Collection Development Policy

Purpose and Background

The Collection Development Policy upholds the mission of the Marin County Free Library to Create Connections for our Community to Explore, Imagine and Innovate.

The Collection Development Policy directs Library staff in the maintenance and development of the branch and online collections. The policy also defines collection development practices, and provides continuity to selection, purchasing and retention decisions.

As part of strategic planning, the Collection Development Policy will be reviewed regularly to ensure it is a living document that addresses up to date collection concerns.

The Marin County Free Library consists of ten branch libraries, internet-accessible services, a Bookmobile, and the Anne T. Kent California Room. The Branch Library collections consist of popular titles as well as materials to support the interests of the communities they serve. Branch collections vary in size and scope depending on community needs and space limitations.

The collections support the interests and needs of people of all ages, starting with early literacy and including children, teens, and adults.

The Anne T. Kent California Room develops, maintains, and preserves collections of research and archival materials related to the local, regional, and state history with a strong emphasis on the history and culture of Marin County, and provides access to these resources to the public.

Collection Responsibilities

At the direction of the Director and Deputy Director of County Library Services, the Library Services Manager for Technical Services works with staff to oversee and direct a selection and retention process that is responsive to public demand.

In addition, the Anne T. Kent California Room managing librarian makes decisions regarding rare and special material preservation in its collection, including acquisition, digitization, de-accession, and access.

All Library staff members and the public are encouraged to recommend items for consideration. Recommendations are evaluated based on the same criteria for selection as items purchased for the collection.

Criteria for Acquisition

Budget allocation by subject and format is based on public demand, usage statistics, relevance to the collections, and available resources.

Reserve levels in the circulating collection are monitored after purchase to respond to public demand in the broader MARINet consortia and LINK+ interlibrary loan setting. Selectors use several criteria when evaluating material, keeping in mind the library’s resources, including facility space.

Items need not meet all criteria for inclusion in the collection.

Evaluation criteria for all acquisitions include:

  • Public demand and anticipated demand in a consortia setting
  • Relevance to the interest and needs of the community
  • Attention of critics and reviewers, award nominees and winners, or inclusion in bibliographies
  • Significance, timeliness, or permanence of subject matter
  • Relevance and suitability of physical format
  • Representation of diverse points of view
  • Clarity, accuracy, and logic of presentation
  • Relevance to early literacy
  • Responsive to school age and teen interest, and scholastic support and enrichment
  • Literary merit and contribution to the field of knowledge
  • Relationship to the existing collection
  • Reputation or qualifications of the author, creator, or publisher
  • Value of the resource in relation to its cost
  • Suitability of subject and style for intended audience
  • Availability of content through the internet, subscription databases, eBook licenses, regional inter-library loan, or other means
  • Condition of materials

Additional criteria for electronic resources include:

  • Ease of use and remote access potential
  • Agreements for cooperative support of consortia resources
  • Hardware, software, networking, and storage requirements
  • Licensing requirements in a consortia setting
  • Comparison of content and cost with other available formats
  • Availability and access rights in line with MARINet consortia standards

World Languages

The Library collects recreational and informational material in English and Spanish for adults and juveniles to represent community demographics. Language learning resources are available in many languages. Access to materials in languages other than English and Spanish is available through our LINK+ inter-library loan service.

Digitizing the Collection

The Marin County Free Library recognizes the importance of digital collections for access to, and preservation of, the collection. To that end, the Library is digitizing items from its collection based on selection criteria within the scope of the Library’s resources.

The Anne T. Kent California Room’s digital experts continue to work on the technical aspects of preserving digital objects and are closely monitoring the field as it develops. The following criteria are considered when selecting materials for digitization:

  • Subject areas of local history in demand, and anticipated to be in demand, by the public
  • Materials that support exhibitions
  • Preservation
  • Scan-on-demand and interlibrary loan requests
  • Format and physical characteristic
  • Unique, rare, or special materials not widely available
  • Complement or expand existing digital collections internally or in concert with Library partners or affiliates
  • Existing metadata to aid in the organization and description of the object
  • Rights and restrictions associated with the object

Deselection and Collection Maintenance

De-selection of material from the circulating collections is a vital part of successful collection maintenance. Continuous evaluation is necessary and materials are regularly removed to maintain a current, accurate and appealing collection and to facilitate its ease of use.

An item may be deselected for several reasons, including:

  • Information is out of date
  • Item is worn or damaged
  • Item no longer responds to current needs or interests
  • Materials in the format are no longer collected

Deselected items may be offered to other libraries, public agencies, or non-profits, or disposed of through Friends of the Library book sales, giveaways, exchanges, or recycling. Funds acquired through de-selection are designated for further library support.

Anne T. Kent California Room collection: While archival collection materials are not routinely removed from the collection, there are some circumstances where de-selection is appropriate


The Library accepts donations that supplement and enhance its collections. Gifts are evaluated according to the same criteria applied to purchased material.

Gifts are most often items intended for the circulating collections; retention of these items follows the general guidelines for Deselection and Collection Maintenance.

Gifts may also be added to the Anne T. Kent California Room. There may be a financial cost incurred by the Library associated with the care, preservation, and digitization of these archival gifts to insure that the gifts may serve that mission and fulfill the intention of the donor.

Intellectual Freedom

The Library respects the freedom of information for its users and adheres to the principles expressed in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, opens a new window and Freedom to Read, opens a new window and Freedom to View, opens a new window statements. The Library’s goal is to offer a diversity of ideas and opinions including those which may be unorthodox or controversial. The Library opposes any attempts by individuals or groups to censor items in its collection. Responsibility for the reading choices of minors rests with their parents or legal guardians. Selection of adult material will not be restricted by the possibility that these items may come into the possession of children nor does the Library use any system of coding, rating or labeling to identify or segregate materials for purposes of censorship. Challenges regarding Library materials are handled in accordance with the Library’s Requests for Reconsideration, opens a new window

Appendix A

Reconsideration of Materials - Procedure

1) Any individual expressing an objection to or a concern about library materials will receive respectful attention from the staff member first approached. The staff member will offer the individual:

a) To speak with the Library Manager about their concerns.


b) To fill out a “Request for Reconsideration, opens a new window” form which is available in the library and can be found on the library's website.

2) A copy of the form and the material in question will be sent to the Library Services Manager in Technical Services.

3) A form letter shall be sent to the patron acknowledging receipt of the Request for Reconsideration within five business days of receipt by the Library Services Manager.

4) A team of library materials selection staff will convene and consider the request, evaluating the material based on circulation, awards and reviews, and make a decision about the work.

5) The Library Services Manager will write a response letter to the patron and submit it to the Library Director for review.

6) A letter of determination in response to the Request for Reconsideration shall be provided to the patron within 30 days of submission, during which time the material in question shall remain in the active collection.

7) A copy of all Requests for Reconsideration, and associated correspondence shall be retained in Library by the Collection Services unit.

Approved by the Board of Supervisors 10/13/2015

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