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Collection Policy


Purpose of the Collection Policy

The purpose of the David & Joyce Milne Public Library Collection Development Policy is to provide guidelines for acquisition and withdrawal of library materials.


The mission of the David & Joyce Milne Public Library is to provide a welcoming and inspiring community center for lifelong learning. The library encourages a love of reading by providing classic literature, popular materials, and educational resources.

Scope of Collection

The library's collection is predominantly targeted to an English-speaking audience and includes books, large print books, periodicals, newspapers, paperbacks, recordings of books, music, and videos, kits, and toys. The library also provides access to both free and subscription based online resources and research databases. This collection is procured and maintained to serve the residents of Williamstown specifically.

Selection Responsibility

The Library Director and designated staff through the collection development committee have the authority and responsibility for the selection of materials. Selection of library materials is a joint effort by many members of the staff, with the primary responsibility resting with the Director and the Children’s Librarian.

It is one duty of library staff to select and to withdraw library materials. Although they are qualified through training and experience, they must work within limitations of space, budget, circulation trends, and the library's mission statement.

Recognizing that sensitivity to the needs and interests of the community is essential to the development of library collections, the general public is encouraged to recommend material for consideration.

Collection Priorities and Practices

The library seeks to prioritize materials based on the following criteria:

  • Local relevance and published local authors

  • Materials that are pertinent and timely

  • General treatments of subjects versus those which are scholarly or primarily for limited professional use.

  • Single copies of a wide range of subjects should be purchased rather than multiple copies of the same title

  • Materials written in the English language

  • Unabridged editions over abridgments

  • Materials representing multiple views of controversial issues

Material Selection Policy

The David and Joyce Milne Public Library is a member of CW MARS which is a multitype automated library consortium that facilitates efficient resource sharing. Through CW MARS, member libraries can call upon the resources of other libraries within the Commonwealth for materials not owned locally. A daily delivery service, provided by the Massachusetts Library System, delivers ILL materials to libraries throughout the State. Access versus ownership is always a consideration for the library’s selection and acquisition.


  • Adult Fiction: The library attempts to purchase a wide variety of fiction (hardcover and trade and mass market paperbacks) to satisfy the needs of all our borrowers. As some of the language and incidents in novels will offend some tastes, individual borrowers will need to be selective when choosing materials. Library staff select titles on the basis of professional reviews that consider, among other things, the appeal of a book for most patrons, the literary content, and the reputation of the author. Many popular authors are on a standing order and the library receives new titles automatically upon publication. The library also uses a rental program to order books that are extremely popular to add another local copy and books that are timely and do not want to purchase, because the demand is expected to quickly wane.

  • Adult Non-fiction: Non-fiction books are purchased and added to the collection on a monthly basis. Items are selected if they received positive/starred book reviews, if they are on several bestseller lists, or if they relate to contemporary social and political issues and to the interests of our community. They are also purchased to update frequently evolving topics, such as health and technology. Our non-fiction collection is extensive for a community of our size and the following areas have become, and continue to be, especially robust: cookbooks, biographies/memoirs, true crime and health. A special emphasis is also placed on collecting books about local places, namely, the Berkshires, Williamstown and Williams College. Textbooks, and academic/scholarly books with only a specialized audience, are rarely acquired.

  • Children’s Materials: Materials are acquired, weeded and maintained to meet the recreational and academic needs of the community’s children from birth to approximately 12 years of age. Materials in the collection include: board books for infants, picture books for family reading, “step” books for emergent readers, general fiction, non-fiction, movies, audio-books, music, popular magazines, toys and games. A small collection of foreign language materials is maintained for special needs. The Children’s Librarian is responsible for acquisition and uses a number of tools, including the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for fiction and non-fiction to support academic study in the local schools. Reviews from several professional sources are used in building an acquisition list. Reviews in national and local newspapers, recommendations from children’s literature on-line listservs and patron requests are also considered in the selection process. Priority is given to print material, although movies, music and audio-books balance out the collection. Understanding that one library cannot be everything to every reader, the library relies on the local elementary and high school libraries, Williams College and neighboring community libraries to supplement the children’s collection.

  • Young Adult Materials: The Young Adult Department is a separate collection from the Children’s and Adult collections. It is targeted to the informational and recreational reading needs of a middle school through high school age population. The bulk of the collection consists of hardcover and paperback fiction and non-fiction that have been recommended for purchase in one or more of the standard reviewing media. A small collection of audiobooks is maintained, as well as a video game collection with “Everyone” or “Teen” ratings. A large percentage of the material for school-related demands and other informational needs can be found in the regular adult and children's collections.


  • Media: The library purchases a wide variety of audio-visual materials for circulation to all age groups as part of its collection development. Spoken word materials, such as plays, poetry, fiction, non-fiction and foreign language instruction, are purchased in Compact Disc formats (CDs). Recorded music is also purchased in CD format for our music collection. Our video collection contains popular and general interest recordings on DVD and Blu-ray formats. The collection contains feature length films, popular television series, and a variety of non-fiction documentaries.


  • Computer Software: The library provides computers for public use in the Adult's and Children's Departments. Non-circulating software provided for adults and children focuses on standard office applications of word processing and spreadsheets. The public areas of the library also provide unfiltered wireless Internet access free of charge. Access is provided to research databases within the Massachusetts Library System (MLS), and through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC). In addition, the library subscribes to databases that support our mission and comply with our selection criteria. Due to the expense associated with providing online resources, renewal of these will be assessed on an annual basis.


  • Periodicals: The library provides topical information on a wide variety of subjects through its collection of newspapers and magazines. Current magazine issues are available for browsing and do not circulate. Back issues are permitted to circulate and are kept on file for up to one year, subject to shelf space. The library provides access to eMagazines through a digital media platform, as well as the CW MARS Digital Catalog. Local, state, and national newspapers do not circulate and are kept on file for approximately two weeks, subject to shelf space.


  • Large Print Collection: The library provides popular materials for the visually impaired community. The collection of large print books are targeted to senior citizens and in general those with visual problems. The collection duplicates a portion of the library's recreational reading collection and consists of a variety of popular, bestseller, mystery/espionage, romance fiction, and some general non-fiction.


  • The Classics Room: Contains rare and classic books that are available for general circulation. The room also houses a unique and valuable source of local history, general historical information on Massachusetts, genealogical materials, and information about the town of Williamstown and Williams College. These items are not cataloged, but researchers can browse the collection.


  • Reference: Reference sources are typically books that summarize, condense, or give a comprehensive overview of a topic. These sources are used to find specific information and/or be consulted in a short period of time, as opposed to being read consecutively, and remain in the library to be readily available to anyone at any time. They are also typically too large and costly to justify circulating them. The Milne Public Library maintains reference titles in print that are either not available to us electronically or are considered by the staff to be more user-friendly in print. To reflect the evolving information needs of our patrons, the reference collection has been weeded and updated, and some print items traditionally considered “reference books” have been moved to the general circulating collection for the borrowing convenience of our patrons. The reference section will be weeded each year using the following, standard collection development criteria: accuracy, authority, objectivity, currency and relevance. We also maintain and promote a curated list of electronic reference sources on our website that can be used at any time.


  • Digital Content: The library provides access to a collection of eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, and videos through the CW MARS Digital Catalog. Items in the CW MARS Digital Catalog can be accessed via web browser or via app on smart devices. Patrons have the option to stream content or download to their personal devices. Not all content is compatible with all devices. Additionally, the library provides on-demand access to a collection of eMagazines, TV shows, movies, and educational resources through a digital media platform.

Selection Tools

Selection tools can include, but are not limited to:

  • Reviews in professional library journals or periodicals which specialize in a subject

  • Individual subject expertise of staff or community members

  • Suggestions from Williamstown patrons

  • Newspaper book reviews

  • Publishers’ catalogs

  • Interlibrary loan requests

  • Online review sources and publisher databases

Selection Criteria

The library shall attempt to recognize patron demand (direct requests and proven popularity of similar material types and genres) in the selection of materials. Because of limited resources, the relevance of the material to our users is especially considered. Material that receives positive reviews may not be purchased if it duplicates material already owned by the library.

Materials are selected in accordance with one or more of the following guidelines:


  • Reputation of author

  • Literary, historic and/or scientific significance

  • Availability of shelf space

  • New trends in technology, and formats

  • Accuracy of information

  • Patron request and popular demand

  • Favorable reviews

  • Permanent significance

  • Special discounts - cost/benefit analysis

  • Local relevance

  • Availability at other libraries, most notably those in CW MARS and the Commonwealth Catalog

Materials that are not usually considered fall under the following guidelines:


  • Textbooks for students

  • Books that are extremely costly

  • Materials in slight demand

  • A subject area that is already well covered

  • Format of the item may be unsuitable for library circulation: poor binding, loose-leaf, etc.

Self-Published Books

Self-published books will be considered for admission into the collection under the following conditions:


  • The book has a professional editor or a professional literary agent

  • The author can provide a copy of one positive review from a trade publication.

Trade publications include the following categories:


  • Published paper review journals, such as Library Journal and Booklist

  • Newspapers, such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal

  • Professional journals, such as Science and Nature.

The following review sources will not be considered:


  • Blogs

  • Websites without a paper component

  • Self-written reviews

  • Unsourced reviews

  • Reviews from friends and family

Controversial Materials

As stated in the Library Bill of Rights: "Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Material should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be
proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval." The Milne Library also supports the ideals in the ALA Freedom to Read Statement.

The First Amendment of the Constitution ensures that ideas, even ideas that some find offensive, cannot be restricted by the government. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the library to provide a wide-range of ideas, opinions and information necessary for the functioning of a democratic society.

The collection of the library seeks to uphold these ideals and thus may contain material that some find offensive.

Requests For Reconsideration of Materials

Although materials are carefully selected, there can arise differences of opinion regarding the suitability of some materials. Patrons requesting that material be withdrawn from or restricted/reclassified (e.g. moving a book from young adult to adult fiction) within the collection may complete a "Reconsideration of Library Materials Form" which is available in the library and on the website. The form will be given to the Director for a decision. If the patron so desires, it will be placed on the agenda of the next regular meeting of the Library Board of Trustees for further review.


Gifts are accepted and executed according to the library’s gift policy.

Discarding and Replacement of Materials

In order to maintain a vital, current collection that meets the needs of the community, weeding is an ongoing process. Book withdrawal is an important aspect of collection development. When library books lose the value for which they were originally selected, they should be withdrawn. The purpose of a withdrawal policy is to ensure that the collection remains vital and useful by:


  • Discarding and/or replacing items in poor physical condition

  • Eliminating items with obsolete, misleading, or superseded information

  • Reducing the number of copies of titles whose relevance to the community has lessened

  • Spatial constraints

The professional staff will evaluate the materials collection for replacement and/or discard on an ongoing basis, using the CREW method of evaluation. This process (Continuous Review, Evaluation and Weeding), uses the following criteria to evaluate a title's current usefulness to the materials collection:


  •  M = Misleading (and/or factually inaccurate)

  •  U = Ugly (worn and beyond mending or rebinding)

  •  S = Superseded by a truly new edition or by a much better book on the subject

  •  T = Trivial (of no discernible literary or scientific merit)

  •  Y = Your collection has no use for this book (i.e. irrelevant to the needs and interests of the community).

Date of publication, last date circulated and average number of circulations per year are useful indicators of the above factors

Collection Evaluation

To ensure that the library's collection is fulfilling its mission to provide materials in a timely manner to meet patrons' interests and needs there must be continuous evaluation. Circulation reports, collection turnover rates, fill rates, shelf allotments, and volume counts are studied to determine how the collection is being used and how it should change to meet the needs of patrons. Patron input and community surveys are also useful to evaluate the

In the interest of protecting the individual's right to have access to materials, the library supports the following documents:



Updated by the Board of Trustees

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