Material Selection Policy
The Caroline County Public Library undertakes to select, organize, and make accessible library materials of many kinds in order to anticipate and meet the needs and interests of the public.
The Caroline County Public Library Board of Trustees, recognizing the pluralistic nature of the community and the varied backgrounds and needs of all citizens, declares and establishes that:
Books and/or other library materials selection is delegated to the Director and under her/his direction to those members of the staff who are qualified by reason of education and training.
Selection of books and/or other library materials shall be made on the basis of their value of interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community. No book and/or other library material shall be excluded because of the race, nationality, sex, or the political, social, or religious views of the author.
Censorship is purely an individual matter and while anyone is free to reject for himself materials of which he does not approve, he cannot exercise censorship to restrict the freedom of use and/or of access to others. The choice of library materials is also an individual matter. The freedom of access for a minor (15 or younger) may be restricted only by his own parents or legal guardian.
The principles of the freedom to read are reaffirmed and whenever censorship is involved no book and/or other library materials shall be removed from the library save under the orders of a court of competent jurisdiction.
The Caroline County Public Library Board of Trustees further declares that it adopts the Library Bill of Rights and supports the ALA Freedom to Read Statement, the Freedom to View Statement and Resolution 1981-32 of the Maryland State Board of Education included as appendices to this policy, and interpreted to include all library materials regardless of format.
The Caroline County Public Library acquires, organizes, makes available, and encourages the use of all media which:
- Contributes constructively to the individual’s awareness of self and community while providing insight into a wide range of human and social conditions and various cultural heritages;
- Supplement formal study;
- Encourage informal self-education;
- Meet the informational needs of the community;
- Support the recreational needs of the community;
- Stimulate thoughtful participation in the affairs of the Community, the State, the Nation and the World;
- Give access to a variety of opinions on matters of current interest;
- Support education, civic, and cultural activities within the community;
- Aid in learning and improving job-related skills;
- Assist the individual to grow intellectually and culturally so that he may enjoy life more fully;
- Reflect minority opinions as well as those of the majority.
Young Adult collection:
The specific aim of the Young Adult collection is to provide a wide range of materials that can be used to promote a life-long pleasure and interest in reading and to introduce adolescents to the world of adult literature by relating to their recreational and informational needs and the world in which they live. Recognizing that adolescence is a period of rapid physical, mental, and emotional growth, and taking into account the many levels of sophistication and maturity of this age group, materials are selected which vary in format, content, and reading difficulty. In order to provide for readers of different abilities and backgrounds, materials include readable and relevant adult and children’s materials as well as those produced specifically for teenagers. Materials for young adults are selected with a view to helping young people understand their own development and responsibilities, and providing a basis for informed decisions.
The specific aim of the Children’s collection is to provide print and non-print materials which will anticipate and meet the diversified needs, interests, tastes, and backgrounds of boys and girls. These materials should: provide enjoyment for children, inspire and cultivate in children a love of books and reading; help children know more about themselves and their world; prepare children for thoughtful participation in social and political affairs; stimulate children’s creative powers and appreciation of beauty; stimulate children to develop their mental capacities, meet the personal informational need of children; and help children recognize a broad spectrum of moral and social values. Additional appropriate materials are provided for adults to help them understand and work with children.
CRITERIA FOR MATERIALS SELECTION
Nature and quality of the material as factors in selection:
Expanding areas of knowledge, changing social values, technological advances and cultural differences require flexibility, open-mindedness, and responsiveness in the evaluation and re- evaluation of all library materials, old and new, newspapers, paperbacks, magazines, pamphlets, foreign language materials, films, recordings, and new types of materials are acquired and made accessible as they are judged suitable, meaningful, and relevant to the community.
Each type of material must be considered in terms of its own kind of excellence and the
audience for whom it is intended.
There is no single standard which can be applied in all cases when making an acquisition decision. Some materials may be judged primarily in terms of artistic merit, scholarship, or their value to humanity; others are selected to satisfy the informational, recreational, and educational needs of the community.
Some material evaluated is subject to widespread and/or substantial local demand. Items having such demand may or may not meet the general and specific criteria contained in this policy.
In either case the volume and nature of requests by members of the public will be given serious consideration.
In addition, as the social and intellectual climate of the community changes, material which originally was not recommended for purchase may become of interest.
Such material will be re- evaluated on a continuing basis. The converse is true, also.
Works which present an aspect of life honestly will not necessarily be excluded because of frankness of expression.
Materials will be judged as a whole rather than on isolated passages.
Materials needed only for specific school assignments will not be included in the collection.
Staff familiarity with the special, academic, and school library collections in the region, and in the State, and with their respective accessibility, will serve as a guide to avoiding unnecessary duplication of materials selected.
To build diversified collections of merit and significance, materials will be considered and acquired according to objective criteria.
All acquisitions to be added to the collection, whether purchases or gifts, shall meet the same criteria.
- Suitability of physical form for library use.
- Suitability of subject and style for intended audience.
- Present and potential relevance to community needs.
- Appropriateness and effectiveness of medium to content.
- Insight into human and social conditions.
- Importance as a document of the times.
- Relation to existing Caroline County Public Library collections and other material on the subject.
- Professional and/or literary significance of the author.
- Attention to critics, reviewers, and the public.
SPECIFIC CRITERIA FOR THE EVALUATION OF WORKS OF INFORMATION AND OPINION
- Comprehensiveness and depth of treatment
- Clarity, accuracy, and logic of presentation
- Representation of challenging, though extreme or minority point of view
SPECIFIC CRITERIA FOR THE EVALUATION OF WORKS OF IMAGINATION
- Representation of important movement, genre, trend or culture.
- Vitality and originality.
- Artistic presentation and experimentation.
- Sustained interest.
- Effective characterization and setting.
Materials are most often selected through the use of authoritative reviews. Generally, the Caroline County Public Library does not allow vendors to send materials as a means of selection.
Materials within the Library collection are continuously monitored. Items may be withdrawn if they contain outdated or inaccurate information, are superseded by a newer edition, are worn or badly marked, or are duplicates or seldom used materials. Space, replacement cost, and the quality and appearance of the collection are factors in this decision. The weeding process is an integral part of the ongoing collection maintenance activities to keep the collection useful and vibrant. Withdrawn material will be replaced as appropriate if possible. Important out-of-print materials will be replaced by reprints, if available. Remainders may also be sought. In all cases, maintaining a well-balanced collection is the goal.
Multiple copies of titles are purchased or leased to meet heavy customer demand. Duplication is kept to a minimum, but is sufficient in number to insure that the Library is a dependable community resource.
The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.
I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.
Adopted June 18, 1948, by the ALA Council; amended February 2, 1961; amended June 28, 1967; amended January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 24, 1996.
A history of the Library Bill of Rights is found in the latest edition of the Intellectual Freedom Manual.
The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label “controversial” views, to distribute lists of “objectionable” books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.
Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be “protected” against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression. These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet. The problem is not only one of actual censorship. The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy or unwelcome scrutiny by government officials.
Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change. And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension. Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain. Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.
Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections.
We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture. We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend. We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings.
The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights.
We therefore affirm these propositions:
It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority.
Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different. The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested. Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy. The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process. Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these. We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.
Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.
Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought. The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.
It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.
No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.
There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.
To some, much of modern expression is shocking. But is not much of life itself shocking? We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers from dealing with the stuff of life. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves. These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared. In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others.
It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous.
The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for others. It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.
It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people’s freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.
It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or gro up. In a free society individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read, and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive. Further, democratic societies are more safe, free, and creative when the free flow of public information is not restricted by governmental prerogative or self-censorship.
It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a “bad” book is a good one, the answer to a “bad” idea is a good one.
The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader’s purpose. What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has been thought and said. Books are the major channel by which the intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth. The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all Americans the fullest of their support.
We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.
This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers.
Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.
The FREEDOM TO VIEW, along with the freedom to speak, to hear, and to read, is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In a free society, there is no place for censorship of any medium of expression. Therefore these principles are affirmed:
To provide the broadest access to film, video, and other audiovisual materials because they are a means for the communication of ideas. Liberty of circulation is essential to insure the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.
To protect the confidentiality of all individuals and institutions using film, video, and other audiovisual materials.
To provide film, video, and other audiovisual materials which represent a diversity of views and expression. Selection of a work does not constitute or imply agreement with or approval of the content.
To provide a diversity of viewpoints without the constraint of labeling or prejudging film, video, or other audiovisual materials on the basis of the moral, religious, or political beliefs of the producer or filmmaker or on the basis of controversial content.
To contest vigorously, by all lawful means, every encroachment upon the public’s freedom to view.
This statement was originally drafted by the Freedom to View Committee of the American Film and Video Association (formerly the Educational Film Library Association) and was adopted by the AFVA Board of Directors in February 1979. This statement was updated and approved by the AFVA Board of Directors in 1989.
Endorsed January 10, 1990, by the ALA Council
WHEREAS, The freedom to read is essential to our democracy; and
WHEREAS, Public libraries have a responsibility to make available to the public books and other material offering the widest diversity of knowledge and ideas, views and expressions, so that citizens may choose freely from among a broad range of conflicting ideas; and
WHEREAS, It is in the public interest for libraries to reaffirm this principle in policies and procedures for the selection of library materials and for dealing with complaints and requests for the removal of material by individuals or groups, therefore be it
RESOLVED, That the State Board of Education endorses the Freedom to Read principle and requires boards of library trustees of each public library system to adopt policies that will affirm and guide the effective implementation of this principle, and be it further
RESOLVED, That the Board directs the Assistant State Superintendent for Libraries to provide assistance to libraries and to report the result to the Board by June, 1982.
Revised and approved by the Board of Library Trustees: June 16, 2009