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Collection Development Policy

Pepper & Nutmeg

Collection Development Policy Print

Jefferson County Library Collection Development Policy: PUB 91-03

Adopted August 28, 2007; Amended March 25, 2008

1. Mission

The mission of the Jefferson County Library District is:

  • To connect people with ideas and information that foster lifelong learning, understanding and enjoyment;
  • To manage public resources efficiently, economically and to the best advantage of the taxpayers and cardholders of the library district;
  • To cooperate with other organizations and agencies to promote personal and community growth and development;
  • To advocate for quality library and information services.

2. Introduction

A collection development policy is a written document that defines the scope and nature of a library's existing collection, and the policies and plans for continuing development of resources as they relate to institutional goals, general selection criteria and the rights of library users to receive information. "Library collection" includes all items acquired for use by the public. Standards of selection are applicable to print, non—print and electronic media.

The objectives of the Jefferson County Library District as factors in selection are as follows:

  • To supplement formal study and encourage lifelong learning
  • To meet the information needs of the community
  • To support educational, civic, cultural and recreational activities within the community
  • To aid in learning and improving job—related skills
  • To assist the individual to grow intellectually and spiritually and to enjoy life more fully.

3. Community Profile

Jefferson County Library serves the communities of the Northwest and Fox-Windsor library subdistricts established by popular vote in 1989. Since its founding, the Library has acquired a collection of over 200,000 books and other materials for a service population of approximately 121,000. A 2007 survey showed library services are strongly valued in our communities: Eighty-five percent of respondents reported someone in their household had a library card and the same percentage stated having a library branch nearby was extremely, or very important. Ninety-five percent agreed the county needs public libraries to help children develop the habit of reading and the skills to read; while 91% reported someone in their household used the Library in the past year.

The table below contains data from the 2000 Census comparing the Library’s subdistricts and illustrates a general uniformity. Jefferson County is considered a component of the St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area, and the work force is representative of a balanced economy with a large segment commuting outside the county. In comparison with national averages, there are only slight differences with a lower poverty rate, higher income, and younger population. The population is also more homogeneous, although a discernable rise in Spanish-speaking people has occurred in some communities and this trend is expected to continue.

Census 2000 Profile for Jefferson County Library Subdistricts

Fox-Windsor / Northwest


Median Household Income $50,518 / $47,171

Married Couples who Both Work 69.3% / 65.4%

Work Force by Industry

Manufacturing 15.9% / 17.8%

Retail Trade 13.1% / 13.5%

Education 5.7% / 5.5%

Health Care & Social Assistance 10.1% / 9.1%

Other Industries 55.2% / 54.1%

Commute to Work 97.5% / 96.1%

Work at Home 1.8% / 2.8%

Work in County of Residence 24.9% / 27.0%

Educational Attainment

High School Grad or GED 36.2% / 35.8%

Bachelors 10.3% / 7.5%


Average Household Size 2.78 / 2.73

Single Family Housing Units 74.0% / 70.2%

Married Couples 61.6% / 61.4%

with Children under 18 31.8% / 30.3%

Single Parent Families 10.0% / 8.5%

Single Mothers 6.8% / 5.9%

Grandparents Caring for Grandchildren 0.7% / 0.7%

Persons Living Alone 18.0% / 18.8%

Families Below Poverty 3.7% / 4.1%

Speak English Only 97.0% / 96.8%

Marital Status

Married Not Separated 59.6% / 59.0%

Never Married 23.4% / 22.7%

Divorced 11.5% / 12.0%

In 2006, Jefferson County Library had over 500,000 patron visits. It is the Library’s intention that the collections continue to meet the needs of a growing, increasingly diverse, and technologically sophisticated service population. Jefferson County Library welcomes input from its users to maintain dynamic and relevant collections.

4. Responsibilities for Material Selection

The ultimate responsibility for all library programs, collections and services is legally vested in the Jefferson County Library Board of Trustees. Trustees are appointed by the Jefferson County Commissioners. The Board has delegated administrative authority for library operations, including the selection of materials and the development of library collections, to the Library Director, operating within the framework of policies determined by the Board. The Library Director in turn delegates responsibility for particular areas of the collection to other members of the library staff. However, because the Director answers to the Library Board and the general public for every selection decision, s/he has the authority to override staff recommendations and approve or disapprove any selection decision, based on his/her professional judgment and expertise.

The Director has assigned the task of overseeing collection development to the branch managers. The branch managers may assign the task of compiling orders for a given category of materials to specific employees. These employees are expected to use good judgment, training and experience, knowledge of the community and its needs and interests, and various recognized professional tools to evaluate and select materials in accordance with the criteria listed below. All orders shall be reviewed by the branch managers before being submitted to the Library Director for final approval and purchase.

5. Principles

The Jefferson County Library operates within the framework of the principles of freedom of speech (and the corollary right to receive information) and personal responsibility set forth in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Article One, Section Eight of the Missouri Constitution:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; of abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

"That no law shall be passed impairing the freedom of speech, no matter by what means communicated: that every person shall be free to say, write or publish, or otherwise communicate whatever he will on any subject, being responsible for all abuses of that liberty; and that in all suits and prosecutions for libel or slander the truth thereof may be given in evidence; and is suits and prosecutions for libel the jury, under the direction of the court, shall determine the law and facts."

Jefferson County Library attempts to provide a diversity of viewpoints on a wide range of topics, including political, social and religious ones--no matter how controversial or objectionable those ideas may be to some people. Materials are not excluded because of partisan or personal disapproval of the race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political or social views expressed by the author or by the material. The collection is selected and maintained so that each user easily may find the materials that s/he wants according to his/her choice. Jefferson County Library staff chooses material representing different points of view, limited only by library selection criteria, budget, and the space in library facilities. Resource sharing with other libraries, and electronic or other methods of information access, also are valid and necessary methods for meeting users' information needs.

Selection of any material should not be construed as an endorsement by the Jefferson County Library of the content or views expressed therein.

Jefferson County Library hereby adopts as examples of best practices the following American Library Association documents (appended to this policy):


6. Criteria for Selection

The following is a list of general criteria to be considered in selection of library materials. This list is not in priority order, nor is it meant to be exhaustive. Not all criteria need to be met by each selected item.

  • Appeal to the educational, informational, cultural or recreational interests and needs of individuals in the library district
  • Favorable reviews in professionally recognized periodicals
  • Suitability of subject, style, and readability for the intended audience
  • Timeliness or permanent value
  • Reliability of publisher
  • Expressed or anticipated patron demand
  • Presentation of diverse viewpoints
  • Price
  • Suitability and quality of physical format to library use
  • Scope and depth of present library collection or availability of materials in other area libraries
  • Clarity, accuracy and logic of treatment
  • Comprehensiveness and depth of treatment
  • Vitality and originality
  • Artistic presentation
  • Authority or authenticity of materials

7. Exclusion of Materials

The Library Director is expressly charged with the responsibility to execute, in good faith and with the highest degree of professional skill, the collection development policy of the Library. The Library Director is also professionally obligated to resist with equal good faith, skill and vigor, the efforts of every person or group to compel the addition or withdrawal of materials, or to limit free access to materials, or to modify the selection process, based upon criteria substantially in conflict with the policy established by the Board.

Materials that present an honest and realistic picture of some problem or aspect of life shall not be excluded or restricted because of the frankness of the language or description. The Library acknowledges that some materials purchased or made available may be shocking to some users. But if the material meets the standards of the written selection policy, is of interest to the community, and broadens the range and diversity of the collection, the selection is justified. Disapproval of an item by an individual or group should not be the means by which that item is denied to all individuals or groups.

While the Jefferson County Library may provide materials that are useful to students engaged in formal educational programs, it is not within the Library's scope to support the curricula of area schools. The Library does not provide textbooks or multiple copies of books for classrooms or homeschool groups.

The Library ordinarily does not purchase specialized materials of limited interest to JCL users. In-depth collections designed for the individual engaged in serious and extensive research are considered to be the responsibility of the academic and special libraries in the area. Referral to other library collections and use of interlibrary loan services or electronic access shall be considered suitable alternatives.

Processing and shelving of materials shall in no way reflect a value judgment of the materials. There shall be no labeling of any item or any indication in the public access catalog to indicate bias. All materials shall be shelved in their proper order on open shelves, except rare books and those materials in unique formats. For the convenience of users, genre fiction, local history, genealogy and special collections, as well as non-circulating (reference) materials may be kept in separate sections and have shelving designations.

The Library has established separate areas for children and teens to make it easier for those users to find materials that are age appropriate and of interest to them. However the Library does not limit or prohibit children or teens from accessing materials in the general collections. Rather, the Library upholds the right and responsibility of parents or guardians to supervise their own child's library use and to determine which library materials are appropriate for their child. Library employees are happy to assist parents and children in making their selections. Children and teens under the age of 18 must have a parent or legal guardian’s written permission to check out videos from the general collection or to use the Library's public Internet access.

8. Weeding

The Jefferson County Library's goal is to supply patrons with a high quality collection, consisting of current, reliable information, a broad range of titles of lasting value, and appealing choices for recreational reading. Collection evaluation is the process of identifying which items to remove from the collection and which to retain and/or replace.

Weeding, or deselection, is the discard of library materials based on professional standards and procedures, and is necessary to maintain a quality collection. The purpose of weeding is to reevaluate the collection in conjunction with the selection of new and replacement materials. Where selectors are responsible for specific subject areas or formats, they are also responsible for weeding those areas. In keeping with general standards for library collections, approximately 5% of the total collection should be withdrawn annually.

9. Criteria for Weeding

Weeding of items from the collection shall be governed through the application of professional collection management procedures, including The CREW Method; Expanded Guidelines for Collection Evaluation and Weeding for Small and Medium-Sized Public Libraries (Austin, Texas: The Texas State Library, 1995).

Factors considered when weeding include physical condition of the item, number of copies available, frequency and currency of use, adequate coverage in the field, and availability of similar material.

The CREW method (Continuous Review, Evaluation and Weeding) uses an acronym, MUSTIE, to indicate when an item should be removed from the collection. MUSTIE stands for:

  • Misleading and/or factually inaccurate
  • Ugly - worn out beyond mending or rebinding
  • Superseded by a new edition or a better source
  • Transitory - materials of intense but short-lived interest that are now past their shelf-life
  • Irrelevant to the needs and interests of the community
  • Elsewhere - materials easily borrowed from another source

While the Library will attempt to have copies of standard and important works, it will not automatically replace all materials withdrawn. The same criteria that apply to original selection will also apply to replacements.

10. Disposal of Withdrawn Materials

Library materials, which have been removed from the library collection on the basis of accepted professional practices may be donated to the Friends of the Library or other organizations, recycled when possible, or discarded.

Library staff is not allowed to purchase withdrawn or discarded library materials with the intent to resell at a profit.


The Library will not accept requests to hold weeded materials for individuals.

11. Gifts and Donations

Jefferson County Library encourages and accepts gifts of books and materials with the understanding that such gifts will be added to the collection only if they meet the same standards required of purchased materials. Donated items may be added to the collection, donated to the Friends of the Library or other organizations, recycled when possible, or discarded.

A receipt stating the date, format, and number of pieces donated will be provided upon request. Gift books and materials become the property of the Library and are handled as any other materials belonging to the collection. These materials may be marked with an appropriate bookplate upon request.

12. Memorials and Endowments

Monetary gifts are frequently made to the Library in memory of, or in honor of, an individual. The donor may suggest a subject matter but library staff will select and purchase the book, marking it with a memorial bookplate. The Library encourages donors not to restrict gifts to the purchase of specific items in order to permit the most flexible use of donations for the enrichment of the collection.

13. Requests for Purchase

Jefferson County Library encourages users to suggest items they would like to see added to library collections. User suggestions can alert library staff to new trends or developing issues or interests in the community. User suggestions are accorded priority in the selection process, and if approved for purchase, the user who suggested the item shall be notified of its arrival and given first chance at checking out that item.

14. Requests for Reconsideration of Material

Jefferson County Library welcomes expressions of opinions from the public concerning materials selected or not selected for inclusion in library collections. Such suggestions often bring to the Library’s attention users' needs that are not being adequately met by the collection. Requests to add or remove materials shall be considered within the context of the principles and criteria affirmed in this policy.

Individuals who wish to formally request the addition or removal of library materials shall complete in full and sign a ”Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials“ form. If it is a request for withdrawal, the Library Director in consultation with the staff will examine the item in question, check reviews, and determine whether it conforms to the standards of the materials selection policy. If it is a request for addition of an item that previously has been rejected by the library, the Library Director will determine whether the material meets the criteria of the collection development policy.

Each reconsideration request received, along with the written review and recommendation of the Library Director, shall be submitted to the Jefferson County Library Board of Trustees. Based on the principles and criteria of the collection development policy, the Board of Trustees shall decide whether or not to add or withdraw the material in question and shall write to the initiator of the request, giving the reasons for their decision.

In cases when the initiator of the request is not satisfied with the Board's decision and the situation escalates, the Board may authorize one or more of the following actions: holding a public hearing to invite the widest possible community comment on the issue; making accurate and complete information available to all news media; reporting the incident to the Missouri Library Association and to the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom; seeking legal advice.

In situations of public controversy, when the Board has determined that the actions of the Library Director and/or other employees conformed to the established policy, the Library Board shall provide moral support to the staff, resist calls for the censure or dismissal of employees, provide factual support in documented evidence, and authorize funds for legal defense. If the Library is required to defend itself in a legal action, the Board shall determine whether to seek assistance from specialty counsel. Materials subject to reconsideration remain available to the public, pending final disposition of the request for reconsideration.

15. Revision

The Library Director and staff shall review this policy on a regular basis and recommend revisions as needed for adoption by the Library Board of Trustees. The Board shall formally review the policy in its entirety at minimum every five years.



A. The Library Bill of Rights and Its Interpretations

B. The Freedom to Read Statement

C. The Freedom to View Statement

These documents may be found in the most recent edition of the Intellectual Freedom Manual, prepared by the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association, and published by ALA, or online at