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Materials Selection Policy


Community served

The Wilbraham Public Library is a small library serving the residential suburban community of Wilbraham in Hampden County in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts. The Pioneer Valley extends from the Connecticut to the Vermont border and is comprised of many small towns with the small cities of Springfield, Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield as the urban centers.

The library’s customers include town residents and individuals from the neighboring towns. Approximately 20% of the library’s customers are non-residents. Customers include all age groups: preschoolers, school-age children, teens, college students, adults and senior citizens. Approximately 40% of all materials are borrowed from the children’s department. Customer’s needs include recreational, informational, and educational materials and services for individual and family use. There is limited business and industry in Wilbraham, and the demand for services from this community is small.

The library is a popular town service with an average of almost 3,000 people visiting the library each week. Town appropriations are adequate to support existing services and to allow for some growth in new technology and outreach services. The library supplements the budget with funding from the Friends of the Wilbraham Library, the Memorial-Endowment Fund, through grants, and through donations from community organizations and individuals.



The Wilbraham Public Library provides services and programs to educate, entertain, and enlighten its patrons. To meet the many diverse needs of the community, the Library:

Meets the demand for information about current cultural and social trends and satisfies popular recreational interests.

Meets the need for information on a wide-range of general topics,

Supports the desire for lifelong learning, skill development and self-directed personal growth,

Supports the formal learning needs of students in grades K-12, and

Preserves and provides access to the history of Wilbraham and the Pioneer Valley.



The provision of popular materials and services is considered the top priority of the library. Customers seek materials in a variety of formats including books, magazines, newspapers, audiovisual, and multi-media formats. The library’s customers also present a constant demand for current materials and services to support their needs and interests for general information, lifelong learning, formal learning, and local history. However, because the public and private primary and secondary schools in Wilbraham have their own libraries that support the curriculum, the public library’s obligation to support formal learning is diminished. In addition to materials and regular library services, programs such as the children’s storytime series and special events, the children’s summer reading program, the adult book discussion group and other events sponsored by the library also strive to meet the needs and interests of the library’s customers.

It is the library’s goal to furnish a comfortable and safe facility with adequate space to house both materials and services. The library also strives to provide an adequate number of trained staff to assist customers in using the library and to contribute to the development of library’s collections and services. Additionally, the library serves as a community activity center by offering a community room for public meetings and programs and by providing community information.

The library accomplishes these goals through:

Purchasing appropriate materials with available funds

Participating in the Central/Western Massachusetts Automated Resources Sharing System (C/W MARS) network centrally serving multi-type libraries in western and central Massachusetts

Supplementing the collection by borrowing materials for customers

through inter-library loan through the Western Massachusetts Regional Library System (WMRLS)

Using the Regional Reference Service through the Springfield City Library to answer reference questions that are beyond the library’s capabilities

Participating in resource sharing efforts with area libraries

Offering program series and special events on a variety of topics to encourage reading, recreational, and learning pursuits

Applying for grants to augment collections and services for which there is high demand


Scope of the collection

Acknowledging the library’s priorities described above, it is the goal of the library to provide a collection that meets the demand for popular materials general information, lifelong learning, formal learning support, and local history. Through collection development, that includes both selecting and weeding materials, the library strives to maintain a collection of materials that is current, authoritative, well used, in good physical condition, and available in a variety of formats. The library does not collect textbooks, scholarly books and periodicals, or other resources that are deemed more appropriate for the school, academic, or special library. Because the library participates in resource sharing regionally, statewide, and nationally through entities such as the WMRLS and C/WMARS, it does not attempt to purchase all materials requested by its customers. Infrequently requested and specialized items that are beyond the scope of the collection are instead borrowed through inter-library loan, or customers are referred to other libraries where the materials may be found. Children are encouraged to use the adult collection when appropriate and vice versa. Children’s and adult reference books are merged into one collection.

The adult collection includes books, magazines, audiovisual materials, computer software and other appropriate materials. The collection serves teens, adults, and senior citizens. Books include fiction and nonfiction hardcover, paperback and large print formats. The library maintains a collection of popular magazines and retains back issues for three years for most titles. Back issues of magazines are also kept in microform and electronic formats. The audiovisual collection includes feature film and nonfiction videotapes and DVDs, and music and audio book cassette tapes, and CDs. In addition there are CD-ROMs available for reference and for borrowing and on-line reference databases on the library’s computers.

The children’s collection includes books, magazines, audiovisual materials, computer software, multi-media formats, puppets, and other appropriate materials. The collection serves children from infants through approximately age fourteen. Books include picture books, easy readers, juvenile fiction and nonfiction both hardcover and paperback formats. The children’s department also maintains a small collection of current popular magazines for children. Non-print materials include children’s feature film, educational and entertainment videotapes and DVDs, children’s music and audio books on cassette tape and CDs, multi-media kits, CD-ROMs, and puppets. Within the children’s collection are also the parenting and teacher’s resource collections that provide special materials for adults and the young adult collection of fiction books, magazines, and non-print media.


Responsibility for the collection

Library Board of Trustees retains the final authority concerning the library’s selection policy. They delegate the charge of administering the policy to the Library Director. The Library Director delegates the duty for materials selection and maintenance to specific library staff members based on their areas of responsibility, expertise and interest. These include, but are not limited to, the Assistant Director, Adult Services Librarian, Children’s Librarian, and Assistant Reference Librarian. However, the decisions that these staff members make concerning the collection may be subject to review by the Library Director who must answer to the Trustees for selection practices.

Intellectual freedom

The library subscribes to the principles of freedom of expression, as stated in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution, specifically in regard to the right to publish diverse opinions. As a public institution the library is committed to the principles of intellectual freedom and is cognizant of its obligation to provide as wide a spectrum of materials as possible. Furthermore the library endorses the Freedom to Read, Freedom to View and the Library Bill of Rights (appended) and their interpretations issued by the American Library Association. Included in these statements is the commitment to honor the rights of the individual to use the library regardless of age, race, religion, national origin, or social or political views.

Customer’s use of the library’s collection is unrestricted except for the requirement of parental permission for children under eighteen to use the Internet or borrow videotapes. Librarians are responsible to direct customers toward appropriate materials, but will not restrict the use of the collection based upon the age of the user. The library takes the position that the risk of not providing access to information and ideas is greater than the risk of providing it. Therefore, the library staff will not act as in loco parentis. Responsibility for the materials children borrow or use rests entirely at the discretion of their parents or guardians.

The library reserves the right to control the use of rare and/or fragile items in the collection, such as local history materials, to the extent required to preserve them from harm.



The Library Director delegates responsibility for the selection of materials to members of the library staff. Staff members make recommendations based on their experience and knowledge of library services, their familiarity with the community’s needs and demands, and their knowledge of the existing library collection.

Materials are judged on the basis of the work as a whole, not on a part taken out of context. By using the following criteria for acquisitions, gifts, and withdrawals, the library strives to strengthen its collection through a fair and balanced selection process.

Popular interest and demand; the library receives many of the most popular titles through an automatic ordering program

Critical reviews; professional journals; publishers’ catalogs

Reputation, popularity, or significance of the author

Accurate coverage of contemporary or historical topics, issues, and personalities; currency of information

Relation to existing collection; the balance of opinions, including minority views

Artistic expression, originality, imagination, and presentation

Ability to reach the intended audience in a comprehensible manner

Cost, including maintenance, in relation to the demand for the item

Permanent value as a standard work

Quality of manufacture, durability, and condition

Technical merit and ease of use

Availability through other resources, including Inter-Library Loan and the Internet



All donated materials are reviewed as part of the selection process, using the same criteria as other acquisitions. Gift materials become the unrestricted property of the library and may be added to the collection, given to the Friends of the Library for the book sale, or discarded when not appropriate. The library provides gift receipts but does not appraise or give value to materials for tax purposes.


Withdrawal of Materials

In order to maintain a collection that is current, in good condition, well used, relevant to community interests and reliable, materials are withdrawn on a systematic and continuing basis.

Materials are discarded when they are judged to be dated or obsolete, inaccurate, seldom used, in poor condition, or otherwise no longer appropriate. Titles withdrawn due to loss, damage, or theft are not automatically replaced. The criteria used in selection also apply to the process of withdrawal of materials. Materials withdrawn from the Wilbraham Public Library will be disposed of in a manner consistent with their quality and condition. Some materials are given to the Friends of the Library for their book sales. Materials judged to be too dated, inaccurate, or unattractive to be kept by the library will be discarded.

Back issues of periodicals are kept in storage for a specified period of time and then recycled. The period of storage time for each periodical is determined by the continued need for the title to be readily available in the library. Space limitations may preclude some periodicals from being kept for extended periods of time.

Suggestions for the Addition or Reconsideration of Library Materials

Community involvement is a key principle in the development of the library’s collection. Customer suggestions for new acquisitions are always welcome, as "popular demand" is an integral part of the Selection Criteria mentioned elsewhere in this policy. Many materials not owned by the Wilbraham Public Library can be obtained on loan from other institutions. Suggestions for the purchase of new materials should be in writing and include as much publishing information as possible. Suggestions should also include the customer’s name and phone number. The Selection Criteria mentioned above will be applied to the request. If the material is added to collection, the recommending customer will be called and given the first opportunity to borrow the item.

Customers may also voice their concern over the inclusion of specific materials in the library’s collection. The Board of Trustees of the Wilbraham Public Library believes that censorship is a purely individual matter and declares that while anyone is free to reject material of which one does not approve, one cannot exercise this right of censorship to restrict the freedom of others. The Board of Trustees and the Library Director will remove no library materials from the library except under a formal reconsideration. Any library customer in good standing may request the reconsideration of materials made available at the Wilbraham Public Library. The steps for a formal reconsideration are as follows:

The customer will fill out and sign a "Request for Consideration" (appended).

This document will be forwarded to the Library Director who will attach her/his comments and forward this information to the Wilbraham Public Library Board of Trustees.

The Trustees and Library Director, at their next scheduled meeting, will discuss how the library uses the challenged material.

The customer who submitted the statement will receive a written response within 21 days of the Board’s decision.



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