Book and Material Selection Policy

Policy regarding selection of materials for inclusion in collection


The development and maintenance of the book collection and other related materials is an integral function in any library.  As stated in the American Library Association Bill of Rights, "Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community..."  Technological changes mean that some items “chosen for the collection” are actually added through purchasing access to databases.

In the general process of selection, assigned professional staff members utilize training, knowledge, and judgement in reading and evaluating items for purchase.  When considering the wealth of titles published annually, of which only a certain percent are of sufficient general interest to Manchester residents, it is necessary to rely on standard bibliographic and reviewing aids, as well as to be guided by the library’s primary missions.

Many thousands of unsolicited books and items are donated to the library each year.  At the discretion of library staff, books and other materials donated to the library may be placed into the collection as needed, or put into a book sale, or discarded.  Upon receipt by the library, the decision as to whether to place the item(s) into the collection or into the book sale rests with library staff.  Donated items cannot, under any circumstances, be returned to the donor.  Donors will not normally be notified as to whether items were placed into the collection, discarded, or placed into the book sale.

Literary merit is an important factor in the selection of fiction.  Excellence of characterization, literary style, or discerning portrayal of the social scene, present or past, constitute factors to be included in the selection process, along with the popularity of the material.  Extreme frankness in the presentation of personal or social problems is evaluated in terms of the worth of the book or item as a whole, and should not preclude purchase of titles which make a significant literary contribution.

Criteria essential to the selection of non-fiction include authoritativeness, accuracy, objectivity, timeliness, clarity of presentation, and community need.  An attempt is made to cover all fields of knowledge but not in the sense of providing specialized research materials for which there might be demand from only a few members of the community.  Since the library is attempting to provide popular materials, non-fiction items shall, as much as possible, be available for borrowing rather than kept as “reference/in building use only. “  Digital materials, in formats that are widely adopted, may be acquired.  Availability of material in other libraries in the Greater Hartford area occasionally proves a determining factor.  Controversial subjects are included, but an attempt is made to represent various points of view.  

In addition to initial purchase of materials, due attention must be paid to necessary duplication, replacement, or withdrawal.  Duplicate copies are purchased when demand is heavy, but it is not the policy of the library to provide multiple copies to satisfy requests resulting from school assignments.  In order to maintain a balanced and useful collection, each section must be evaluated at frequent intervals.  Worn but basic titles must be replaced and obsolete or infrequently used material must be withdrawn.  Selection, duplication, replacement, and withdrawal are all essential parts of maintaining a collection within available funds.  Senior library staff have the ultimate decision as to the disposal of materials consistent with town guidelines.

            Forms are available so that library users who object to the inclusion of an item in the collection may request its removal.  After review by library staff, the Library Board shall make the final determination as to whether the item should remain in the collection.


Adopted March 28, 1962; Revisions: June 16, 1971; January 4, 1993; October 9, 2003; September 12, 2005; September 13, 2011; Reviewed June 22, 2015    

Manchester Public Library's Request for Reconsideration Form(PDF, 50KB)