Selection Policy

Library Bill of Rights
Principles of Selection
Responsibility for Selection
Placement of Materials
Disposal of Materials
Gifts of Materials

The Santa Clara County Library District provides a free marketplace of ideas and affirms each individual's freedom to read and to use all library materials.
The Library's guidelines for the selection and placement of books and materials are based on principles set forth in the "Library Bill of Rights" as adopted by the Santa Clara County Library District Joint Powers Authority on October 26, 1995.

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:
  1. Books and 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Libraries should challenge censorship of the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
  4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
  5. A person's right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
  6. 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.

A. Principles of Selection

  1. The Santa Clara County Library District obtains, organizes and makes available print and non-print materials which record the thought, expression, and opinion of mankind. The County Librarian and professional staff of the Library in making selections should do so in a manner based upon principle rather than personal opinion, reason rather than prejudice, and judgment rather than censorship.
  2. To build collections of merit and significance, materials must be measured by a number of criteria. The basic test for selection of any item is whether it is of proven or potential interest to the people served. Other considerations include the quality of the material, the attention of critics, reviewers and the public, the amount of similar materials already in the collection, and the extent to which the material may be elsewhere in the community. In addition, the cost and physical makeup of the material are considered. These decisions are all professional in nature.

    Materials should be selected both to satisfy the prevalent tastes, needs and reading abilities in the community and to provide diversity in recognition of changing and minority interests. In choosing materials to suit a variety of tastes, differing viewpoints on controversial issues will be included.

    The library does not serve as censor of the reading of any member of the community. It should be clearly understood and emphasized that the library does not endorse all opinions expressed in the materials which are stocked. Indeed, since materials often hold diametrically opposite views, this would be impossible.

    It should also be recognized that some materials chosen may be offensive, shocking or boring to some readers but may be meaningful and significant to others. Works being considered should be viewed as a whole, not in isolated parts.

    Responsibility for the reading of minors rests with their parents or local guardians. Selection of adult material will not be restricted by the possibility that these materials may come into the possession of minors. The library should not be expected to act in loco parentis.
  3. In providing materials for student use the library cannot provide multiple copies of individual books or textbooks for school assignments, nor can it duplicate subject materials extensively.

B. Responsibility for Selection

  1. The initial responsibility for materials selection lies with the professional staffs at the libraries operating within the areas of service to children, young adults, and adults. All staff members and the general public may recommend material for consideration.
  2. The ultimate responsibility for selection rests by law with the County Librarian. California Education Code 19146 (2008)

C. Placement of Materials

  1. Placement of materials within each library is generally based upon assigned classification and appropriate age groupings.
  2. The public has free access to all library materials. Those items which themselves need protection because of rarity, cost, susceptibility to loss or damage, fragility or format unsuited to heavy use are available on a limited basis.

D. Disposal of Materials

Items are discarded from the collection if they are surplus to the needs of the library, their information has become obsolete, or they are physically so worn as to be unusable.

E. Gifts of Materials

Gift additions must meet the same selection criteria as purchased materials. The right to accept or refuse conditions placed upon gifts of materials or funds is reserved to the County Librarian. Donations of materials or funds to enrich the library collection are welcome. *Authors, please see our Guidelines for Authors page.
Approved by the Board of Supervisors of Santa Clara County October 1, 1974. Approved by the Joint Powers Authority of the Santa Clara County Library District October 26, 1995.