Collection Development and Materials Selection

Material Selection Policy

The purpose of this statement on material selection is to establish policies to guide staff and to inform the public about the principles upon which selections are made. A policy cannot replace the judgment of librarians, but stating objectives and criteria will assist them in choosing from the vast array of available materials. The goal in collection development and material selection is to provide informational, educational, cultural and recreational materials in all media for the Saratoga Springs Public Library community.

Responsibility for Materials

Final responsibility for selection and development of the collection lies with the Library Director who operates within the framework of policies determined by the Library’s Board of Trustees. The Director authorizes librarians and other qualified staff to apply this policy in building and maintaining the collection. The Head of the Youth Services Department oversees the library’s children’s and young adult collections and the Head of Adult Services oversees the library’s adult collection.


The library recognizes an immediate duty to make materials available for the enlightenment and recreation of the community. In addition, the library strives to collect materials of contemporary significance and permanent value that reflect the diversity of our community and the world, and strives to meet these needs within the limitations of space, staffing, and budget.

Criteria of Selection

Selection of materials is based on these specific criteria:

  • Community needs, interests, and demands
  • Significance and compatibility of the work to the collection
  • Recommendations of reviews from professional journals or publications of national repute
  • Reputation and qualifications of the author, illustrator, publisher, or producer
  • Availability of other information on the subject
  • Literary, artistic, historical, scientific, or intellectual merit
  • Suitability of format
  • Price and availability for purchase
  • Author or creator already has popular works in the collection
  • Significance of the author’s work to the Saratoga Springs Public Library service area
  • Suitability of subject and style to intended audience

The importance or weight of each of these factors will vary from one acquisition to another, others may be considered, and materials for adults, teens, and children will each be judged differently.

All cardholders, regardless of age, have the right to access all materials in the Library and to borrow any circulating item. Parents and legal guardians have the responsibility to monitor the use of library materials by their children. Selection of library materials for adults is not limited by the possibility that children may come in contact with them. The Library does not act in loco parentis and is not responsible for inadvertent viewing at the library.

Maintaining the Collection

Librarians are expected to use good judgment to remove from the collection materials that no longer serve a need, and to refurbish, by replacing, rebinding, preserving, or other means, materials which might suffer deterioration if not so cared for.

Withdrawal of materials is an important aspect of collection development. When library materials lose the value for which they were originally selected, they should be withdrawn. The purpose of the withdrawal policy is to insure that the collection remains vital and useful by:

  • discarding and/or replacing items in poor physical condition
  • eliminating items with obsolete, misleading or superseded information
  • reducing the number of copies of titles whose relevance to the community has lessened

In the interest of sustainability, whenever it is possible, items withdrawn from the collection will be offered to the Friends of Saratoga Springs Public Library for the purpose of disposition, either through resale or donation to other community agencies. Materials that have no residual resale or informational value, or that or worn or damaged beyond use, will be recycled, if that is a viable option.

Saratoga Room

The Saratoga Room collects, and makes available to the public, materials relating to the history of the area the library is chartered to serve, that is, the Saratoga Springs City School District. To a lesser extent, materials relating to the history of the surrounding communities are also collected. Works by authors with a strong connection to the Saratoga Springs City School District are also considered for the collection. Due to space limitations, donations, including works by local authors, will be accepted at the discretion of the library’s local history librarian.

Acquisition of Materials

The Library strives to acquire materials to meet demand from patrons in as timely, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly manner as possible. While satisfying patron demand is paramount, consideration may be given to purchasing fewer copies of high-demand materials if their format or price is prohibitive or impractical. Similarly, while cost of materials is a prime consideration for acquisition, preference will be given to acquiring materials from local, independent, and/or environmentally friendly vendors when prices are similar, even if they might be slightly higher.

Gifts of Library Materials

The Library accepts gifts of materials and is grateful for such gifts, but it reserves the right to evaluate and to dispose of them in accordance with the criteria applied to purchased materials.

All gifts of library materials are accepted with the understanding that they become library property and can be added to the collection, sold, recycled, or discarded as deemed necessary. In general, such gifts are judged by the standards set forth in the library’s material selection policy. Books must be in reasonably good condition, free of mildew or odor. Gifts which do not accord with the library’s objectives and policies will be refused. No conditions regarding location, use or eventual withdrawal from the collection or building can be imposed.

Unless an arrangement to the contrary has been made with the donor, gift materials not used by the library will become the property of the Friends of the Saratoga Springs Public Library to be sold to raise funds in support of the library.

Gifts can be acknowledged with a written receipt that lists the number, or an approximation, and type of material donated, however, the Library cannot appraise gifts for their value for tax purposes or other purposes, or act as an appraiser.

Censorship, Intellectual Freedom and Challenges to Materials in the Collection

The Board of Library Trustees of the Saratoga Springs Public Library includes as a part of its statement on materials selection and collection development the American Library Association’s “Library Bill of Rights,” and these other statements regarding intellectual freedom:

  • Freedom to Read Statement
  • Freedom to View Statement
  • Free Access to Libraries for Minors

The library rejects any censorship of materials in the collection, which meet the criteria of this statement. The Library will abide by the policies contained in its Censorship Statement. Objections to any item in the collection should be made in writing, and will be evaluated according to the Library’s Guidelines and Procedure for Reconsideration of Library Materials.

Revision of Policy

This policy will be revised as times and circumstances require.