Why Do I Need a Policy?

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

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.

The policy:

  • Ensures that the selection of materials reflects the institution’s philosophy, mission, guiding principles, or other foundational documents
  • Provides a framework for the consistent selection and acquisition of library resources in all formats using a standard set of criteria
  • Avoids haphazard patterns of acquisition that will result in waste or overlap of content
  • States who is responsible for selection and the parameters under which the individual(s) work, but allows for professional judgment
  • Ensures a diversity of viewpoints on all topics, including those that may be considered controversial
  • Identifies cooperative collection development arrangements such as resource sharing including interlibrary loans, agreements to purchase or lease e-content, and resource retention commitments (for example, archival materials, government documents, local author materials)
  • Provides standards for collection maintenance and the removal of library resources that are out-of-date, inaccurate or no longer reflect the consensus of the field, in poor condition, rarely used, in an obsolete format, no longer fit the needs of library patrons, or have excess copies
  • Supplies guidelines for consideration of gifts and donations
  • Establishes a process by which individuals may share their concerns about library resources in a discussion with a librarian or, if their concerns are unresolved, invoke a formal reconsideration process
  • Affirms the importance of intellectual freedom, referencing key documents such as the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Library Bill of Rights, and the Freedom to Read Statement


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