Selection Policies for Non-Public Institutions

Every library — academic, public, and school (public, private, charter, independent, and international) — should have a comprehensive written policy that guides the selection, deselection or weeding, and reconsideration of library resources. The most valuable selection policy is current; it is reviewed and revised on a regular basis; and it is familiar to all members of a library’s staff. The policy should be approved by the library’s governing board or other policy-making body and disseminated widely for understanding by all stakeholders.

Selection & Reconsideration Policy Toolkit for Public, School, & Academic Libraries

As government-owned and government-funded institutions, public libraries, public schools, and public universities and colleges are state actors whose activities are governed by the First Amendment, which protects the intellectual freedom of the library user and bars censorship of library materials. The selection policies adopted by public institutions look to and rely upon First Amendment principles to establish standards and procedures that protect the individual’s right to receive information and assure the development of a collection that serves the needs of the library's users.

Libraries operated by private entities, including privately funded schools, universities, and colleges, are considered private actors and are not subject to the First Amendment. Libraries operated by private institutions must therefore rely on library ethical principles to create selection policies that establish sound standards for collection development and support the freedom to read. Because the Library Bill of Rights “affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas,” libraries that are not publicly supported are encouraged to observe its guidelines as they develop their selection policies.

Home | Introduction

Why Do I Need a Policy? | Politics and Timing of Policy Creation | Selection Policies for Non-Public Institutions

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

Reconsideration Procedure

Guiding Principles | Statement of Policy | Informal Complaints | Request for Formal Reconsideration | Sample Reconsideration Form | Sample Letter to Complainant | Reconsideration Committees


Intellectual Freedom Core Documents | Challenge Support and Reporting Censorship | Bibliography of Additional Selection and Reconsideration Policy Resources

Updated January 2018 by ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom