Collection Development

The purpose of the Collection Development Statement is to further public understanding of the library collection and its objectives.

Community Analysis

Washington County Library has served the residents of Washington County, Minnesota since 1966. The library secondarily serves the residents of the Twin Cities metro area and the state of Minnesota, both through interlibrary loan and direct borrowing. Washington County Library is made up of seven public libraries, three Library Express locations, and the Washington County Law Library. According to the 2020 census, Washington County’s population is 267,568. The library serves persons of every socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical ability, language, and religion.

Washington County Library is a member of the Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA), the Minnesota regional public library system that promotes cooperation among the eight library systems in the Twin Cities metro area. MELSA members cooperatively participate in purchasing and providing access to online resources and information platforms as a part of their work with member systems.

Washington County Library also uses resources offered through Minitex. Minitex is a state-funded library organization located at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Minitex provides an umbrella of services to connect libraries and individuals with information, ideas, and experiences to enrich lives and strengthen communities. Minitex provides interlibrary loan sharing, online databases, digital collections, AskMN 24/7 reference assistance, and ebooks.

Washington County Library provides access to the library’s online catalog, online resources, and patron accounts through the library website. The library’s website also provides a wide range of information on current services, programs, item recommendations, booklists, and access to library services throughout Washington County.

Philosophy of Selection

The library supports the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights and incorporates it into collection development principles. Other documents used by Washington County Library related to library service principles and intellectual freedom are the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement and the Freedom to View Statement. The library upholds the right of the individual to secure information, though the content may be controversial, unorthodox, or unacceptable to others. Materials available in the library present a diversity of viewpoints, enabling citizens to make the informed choices necessary in a democracy.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Washington County Library is committed to providing an equitable basis for purchasing materials, ensuring that consideration of the needs of historically oppressed, underrepresented, and underserved groups is integral to collection development and management. The library regularly reviews current and emergent demographic trends for the library’s communities to inform collection development and management. The library regularly assesses the adequacy of existing collections to ensure they meet the needs of the library’s communities.

Selection Criteria

Washington County Library uses professionally accepted guidelines and reviews to select materials for its collection. The library will attempt to represent all approaches to public issues and does not sanction any particular viewpoint. The library’s priority is to acquire and retain resources that have broad current and potential community demand. Specialized resources and curriculum materials are considered for acquisition only if they also are of general interest.

Library collections contain a variety of print, non-print, and digital materials that include formats including DVDs, CDs, video games, downloadable books, and kits. Decisions to acquire or retain formats are made after considering community need, the potential for and/or demonstrated use, effectiveness in communicating content, and projected durability.

The number of copies to be purchased is determined by community demand, anticipated popularity, and budgetary factors.

Materials are ordered from a variety of sources. Generally, items are ordered through a library distribution vendor, but may be sourced through bookstores or directly from the publisher or producer as needed.

The general criteria considered for selecting and purchasing materials include, but are not limited to:

  • Significance and ongoing value to the collection
  • Qualifications of author or producer
  • Award lists
  • Suitability of subject and style for intended audience
  • Quality of format
  • Availability of materials in the subject area
  • Balance of materials available in the collection
  • Interest and demand by library patrons
  • Attention given to the item by reviewers and media
  • Price of materials
  • Relevance to the library’s community
  • Timeliness of the subject
  • Creativity and imagination
  • Recreational enjoyment

When selecting materials, library staff also consider the analogy of “mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors” as developed by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop. In this analogy, “mirrors” are materials that reflect an individual’s own culture and experiences, “windows” are materials that offer a view into someone else’s experience or world, and “sliding glass doors” are materials that allow one to enter the story and become part of another world. The use of the analogy assists with development of an inclusive collection.

Selection of materials by the library does not mean of the library endorses the contents or the views expressed in those materials.

Emerging Formats and Materials

The library collects a variety of materials in current and emerging formats as demand, budget, and availability allow. Library staff will maintain an awareness of emerging formats and will plan for collection growth and the purchase of equipment to support emerging formats as able.

Selection Responsibility and Procedures

The ultimate responsibility for selection of materials rests with the Library Director. The Library Director delegates to librarians responsible for managing portions of the collection (Adult, Youth, Electronic Resources, General Acquisitions) and other designated staff. This delegated authority includes responsibility to interpret and apply these guidelines.

The librarians provide continuity in the library’s collection through an organized and centralized structure of planning, budgeting, selecting, acquiring, managing, and maintaining library materials. Librarians may delegate to other staff some responsibilities related to collection development. All staff are encouraged to participate in collection development and maintenance in coordination with the selecting librarians.

The community is encouraged to participate in the selection process through a Suggest a Title request form and through direct requests to staff. Community suggestions will be evaluated in accordance with the Collection Development Statement. Selection tools used by librarians include professional library journals, trade publications, subject bibliographies, and other reviews from sound sources in newspapers, magazines, and the Internet.

Material Donations

The library accepts gifts of new or gently-used books, DVDs, and books on compact disc as operationally able. Decisions on whether and how donated items will be added to the library’s collections are based on the same evaluative criteria that are applied to purchased materials.

With rare exceptions, the library does not return items that are donated. Items that are not added to the collection may be sold, donated to other organizations, or discarded.

Interested donors should consult the library’s website to determine if material donations are being accepted at the time.

Cataloging and Material Placement

The library catalogs and classifies titles based on several sources. The Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), is one provider of tools and recommendations libraries need to describe and manage resources, like books, DVDs, and unique items. It also has information provided by the publisher and the use of other cataloging standards.  

For placement of materials, the library will also adhere to precedent in the catalog to keep collections consistent and reliable. This is accomplished by reviewing the author’s previous titles in the catalog, series and publication information, and surveying where other Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA) libraries placed the material. If the library decides the material needs alternative placement, then the material is placed in a collection that best suits the community’s needs.

Material Deselection

Materials no longer suitable or useful are removed from the collection. Materials are reviewed using a variety of criteria. These include:

  • Physical condition
  • Lending history
  • Currency of content, imagery, and illustrations
  • Accessibly of other materials
  • Balance of subject matter in overall collection

To support this work, staff use a method of Continuous Review, Evaluation, and Weeding (CREW) by collection area.

Reconsideration of Library Materials

The library recognizes that some materials are controversial and that any given item may offend some community members. Selection of materials is not made on the basis of anticipated approval or disapproval but on the criteria listed in this document using the principles of the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement and Freedom to View Statement.

Every Washington County Library patron has a right to make recommendations about or question library materials, policies, and services, and to express their views to the Library Board.

Library patrons who wish to lodge a concern about any of these issues can fill out a Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form. Forms are also available from library staff upon request. 

This form can be submitted at any Washington County Library branch, mailed to Library Administration (8595 Central Park Place, Woodbury, MN 55125), emailed to the Library Director, or submitted through an online form. The Library Director will respond in writing to each Request for Reconsideration, and a copy of the response will also be sent to the Washington County Library Board.

The Library Board, upon request, will provide a hearing to any appeals of the Director’s decision. The appeal will be placed on the agenda of a regularly scheduled Library Board meeting. Decisions on appeals are based on careful review of the request for reconsideration, the material, and the principles outlined in this document. A decision will be made within 60 days of the hearing. The final decision rests with the Washington County Library Board.

No materials in question will be removed from the collection while the reconsideration process is underway.