Material Selection Policy

It is the role of the public library to meet the information and interest needs of the total community. San Mateo County Libraries affirm 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. We support everyone’s right to read, listen, and view the full range of published thoughts and ideas—both popular and unpopular. San Mateo County Libraries upholds and endorses the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, amended in 2019. Equitable access to Library materials will be protected and the freedom to read and inquire will not be restricted.


San Mateo County Libraries recognizes that libraries’ historical practice of charging late fines impacts library use negatively and inequitably, and that fines do not effectively incentivize the on-time return of library materials. Economic obstacles are in opposition to our mission of ensuring equitable access, creating welcoming experiences and growing a culture of learning and participation. As a result, San Mateo County Libraries does not charge fines for the late return of materials. We strive to eliminate any financial barriers to using library materials.


San Mateo County Libraries considers the needs of all people, neither censoring nor judging individual informational requirements or interest, and makes material accessible to all. The library neither encourages nor discourages a particular viewpoint. Library materials are selected to represent all points of view, in as many languages spoken by the community as possible. Materials are not excluded because they may contain language or illustrations offensive to some people.

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.

No material will be excluded or removed because of the race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political or social views of the author. Materials are judged in their entirety, not on isolated passages or sections.   

Items are withdrawn from the collection with the same degree of attention as initial selection, taking into account physical condition, currency of information, usage and the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

Approved by the JPA Governing Board on February 5, 2024

Print this page