Collection Development Policy

Collection Development Mission:

With the Stanislaus County Library’s Vision/Mission statement as our foundation, we strive to collect a broad range of materials of interest and use to area residents. Our customers include individuals of every age, educational background, religious belief, and ethnicity. This diversity is reflected in the wide range of interests they pursue. The library contains materials that affirm many personal values; it also provides a place to experience and explore alternative views. By striving to fulfill the educational, informational and recreational needs of our customers, the library helps make learning a lifelong process for those who use it.

Collection Development Responsibility:

The County Librarian delegates the selection of materials to trained and knowledgeable librarians on the staff. The ultimate responsibility for the collection rests with the County Librarian according to the California Education Code. Collection development is coordinated by the Head of Acquisitions/Collection Development and the Head of Children’s Services.

Collection Development Philosophy:

The Stanislaus County Library affirms our support of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. We also endorse the following American Library Association statements:

Materials Selection Guidelines:


The emphasis is on acquiring materials of wide-ranging interest to the general public. As a public library, we are unable to meet all of the research needs of college and university students. Materials selected are intended to meet the educational, cultural, informational, and recreational needs of the customers. Circulating materials should be available in a variety of formats and reading levels to meet individual needs. Except in the case of local material, we do not attempt to maintain historical collections. The scope of each category of the collection is further defined in subject area profiles kept on file with the Head of Acquisitions/Collection Development and the Head of Children’s Services.


  • Popular interest
  • Critical reviews, accuracy, literary merit
  • Local or national significance
  • Importance of the subject matter to the community
  • Enduring value
  • Clear presentation and readability for the intended audience
  • Need for materials reflecting all sides of issues
  • Author’s reputation and significance as a writer
  • Reputation and standing of the publisher
  • Scarcity of material on the subject
  • Price, budget and space considerations
  • Availability of the material elsewhere
  • Quality of the physical format

To be selected, materials should meet some, but not all, of the above criteria.

Other considerations may be applicable in specific subject areas. For example:

  1. Textbooks are purchased only if the material is the best way to provide information to the customer. As a public library, we are unable to provide textbooks solely because they are used for classes offered in an area school or college.
  2. Teacher resource materials, such as lesson plans and workbooks, are not usually purchased.
  3. The library will only purchase self-published books that are reviewed in professional journals, both in print format and online resources. There is an exception. The library will accept some self-published books containing local information and local history. The designated library selectors will review the books and decide if they are suitable for the library collection.

All donated self-published books by local authors will be cataloged and placed in the 802 section in Modesto library if they fit in the library criteria.


Tools: Standard review sources include, but are not limited to: Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, School Library Journal, Hornbook, Publishers Weekly, Voya, New York Times Book Review, San Francisco Chronicle-Books, Public Library Catalog, Fiction Catalog.

Professional and trade journals; subject bibliographies; bibliographies of “best” materials; and reviews from reputable sources are also used.

Purchase suggestions from customers are also considered. Customer suggestions are responded to within a week and items that meet our selection criteria are approved for purchase and placed on the current order selection list.

Non- Print Formats

Knowledge is communicated in many forms. The library strives to select formats and technologies which will be the most useful and affordable.

We currently purchase materials in the following formats:

Audio books

The library’s goal is to provide a recorded collection that parallels many areas of the general collection.

The first priority is to provide unabridged versions of books. Abridged versions are purchased for popular titles when unabridged versions are not available or forthcoming or when an unabridged version is too costly for purchase.

In keeping with market trends and customer preference, resources are being shifted from the audiocassette format into CD, Playaway, and downloadable formats.


The library’s goal is to provide a collection of:

  • Documentaries
  • Instructional, educational, and classics
  • Literature-based DVDs
  • Feature films that reflects the interests of our community.

In addition to the above criteria, selection is based on:

  • Favorable reviews in standard library reviewing sources
  • Recommendation by the American Film Institute and/or the Library of Congress
  • Film Registry
  • Awards
  • Availability
  • Cost


Some titles are received and cataloged automatically. An individual selection decision is not needed on each title because:

  • It is a continuation or new edition of a work we already own
  • It is part of a series we collect -- such as travel guides, test review books, children’s and teen formula fiction, etc.
  • It is a large print title from a respected large print publisher. Many titles are already owned in the regular print collection.
  • It is an audiobook from a respected library audio vendor. Many titles are already owned in the print collection.

The children’s and teen paperback series plans are re-evaluated once a year for all branches by the children’s and young adult materials’ selectors. The reference and adult book continuations are reviewed annually by the Head of Reference Services and the Head of Acquisitions/Collection Development.

Newspapers and Periodicals

The Library subscribes to local, regional and national newspapers. Selection is based on:

  • Customer interest
  • Reference value; indexed in standard library reference tools
  • Need to provide information from a variety of viewpoints
  • Availability and cost

The Library maintains a large collection of current and back issue periodicals. Current issues, except for the most recent month, may be checked out. Back issues remain in the library for reference purposes. Criteria for selection of periodicals include:

  • Customer interest and use
  • Reference value
  • Subject need
  • Title is included in a standard periodical index like Reader’s Guide to Periodicals.
  • Need to provide information from a variety of viewpoints

With the addition of an online periodical database with full text articles at all branch locations, we are assessing the need to keep as many back issues on microfilm and in hard copy as has been done in the past.

Multiple Copies

The Library lacks the financial resources to buy multiple copies of every title it owns. Multiple copies are purchased for the regional branches when quality and/or on going demand suggest the need. For smaller branches, one copy of different titles is purchased instead of multiple copies of one title. This allows for more variety in the collection.

Library materials are selected to provide services to the community at large; therefore, we cannot duplicate the same title in sufficient quantity to satisfy an entire classroom of readers.

Once a book becomes a bestseller and has numerous customer “holds” (or reserves) placed on it, we restock using the ratio of at least l copy for every 5 holds. Exceptions are made for titles predicted to remain perennially popular. This is especially true for children’s titles.

Unabridged audio books have proven too costly to purchase with the l to 5 holds ratio. Generally, purchases do not exceed three copies of a single title in any single format.


Gift materials must meet the same criteria for selection as purchased materials.

Gifts of books

Because of the large amount of labor required to evaluate older materials, the library accepts gifts of books with the intent of only keeping:

  • Fiction in excellent condition
  • Nonfiction in excellent condition that is not more than 2 years old.

Older books left at libraries are sold through library book sale shelves as space permits.

Paperback fiction in new condition is accepted and may be circulated as uncatalogued material or “quick linked” at the library accepting the donation. This is a popular service for customers who purchase and read large quantities of paperback series books and wish to share them.

Gifts of audiovisual material

Due to the difficulties in evaluating the condition of the donation, these must be previewed before being placed in the collection. Because of the amount of staff time this would require, only shrink wrapped items are being accepted.

Maintenance of the Collection:

Collection Assessment

This is the ongoing process of evaluating what is in the collection, how it is used and what our customers need and request. Each selector will complete an assessment of each of his/her subject areas on an annual basis. The Head of Acquisitions/Collection Development and/or the Head of Children’s Services will oversee their revision and updating. Circulation statistics, copyright information, status of titles and physical condition will be reviewed annually to evaluate the collection’s relevancy. Standard bibliographies, customer comments, and customer surveys will be used to evaluate how well the collection covers each subject area.

Deselecting Library Materials

Deselecting, also known as weeding, is an integral part of collection development. Studies have shown that circulation increases with weeding because customers can more easily find the materials they’re seeking and because the collection looks more inviting and appealing. Weeding keeps the collection current and useful to the community and makes room for newer materials. Briefly, items will be weeded that are:

  1. outdated, misleading, inaccurate
  2. in poor physical condition (moldy, shabby, torn, etc.)
  3. no longer being used
  4. duplicate copies that are no longer in demand (former bestsellers)

Weeding guidelines are kept for each subject area. They are based on The CREW Manual: A Unified System of Weeding, Inventory, and Collection Building. CREW stands for continuous review, evaluation, and weeding. The Head of Acquisitions/Collection Development retains and reviews the guidelines with the selectors and coordinates the weeding of the collection.

Weeded materials in reasonable condition are sold on an ongoing basis from library book sale shelves. We regret that we are unable to reserve sale items for our customers. Some weeded materials are donated to other County agencies, such as Juvenile Hall. Generally, these are duplicate copies of titles no longer needed at library branches but still useful to another County agency.

Reconsideration of Materials

The Library promotes and protects free access to reading and knowledge. Many ideas are controversial and any given item may offend someone. The library neither endorses nor condemns the ideas contained within its materials. We strive to have materials representative of all viewpoints. While individuals have the right to restrict their own reading and that of their children, they do not have the right to restrict what others have access to read. Responsibility for materials selected and read by children and adolescents rests with their parents or legal guardians. Parents are encouraged to take an active role in guiding their children’s use of the library. Materials are not labeled to show approval or disapproval of the content. Nor will access to material be restricted, except to protect it from damage or theft. In our democracy, community members have the freedom to choose information they need to participate fully in their family, in the life of their community, and in the governance of their country.

Recognizing that the diversity of the collection results in some requests for reconsideration, the library has adopted the following procedure:

  • Reconsideration forms are available at all branches and at all public desks
  • Once returned, comments regarding children’s materials are forwarded to the Head of Children’s Services while those regarding adult or teen materials are forwarded to the Head of Acquisitions/Collection Development
  • Designated librarians will review the challenged material.
  • The customer will receive notification of the decision in writing within 30 days.
  • The customer may choose to further pursue his/her concerns by meeting with the County Librarian.
  • Customers may further pursue their concerns with the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors.