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Materials Selection Policy


Adopted June 16, 1998 by the Board of Supervisors

The Alameda County Library serves suburban cities, unincorporated communities, and outlying areas whose residents represent many ethnically diverse populations, and many socio-economic and educational levels. The Library's primary responsibility is to provide materials in a variety of formats to meet the expressed and anticipated needs and interests of this diverse clientele.

The Library provides resources and materials that encourage an informed and enlightened society. It organizes materials and guides users of all ages in their search for reliable information, greater knowledge, and an enhanced quality of life. It is guided by a sense of responsibility from the past to the present and to the future in developing a collection that encompasses a broad range of human knowledge. The Library also has the responsibility to provide materials that meet language and other needs of changing ethnic populations in its service area. The Library does not try to determine what the public should read, hear, or view, nor does it select materials as if granting a seal of merit. Rather, it attempts to meet the needs of an inquisitive, enlightened clientele.

Materials are selected in many media to satisfy residents of all ages both as individuals and as members of groups. Materials are included for people with visual and hearing disabilities. The Library serves as a supplementary source in meeting the educational needs of students. Although the Library attempts to provide material on every subject and grade level, no attempt is made to match the collection to a particular curriculum. Consideration is given to the needs of people engaged in self-education programs by providing introductory and more advanced materials for those who wish to pursue independent study. Technical materials are generally selected for the general reader rather than the specialist.

The County Library recognizes its responsibility to make available a representative selection of materials on all points of view in a variety of formats. The Library provides resources which individuals may use to examine issues freely and formulate their own opinions. Materials will not be excluded because they may cause concern to some individuals. They will not be excluded solely because they contain political, religious, or moral views that may be controversial, nor because of language or frank sexual content if they meet other selection criteria.

The Library seeks to present sound, factual data and honest expressions of opinion on all sides of controversial issues. This obligation arises not only from the need for balance and variety in the collection, but also from the obligation to uphold the traditional American doctrine of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States and supported by the American Library Association's Library Bill of Rights. In a democracy, it is essential that people have free access to ideas, even those of which some people disapprove. Differing ideas and opinions can be effectively analyzed only through free access to information.

It is the policy of the Library to remain neutral on public issues. It does not endorse the opinions or points of view expressed in its collection of materials. Materials are selected using professional standards, regardless of the personal views of any of the library staff.

The responsibility for the selection of materials rests with experienced librarians who evaluate materials within the context of this policy and the limits of available resources. The County Librarian has the final authority in determining the content of the Library's collection.

  • Represent the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those which may be controversial or unpopular.

  • Reflects topics of current interest and/or possible future significance

  • Document, interpret, and illuminate the past.

  • Meet the individual's need for practical information to develop skills and knowledge.

  • Provide an aesthetic experience and stimulate imagination and creativity.

  • Entertain and enhance the individual's enjoyment of life.

  • Meet the special needs of those whose library use may be limited due to disability, language, or reading level.

  • Represent or document the culture, history, or creative output of the local region.

  • Reflect the cultural diversity of the population.

  • collection.

Librarians responsible for selecting library materials will be guided by those of the following criteria which are applicable. Not all of the criteria will apply to every selection decision.

  • Present and potential relevance to the community.

  • Accuracy and timeliness.

  • Insight into human and social conditions.

  • Importance as a document of the times.

  • Representative of ideas that reflect a wide spectrum of opinion, including those which are unique, alternative, experimental, or controversial.

  • Originality in content or approach.

  • Authority, reputation, or qualifications of the author, artist, publisher, or producer.

  • Attention of critics, reviewers, and the public.

  • Enhancement of existing collections to reflect:

    • Importance of the title when compared with other works on the subject.

    • Importance of the subject matter or point of view to the collection.

    • Adequate retrospective and current subject coverage as stated in the collection level statements.

    • Adequate coverage when there is a scarcity of material published on the subject.

  • Relevance of format and content to the intended audience.

  • Effectiveness and suitability of format in communicating the content.

  • Inclusion of the title in standard or special bibliographies or indexes.

  • Impact on the materials expenditure plan.

  • Parameters of level assigned.

The Library has established long-term arrangements to supply certain materials on a continuing basis. These arrangements will be reviewed regularly to ensure that the materials received meet community needs, collection levels, and selection criteria.