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Collection Development Policy

I. Purpose of Policy

The development and thoughtful maintenance of the Library’s collection is an essential part of fulfilling the mission of the Harrison Public Library. This policy outlines how the selection, organization, and maintenance of library materials, including electronic resources, support that mission.

This Collection Development Policy serves the general, educational, recreational, and entertainment needs of the public and reflects the racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity of the community. The collection is not intended to be a research or archival collection. The Library is committed to the truth, to trustworthy information, and to fighting all forms of disinformation, censorship, and barriers to free inquiry.

The Library affirms and supports patrons’ freedom and responsibility to choose Library materials for use according to their needs, individual tastes, and family values. Patrons may not restrict or interfere in any way with other people’s freedom to read, listen to, or view materials.

The Library creates its collection in partnership with the Harrison community, seeking input and recommendations on the content that should be acquired.

II. Responsibility for Material Selection

Ultimate responsibility for material selection lies with the Board of Trustees.  The Board of Trustees delegates to the Library Director the selection of materials and the development of the collection. The Library Director may in turn delegate responsibility to appointed staff members but will be the final arbiter if challenges arise, having shared any questions or concerns with the Library Board.

III. Criteria for Selection of Material      

The goal of material selection is to fulfill the community’s need for personal enrichment, information, and the joy of reading. Material selection is based on awareness of community interests and concerns, national and international issues, events, publishing trends, new insights, societal trends, and the professional judgment of selectors regarding the material’s value to the Library’s collection.

The Harrison Public Library strives to maintain a collection that represents all sides of an issue in a neutral, unbiased manner. Material is not excluded because of the race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political and social views of the author.

The selection of materials does not represent the Library’s endorsement of any opinion, belief, philosophy, or precept. An item that meets selection criteria will not be removed from the Library solely because it represents a particular opinion, belief, or philosophy.

The Library does not assume parental responsibility for children’s choices of Library materials.

Popular demand is balanced by professional evaluation and is considered within the context of the Library’s mission and budgetary limitations. Every item must meet each of the following criteria as are applicable in order to be included in the collection.

A. Current usefulness or permanent value

B.  Authority and competence in presentation

C.  Importance as a record of the times

D.  Relation to the existing collection

E.  Relative importance in comparison with other works on the subject

F.  High standards of quality in content, format, and binding

G.  Availability of material elsewhere in the community.  In developing the collection, the Library takes into account the resources of other libraries in the Westchester Library System and will not needlessly duplicate materials. Materials, particularly those of a highly technical nature, may be borrowed from libraries outside the Westchester Library System by inter-library loan.

H.  Popular demand:  The Library will make available materials for enlightenment and recreation even if not enduring in value, interest, or accuracy.  A representative sampling of experimental or ephemeral material may be purchased, but no attempt will be made to be exhaustive.

I.  Legal, technical, and medical works will be acquired only to the extent that they are useful to the layman.

J.  Textbooks will not be purchased by the Library except in subject areas where material in another form is not conveniently available.

IV. Gifts, Memorials, and Donations

The Library reserves the right to evaluate all gifts, donations, and memorial requests in accordance with the criteria applied to purchasing materials. Gifts that do not meet the library’s objectives and policies may be refused.

When the Library receives a cash gift for the purchase of memorial books or collections, the selection will be made by the Library in consultation with the donor.  The name of the donor or person memorialized will be entered on the bookplate.

V. Maintaining the Collection

The same objectives and criteria will be used in “weeding” materials from the collection as are used in their acquisition.  In order to maintain the collection in its most attractive and useful condition, the Library Director, with the assistance of the Library’s staff, will use his/her judgment in removing from the collection materials which are no longer useful, or in rebinding books which are deteriorating, whenever appropriate.  Materials no longer useful to the Library may be given to other libraries or sold for the benefit of the Library.

VI. Freedom of Access and Patron Recommendations

The Harrison Public Library endorses the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights (see Appendix A or and the Freedom to Read Statement (see Appendix A or

The Library welcomes input from the Community and strives to meet patron requests in a timely manner. Patrons may request items the Library does not own. Requests may be made via the Request a Purchase form on the Library website, or via Library apps, including Libby. Each request is reviewed for inclusion in the collection using the selection criteria.

VII. Independently Published and Local Author Materials

The Library is sometimes asked to include items in the collection that are written and/or published independently, including both self-published/produced items and those published through a vanity press. The Library seeks out material with local connections and collection relevance that will appeal to a wide audience.

Works by Harrison authors will receive principal consideration in this category, especially if the author will also be participating in author-based programming. A donated copy of a Harrison author’s book will often be accepted, keeping general selection criteria in mind. The Library will consider purchasing such material if it is available through its major vendors.

For independently published/produced material with no local connections, a positive review in one or more library review journals, including those that specialize in independently published material, along with potential wide appeal and/or the ability to fill an otherwise hard-to-fill collection gap, are the strongest criteria for purchase.

VIII. Concerns and Requests

The Library Board considers all materials selected under this policy to be constitutionally protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. If a patron claims that a particular item is not constitutionally protected, the burden of proof rests with the patron.

The Board of Trustees recognizes the right of individuals to question materials in the Library collection. A Library Materials Reconsideration Form is available on the Library’s website. All complaints to staff members will be referred to the Library Director, who will discuss the matter with the concerned patron.

The Library Director will then meet with the Board of Trustees to evaluate the material in question and consider the merits of the completed Library Materials Reconsideration Form. A decision will be made regarding whether or not to add or withdraw the material, with written reasons for the decision conveyed to the patron within one month.

Individuals who still have concerns about the material may request a hearing before the Library Board of Trustees by making a written request to the Chair of the Board. The Board reserves the right to limit the length of presentation and number of speakers at the hearing. After receiving testimony from the public, the Board will decide, based on the Library’s policies, whether to uphold or override the decision.

Reviewed and approved by the Harrison Public Library Board of Trustees, 5/2/2022.

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