Collection Development Policy

  1. Preamble
  • Books are one of the greatest instruments of freedom and knowledge, the natural medium for the new idea and untried voice, from which come the original contributions to social growth. They are the source of mankind’s history, knowledge, and ideas from the beginning of the record.
  • It is in the public interest form libraries to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions. Freedom is no freedom if it is afforded only to the accepted and the inoffensive. The freedom to read is essential to our democracy.
  • The Board of the Columbia Public Library endorses the American Library Association’s “Library Bill of Rights,” and it is herewith incorporated with the Library’s basic book selection policy.


    1. As a responsibility of library service, books and other reading matter selected should be chosen for values of interest, information and enlightenment of all the people of the community. In no case should any book be excluded because of the race or nationality, or the political or religious views of the reader.
    2. There should be the fullest practicable provision of material presenting all points of view concerning the problems and issues of our times, international, national, and local; and books or other reading matter of sound factual authority should not be proscribed or removed from library shelves because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
    3. Censorship of books, urged or practiced by volunteer arbiters of morals or political opinion or by organizations that would establish a coercive concept of Americanism, must be challenged by libraries in maintenance of their responsibility to provide public information and enlightenment through the printed word.
    4. Libraries should enlist the cooperation of allied groups in the fields of science, education, and of book publishing in resisting all abridgment of the free access of ideas and full freedom of expression that are the tradition and heritage of Americans.
    5. As an institution of education for democratic living, the library should welcome the use of its meeting rooms for socially useful and cultural activities and discussion of current public questions. Such meeting places should be available on equal terms to all groups in the community regardless of their beliefs and affiliations of their members.
  1. Material Selection Policy
  2. It is the policy of the Columbia Public Library to select for purchase those materials, which will best serve the educational, recreational, and information needs of the community. Particular items will be selected on the basis of the following considerations:
    1. Reviews from reliable and professional sources that list the significance and merit of the materials.
    2. Current and anticipated requests of patrons.
    3. Reference materials needed for building adequate, up-to-date subject areas in the library.
    4. Originality and literary effectiveness.
    5. The prevailing variety in patron’s interests, and also in the intensities or depths of their interests.
    6. The amount of money available in the budget for purchase.
  3. The librarian is initially responsible for selecting all new acquisitions, with the Board reserving final discretion.
  4. Gifts of Books and Materials (Revised 8/10/10)
  • The Library will accept gifts of books and other Library materials with the understanding that it reserves the right to use or dispose of such gifts as it sees fit, and the Library retains unconditional ownership. The Library Director will employ the same guidelines in the selection of gift items for the collection as for items purchased (see Materials Selection).
  • Memorial gifts will have special bookplates inserted to identify the donor.
  • Magazines, textbooks, and worn out and shabby materials will not be accepted.
  • Materials not meeting these guidelines will not be accepted.
  • Items other than circulating materials will be accepted only with the approval of the Board of Trustees.
  • A gift agreement form may be given to donors wishing one (see following form). It will acknowledge the donation but will not give a monetary value to the item for tax purposes.
  • The Library cannot accept special collections of materials that are to be kept together as a separate physical entity, nor can it accept gifts with restrictions as to use, permanence and/or location. Gift materials will be integrated into the general collection.
  • A memorial plaque is mounted in the library’s foyer. The plaque is divided into an upper and lower level.
  • Plate inscriptions may be purchased for this plaque and inscribed with a name designated by the purchaser. The donation range of a plate from the lower level is $500.00-$999.99. A plate inscription for the upper level recognizes donations of $1000.00 or more.
  • The money given to the library in exchange for these plates, less the cost of the plates’ inscriptions, will be placed in the library’s investment fund.
  1. Removal of Library Materials (Weeding)
  • In order to maintain a vital, interesting, and usable collection, the library continually removes items no longer suitable or necessary. Some of the basis for withdrawal of materials is outdated information, unused subject matter, unneeded duplicate materials, worn out and shabby materials, and items not being checked out.
  1. Censorship Policy
  • The Library recognizes that censorship is purely an individual matter and declares that while everyone is free to reject materials not approved of, they cannot exercise censorship that restricts the freedom of others. Many books are controversial and any given item may offend some patrons. Selections will not be made on the basis of any anticipated approval, or disapproval, but solely on the merits of the work in relation to the building of collections and to serving the interests of the readers.
  • Responsibility for the reading of children rests with their parents and legal guardians. Selection will not be inhibited by the possibility that books may inadvertently come into the possession of children.
  • No books or library materials shall be removed from the library by reason of censorship unless under the order of a court or competent jurisdiction.
  • Should the Columbia Public Library receive a complaint from a citizen about specific titles which he/she feels is objectionable, the complaint is required to be in writing, and the complainant should be identified properly before the complaint is considered.
  • Librarians will not get into a discussion about the appropriateness of materials. Offer “Book Reevaluation Form.”

Procedures: Recommendations for the withdrawal of specific materials from the library are welcome. Take the following steps:

  1. Obtain a “Book Reevaluation Form” from a librarian.
  2. Meet with the head librarian with the completed form. The librarian, and in some cases the Board of Trustees, will consider the withdrawal request.

Collection Development Policy – Reviewed and passed 11/11/03, reviewed 09/08/09