Collection Development Policy

Erie County Public Library
Collection Development Policy
Policy Overview

In accordance with the overall mission of Erie County Public Library (ECPL), the purpose of the Library’s collection is to make freely available materials that will assist the community in their pursuit of ideas, passions, and actions which will improve our collective quality of life.

The primary goal of collection development is to provide the best possible collection with the resources available. Collection development includes the selection, acquiring, cataloging, and weeding of the Library’s collections in all formats. We attempt, within the limits of available resources, to reflect the broad range of human experiences, knowledge, and opinions. We strive to maintain items of current and longstanding interest, provide accurate information, support educational interests, and encourage the enjoyment of reading within the community.

Collection Responsibilities & Process

Responsibility for the initial selection of library resources rests with the Library’s professional staff. Designated staff are responsible for specific areas of the collection. Guidelines, policies, and procedures are set forth by the collection development manager.

In general, selection decisions will be made on the basis of expected popularity, content, currency, and ease of use. The Library will also consider the importance of emerging new trends, as well as changing information formats and technologies. Materials suggested by the public are also considered, and will be honored if the request conforms to the general selection criteria.

General Selection Criteria

Because of financial and physical limitations, the library collection must be selective rather than comprehensive in scope. Branch collections are highly selective with a strong focus on popularity, usage, and timeliness. The following criteria may be considered when selecting materials in any format:

  • Present and potential relevance to community needs or interests
  • Subject timeliness
  • Sustained interest
  • Suitability of subject, style and format for the intended audience
  • Cost and levels of materials funding
  • Importance as a document of the times
  • Local, state or regional historical significance
  • Relation to the existing collection and to other materials on the subject
  • Literary merit or professional reviews
  • Authority, accuracy and accessibility of presentation
  • Reputation of the author, producer, publisher or creator
  • Space constraints
  • Physical quality of the material
  • Availability

Format & Language

Materials are purchased in the most appropriate format for library use. Factors to be considered when deciding whether to add a new format to the collection include the availability of items in the format, cost per item, community demand, industry standards, and the Library’s ability to acquire, process, and circulate the items in the specific format.

The Library collects materials primarily in English, with selected materials for children and adults in other languages.

Diversity

ECPL strives to reflect the needs of our community and our national landscape as closely as possible. Library collections have the ability to promote understanding and education among diverse groups, and the Library will continuously work to curate a collection representing a wide array of people, cultures, ideas, and experiences. The process of curating, maintaining, and providing a diverse and equitable collection is an ongoing process which will be considered during all aspects of collection development.

Databases & Electronic Resources

Electronic materials play an important role in the Library’s collection. These materials include databases, e-books, e-audiobooks, and downloadable and streaming media. In addition to standard criteria used in selecting other formats, special selection criteria for electronic materials include ease of use, uniqueness of content, technology requirements, vendor reputation and customer service, availability for remote access, and cost.

Collection Maintenance

Professional staff regularly review materials at all locations to ensure that the collection remains vital and useful to the community. De-selection, or weeding, is an integral part of providing a relevant collection. Evaluation of materials is based on observation, statistics, and industry standards. Materials which are worn, obsolete, inaccurate, unnecessarily duplicated, superseded by a newer edition, or have ceased to be utilized may be removed from the collection. Professional staff will determine if a replacement or newer edition is needed.

Intellectual Freedom

It is in the best interest of the community that the library provide material representing all points of view in all fields, no matter how controversial or objectionable these ideas may be to some people. Individuals are free to explore a plethora of ideas in order to determine which ones are meaningful to them. The library, to the best of its ability, strives to include a wide and inclusive spectrum of materials and topics. The inclusion of an item in the collection does not imply the Library’s endorsement of the author, publisher, or subject matter.

The American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement and Library Bill of Rights are considered to be part of the Library’s collection development philosophy.

ECPL supports the right of each family to decide which items are appropriate for use by their children. Responsibility for a child’s use of library material lies with his or her parents or guardian.

Request For Reconsideration

ECPL welcomes citizens’ expressions of opinion concerning materials purchased. Anyone who wishes to request that a specific item be reconsidered for inclusion in the library’s collection is asked to complete and sign the Request for Reconsideration Form (Appendix A). The form will be forwarded to the collection development manager and reviewed by the Request for Reconsideration Committee. The questioned material will be reviewed in its entirety. When a decision has been made regarding the retention or removal of the material, a letter will be sent to the person explaining the decision. The material will remain in the collection during the reconsideration process.

Age Level Guidance

The children’s collection serves the wide range of needs and interests of children from birth to age 12 as well as materials for their parents, teachers and caregivers. The main purpose of the children’s collection is to develop in children the enjoyment of reading by providing quality materials that are current, educational, and fun to read. The young adult collection provides materials to support the interests and development of teens from ages 12 to 18. The collection is meant to support the transition from child to adult, with an emphasis on providing a wide range of materials in a variety of subjects, formats, and reading levels.

Heritage Room Collections

The Heritage Room within the Blasco Library houses the local history, maritime, and genealogy collections, as well as other materials determined to be historically significant. All materials within the Heritage Room are reference materials and may only be used within the library. The Erie County Public Library may loan these items to other libraries within the United States, based on the item’s condition and rarity, and with the requirement that they will be used within the borrowing libraries.

Rare Book Collections

Rare books are items that have unusual value, and are kept in a climate-controlled, secure area of the Blasco Library. Patrons who wish to view an item in the rare book collection must fill out a request to do so (Appendix B).

We do not actively collect rare or unusual books that would require special handling. If, however, we find that a book already owned has now become rare, we will either move it to the Rare Book Collection or find an appropriate library or archive that can house it.

Unique Collections

The Library will provide selected nontraditional library materials based upon the present or potential need for access of the community. The inclusion of these materials is based upon the approval of professional staff with consideration to cost, durability, sustainability, ease of circulation, and perceived demand. The continuation of these collections will be evaluated on a regular basis.

Gifts

Gifts of books and other materials are accepted without commitments as to final disposition and with the understanding that they are not necessarily to be added to the collection. The same criteria used for the selection of all other materials will be used in evaluating gift materials. The library retains unconditional ownership of the gift and reserves the right to decide the conditions of display, housing, retention, and access to the materials. Materials not used by the library are given to the Friends of the Erie County Public Library.

The Library does not appraise books or other materials for income tax purposes. Upon request, the Library will provide the donor with a written acknowledgment of the number items received.

Direct gifts of books and other materials as memorials or honor books are no longer accepted, due to space and staff limitations, however we do urge people to consider contributing instead to the Erie Regional Library Honorarium Fund.

Local Author Policy

Authors and creators who live within Erie or Crawford counties, or whose works are based in Erie or Crawford counties, may donate one copy of their material for possible inclusion in the library’s collection (Appendix C).

Erie County Public Library will review donated materials but does not guarantee their inclusion in the collection. Once donated, items become the property of the Library and will not be returned. Items not included will be repurposed in accordance with our gift policy.

Policy Implementation, Evaluation and Revision

This policy was approved by the Library Advisory Board on January 16, 2020 and will be reviewed annually by the collection development manager and library director.

Appendix A

Erie County Public Library

Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials

Appendix B

Erie County Public Library

Rare Book Viewing Request

The Rare Book Collection consists of items that, for one reason or another, have unusual value, and are kept in a climate-controlled secure area of the Blasco Library. Items in this collection may be considered rare or valuable because of age, artistic merit, or scarcity.

It is entirely up to the discretion of the Heritage Room Librarian to decide whether a particular rare book may be viewed. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Some of them are so rare or in such fragile condition that we do not allow them to be viewed or handled by the public. Those items that can be viewed, must be viewed while in the Heritage Room under the supervision of Library staff or volunteers. Rare books may not be photocopied. You may take notes using a pencil (not pen) and notebook paper that you supply.

If you are interested in seeing an item with the designation “Rare Book,” you must make an appointment to do so by filling out the following information. You will be contacted by the Reference Department within 3-5 working days.

Appendix C

Erie County Public Library

Local Author Policy

Authors and creators who live within Erie or Crawford counties, or whose works are based in Erie or Crawford counties, may donate one copy of their material for possible inclusion in the library’s collection.

Erie County Public Library will review donated materials, but does not guarantee their inclusion in the collection. Once donated, items become the property of the Library and will not be returned. Items not included will be repurposed in accordance with our gift policy.

Donation Guidelines

Erie County Public Library welcomes the opportunity to support and promote the creative and literary expression of our community. The following guidelines apply to works created in any format:

-Authors must reside in Erie or Crawford Counties, or their work must be based in the Erie and/or Crawford County environs.

-The library will accept one copy of each title. Authors may donate up to three titles per year.

-Materials must be bound and formatted in a way that enables circulation, ease of use, and durability. The library will only accept physical formats, i.e. books, CDs, and DVDs. Items must be in new condition.

As with all library materials, the library will apply the same inclusion and retention guidelines as stated in the general collection development policy. The library reserves the right to include or exclude any title from the collection for any reason. Materials provided to the Library may be removed for any reason, at any time.

All donated materials become the property of Erie County Public Library and cannot be returned to the donor for any reason.

The library cannot acknowledge receipt of your work, nor can we notify you of our final decision. We cannot meet with individuals to discuss their work.

Materials included in the collection will be indicated with a local collection label and will be searchable in the catalog.

The library will not provide professional reviews, promotion, or marketing of an author’s work, whether the materials are included or excluded.

Questions about this policy can be sent to library-collections@eriecountypa.gov

Appendix D

Erie County Public Library

Local Author Policy

Please complete the following form in order for your work to be considered for inclusion in the Erie County Public Library collection.