Selection & Reconsideration Policy Toolkit for Public, School, & Academic Libraries
No policy remains valid forever. Internal or external changes may impact a library policy and result in the need for policy revision. All library policies, including the selection policy, should be reviewed for necessary revisions on a regular schedule.
1) Removing Outdated Statements
Many selection policies reference intellectual freedom documents such as the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. Frequently a copy of the actual document is appended to the policy. The School Library Bill of Rights is referenced in many school district selection policies. Created by the American Association of School Libraries in 1955, the document was withdrawn by the association in 1976 and replaced by “Access to Resources and Services in the School Library Media Program: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights” in 1986. When professional association policy statements are removed or revised, corresponding action should be reflected in a library’s resources selection policy. The selection policy must reference the most up-to-date association policy statements. For example, the Association of College & Research Libraries adopted the most current version of “Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries” in 1999.
2) Politics and the Timing of Policy Revision
No revision should be undertaken while a formal challenge to a library resource is occurring. It is important to follow the current governing board-approved policy and process to maintain good faith with the community, complainants, and supporters. Revisions should occur after the final decision on the questioned material has been made. When a challenge has been resolved, those involved should reflect on the reconsideration experience and use new knowledge to revamp the current policy.
3) Consideration of New Material Formats for Inclusion
The process for including new material formats (e.g. online databases, ebooks, streaming media, games, apps) should be ongoing. Factors to consider in this decision include current demand, trends or growth in demand, and strengths and weaknesses of the format. Accessibility to patrons with special needs should also be considered when purchasing materials. Evaluating new material formats based on these criteria prepares the library to meet patron demands.
Basic Components of a Selection Policy
Library Mission | Support for Intellectual Freedom | Objectives | Responsibility for Selection | Selection Criteria | Acquisitions Procedures | Special Collections | Selecting Controversial Materials | Gifts and Donations | Collection Maintenance and Weeding | Policy Revision | Reconsideration
Guiding Principles | Statement of Policy | Informal Complaints | Request for Formal Reconsideration | Sample Reconsideration Form | Sample Letter to Complainant | Reconsideration Committees