Material Selection Policy

It is the role of the public library to meet the information and interest needs of the total community. The San Mateo County Libraries affirms each individual's right of free access to information and ideas, whereby individual thoughts and opinions may be formed. To this end the library acquires and maintains materials representing the history of human thought, expression, and achievement; as well as those reflective of contemporary issues, trends and ideas.

The San Mateo County Libraries considers the needs of all people, neither censors nor judges individual informational requirements or interest, and makes material accessible to all. Library materials are selected to represent all points of view, and are not excluded because they may contain language or illustrations offensive to some persons.

The responsibility for selecting, acquiring, and organizing materials rests with staff librarians. The basic test for selection is whether the material meets proven or potential information and interest needs. Other considerations include: availability, cost, amount of similar material already available in the collection, and whether the material may be available elsewhere in the community. Some items are available on limited access because of rarity, cost, or susceptibility to loss or damage. To provide the fullest possible access to information, the library selects and provides materials in a variety of formats and media.

Items are withdrawn from the collection with the same degree of attention as initial selection, taking into account physical condition and the needs of the community.

The library appreciates gifts of materials or money donated for the purchase of materials. Gifts of materials must meet the policies and criteria stated above. The library reserves the right to accept or refuse conditions placed upon gifts.

The Library subscribes to the Library Bill of Rights as adopted and amended January 23, 1980, by the American Library Association, as follows:

Library Bill of Rights
The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services:

  • Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials 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.
  • Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
  • Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
  • A person's right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, race, background, or views.
  • Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

Approved by the Library JPA Governing Board on November 5, 2018.

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