Library Material Selection

Materials Selection Policy

(adopted July 7, 2011)


 The purpose of the Forbush Memorial Library Materials Selection Policy is to establish guidelines for the enhancement of the collection of library materials. The purpose of the collection is to meet the informational and recreational needs of Westminster’s residents, to enable a well-informed citizenry and to enhance personal development.   


 It is the responsibility of the library director to oversee the selection of library materials.  The director may delegate aspects of selection to appropriate members of the staff.

 General Selection Policy

 The library selects materials in accordance with guidelines stated by the American Library Association in its Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read and Freedom to View statements. 


The selection of library materials is based upon quality and appropriateness for a publicly-held collection and responsiveness to the changing needs of Westminster residents.  Materials are considered as complete works, and not on the basis of a particular passage or passages.  A work shall not be excluded solely because it represents a particular aspect of life, frankness of expression, or controversial content.  All acquisitions, whether purchased or donated, will be evaluated by the following standards.  An item need not meet all criteria to be acceptable, nor will any single criterion be decisive. 

  1. Present or future relevance to the community’s needs;
  2. Suitability of format, subject, style, or reading/viewing level for the intended audience;
  3. Reputation or significance of the author/producer/publisher;
  4. Positive reviews from critics or staff members;
  5. Positive review(s) in one or more professional publications such as (but not limited to) Library Journal, Publishers Weekly etc.;
  6. Within the limits of current budgets;
  7. Relationship to the existing collection, enhancement of a specific part of the collection, or where insufficient materials are available on the same subject;
  8. Author or illustrator is local;
  9. High literary or artistic merit;
  10. Accuracy of content;
  11. In demand by library patrons.

Materials selection policies by collection

  1.  Reference; print and electronic:  To develop this non-circulating print and electronic collection to meet the informational needs of Westminster residents and to maintain a size easily managed by the reference staff.  Specific criteria for electronic resources include ease of use, timeliness of updates, licensing restrictions, technical support, and hardware/software requirements.
  2.  Periodicals; print and electronic:  To supplement materials in the adult, young adult, and children’s collections with very current content.  Periodicals are intended to be more frequently updated than other print materials. Specific criteria for periodicals include ease of use, timeliness of subject matter, and licensing restrictions.
  3. Special Collections:  The library collects printed material and artifacts including artwork of special or unique value to Westminster and surrounding communities. Special, non-circulating collection items must be (but are not limited to) material such as local histories of Westminster and surrounding towns, Massachusetts and New England, genealogical records pertaining to Westminster families, writing by local authors, or objects or art work historically related to the region.  To be accepted as gifts, objects or art works must be accepted by the Forbush Library Board of Trustees and acceptance is based in part on donor restrictions, availability of funds and storage space to care for gifts.
  4. Media Collection:  To meet the needs of Westminster residents by providing informational and recreational materials in non-print format such as DVDs, audio books, music CDs, and a limited number of video tapes.  Special selection criteria in both the adult and children’s collections include cost and space considerations, contributions to a balance and range of information, as well as emphasis on instructional, educational, and informational topics.  Some audio books will enhance the print collection.  Films may include those which are critically acclaimed or award-winning, animated, and classic Hollywood films as well as those made by local film makers.
  5. Children’s and Young Adult Collections:  To provide materials in various formats to met the needs of children for recreational, informational, and self-educational use, as well as to supplement formal education curriculums. Criteria for the selection of young adult and children’s materials include that which is critically reviewed, works by children’s and young adult authors, editors, and illustrators of high reputation, and material that will encourage reading at all levels. This collection is primarily a circulating collection except for reference sources used by the Children’s Room staff. 
  6. Games: As space and budget are available, some games may be collected that support other parts of the collection and encourage critical thinking, teamwork, and educational purposes of the library.

 Collection Maintenance

 As materials become dated, damaged, worn, or lost, decisions have to be made about withdrawal or replacement of specific items.  Such decisions are made by appropriate staff by the following criteria:

  1. Is the item still available for purchase or held in affiliated library collections?
  2. Might another item, format, or updated version better serve the same purpose?
  3. Does the item have local historical value or is it a classic that should be replaced?
  4. As newer items are added to the collection, available space must be taken into consideration as a criterion in evaluating older little-used materials in the collection.

 Requests for Reconsideration of Library Materials

 The Board of Trustees and staff of the Forbush Memorial Library support intellectual freedom and subscribe to the principles of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read and Freedom to View statements.  The library staff applies the criteria for selecting materials as described in the Materials Selection Policy to provide materials that reflect a diversity of viewpoints within the community.  It is also the Board of Trustees’ policy that parents or legal guardians are the only persons who have the right to determine the appropriateness of their children’s reading/viewing habits.

Patrons may nominate books or other materials to add to or to be removed from the collection.  When a request for consideration is made, this procedure is followed:

  1. A staff member explains the selection policy.  The patron may submit a written Request for Consideration of Library Resources to the library director.
  2. The completed form is reviewed by the staff and the library director to ensure the selection criteria were met.  The library director shall respond in writing to the patron within 14(fourteen) to 30 (thirty) days and notify the Board of Trustees of each Request or Reconsideration submitted.
  3. If the requestor is not satisfied with the library staff’s decision, he or she may appeal in writing to the library director, who then convenes a Reconsideration Committee within 30 days of the date of the appeal.  This committee shall consist of a trustee who shall be named as chair, two members of the library staff responsible for material selection, and two members of the community selected by a majority of the Board of Trustees.
  4. In reviewing the Request for Reconsideration, the Reconsideration Committee employs the selection criteria (described above) and considers other information including professional reviews and recommendations, comments of library staff, and comments from the requestor.  During the reconsideration period, items under consideration will not be added or withdrawn from the collection.
  5. Within 30 days of the Reconsideration Committee’s review, the committee will recommend what action to take to the director, who will reach a decision and inform the requestor and the committee in writing of that decision.
  6. Should the requestor wish to appeal the decision, she or he may make a final appeal in writing within seven days directly to the Board of Trustees which will schedule a public hearing with 30 days of the final written appeal in order to reach a final decision by majority vote.