The purpose of the Mercer Public Library is to provide all of its customers with carefully selected books, audiovisual materials, and other items to aid the customer in the pursuit of education, information, research, pleasure, and the creative use of leisure time.
Because of the volume of publishing and the limitations of budget and space, the library must have a selection policy to meet community interests and needs. The materials selection/collection development policy is used by the library staff in the selection of materials and also serves to acquaint the general public with the principles of selection.
The Library Bill of Rights and The Freedom to Read Statement (see Appendix) have been endorsed by the Mercer Public Library Board of Trustees and are integral parts of the policy.
B. Responsibility for Selection
The ultimate responsibility for selection of library materials rests with the library director, who operates within the framework of the policies determined by the Mercer Public Library Board of Trustees. This responsibility may be shared with other members of the library staff. However, because the director must be available to answer to the library board and the general public for actual selections made, the director has the authority to reject or select any item contrary to the recommendations of the staff.
C. Criteria for Selection
The Mercer Public Library serves all residents of and visitors to the Mercer community, regardless of age, political or social views, gender (including gender expression), sexuality, race, ethnicity, or country of origin. The Library further recognizes its patrons may have diverse backgrounds, cultural heritages, interests, political views, and social values. The Mercer Public Library works to build a collection to meet the needs of all members of this community. The main points considered in the selection of materials, in no order of importance, include:
- insight into human and social conditions
- suitability of subject and style for the intended audience
- present and potential relevance to community needs and interest
- ability to stimulate intellectual and social development
- timeliness or permanent value
- relation to existing collection
- attention by critics and reviewers in standard bibliographies
- scarcity of information in the subject area
- availability of material elsewhere in the community or library network
Specific criteria for works of non-fiction:
- comprehensiveness and depth of treatment
- clarity, accuracy, and logic of presentation
- statement of challenging or original point of view
Specific criteria for works of fiction:
- presentation of significant literary or social trends
- vitality and originality
- artistic presentation
- authenticity of historical, regional, or social setting
- sustained interest and entertainment
Specific criteria for audiovisual works:
- quality of cinematography
- clarity and audio quality
- quality of graphics in videogames
Specific criteria for electronic information sources:
- Ease of use of the product
- Technical support and training
- Equipment needed to access the information
- Availability of content in the digital resource
- Restrictions on simultaneous use or limited use policies
The director and staff use bibliographies, periodicals, and reviews as sources of information about new materials. Consideration is also given to items requested by library patrons and books discussed on public media. Materials are judged on the basis of the work as a whole, not on a part taken out of context.
D. Materials for Children and Young People
Criteria applied to the selection of material for children and young people will be the same as applied to materials for adults. Children and young people are recognized as creative, inquiring individuals with unique capacities for intellectual and emotional growth. The resources of the entire library are accessible to them as the need arises.
Selection of library materials will not be inhibited by the possibility that materials may come into the possession of children. The library staff is always available to help guide all customers to appropriate library materials, but the ultimate responsibility for children’s library choices rests solely with their parents and legal guardians.
E. Potential Problems or Challenges
The Mercer Public Library recognizes that the selection of library materials can be controversial. Selection of materials will not be made on the basis of anticipated approval or disapproval, but solely on the basis of the principles stated in this policy.
Library materials will not be marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of their contents, and no library materials will be sequestered except to protect them from damage or theft.
The selection of any material should not be construed as an endorsement of any particular viewpoint by the library staff, the library board, or the Town of Mercer.
F. Requests for Reconsideration of Materials
Patrons desiring reconsideration of any material should first review the Materials Selection/Collection Development Policy and discuss their objection with the library director. If this does not result in a satisfactory resolution of the matter, the patron may fill out and submit a “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials” form (see Appendix F).
Only one item/title may be challenged at a time using the Request for Reconsideration form, but a patron may submit multiple requests for reconsideration. If multiple requests are submitted, the library director and library board will determine which material will be reviewed first and will conduct only one review at a time. The director and the library board will consider a Request for Reconsideration in light of the material selection policy. Final determination will be made by a majority vote of the library board. The patron will be informed of the decision of the library board. No materials will be removed from the library without the full implementation of this process.
G. Gifts and Donations
The library accepts gifts of books and other materials with the understanding that they will be added to the collection only if appropriate according to the materials selection policy stated above. Books and other materials that are not used in the library will be given to the Friends of the Mercer Public Library for library fundraising or may be disposed of as the librarian sees fit.
The library will not accept donated textbooks, Reader’s Digest Condensed books, or large quantities of magazines. The library may accept small numbers of used magazines to be placed in the free exchange box in the lobby or the library’s Little Free Library.
The Mercer Public Library encourages and appreciates gifts and donations. Those who wish to donate money for the purchase of materials in memory or honor of a loved one are encouraged to discuss their donation with the library director. If the donor wishes to make a request for the purchase of specific materials, the library will honor those requests if they meet the materials selection policy. If no specific items are requested by the donor, the librarian will make selections using the donated funds. Memorial and honor books will be kept for as long as they are relevant to the library’s collection and are subject to the same weeding policies as other library materials.
By law, the library is not allowed to appraise the value of donated materials. Library staff may provide a receipt on request indicating the number of materials donated.
An up-to-date, attractive, and useful collection is maintained through a continual withdrawal and replacement process. This ongoing process of weeding is the responsibility of the library director and is authorized by the Board of Trustees. Withdrawn materials will be handled in a similar manner and under the same authority as donated materials.
Any materials taking space that could otherwise be more effectively used are subject to re-evaluation and discard. This includes older non-fiction containing outdated information, once popular fiction no longer in demand, materials in outdated formats, and other items no longer in demand by library patrons. Among those attributes considered when evaluating an item for weeding will be physical condition, number of copies available, use, adequate coverage in the field, and availability of similar material.
Books by local authors and local history materials will remain in the collection until the library director determines that the items are no longer useful to the community. Local history materials will generally be kept in the collection for as long as possible.
I. Library Bill of Rights
In addition to the above policies, the Board adopts as a statement of policy the attached Library Bill of Rights as adopted by the American Library Association. (See Appendix)
Materials Selection/Collection Development policy reviewed and amended by the Library Board of Trustees, April 11, 2022, and again on October 9, 2023.