1. Library Objective
The overall objective of the public libraries in St. Mary’s County is to provide library resources and services necessary to meet the educational, recreational, and informational needs of the public in order to promote the communication of ideas, and enlightened citizenship and enriched personal lives.1
2. Responsibility of Selection
Final authority for the determination of the policies in this document is vested in the Library’s Board of Trustees. The authority and responsibility for selection of library materials are delegated by the Board to the Library Director, and under his/her direction, to the staff who are qualified for this activity by reason of education, training, and experience. Advice of specialists in the community is requested in fields in which staff members do not have sufficient expertise. Suggestions from readers are welcome and are given serious consideration within the general criteria for selection. The final decision for purchase rests with the Library. The responsibility for the use of library materials by children and adolescents rests with their parents or legal guardians.
3. Criteria for Selection
The evaluation of materials is characterized by flexibility and responsiveness to the changing needs of the citizen in St. Mary’s County. These changing needs require that materials be evaluated initially and on a continuing basis. As a result, materials which may not have been recommended for purchase initially may, in fact, later be purchased. Materials are evaluated as a whole and not on the basis of a particular passage or passages. A work will not be excluded from the Library’s collection because it presents an aspect of life honestly or because of frankness of expression. Selection will not be inhibited by the possibility that materials may inadvertently come into the possession of children and adolescents. Materials selected primarily for children and adolescents will be marked accordingly.
General Criteria for Selection
- Availability and suitability of the material’s format.
- Materials: Suitability of the subject, style, and reading level for the intended audience.
- Attention given by critics, reviewers, professional material selection aids and the public.
- Reputation of the author, publisher, or producer.
- Quality of design and illustration.
- Relevance to the present and potential needs of the community.
- Demand for the material.
- Relationship to existing materials in the collection on the same subject.
- Availability and accessibility of the same material in the State Library Network.
Purchase of materials that meet one or more of the above criteria may be limited due to budget constraints.
The discarding of materials is selection in reverse. Systematic withdrawal of materials which are no longer useful in maintaining an active, accurate collection is necessary. Library materials are discarded for one or more of the following reasons:
- Irreparable damage.
- Insufficient use.
- Lack of space available for housing materials.
Lost, damaged and worn out materials are considered for replacement based on the following three factors:
- Existence of adequate coverage of the subject in the library collection.
- Public demand for the specific title.
- Availability of the specific title.
Gifts of books and other materials are accepted with the understanding that they may be used in the collection or disposed of according to the needs of the Library. New titles acquired in this manner are subject to the basic standards of selection. Replacements and duplicate copies are added to the collection if needed. The costs of processing and the availability of shelving space are also factors in determining the acceptance of gifts. The Library does not provide evaluations of gifts for tax deductions or other purposes.
Materials representing various points of view are acquired. Where there are differing opinions or theories, the libraries will provide materials on all viewpoints if they conform to the general criteria for selection. No materials will be excluded because of the writer’s race, nationality, sexual orientation, religious, or political views. The libraries recognize that the choice of library materials by a user is an individual matter. While one person may reject materials for himself/herself, he/she cannot exercise censorship to restrict access to materials by others. Responsibility for the reading, viewing, and listening of children and adolescents rests with their parents or legal guardians.
Once an item has been accepted as qualifying under the selection policies and criteria, it will not be removed solely at the request of those who disagree with it. There is a formal procedure for the reconsideration of materials.
1 Our policies draw upon the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights as well as the Freedom to Read and Freedom to View statements.