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Collection Development Policy


In alignment with its mission to connect and empower our community, Buncombe County Public Libraries (referred to as the Library in this policy) make available a broad, relevant, and diverse collection of materials with free and open access. In order to best serve the needs and interests of its varied library users (referred to as patrons in this policy), the Library manages a collection of materials in a wide variety of formats.

In support of intellectual freedom and the American Library Association's Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read Statement, and Freedom to View Statement, the Library affirms the public’s right of access to a broad spectrum of reading, listening, and viewing materials, and upholds the right of any individual to secure information, even if the content may be controversial, unorthodox, or unacceptable to others.

The Library believes that full, confidential, and unrestricted access to information is essential for patrons to exercise their constitutional rights. While anyone is free to select or reject materials for themselves or their own minor children, the freedom of others to read or inquire will not be restricted. As with all Library resources, the Library affirms the right and responsibility of parents and guardians, not Library staff, to determine and monitor the use of library materials by minors and others under legal guardianship. No materials are excluded on the basis of race, nationality, sexuality, gender identity or expression, political, social, or religious beliefs relative to authorship or content. The presence of an item in the Library does not indicate any endorsement of its content by the Library.

Purpose and Responsibility

Buncombe County Public Libraries’ Collection Development Policy is intended to provide guidance, within budgetary and space limitations, for the selection and evaluation of materials for the Library’s physical collection. This policy also addresses the collection of donated and requested materials and establishes a process for addressing patron recommendations and concerns.

The responsibility for the collection rests with the Library Director. Direct selection of library materials is performed by staff members qualified for this duty by education, training, interest, and job classification. The Collection Development Team, comprised of Library staff members, is tasked with regularly reviewing the Collection Development Policy and addressing patron suggestions and concerns in relation to the collection. Patrons also play a key role in the development of the Library’s collection by making suggestions and providing feedback via the Library’s website or directly to staff.

The Collection Development Policy is evaluated and revised every three years by the Collection Development Team, and it will be noted with the last review date.

Materials Selection

One of the main functions of the Library is to serve its patrons by making available to them a variety of print, non-print, and electronically accessed materials.

All acquisitions, whether purchased or donated, shall be governed by this selection policy. The Library uses the criteria below in selecting materials based on knowledge of the diverse needs of the entire community. Selection of material shall be made solely upon the merits of the work as it fulfills the selection standards herein. An item need not meet all criteria to be selected.

  • Current and anticipated needs and interests of the public
  • Relevance to the community
  • Enduring value
  • Availability and suitability of format
  • Authority, reputation, or qualifications of the author, artist, publisher, or producer
  • Circulation of similar materials
  • Price of material
  • Physical limitations of facilities
  • Accuracy and timeliness of content
  • Contribution to diversity or breadth of collections
  • Attention of critics, reviewers, media, and the public
  • Nominations for regional, state, and national awards and prizes

Supplemental Collections

Buncombe County Public Libraries make available additional collections of materials that are not governed by this Collection Development Policy.

Buncombe County Special Collections is located at the Pack Memorial Library. This collection includes materials pertaining to Western North Carolina and Southern Appalachia. Buncombe County Special Collections is governed by its own Collection Development Policy.

The Preschool Outreach Program supports children and educators in early childhood education settings. The books and other materials in the Preschool Outreach Program collection are available to children and educators in early childhood settings, and the collection is governed by its own Collection Development Policy.

The Library is a member of the NC Cardinal Consortium. NC Cardinal combines the resources of North Carolina’s public libraries and makes these resources available to the patrons of member libraries through a shared catalog. Library cardholders can request items in this shared catalog and have them shipped to their preferred library location. Materials belonging to member libraries are governed by their respective Collection Development Policies.

Library cardholders have access to virtual Library materials through the NC Digital Library. The NC Digital Library collection is governed by its own Collection Development Policy.

Request for Selection

The Library encourages public suggestion of items and subjects to be considered for the collection. Serious consideration will be given to purchasing patron-requested materials when those requests meet collection criteria, as determined by staff. Remaining requests may be met through resource sharing with other libraries, electronic retrieval, or other means.

Before initiating the request form, patrons are encouraged to check for an item’s availability within the Library’s catalog, which includes the holdings of all library members of the NC Cardinal Consortium.

Complete the Request for Materials Selection Form to suggest an item for the collection. This form will include gathering additional information about an item to help make a final decision, including recommended library placement for the item. Once a form is submitted, it will be reviewed by the manager of the recommended library location. If it is determined that the item will not be added to that library, the request will be forwarded to the manager of the Pack Memorial Library for consideration. Requests are assessed according to the collection development guidelines stated within this policy. Submission of a Request for Selection does not guarantee that an item will be added to the collection.

Gifts and Donations

Gifts of materials or equipment are accepted at the discretion of the Library Director or designee. The Library retains unconditional ownership of all donations and makes the final decision on acceptance, use, or disposition.

Independently Published Materials

The Library is often asked to include items in our libraries that are written and/or published independently. The Library assesses items based on the material selection criteria as stated in this policy.

Items with a positive review are more likely to be considered. Review sources that specialize in independently published material include the following:

  • Foreword
  • Small Press Review
  • Independent Publisher

A positive review in one or more library review journals, such as Library Journal, School Library Journal, Kirkus, Booklist, or Publisher’s Weekly will give an independently published book an improved chance for selection.

To submit a request, use the Request for Materials Selection Form. Include as much information as possible. In the additional relevant information field, patrons may want to include details such as:

  • A brief summary of the material
  • Intended audience
  • Author background and contact information
  • Publisher information
  • Distributor(s)
  • OCLC World Cat Record

Preview copies will be treated as a donation and their disposition is covered under the Gifts and Donations Policy.

Collection Maintenance

Each Library location reviews its collection on an ongoing basis. This review includes an analysis of evidence based statistics. The full collection review should take place once per year. Staff will rely on the following factors for determining if an item should be considered for removal. These factors will be considered as a whole, alongside supporting data, to make a collection decision.

  • The information contained in an item is irrelevant, inaccurate, misleading, or obsolete
  • An item is in poor physical condition and is no longer suitable for circulation
  • A more recent edition of the same material is available
  • The item is no longer in demand by the Library’s users
  • Space limitations of the Library
  • Availability of additional copies within the Buncombe County Library System or NC Cardinal
  • Lack of cultural relevance or long term significance to the population served

Once an item is designated for removal, it may be replaced, donated to the Friends of the Library, donated to approved community partners, or recycled. The factors leading to the item’s removal and the nature of the item will be considered in making a determination for how the removed item will be handled.

Items with long standing value or demand may be repaired to increase the longevity of the item and maximize the Library’s available resources. Deselected items may be considered for replacement using the selection guidelines stated in this policy.

Request for Material Reconsideration

If a patron or employee feels that an item should be removed from the Buncombe County Public Libraries collection, they may complete a Statement of Reconsideration form that outlines their reconsideration request. Part of this statement includes fields for supporting information to be provided. Once a form is submitted, the Collection Development Team will review the submission. Within four weeks of submission, the Collection Development Team will forward the original submission and a recommendation for resolution to the Library Director and the Library Advisory Board. Within six weeks of the original patron submission, the Library Advisory Board will review the request for reconsideration and the recommendation for resolution from the Collection Development Team. The request will be reviewed at a regularly scheduled Library Advisory Board meeting if it falls within the timeframe of review, or at a special meeting if the next meeting falls outside of the timeline for review. The Library Advisory Board will make a recommendation for resolution to the Library Director. After receiving recommendations for resolution from the Collection Development Team and the Library Advisory Board, the Library Director will review the request and make the final determination. Within eight weeks of the original patron submission, the Library Director will respond in writing with a final decision using the contact information submitted by the patron. The decision regarding the material in question will be applicable for three years from the date of resolution.

A paper copy of the Statement of Reconsideration may be printed for patrons who choose not to submit their request digitally. We ask that patrons review the Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read, and Freedom to View statements before submitting a concern. Submission of a Statement of Reconsideration does not guarantee that an item will be removed from the collection.

Policy updated Sept. 2022