Collection Development Policy

Mission Statement

The Collection Development Policy is guided by the mission of the Marin County Free Library (MCFL): We provide welcoming, equitable and inclusive opportunities for all to connect, learn and explore.

This policy also supports MCFL’s goals:

    • Be the preferred place for children, families, and caregivers to connect, learn and grow together
    • Support youth in our community with opportunities for self-discovery and expression
    • Be a positive environment for mobile and digital literacy
    • Support adults through life stages with opportunities for self-development and independent learning

Community Statement

MCFL’s branches and mobile units serve the community of Marin County. Decisions regarding collection development are made with an understanding of the dynamic and diverse nature of the community. To best meet the needs of a changing population, the Collection Development team considers such factors as citywide and neighborhood Marin demographics, and the demographics of the greater Bay Area. In alignment with our mission, we strive to increase the visibility of books, materials, and digital resources that reflect the diversity and richness of world cultures. MCFL’s collections support the interests and needs of people of all ages.

Consortium Memberships

The Marin County Free Library works with other libraries and organizations to provide the best possible service to our local communities. We are a founding member of MARINet, opens a new window, a consortium of publicly funded Marin libraries, created in 1991 to enable its members (Marin County Free Library, Belvedere-Tiburon, College of Marin, Dominican University, Larkspur Public Library, Mill Valley Public Library, San Anselmo Library, San Rafael Public Library, and Sausalito Public Library) to share resources and use information technology to fulfill their missions of serving the public. With MCFL’s ten branch libraries and mobile units, MCFL is the largest member of the consortium, and MCFL shares a library catalog and resources with its MARINet partners. MCFL is also a member of NorthNet, opens a new window, a regional cooperative of Northern California Libraries, and has a reciprocal borrowing arrangement with nearby library systems, including LINK+, opens a new window, a resource sharing network of public and academic libraries, for both physical and digital content. By joining with other institutions, MCFL’s patrons have access to a wider array of materials. This also allows MCFL to take advantage of all the members’ combined purchasing power. MCFL, therefore, does not make collection decisions for all materials to which our patrons have access.

Collection Responsibilities

Overall responsibility for the collection rests with the Director of County Library Services. The responsibility for selecting and retaining materials is entrusted to the Collection Development team, who employ the criteria outlined in this policy to guide a selection and retention process that is responsive to public demand.

All staff members and members of 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. Budget and space limitations require a focus on materials that appeal to a broad range of users, rather than the academic and highly technical works collected by universities and other research institutions.

Size of collection and number of copies is determined by several criteria, including demand, MCFL’s resources, and facility space, as well as availability of materials from other institutions, such as the broader MARINet consortium, LINK+, and interlibrary loan.

Items need not meet all criteria for inclusion in the collection. Evaluation criteria for all acquisitions (physical and digital), whether purchased, recommended, or donated, include but are not limited to:

  • Public demand and anticipated demand in a consortium 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
  • Representation of diverse authors and points of view
  • Clarity, accuracy, and logic of presentation
  • 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
  • Space and budgetary limits
  • Suitability of the format for library use
  • Availability in other formats

Additional criteria for electronic resources include but are not limited to:

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

In adapting these criteria, we also recognize that there has been historical exclusion of diverse authors and points of view in the publishing industry and in literature critique. It is, therefore, an ongoing priority to increase representation and diversity in our collection to reflect our Mission and Goals.

Deselection and Collection Maintenance

Deselection 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 but are not limited to:

  • Information is out of date
  • Item is worn or damaged
  • Item no longer responds to current needs or interest
  • Materials in the format are no longer supported by publishers or platforms
  • Lack of available shelf space

Deselected items may be offered to other entities including but not limited to other libraries, public agencies, or non-profits, and/or resold, or recycled. Any funds acquired through de-selection are designated for further library support.

World Languages

Materials in languages other than English and bilingual materials are purchased in various formats, including digital, according to the criteria for acquisition listed above and in response to local demographics. MCFL maintains collections in languages other than English based on patron interest and language prevalence in Marin.

Language learning resources are available in many languages. Access to materials in world languages is also available through our LINK+ interlibrary loan service.

Digital Collections

MCFL subscribes to various online databases and eBook platforms. Content for some of these is selected by staff, either from Marin County Free Library or the MARINet consortium, but other platforms are preloaded with content. MCFL, therefore, does not control or make collection decisions for all digital materials to which our patrons have access.

Gifts and Donations of Books and Materials

MCFL accepts donations that supplement and enhance its collections. Gifts earmarked for addition to the collection are evaluated by the Collection Development Team in alignment with the same criteria applied to purchased material, in addition to cost considerations related to processing. Priority is given to gifts of local interest.

MCFL reserves the right to accept or refuse all donations. MCFL accepts donations with the understanding that no restrictions will be applied to the donation, except such restrictions jointly agreed upon by the library and donor. Once a donation is accepted by MCFL, the donation becomes the sole property of MCFL and may be handled in any way MCFL deems appropriate. MCFL reserves the right at all times to dispose of any gift without notification to the donor, if in the judgment of MCFL, such item no longer serves the purposes of MCFL. Donations to MCFL cannot be revoked by the donors, except upon mutual consent from both MCFL and the donor. The donation must be free and clear of all encumbrances and donors must have full legal rights to make the donation to MCFL. Donors may be required to execute a written donor agreement before making a donation to MCFL.

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 MCFL associated with the care, preservation, and digitization of these archival gifts to ensure that the gifts may serve that mission and fulfill the intention of the donor.

Intellectual Freedom

MCFL 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. MCFL’s goal is to offer a diversity of ideas and opinions, including those which may seem to be unorthodox or controversial for some MCFL users. Inclusion in the collection does not imply MCFL approves of or endorses the content. MCFL opposes any attempts by individuals or groups to censor items in its collection.

Responsibility for the reading choices of minors, and use of all MCFL resources by minors, rests with the minors’ parents or legal guardians. Selection of adult material by MCFL will not be restricted by the possibility that these items may come into the possession of children, nor does MCFL use any system of coding, rating, or labeling to identify or segregate materials for purposes of censorship. Access to the Internet and online resources, as well as technology and devices provided by MCFL, is available to all. Anyone is free to select or reject materials and resources for themselves or their own minor children or dependent(s). Challenges regarding library materials and resources are handled in accordance with MCFL’s Requests for Reconsideration.

Appendix A

Reconsideration of Materials - Procedure

  1. Any individual expressing an objection to or a concern about library materials will receive the offer to speak with the supervisor on site about their concerns.
    b. To fill out a “Request for Reconsideration” 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 Collection Development team.
  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 Collection Development team.
  4. The Collection Development team will convene and consider the request, evaluating the material based on circulation, awards, and reviews, and make a decision about the work.
  5. The Collection Development team will write a response letter to the patron and submit it to the Director of County Library Services 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 by the Collection Services unit.

Appendix B

Anne T. Kent California Room

The Anne T. Kent California Room develops, maintains, and preserves collections of research and archival materials related to the local, regional, and state history while documenting the full diversity of voices and cultures that have shaped our community.

The 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 Library Team makes decisions regarding rare and special material preservation in its collection, including acquisition, digitization, de-accession, and access. Staff continue to work on the technical aspects of preserving digital objects and closely monitor 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
  • Material that emphasizes the diversity of voices and cultures that have shaped our community
  • Materials that support exhibitions
  • Preservation
  • Scan-on-demand and interlibrary loan requests
  • Format and physical characteristics
  • 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, description, and retrieval of the object
  • Rights and restrictions associated with the object

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

Approved by the Board of Supervisors July 12, 2022

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