Resource Collections Management Policy

The Athens Regional Library System (ARLS) serves patrons in its five-county region by providing library and information resources to satisfy informational needs, assist the general public in reaching educational goals, reflect the cultural diversity of the community, and promote the creative use of leisure time. As the primary means of carrying out the goals and strategic plans of all ARLS libraries and resource centers, a collection of library resources is selected, organized, and made accessible to meet the needs of the Region's residents. Even in the digital age, the library's collection of materials and resources remains a foundation for building library programs and services.

The purpose of this policy document is to describe how resources for the ARLS collection are selected, maintained, evaluated, and withdrawn and to inform the public about principles of library resource management.

Responsibility for Resource Management

Resource and collection management authority rests with the Library Director, who operates within the framework of policies approved by the Athens Regional Library System Board of Trustees. The Library Director implements policy and assigns to collection management staff the working responsibility for materials and information resource selection, deselection, and management for all system libraries. Suggestions for additions to the resource collection by other staff members and the public are encouraged.

Philosophy of Selection

Resources and materials selected for addition to the Athens Regional Libraries' collection will support the mission and vision determined by the local Library Boards of Trustees and the ARLS Board. The library system upholds the right of the individual to secure information even though the content of that information may be controversial, unorthodox, or unacceptable to others. The existence of a particular viewpoint in the collection is an expression of the library's policy of intellectual freedom and access to information, not an endorsement of the specific point of view in question. Library materials are not marked or identified to show approval, disapproval, or judgment of the contents. Library materials are not sequestered, except for the purpose of protecting them from damage or theft. Materials selected under the Resource Collections Management Policy are considered protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Scope of the Collection

Athens Regional Library System materials resources are intended to meet the diverse informational, educational, cultural, and recreational needs of the general population of the Region. The scope of the collection is intended to offer choices of format, treatment, and level of difficulty so that the needs of most library users can be met. Acquiring current materials of wide-ranging interest to the general public is emphasized. The collection is regularly reviewed and revised to reflect the changing demographics and needs of the communities served.

Types of Collections in the System

Resource Sharing

Since Athens Regional Library System cannot meet all the information needs of it users with in-house materials and resources, the library participates in resource sharing networks which give access to the collections of other libraries. ARLS is a member of PINES, a consortium of Georgia public libraries. Library users with a valid member library card are eligible to borrow books from other PINES libraries. The library may negotiate for patron use of local academic libraries when possible. In addition, the library makes use of Interlibrary Loan services to expand available resources outside the PINES network and arranges for patron use of local academic libraries when possible. At the discretion of the Director, other consortia may be entered into for provision of electronic or downloadable materials and for emerging formats.

Resources available at other area libraries and community agencies are considered when making collection management decisions for ARLS.

Selection Criteria

Library resources are selected in compliance with the missions and goals of the Athens Regional Library System libraries as those are determined by local library advisory boards and the ARLS Board of Trustees. Library resources are selected on the basis of informational, educational, cultural, and recreational value.

The following general criteria are used in selecting resources for the collection. Not every title needs to meet all criteria, but should meet one or more of the criteria. The number and weight of applicable criteria may vary in specific selection decisions. Purchase suggestions from library users and library staff are reviewed and purchased according to the same selection criteria.

  1. Current and anticipated needs and interests of library users
  2. Current appeal and popular demand
  3. Affordability
  4. Contemporary significance and sustained popularity
  5. Importance and value to the community
  6. Authority, currency, accuracy, literary merit, and artistic quality
  7. Suitability of subject, style, and format for the intended audience
  8. Reputation or significance of the author, illustrator, editor, publisher, producer, or performer
  9. Impartiality of opinion or clearly stated bias
  10. Availability of similar resources elsewhere in local community
  11. Attention of the media and evaluation by critics and reviewers
  12. Receipt of or nominations for major awards or prizes
  13. Contribution to the diversity and scope of the collection

Materials Not Collected

Athens Regional Library System does not collect resources or textbooks whose sole function is to support specific educational or religious curricula or other courses of study by individual organizations or institutions. Archival materials, artifacts, objects, and artwork are not added to the branch libraries' resource collections. Other than the records of the Athens Regional Library System (see the Heritage Room Policy), the library system does not house the official records or minutes of local or state governments or other local organizations. Materials in superseded or outdated audio-visual or electronic formats are not collected.

Materials Formats

Library resources may be made available in a variety of formats. Multiple formats are often required to accommodate the special needs of the community. The library's selection criteria are applied to all formats regardless of format being purchased. Additional factors governing the choice of format include anticipated use, storage requirements, accessibility, technical support, and cost. The collection management team actively monitors emerging technologies in order to plan for adding new resources and materials formats and discontinuing collections of materials in formats no longer useful to library patrons.

Gifts and Donations of Materials

Gift materials in formats suitable for the library collections and monetary donations submitted with purchase suggestions are subject to the same selection criteria that are applied to resources acquired by regular purchase. The library accepts gifts with the understanding that the library may use or dispose of them as it determines is appropriate. The library does not provide evaluations or appraisals of gifts for tax deductions or other purposes. Acceptance of a gift that has been appraised elsewhere does not constitute the library's endorsement of that appraisal. The library does not accept gifts of any kind on temporary or permanent loan. All materials given to the library become library property. Library materials with bookplate recognition are subject to the same collection management selection, use, and disposal criteria as are other items in the collection.

Collection Management

To maintain an up-to-date, useful collection that meets the library system's goals of providing materials for the community, library resources are regularly and systematically reviewed as planned and supervised by the collection management librarians. Library resources are removed from the collection and are discarded if content, condition, or patron demand limits further use. Library materials are not removed from the collection simply because a library user wishes to purchase or own them.

Library resources that are discarded may be sold through the Athens-Clarke County Library Store, given to related Friends of the Library organizations to be used as fundraisers for the benefit of the library, donated to other non-profit community groups or organizations, or be recycled.

Controversial Materials

The library offers a wide range of materials representing varying points of view. The library collection is not limited to ideas and information one person or group believes to be acceptable. Library materials may contain a certain amount of coarseness or frankness. Materials selected for children and young adults may include representations of the human experience which reflect a realistic or a fantastical point of view. Selection of library materials is not restricted by the possibility that a minor may use them. Responsibility for a patron's use of library resources, regardless of format or content, rests solely with that patron or a minor's parent or legal guardian, not with the library.

The library reconsiders any resource in its collection upon formal request of a local resident. The request must be filed in writing by completing and signing the "Request for Reconsideration of Library Resource" form. Procedures are established to ensure that objections or complaints are handled in a consistent and timely manner. Materials under reconsideration are not removed from the collection during the process, but may be recalled for the purposes of reconsideration. The local Library Boards of Trustees review requests for reconsideration of library resources and materials and determines the responses to the requests. If necessary, an appeal is heard by the Athens Regional Library System Board of Trustees, which retains responsibility for the final decision in reconsideration requests.

Approved by Regional Board 10-16-2014 (revising policy established 1/17/2002)