Materials Selection/Collection Development Policy


The purpose of the Mercer Public Library is to provide all of its customers with carefully selected tools and other materials 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, as well as the limitations of budget and space, the library must have a selection policy with which 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.

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.

Criteria for Selection

The main points considered in the selection of materials are:
a) insight into human and social conditions;
b) suitability of subject and style for the intended audience;
c) present and potential relevance to community needs and interest;
d) timeliness or permanent value;
e) relation to existing collection;
f) attention of critics and reviewers in standard bibliographies;
g) scarcity of information in the subject area; and
h) availability of material elsewhere in the community.

Specific Criteria for Works of Non-Fiction

a) authority
b) comprehensiveness and depth of treatment
c) clarity, accuracy and logic of presentation
d) statement of challenging or original point of view

Specific Criteria for Works of Fiction

a) presentation of significant literary or social trends
b) vitality and originality
c) artistic presentation
d) authenticity of historical, regional or social setting
e) sustained interest and entertainment

Bibliographies, periodicals and reviews are major sources of information about new materials. Consideration is given to requests from 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. The selection of any material should not be construed as an endorsement by the library of the views contained therein.

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.
Responsibility for the reading of children rests with their parents and legal guardians. Selection of library materials will not be inhibited by the possibility that materials may come in possession of children. The library staff is always available to help guide all customers to appropriate reading material.

Potential Problems or Challenges

The Mercer Public Library recognizes that some materials are controversial and that any given item may offend some patrons. 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.

Requests for Reconsideration of Materials

Patrons desiring reconsideration of any material should first discuss their objection with the Librarian. If this does not result in a satisfactory resolution of the matter, the patron will be asked to fill out a “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials” form (see Appendix). When a patron submits a written request of reconsideration, the Librarian and the Library Board members will consider it in light of the Material Selection Policy. Final determination will be made by a majority vote of the board. The patron will be informed of the decision of the Library Board. No materials will be removed from the shelf without the full implementation of this process.

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 and needed. If they are not needed because of duplication, condition, or dated information the librarian can dispose of them as he/she sees fit. Annual publications such as buying guides, AAA tour books, etc., must be current. Duplicates will be shelved at the discretion of the librarian. Books that are not used in the library will be given to the Friends of the Mercer Public Library for library fundraising.

The library will not accept textbooks and Reader’s Digest Condensed books. Magazine subscriptions that are already received by the library will not be accepted. Other magazines will be accepted based on usefulness to the library and condition of the magazine. The same criteria of selection that are applied to purchased materials are applied to gifts.

Memorial gifts of books or money are also accepted with suitable bookplates placed in the book. Specific memorial books can be ordered for the library on request of a patron if the request meets the criteria established by the Board. It is desirable for gifts of specific titles to be offered after consultation with the librarian. The librarian will make the book selection if no specific book is requested. The Mercer Public Library encourages and appreciates gifts and donations. Memorial and “in honor of” books will be kept for as long as they are relevant to the library’s collection.

By law, the library is not allowed to appraise the value of donated materials, though it can provide an acknowledgment of receipt of the items if requested by the donor.


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 which no longer contains current information and once popular fiction no longer in demand. Among those attributes considered will be physical condition, number of copies available, use, adequate coverage in the field, and availability of similar material.
Mercer, Wisconsin, authors and local history books will remain in the collection until the Library Director determines that the book(s) are no longer useful. Local history materials will generally be kept in the collection for as long as possible.

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.