Collection Development and Selection Policy                             




The purpose of the David & Joyce Milne Public Library Collection Development Policy is to provide approved 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.



The Library's collection is predominantly targeted to an English speaking audience and includes books, large print books, periodicals, newspapers, paperbacks, CD recordings of music and books, video cassettes, DVD’s, kits, toys and puppets. The Library also provides access to special online resources and research databases.



The Library Director and designated staff have the authority and responsibility for the selection of materials with the support of the Library Board of Trustees.  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 the function 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.



  • Local relevance and published local authors.

  • Collection emphasis is on current 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 will be purchased rather than multiple copies of the same title.

  • Materials written in English language.

  • Unabridged editions over abridgments.

  • Materials representing all views of controversial issues.




The David and Joyce Milne Public Library is a member of  C/W MARS which is a multitype automated library consortium that facilitates efficient resource sharing. Through C/W MARS, member libraries can call upon the resources of other members and libraries within the Commonwealth for materials not owned locally. A daily delivery service, provided by the Massachusetts Library System delivers the 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 contemporary 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. Several popular authors are on a standing order and the library receives new titles automatically upon publication.

  • Adult Non-fiction:  recognizing its principle role is to ensure the availability of information for independent, self directed learning, library staff shall consider authors material accurately, fairly, clearly, and in a readable manner. Special consideration, however is given to those books which deal with topics about which very little else is available. Area school and college libraries serve the curriculum needs of students. Without duplicating these resources or attempting to follow all the changes in the curriculum, the Milne Library does recognize the need to provide a wide variety of cultural and recreational reading matter for students and to provide basic class related materials for students seeking to complete assignments outside of school hours. Textbooks are not purchased by the library except in those subject areas where material in another form is not conveniently available.

  • Children’s materials: the collection development policy of the children’s room at the public library reflects the general goals and mission of the library at large. 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. All materials are chosen with regard to intellectual freedom and respect to the individual needs and differences in our diverse community. “Challenged” books are referred to the Director and Board of Trustees for review and determination. 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, games and puppets. 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, and a video game collection, with “Everyone” or “Teen” ratings, is being developed. 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 audio-visual materials targeted and available for circulation to all age groups as part of its collection development. Spoken art, such as plays, poetry, fiction, and foreign language materials, are purchased in CD and Playaway formats. Recorded music is purchased in compact disc format. The video collection is still available and is a small collection of popular and general interest VHS. The focus is DVD and Blue-Ray titles of both a recreational and informational nature. Feature length and popular television series balance a collection composed of classic films and current popular materials.


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


  • Periodicals: the library provides timely information on a wide variety of subject areas through an extensive collection of newspapers, magazines and journals. The library subscribes and receives gifts for the collection. The current issue is for “in library use only" and the back issues circulate and are kept on file for reference and research based on shelf space. A downloadable service for magazines is being added. The library subscribes to several daily local, state and national newspapers that do not circulate and are kept for approximately two weeks.


  •  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.

  • Free literature on topics of educational, cultural, social, and recreational concern, selected for its information value to the community is distributed by the front door. A bulletin board for nonprofit institutions and groups, also offers a place for notices meeting these criteria.

  • Reference Collection: the library maintains a very small collection including an encyclopedia, indexes, almanacs, business directories, and medical information. The collection is reviewed each year for annual publications and continuation titles. The reference collection has seen a reduction in volume the past few years. With the amount of information available on the Internet and the increased proficiency of our librarians, the library is able to discontinue very costly directories.


  • Downloadable eBooks, Audiobooks, and Videos: the library provides access to a collection of downloadable eBooks, audiobooks, and videos made available to our patrons by virtue of our membership in C/WMARS. These items are provided for the use of those patrons who have access to a non-library Internet computer, laptop, tablet, e-reader or smart phone with the ability to install a software management console and then download the borrowed item. Some downloadable content is not universally compatible with personal playing devices. A statewide platform is available for all libraries within the Commonwealth that are members of the Massachusetts Library System.




Selection tools include, but are not limited to:

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

  • Individual subject expertise of staff or community members

  • Suggestions from Williamstown patrons

  • Newspaper book reviews

  • Publishers catalogs

  • Interlibrary loan requests

  • Online review sources such as, Library Reads, and publisher databases.





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 C/W MARS and ComCat the virtual catalog of all the holdings within the State.


Materials that are not usually considered under the following guidelines:

  • Books that, as a whole, offend standards of good taste and morality

  • Textbooks for students

  • Books that are extremely costly

  • Materials in slight demand

  • Subject area is already well covered

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




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

  • The book has an 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 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





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 First Amendment of the Constitution insures 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 library is dedicated to free and open use for all. No restriction is placed on the use of the library's collection based on age, race, sex, nationality, educational background, physical limitations, or any other criteria that may be the source of discrimination.





Formal requests for removal of a specific item can be submitted in writing to the Library Director, who will refer it to the decision of the Board of Trustees concerning its removal.





Private donations, gifts, willed books and other materials are accepted with the understanding that the library is not expected to add the title(s) to the collection. The collection selection criteria above is also applied to gifts and donations. Gifts that are not acquired may be given to the Friends of the Milne Public Library for the annual book sale.  The library cannot make cash assessments of donations, nor does it assume the responsibility of returning any items to donors that are not added to the library collection. The library Director should impress upon donors the method of organizing material in the library collections. Should a donor insist upon physical separation of a gift from the rest of the collection, the gift may still be accepted, however specifics of its organization and content will be approved by the Director.




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 insure 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 developed by Joseph P. Segal. 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




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, reference 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 patron usage. Patron input and community surveys are also useful to evaluate the collection.


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

  • The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

  • The Library Bill of Rights - Adopted June 18, 1948, amended February 2, 1967, and June 23, 1980 by the American Library Association Council.

  • The Freedom to Read Statement - Adopted June 25, 1953; revised January 28, 1972, January 16, 1991, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee.


Policy Amended by the Board of Trustees - 03/11/2015









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