Library Policies - Collection Development


This document is intended as a framework for collection development throughout the Santa Cruz Public Libraries. It is based on the Strategic Plan adopted in April 2010. Like that document, is expected to be a "living" piece, periodically reviewed and revised as the design of library service in Santa Cruz County evolves.

Section: 1.1 Legal Responsibilities

The Santa Cruz Public Libraries is governed according to provisions of California law, and on the basis of a Joint Exercise of Powers Agreement between the City of Santa Cruz, a charter city, and the County of Santa Cruz, a political subdivision of the State of California.

The Library System is obligated by California and local law to provide free access to information to all people in the County. It also endeavors to provide equal access to information, without regard to residence or economic status.

Collection development is ultimately a responsibility of the Director of Libraries, within the context of the mission statement adopted by the Library Joint Powers Board. The actual day-to-day work of evaluations, selection, and deselection is delegated to the staff of professional librarians.

Section: 1.2 Vision, Purpose, and Mission Statements

Our Vision
Transform lives & strengthen communities

Our Purpose
Connect, Inspire, Inform

Mission Statement
The Santa Cruz Public Libraries enhance Santa Cruz County's quality of life by providing vibrant physical and virtual public spaces where people connect, discover, and engage the mind. All ages have the opportunity to nurture their love of reading, find diverse and relevant resources for entertainment and enrichment, and strengthen community networks.

Section: 2.0 Strategic Directions

The Santa Cruz Public Libraries has identified strategic directions as appropriate to our library system. Not every objective and goal can be met by every branch facility. Some objectives and goals overlap and some library activities apply to more than one objective and goal The objectives are a guide for determining which services each branch can reasonably deliver. These strategic directions are not presented in priority order.

Section: 2.1 Reading, Viewing, and Listening for Pleasure

The library features current, high-interest materials, both fiction and non-fiction, in a variety of formats for people of all ages. The library actively encourages the use of its collection. A substantial percentage of this part of the collection has been published within the past five years. The staff are knowledgeable about current popular interests and anticipate publishing trends.

Section: 2.2 Lifelong Learning

The library provides timely, accurate, and useful information for community residents to aid in their pursuit of personal and professional interests. The library promotes on-site, telephone, and online reference and information services to assist users in locating information on subjects ranging from practical questions to specialized business-related research. It also supports people pursuing independent programs of learning. The collections emphasize informational materials, and the staff are particularly skilled in using reference tools-both print and electronic, and are prepared to train the public on using library resources. The library works to maintain a high profile as a source of information about community programs and services. To support this service role the library has developed a web-based Community Information Database, which is accessible from the library's home web page.

The library encourages an interest in reading and promotes literacy and learning in young children through services for children and their families. Parents, teachers, and caregivers can locate materials on child care, child development, reading readiness, and parenting. The library's collection has a variety of materials and formats for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers and for adults working with young children. The staff are knowledgeable about early childhood development and children's literature, and early literacy and are prepared to train users of all ages to use library resources.

The library provides supplemental support to students at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels. The library offers tours for classes, instructs students on using library resources, and provides on-site, electronic, telephone reference, and community information services. The collection contains materials in a variety of formats to support the educational levels specified above. The staff are knowledgeable about educational programs in the community and work closely with local educators. The library provides these services to enrich the educational resources available to young people and to promote lifelong use of public libraries.

Section: 2.3 Welcoming Place and Community Connections

Each branch is an access point for information about community activities and services. The appropriateness of this role for a branch of the Library System depends upon its geographic location and the specific needs of its service population. Branches are encouraged to work with other community organizations to provide coordinated programs of social, cultural, and/or recreational services.

Section 3.0 Selection of Library Materials

The Collection Development Librarian has responsibility for coordinating the selection of library materials. Direct responsibility for selection and deselection are delegated to individual professional librarians. Specific criteria of selection (and deselection) of materials are enumerated below. (Sec. 3.3)

Section: 3.1 Sources

Staff selects materials from general and specialized review media, trade publications, publishers and book sellers, catalogs and flyers, and from inspection of the material itself when possible, based on community needs and interests and in response to library users requests.

Staff selects appropriate electronic resources independently, and also, as a member of various library consortia.

Section: 3.2 Principles

Materials are selected and retained on the basis of their content, and not on the basis of author origins, background, or views. The Santa Cruz Public Libraries tries to represent all points of view. The System's selection principles follow the American Library Association's "Library Bill of Rights", Freedom to Read Statement, Freedom to View Statement, and Resolution on the USA Patriot Act & Libraries (see appendices 1 to 4).

Section: 3.3 Criteria for Selection of Library Materials

  • Availability of funds.
  • Library's mission and strategic directions.
  • Informational and recreational needs of users, including patron requests which fall within the parameters of the Collection Development Plan.
  • Complementary collections in special, academic and school libraries to which patrons have access.
  • Community needs surveys and assessments.
  • The authority, accuracy, and accessibility of presentation.
  • The currency of the information in rapidly changing fields.
  • Reputation of author, publisher or issuing body.
  • Importance of item to provide diversity in the collection.
  • Physical quality of material.
  • Suitability of format for subject and user's needs.
  • Inclusion of the work in bibliographies and indexes.
  • Appropriateness of format.

Section: 3.4 Discard Criteria

Materials are not discarded because they contain unpopular or controversial opinions. Materials may be discarded for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Duplicates bought to satisfy initial heavy demand
  • Wholly superseded editions
  • Worn out or damaged items that are no longer usable and the subject or title can be adequately provided by other materials in the collection.
  • Dated or incorrect information when it is likely to mislead the user. (Historical materials with viewpoints currently considered inaccurate or offensive but representative of their time and place are not discarded on that basis alone.)
  • An item which has not circulated in a given period of time. The period of time is determined by the size of the collection in which it resides and the subject matter of the item.
  • An item does not meet the suggested average annual circulation for that subject (or format) area.

Section: 3.5 Disposal of Materials

If the material to be discarded is substantial or of potential use to another institution, staff may try to locate a library, school, or local group interested in obtaining the materials. If the material has been deemed valuable but outside the collection development parameters of this Library System, staff may seek a buyer for the material. Generally, discarded materials are given to the friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries for sale.

Section: 3.6 Gifts

  • Gifts donated to the Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries are eligible for a tax deduction to the extent allowed by law. After donation to the Friends, the Library reviews the materials first and gifts that will enrich the Library's collections are considered for addition to the collection. Gifts made directly to the Library are not eligible for a tax deduction.
  • Gifts are added to the collection according to the same criteria for selection of purchased materials. (3.3) Materials donations accepted by the Library System are those a library staff materials selector would purchase or replace if funds were available.
  • Donations are final and become the property of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries.
  • The Friends and the Library reserve the right to dispose of unneeded materials and to refuse gifts of materials. Materials the Library is unable to use are sold or disposed of by the Friends.

In the case of a large collection of material which is to be integrated into the collection:

  • The Collection Development Librarian and appropriate selector will work with the donor group.
  • Materials which are considered outside the scope of the collection as outlined in this Collection Development Plan may be returned to the donor or given to the Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries per the donor's wishes.

Section: 3.7 Material Challenges

Santa Cruz Public Libraries provide materials and information presenting all points of view. This applies to all materials collected by the library. Should an individual believe an item is not appropriate for the collection, they can initiate a request for reconsideration of materials.

Library Materials Reconsideration Process

  1. Public contacts frontline staff. E-comments/complaints should go directly to the branch
  2. Frontline staff handles the complaint or refers the patron to a supervisor or branch manager.
  3. Supervisor or branch manager talks with patron.
  4. If not satisfied, the patron is asked to fill out the Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials (see Appendix 5).
  5. Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials is referred to Collection Development Librarian for referral to the assigned selector of the material in question who will respond in writing.
  6. A patron who wishes to comment further about a specific item has the following options:
    • They may write a letter to the Director of Libraries, who will review the documentation and respond.
    • If still concerned, they may write an appeal of the Director of Libraries' decision to the Chair of the Library Joint Powers Authority Board.

Review Schedule: This policy will be reviewed every three years.
Revised: October 4, 2010


The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. [MORE]


The freedom to view, along with the freedom to speak, to hear, and to read, is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. [MORE]


The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services. [MORE]


WHEREAS, For over half a century the American Library Association has actively sought to protect the freedom of Americans to read and receive information without the threat of surveillance as part of their First Amendment rights to free expression; and [MORE]



Last updated by ann on Aug. 5, 2015

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See an Art Exhibit

Works by local artists are often on display at the Downtown Library and other branches. You might even see something that is just right for your home.

See our Calendar, Online Catalog or Branch pages for more details and contact information.