General Collection Development Policies

Selection Criteria

Staff members involved in the development of materials collections select materials to reflect a variety of viewpoints. Materials are selected on the basis of favorable reviews in reliable journals or standard bibliographic tools. Important criteria include:

  • Public demand as expressed in requests for the title.
  • The author's reputation.
  • The title's timeliness.
  • The title's relation to the existing collection, e.g. the need for new coverage on the subject, opposing points of view, curriculum related materials, etc.
  • Local authorship: Such material must meet the general selection criteria listed in points 1-4 above.  Exceptions are made for material that has local historical or local cultural significance or is material created by local residents (authors, performers, artists) who are providing programming for the library branches.

Selection Tools

Primary tools employed by the Library staff for selection of adult materials are Booklist, Kirkus, Library Journal, and Publisher's Weekly. For children's materials the primary tools for selection are School Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus, Young Adult materials are generally selected from Booklist, School Library Journal, KLIATT, and VOYA: Voice of the Youth Advocate. The online bibliographic databases, i.e., Title Source 360 from Baker & Taylor Company, are used to gather information, including reviews from the selection tools mentioned above, for selection consideration and is utilized by adult, children's and young adult selectors.


The Mercer County Library accepts donations of books and materials for inclusion into the library’s collections; however all donated materials must meet the selection criteria found at the start of this General Collection Development Policies section. If the donated material does not meet those requirements the material is not added and may be used in the library systems book sales.

Books donated by authors, or request from authors to purchase their works, will be considered for inclusion into the library collection if the material meets the selection criteria found at the beginning of this General Collection Development Policies section. Authors requesting the inclusion of their material will be required to provide the library with a complimentary review copy that will not be returned regardless of the library’s decision; a physical copy is required rather than any other format since durability is also a consideration.

Withdrawals from Collection

Systematic removal of materials (known as weeding), which are no longer useful, is essential to maintaining overall collection quality. Professional staff members with collection evaluation responsibility shall continuously evaluate materials for accuracy, currency, condition and user appeal. Materials no longer needed by patrons, including obsolete works, superseded editions, superfluous duplicates, and worn-out or badly-marked materials, shall be withdrawn or "weeded", in order to ensure the efficient use of limited space. Each Branch Manager is responsible for weeding and developing the branch collections on an annual basis.

In all collections, the following factors shall be considered during the weeding process:

  • Declining or Nonexistent Use Patterns: Headquarters' items which have not circulated for five years and Branch items which have not circulated for two to  three years shall be considered for withdrawal.
  • Physical condition: Damaged materials shall be discarded unless their  content is very significant and they cannot be replaced.
  • Last Copy: The Headquarters' Library shall be repository for last copies in  the system, and unique but little-used materials. As a reservoir from which other Branches draw, it should carefully consider withdrawals and not  necessarily make them conform to numerical ratios. Last-copy withdrawals  made at the Branches should be offered to the Headquarters' Library before  they are discarded, if appropriate.
  • Copyright Date: Although most classics and valuable editions will be retained, dated materials will be discarded and replaced with more current materials,  when they are available.

In general, duplicate copies in excess of three, or former "bestsellers" or "top of the charts" titles, shall be discarded after the popularity of these items has waned. Fine arts, local history, literary history, and collected literary works shall be weeded sparingly.


When superseded by new editions, general reference works may be discarded, re-catalogued into one of the circulating collections or passed to another branch with a less current edition. At least one up-to-date encyclopedia shall be available at each branch, either in print or in electronic format.


The decision to replace materials that are lost, damaged, or worn out shall be influenced by continued demand, existence of adequate coverage of the topic with remaining materials, and availability of copies elsewhere in the system.


Textbooks are included in the circulating collections only if they fill a special need or are among the best works available on a given subject.


Materials donated to the Library are evaluated according to the same standards as purchased materials. All donations become the property of the Mercer County Library System. A member of the professional staff will retain the final authority in the disposition of accepted material. The Library does not provide patrons with assessment of the monetary value of gifts for tax deduction purposes.


The weeded books identified as property of the Mercer County Library should be offered first to local schools and second to local institutions and non-profit organizations.

Once these agencies have reviewed the material and selected anything which may be useful to them, the remaining items may be sold through Friends of the Library groups.

A branch may choose to send all weeded materials directly to Lawrence Administration where this procedure will be followed.

Interlibrary Loans (ILL)

Materials requested for Interlibrary Loan will be considered for purchase if they fall under one or more or the following criteria:

  • Multiple loan requests are made for the same title within a two week period.
  • Fiction requests (if the title is in print.)
  • Non-Fiction from the requests that are published within one year from the date  of the request (if title is in print).


Care should be exercised and very selective decisions made in sending books to the bindery. Re-binding should be reserved for titles which cannot be replaced or would be too costly to replace, using the following criteria:

  • Out-of-print books which are of high value to the collection.
  • One volume of a set which is still in good condition and important to the collection.
  • Expensive books which are important to the collection.

Books which should not go the bindery include fiction, children's books, paperbacks, older books with yellowed or brittle paper, any book presently in print (unless very expensive) or time-dated books, which are close to being out-of-date.


The Lawrence Headquarters Library and Branches select periodicals to meet the demand for general reading, reference information, and the most current data in subject areas. Criteria for selection shall include: coverage by EBSCOhost Magazine Index and other standard indexes, patron demand, and presentation of points of view that balance the collection.

Subscription renewals shall be subject to annual evaluation by Branch Managers and appropriate professional staff.

Decisions on discarding periodicals in the Branches will be made, taking into consideration the Lawrence Headquarters and other Branches' holdings, as well as space limitations and other physical considerations.

Large Print

Large print materials are collected at each branch. The goal is to have a variety of materials available to large print readers.

Young Adult

The Mercer County Library System recognizes that young adults (ages 12 and older) form a service population with special reading interests and information needs. Young adult collections are maintained in all Branches to meet these needs and to encourage the continued enjoyment of reading. These collections, which emphasize browsing and leisure reading, include a large variety of popular paperbacks, some fiction and non-fiction hardcover books, and high-interest/low vocabulary books to meet demand.

Young adult materials are selected and maintained by a professional youth services librarian. Criteria for selection include demand from the young adult public and reviews in such selection tools as School Library Journal, VOYA: Voice of the Youth Advocate, and KLIATT. An effort is made to select materials representing a variety of viewpoints.

Young adult collections are weeded and inventoried annually by Youth Services librarians in accordance with the previously stated weeding policy.


The Mercer County Library System's children's collections include print and audio visual materials to satisfy and stimulate the informational, educational, and recreational needs of children. Youth services librarians select materials to reflect a variety of viewpoints using standard review sources such as School Library Journal and Kirkus. Selections are also based on reader demand and interest and suggestions from parents, teachers and adults working with children. To maintain the collection, out-of-date and worn materials should be weeded on a regular basis. Replacements and duplicates are purchased based on public demand and budget limitations.