Materials Selection Policy

I. Objective

The objective of the Dartmouth Public Libraries is to select, organize, preserve, and to make freely available to the people of the community printed and other materials that will aid them in pursuit of education, information, research, recreation, and in the creative use of leisure time. The Libraries seek to promote endeavors which stimulate and expand the reading interests of both children and adults and to coordinate this work with that of other educational, social, and cultural groups in the community. It is the responsibility of the Libraries to satisfy the diverse reading needs and interests of the residents of the community through the selection, acquisition, and organization of library materials and to provide skilled guidance in their use.

II. Responsibility for Selection

Ultimate responsibility for selection of library materials rests with the Library Board of Trustees. The Board delegates to the Director of Libraries the selection of library materials and the development of the collection. The professional staff assists in the selection of materials. The general public and non-professional staff may recommend materials for consideration.

III. Criteria for Selection

Materials are selected to satisfy Dartmouth residents both as individuals and as members of groups, with a concern for all ages, backgrounds, interests, abilities, and levels of education. Selection must meet not just the needs of those who use the Libraries regularly, but anticipate the needs of those who have not traditionally been library users. The objective of selection is to collect those materials that will inform, entertain, and contribute to the enrichment of mind and spirit.

Selectors use a number of sources including professional review journals, book lists, bibliographies, catalogs and announcements, gifts and public recommendations to select materials. In selecting materials, the librarians will pay due regard to the special, commercial, industrial, cultural, and civic enterprises of the community.

Material is acquired in a variety of formats, determined by availability and usefulness. Possible formats include books, cassettes, audio books, videocassettes, DVDs, microforms, photographs, compact discs, newspapers and magazines. Non-book materials and electronic resources are an integral part of the collection and will be provided as far as possible within the budget.

There is no single standard against which materials are judged; rather there is a range of criteria, which is applied. An item need not meet all the criteria to be selected.

The following criteria are considered important in selecting materials:

  1. Current usefulness or permanent value
  2. Authority and competence of the author
  3. Clarity and accuracy of presentation
  4. Importance of subject matter in relation to the existing collection
  5. Contribution to the balance of coverage on controversial subjects
  6. Literary and artistic merit
  7. Popularity and demand
  8. Relative importance in comparison with other works on the subject
  9. Suitability of physical format for library use
  10. Affordable cost
  11. Awards received

Providing textbooks and curriculum materials is generally held to be the responsibility of the schools. The Libraries do not attempt to acquire textbooks or other curriculum-related materials except as such materials also serve the general public.

Legal and medical works will be acquired only to the extent that they are useful to the layperson.

The Libraries acknowledge a particular interest in local and state history, and in the works of local authors.

Duplication of titles is determined by popularity, importance of the title, space limitations and budget restrictions. The Libraries draw upon the collections and resources of neighboring libraries, especially those in the automated network database. The resources of the Massachusetts Library System, the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth Library, the Bristol County Law Library and other special libraries are also relied upon so as to reduce duplication of services and materials.

Systematic withdrawal of lost, damaged, worn, or out-dated materials that are no longer pertinent in the maintenance of an accurate, active collection is expected. Frequency of circulation, community interest, and availability of newer titles and more valid titles are of prime consideration.

IV. Intellectual Freedom

The Board of Library Trustees, the Director of Libraries and the library staff recognize the responsibility of the Libraries to provide materials representing diverse points of view on different topics. No material shall be excluded because of the race, nationality, political, religious, or social views or sexual orientation of the author. The Dartmouth Public Libraries subscribe to the American Library Association's Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read and Intellectual Freedom Statement of the American Library Association and the American Book Publisher's Council, the Educational Film Library's Freedom to View Statement, and the following interpretive documents of ALA's Councils of the Library Bill of Rights: Challenged Materials; Diversity in Collection Development; Evaluating Library Collections; Expurgation of Library Materials; Free Access to Libraries for Minors; Restricted Access to Library Materials; and Statement on Labeling.

The presence of an item in the Libraries' collections does not indicate an endorsement of its content. Access to library materials is not restricted beyond what is necessary to protect them from damage or theft. Library materials are not marked or labeled to show approval or disapproval of the contents.

Reading, listening or viewing of library materials by children rests with their parents and/or legal guardians. Selection will not be inhibited by the possibility that materials may come into the possession of children. The Dartmouth Public Libraries do not act in loco parentis.

Selection is made solely on the merits of the work in relation to collection development and serving the needs of library patrons. The Libraries attempt to provide materials representing all possible approaches to public issues of a controversial nature.

Any patron may question the desirability of material in the collection. Initially the patron will be referred to the Director or Assistant Director. If not satisfied with the outcome of this discussion, the patron may fill out a Request for Reconsideration Form (PDF) that will be reviewed by the Board of Library Trustees.

V. Gifts

The Dartmouth Public Libraries accept gifts from individuals, businesses, organizations or other sources. The Libraries reserve the right to refuse gifts they deem inappropriate.

The Libraries accept monetary donations without conditions for their use or for projects approved by the Board. The Libraries accept monetary donations for the purpose of purchasing library materials consistent with the materials selection criteria.

The Libraries accept the donation of clean, gently used books and materials with the understanding that material not added to the collection will be disposed of as the libraries deem appropriate.

A receipt providing a description of the material and the date of the donation will be provided upon request. However, the Libraries do not put a monetary value on donated material. The cost of appraisal for tax deductions remains the responsibility of the donor.

Collections of books with restrictions which necessitate special handling or which prevent the integration of the gift into the general collection will not normally be accepted.

The Trustees of the Dartmouth Public Libraries have sole responsibility for library properties. The Board reserves the right to refuse, without prejudice, the placement in or on library property of any permanent memorial or commemorative object, ex: stone, tree, plant, garden, plaque, furniture, artwork, etc., which may be offered by any group or individual.

VI. Cooperative Development / Interlibrary Loan

The rapidly expanding store of information requires planning and cooperative activities among networks of libraries. The Dartmouth Public Libraries participate in cooperative collection development plans and resource sharing networks in order to provide the widest range of resources to residents of the Town.