Collection Development Policy
Purpose and Goals
The Orono Public Library acquires and makes available materials that inform, educate, entertain, and enrich persons as individuals and as members of society. Since no library can possibly acquire all print and non-print materials, every library must, out of necessity, employ a policy selectivity of acquisitions. It is the goal of the Orono Public Library to provide a high quality collection of books and other materials in a variety of formats for all ages that is responsive to the needs and interests of the community. The Orono community is made up of people with a wide range of backgrounds, interests, and attitudes, and the collection must reflect the diversity therein. The purpose of this policy is to guide librarians and to inform the public about the principles upon which selection and retention decisions are made.
Freedom of Access
To support an informed public, the library’s collections are intended to represent diverse points of view, and may include materials that some members of the public consider to be controversial in nature. The library will provide free and equitable access to library collections to all users, despite individual or group bias about a particular item or type of material. The library neither approves or disapproves of the views expressed in materials included in the collection. The inclusion of an item is not to be considered an endorsement, official or otherwise, by the library. The Orono Public Library adheres to the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read, and Freedom to View statements (see Appendix A) as official library policy. This means as a best practice that staff decisions regarding the collection will support the public’s right to read. It is a core principle of the Orono Public Library that the right to read is an important part of intellectual freedom that is foundational to democracy. The Town is committed to the idea that inclusion and diversity, along with equitable access to resources, creates a stronger community. Parents or guardians are responsible for a child’s reading and library use –this is not the library’s responsibility.
Misinformation and Disinformation
Disinformation* is defined as the creation and spreading of false information with the intent to deceive. Misinformation* is defined as the creation and spreading of false or inaccurate information without malicious intent. The spread of disinformation and/or misinformation can have disastrous results. As the ALA and Institute of Museum and Library Services states, "combined, mis/disinformation can have an alarming impact on public opinion, our trust of the media, and our understanding of democracy." The Orono Public Library makes every effort to ensure that the materials it purchases for its collections do not promote false or inaccurate information of any kind.
*Definitions provided by Media Literacy in the Library: A Guide for Library Practitioners (ALA, 2020)
The Library’s Collections
The Orono Public Library serves a patron base that represents all ages, a wide range of interests and tastes, educational and career attainments, economic backgrounds, and technological sophistication. The library provides print collections in the form of circulating fiction and nonfiction books, large-print books, reference books, and periodicals; non-print collections comprised of visual media, audiobooks, and physical items, which may include kits made up of multiple related items, and other tools and equipment the public might not be able to acquire on their own. The library also provides access to an electronic resource collection in the form of databases, e-books, e-audiobooks, streaming video, and various other services made available online through contracted services.
Budget and space limitations preclude the library from duplicating the specialized and comprehensive collections that exist elsewhere in the state. Instead, the library offers its patrons access to a greatly expanded collection via the interlibrary services of the Minerva Consortium and MaineCat. Minerva is a consortium of over 60 public, school, college, and special libraries in Maine that allows patrons of the member libraries to search a joint catalog of member library holdings, borrow and return books at any library in the system, and use other joint library services. MaineCat is a consortium of public and academic libraries whose members loan one another available items from their collections.
Responsibility for Collection Development
The responsibility for selecting, acquiring, and organizing materials rests with professional staff librarians, with the ultimate decision made by the Library Director.
“Selection” refers to the act of identifying and evaluating specific items for addition to the library’s collection. Selectors are responsible for choosing titles which fit in with the evaluation criteria in this plan, and help the library fulfill its mission. Selection is a discerning and interpretive process, involving a general knowledge of the subject and its important literature, a familiarity with the materials in the collection, and a recognition of the needs of the community. Staff members selecting library materials are assisted by reviews from established industry sources, authoritative discussions of the subject, popular demand, requests of library patrons, and circulation statistics and trends. The library selects resources based upon the principle of open access to materials for all; materials are not excluded due to frank or controversial content, or due to the personal preferences of the selectors. Decisions are made solely on critical reviews and the merits of the work in relation to the building of the collection.
All materials, whether purchased or donated, are considered in terms of the following criteria, which are applied as appropriate across all subjects, languages, material types, and formats:
● Accuracy of information and depth of content
● Clarity, originality of thought, literary merit or artistic excellence
● Reviews in professional or popular media
● Popular interest and community demand
● Cost and availability
● Suitability of physical format and durability for heavy library use
● Skill, competence, and purpose of the author
● Relationship to materials in other area libraries
● The work’s presence in standard bibliographies or indexes
● Contemporary significance or permanent value
● Ability to meet the needs of the community; appropriateness to interests and skills of intended audience
● Relation to existing collections and other material on the subject
● Material’s contribution to a diversity of viewpoints and cultural perspectives
● Material’s local, historical, or literary significance
The library does not regularly purchase the following materials:
● Costly books of little demand
● Textbooks (unless they are of general interest and the best in the subject field)
● Family genealogies
● Books that are not professionally bound
● Books that are self-published
● Highly obscure or specialized works
● Rare books
● Items that require original cataloging
● Vanity press publications
● Obsolete formats such as cassettes, vinyl records, and VHS tapes
The library collects a range of general interest materials. Owing to budgetary and space constraints, the library is unable to maintain a collection used for academic research or the pursuit of highly specialized and professional interests. Materials are acquired in multiple formats when appropriate, including print, audiovisual, and digital resources. For any given work, the determination of which format(s) is acquired is based, in part, on factors such as the work’s intended audience and its intended purpose. When all other factors are equal, ease of access by and broadness of appeal to the public should be the primary consideration in choosing formats.
New formats shall be considered for the circulating collection when a significant portion of the community's population has the necessary technology to make use of the format. User demand, cost per item, ease of use, equipment requirements, storage requirements, staff requirements for processing, maintenance, and training, and availability of items in the format are also factors that are considered in the adoption of a new format.
Staff will also consider items in terms of their ability to provide balance to the collection and their availability via the statewide resource-sharing consortia.
The library recognizes the importance of acquiring materials in formats that can be utilized by Orono residents with disabilities. The library will seek to match community demand with the existing collections of such materials.
Multiple copies of items may be purchased in response to user demand as evidenced by number of holds, anticipated popularity, and repeated requests. Orono Public Library will only add items to its collection that conform to U.S. Laws (e.g. copyright, trade laws.).
Generally, the library is limited to selecting works that are currently in print and available through customary domestic trade suppliers.
Purchase suggestions from Orono library users are always welcome and given consideration. Suggestions are subject to the same selection criteria as other materials, and suggested titles are not automatically added to the collection. Review or solicitation copies submitted for consideration as potential acquisitions are accepted under the same terms as those for donated items.
Donations of Books and Other Materials
Occasionally, gifts of books and other library materials in good condition may be accepted by the library and evaluated for inclusion in the collection using the same criteria that are used for materials acquired by purchase. Gifts which do not meet the library’s evaluation criteria and policies may be refused. Donated books that are not added to the library’s circulating collection may be returned to the donor, or, alternatively, the books may be given away. The library is under no obligation to add a donated item to the collection or to notify the donor of the disposition of that item. Donors cannot impose conditions relating to any gift either before or after the library accepts the gift.
Donation-receipt forms are available upon request at the time of donation and are completed by donors. Values are assigned by donors, not by library staff.
The library accepts tax-deductible monetary donations, lifetime gifts and bequests. While the library welcomes gifts designating funds for specific audiences or types of materials in the collection, the designation of funds for specific titles may not be accommodated if such titles are inconsistent with the library’s selection criteria.
The library’s collections are regularly evaluated to ensure that the materials they contain remain current and in good condition, and that they continue to reflect the interests and needs of the library’s patrons. Collection maintenance is undertaken with as much care and consistency as the initial selection of materials. Maintenance is critical to keeping the collections current, attractive, responsive, diverse, and useful to the needs of the community.
In the pursuit of maintaining an up-to-date, useful collection, statistical tools such as circulation reports, collection turnover rates, and hold fill rates are studied to determine how the collection is being used and how it should change to answer patron needs. Periodic visual inspections of the collections themselves also help selectors determine how and to what extent individual items and categories of works are being used and which materials are candidates for withdrawal, minimal repair, or replacement.
Material withdrawal is an important part of collection development. Systematic deselection is required to keep the collection responsive to patron needs, to ensure its vitality and usefulness to the community, and to make room for newer materials or newer formats. Items are withdrawn from the collection with the same degree of attention as initial selection. Withdrawal of library materials is vested in the Library Director who authorizes qualified staff to perform this process. Librarians must use their professional judgment when determining which items to deselect. The staff will evaluate the library’s collection for discarding of materials that are one or more of the following:
● Obsolete: outdated, factually inaccurate, or misleading, or superseded by new information
● In poor physical condition: worn, damaged, or lost
● No longer relevant to the needs and interests of the community: not in high demand, low circulation frequency
Other factors influencing the withdrawal of an item may include space limitations, altered scope of the collection, ease of access to materials through Minerva or MaineCat, and holding a higher number of copies of a particular item than are necessary. Withdrawn items may be offered to local charitable organizations for resale, given away, donated, or recycled.
Materials that have been lost or damaged may be replaced using the same criteria as for initial selection. Replacement of lost, stolen, or withdrawn materials is not automatic. The decision to replace is influenced by:
● The number of copies the library owns
● The availability of newer materials on the subject
● Existence of adequate coverage of the subject
● Item circulation numbers
● Popular demand for the title
● Availability of space
● Cost and availability of replacement copy
● If the item is a core collection title, or significant in its subject area
Requests for Reconsideration
The library welcomes expression of opinion about its collection. In the event of a concern about the inclusion materials in the collection, the following procedure will be followed:
1. Residents of Orono or OPL cardholders raising an objection to a book or other materials in the library will be asked to fill out and submit a Request for Reconsideration Form (see Appendix B) with a written explanation of their objections, citing specifics from the material in question.
2. The Library Director will then appoint a committee to review the challenge and make recommendations. This committee will comprise of an appropriate, professional staff librarian selected by the Director, a professional librarian not on OPL staff, an Orono Public Library Board of Trustees member, and two members from the community at large (Reconsideration Committee.) The Director will provide appropriate resources to the committee for their evaluation of the challenge. The committee is advisory only, and will report its findings to the Library Director within four weeks of receipt of a signed Request for Reconsideration form.
3. In considering Requests for Reconsideration, staff, the Director and the Reconsideration Committee will consider each work as a whole, and individual passages will not be treated out of context.
4. The Reconsideration Committee will base their recommendation on the evaluation criteria outlined in the Collection Development Policy.
5. The Library Director will carefully weigh the recommendations of the committee and make a decision on the disposition of the material, and will communicate the decision in writing to the selector, the Orono Public Library Committee, the review committee, the Town Manager and the complainant no later than one week after receiving the findings from the committee.
6. If the complainant is not satisfied with the response from the Director, they may appeal to the Orono Town Manager. The Manager will have two weeks to respond to the appeal and will do so in writing. The decision by the Manager will be final.
Please note: During the process outlined above, no materials challenged will be removed from public use.
ALA Library Bill of Rights
I. The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.
II. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
III. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
IV. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
V. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
VI. A person's right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
VII. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.
Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; inclusion of #age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.
The Freedom to Read Statement
The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label "controversial" views, to distribute lists of "objectionable" books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently arise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.
Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be "protected" against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression.
These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet. The problem is not only one of actual censorship. The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy or unwelcome scrutiny by government officials.
Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change. And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension. Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain. Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it less able to deal with controversy and difference.
Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections.
We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture. We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend. We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings.
The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights.
We therefore affirm these propositions:
1. It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority.
Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different. The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested. Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy. The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process. Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these. We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.
2. Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.
Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought. The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.
3. It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.
No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.
4. There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.
To some, much of modern expression is shocking. But is not much of life itself shocking? We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers from dealing with the stuff of life. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves. These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared. In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others.
5. It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous.
The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for others. It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.
6. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people's freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.
It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group. In a free society individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read, and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive. Further, democratic societies are more safe, free, and creative when the free flow of public information is not restricted by governmental prerogative or self-censorship.
7. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a "bad" book is a good one, the answer to a "bad" idea is a good one.
The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader's purpose. What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has been thought and said. Books are the major channel by which intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth. The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all Americans the fullest of their support.
We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.
This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers.
Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.
Freedom to View Statement
The FREEDOM TO VIEW, along with the freedom to speak, to hear, and to read, is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In a free society, there is no place for censorship of any medium of expression. Therefore these principles are affirmed:
1. To provide the broadest access to film, video, and other audiovisual materials because they are a means for the communication of ideas. Liberty of circulation is essential to insure the constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression.
2. To protect the confidentiality of all individuals and institutions using film, video, and other audiovisual materials.
3. To provide film, video, and other audiovisual materials which represent a diversity of views and expression. Selection of a work does not constitute or imply agreement with or approval of the content.
4. To provide a diversity of viewpoints without the constraint of labeling or prejudging film, video, or other audiovisual materials on the basis of the moral, religious, or political beliefs of the producer or filmmaker or on the basis of controversial content.
5. To contest vigorously, by all lawful means, every encroachment upon the public's freedom to view.
This statement was originally drafted by the Freedom to View Committee of the American Film and Video Association (formerly the Educational Film Library Association) and was adopted by the AFVA Board of Directors in February 1979. This statement was updated and approved by the AFVA Board of Directors in 1989.
Requests for reconsideration may be made only by registered patrons, with the OPL‘s Reconsideration Request form.