance of the collection, and helps improve the overall circulation of materials. Great care is taken to retain or replace items that have enduring value to the community. Decisions are influenced by patterns of use, the capacity of each location and the holdings of other libraries that may specialize in a given subject matter. Items removed from the collection cannot be reserved. Discarded materials become surplus property and may be sold, donated, or discarded at the Library's discretion.

Collection Organization

The Library’s collection is organized into broad categories (e.g. Fiction and Non-fiction) and age groups. In determining the age appropriateness of an item for these categories, selection and designation of materials for various parts of the collection is conducted by Library employees consistent with the overall guidance set forth in this Policy. In general, the Library sorts materials into the age category that matches the intent of the author and publisher. Because reading levels, maturity, and interests vary, all materials are accessible to all patrons. Each individual reader, or in the case of a minor, their parent or guardian, is the final arbiter of what is appropriate for them.

The Library collection is organized, marked, and maintained to help people find the materials they want. The Library does not support the labeling, sequestering, or alteration of materials because of controversy surrounding the author or viewpoint on the subject matter. The Library often creates displays of physical and digital materials for the purpose of connecting patrons with a variety of materials and resources that may be of interest to them. All materials in the Library’s collection are eligible for inclusion in displays, which are refreshed and updated frequently. Inclusion in a display does not indicate the Library’s endorsement of the views presented by the featured works.

Reconsideration of Library Materials

There may be occasions when a patron is concerned about a particular title in the Library's collection. In such cases, patrons are encouraged to discuss their concerns with branch staff. If a patron wishes the Library to formally reconsider the inclusion, placement, or age-appropriateness of a particular title, a Library Content Reconsideration Form may be submitted. Library Content Reconsideration Forms will only be accepted and reviewed when submitted by a resident or property owner in St. Charles County. The form must be completed in its entirety. Members of the Review Committee will review the patron comments, reviews of the title, the criteria used in selecting the item, and reasons for including it in the collection. A written response to the patron will be sent in a timely manner. During the review process the material will remain in the collection and no action will be taken until the review process has been completed. An item that has already been reconsidered is not subject to review again until a year has passed. Beginning August 1, 2023, the results of any Content Reconsideration will be available on the Library website, along with the date reviewed.

Parental Oversight

The Library supports and encourages parental involvement in a child’s use of the Library and its collection. Responsibility for a minor child’s (ages 17 or younger) use of the Library rests with their parent or legal guardian, not the Library. Individuals under the age of 18 (minors) applying for a new card will need permission from a legal guardian to obtain a Library card. In allowing a minor to have their own Library card, the parent/legal guardian acknowledges that all materials of the Library will be available to the minor. If a parent or legal guardian would like to limit their minor’s access to Library materials, the parent/legal guardian can visit any branch or submit an online form to have the minor’s Library card revoked. If the parent or legal guardian wishes to limit access to certain Library materials, they may do so by having the minor use the parent’s Library card. Unless it has been reported lost or stolen, any minor using a Library card belonging to an adult will be assumed to have been granted permission to do so by their parent or legal guardian.

Parents/guardians are financially responsible for any loss of, or damage to, materials borrowed using their minor children’s Library cards. They also have the responsibility for determining which Library materials their children may access.

Gifts and Donations

The Library accepts undesignated monetary gifts from groups and individuals in the form of bequests or memorials through the St. Charles City-County Library Foundation. Monies donated toward the collection development fund will be spent at the Library's discretion, based on Library-designated needs.

Books, magazines and AV material donated to any Branch in the system become the property of the system as a whole. Typically, these items are not added to the collection and are sold to benefit the Library. The Library does not evaluate or appraise gift materials for tax or other purposes.

Revised 7-20-2023
Effective 7-18-2023