Collection Development Policy

Collection Development PolicyCollection development is the ongoing process of assessing materials available for purchase or licensing, and making decisions about the inclusion and retention of materials. The library's collection is critical in fulfilling the library's mission and meeting its service priorities.

Scope of Collection

"Collection" is defined as materials that are selected and maintained for the Duluth Public Library. The collection offers materials in choices of format, treatment, language and level of difficulty. "Selection" refers to the decision to add a given item to the DPL collection and make it accessible either in a physical location or via the Internet. "Materials" has the widest possible meaning and includes but is not limited to print, audiovisual, and electronic formats. Selected materials may be physically owned by the Duluth Public Library or may be accessed via the Internet. Not all materials and information found via the Internet are part of the collection. Only web-based resources accessed over the Internet that are specifically selected using the criteria outlined in this policy are a part of the collection.

The Duluth Public Library collects, organizes, and makes available materials of contemporary significance and long-term value. The collection is reviewed and revised on an ongoing basis to meet contemporary needs. Withdrawn materials are given to the Friends of the Library for sale or distribution. Only the Duluth Collection is intended to be comprehensive and archival. Collections provide broad coverage of subjects and reflect the characteristics of the community. Materials are withdrawn from the collection to maintain the collection's usefulness, currency, and relevance.


Collection Development and Management Criteria

To build a collection of merit, materials are evaluated according to one or more of the following criteria. An item need not meet all of these criteria in order to be acceptable.

General criteria:

  • present and potential relevance to community needs
  • suitability of form for library use
  • suitability of subject and style for intended audience
  • cost
  • importance as a document of the times
  • relation to the existing collection
  • relation to other material on the subject
  • attention by critics and reviewers
  • potential user appeal
  • requests by the public
  • materials of local interest and/or written by local authors

Content criteria:

  • authority
  • comprehensiveness
  • skill, competence, and purpose of author
  • reputation and significance of the author
  • objectivity
  • consideration of the work as a whole
  • clarity
  • currency
  • technical quality
  • representation of diverse points of view
  • representation of important movements, genres, or trends
  • vitality and originality
  • artistic presentation and/or experimentation
  • sustained interest
  • relevance and use of the information
  • effective characterization
  • authenticity of history or social setting

Special considerations for electronic information sources:

  • ease of use of the product
  • availability of the information to multiple, concurrent users
  • technical requirements to provide access to the information
  • technical support and training


Collection Responsibilities

Staff responsibility for the collection rests with the Library Manager, who operates within the framework of the Duluth Public Library Board's collection development and management policy. The Manager delegates to staff members authority to interpret and apply this policy in daily operation. 

The community has a role in shaping library collections by participating in the collection development process through suggestions and feedback.


Intellectual Freedom

A democracy presupposes an informed citizenry, and the public library has an integral role in achieving that goal. The library provides an impartial environment in which individuals can access information representing many different points of view on a variety of topics. The American Library Association's Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read and Freedom to View statements guide the acquisition and management of collections.

Collection development and management decisions are based on the merit of the work as it relates to the library's mission and its ability to meet the expressed or anticipated needs and interests of the community. Decisions are not made on the basis of any anticipated approval or disapproval of the material. The inclusion of an item in the library collection in no way represents an endorsement of its contents. Library materials are not marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of the contents, nor are materials sequestered except for the purpose of protecting them from damage or theft.

The library recognizes that many materials may be controversial and that any given item may offend some people. Only individuals can determine what is most appropriate for their needs and can define what material or information is consistent with their personal or family values. Individuals can apply those values to the use of library materials only for themselves. Parents and legal guardians are responsible for their children's use of library materials.


Access to Collection Materials

All library materials are accessible for use by all library users. Access to materials is ensured by the way materials are organized, managed, and displayed, through staff interaction, and through the delivery of materials.

The library organizes its collection through a standards-based cataloging and classification system. Staff is available to assist library users in the selection and location of materials of interest. The library participates in interlibrary loan networks to make materials not in the collection available to users. Electronic resources are also made accessible through web-based environments.

To ensure equitable and efficient access, materials may be subject to use limitations. Remote electronic access to the library catalog and electronic resources is provided within technical, budgetary, and licensing constraints.


Reconsideration of Library Materials

Individuals may request reconsideration of a selection decision of library material by filling out a written "Statement of Concern" form, available at any Duluth Public Library location. The library manager will respond in writing to an individual's written request.

The Duluth Public Library Board, upon request, will hear appeals of the manager's written response. Appeals must be presented in writing to the library board at least ten days in advance of the next regularly scheduled meeting of the board. Decisions on appeals are based on careful review of the objection, the material, and DPL policies, including: this policy, the Library Bill of Rights, the Right to Read and the Right to View, and the American Library Association's guidelines on intellectual freedom. The final decision on appeals rests with the Duluth Public Library Board.


The Duluth Public Library's policies are subject to change without notice.

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Adopted August 23, 2011
Duluth Public Library Board