Collection Development Policy

Collection Development

(August 2018)


The Preble County District Library (PCDL), in rural southwestern Ohio, is composed of seven branch libraries, plus an Administration building, which houses the library office and the Preble County Room (genealogy/local history). The library collection is developed and managed to meet the cultural, informational, educational, and recreational needs of residents of Preble County, as well as to reflect the diversity of the rest of the United States. The collection includes books, large print books, eBooks, audio books, databases, movies (DVD/Blu-Ray), music (CDs), video games, adaptive learning toys and more. The library also provides free programs, including those for homeschoolers; makerspaces; outreach to area nursing homes as well as to those who have difficulty getting to our branches; Talking Book Machines; and other services. The goal is to promote an enlightened citizenship with enriched personal lives and to encourage continuous self-education.

Community Profile

Most of our branches are located in small towns or villages, because the population of Preble County is spread out over a wide area. The Administration building and the main branch library are located in Eaton, the county seat. The other branches are located in the largely rural communities of Camden, Eldorado, New Paris, West Alexandria, West Elkton and West Manchester. Knowledge of our community is essential in making decisions about the Library's collection. Each branch librarian may provide a monthly list of items especially geared to the patrons of his/her branch. Because certain materials are selected to meet local community needs, branch materials are not necessarily duplicated in all seven branches.

PCDL defines its primary service audience as residents of Preble County, Ohio. It is projected that 40,420 people will live in Preble County in 2020. Currently, nearly 75% of those residents hold library cards with PCDL. About 49% of those cardholders are male, 51% are female. Of the population, 25% are 19 years old or younger, 21% are 20-39 years of age, 34% are 40-64 and 25% are 65 or older. Approximately 88.8% are high school graduates; 13.5% have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. During 2012-2016, 11.4% of our citizens under age 65 had a disability. As of 2018, median household income in Preble County is $47,818.

As a secondary audience, in accordance to ALA guidelines, our collection reflects the interest of all those in the United States. As our community continues to change, the Library will continue to reassess and change its collections to reflect those changes.

Purpose of the Collection Development Policy

This formal policy serves four vital purposes:

  1. It acts as a blueprint, guiding staff in decision-making regarding the selection, management, and preservation of the collection, developing budgets and allocating resources.
  2. It identifies responsibilities for developing collections.
  3. It informs the public of the principles guiding our collection development.
  4. Following American Library Association guidelines, it reiterates the Library’s commitment to intellectual freedom and to providing information expressing a variety of viewpoints.



PCDL has a strong commitment to working with our area educational bodies, including those associated with the arts, genealogy, older adult services and the disabled. Our collection and the services we provide reflect this commitment. PCDL adheres to the Standards for Ohio Public Libraries concerning the age of the collection: to have at least 25% of the collection published within the last 5 years and to fill patron requests 90% of the time. PCDL librarians use professional collection development selection tools to assist them in making valuable acquisitions for the public. The library seeks to provide relevant on-line databases, eBooks, and other forms of the latest technology to our patrons whenever possible. Because materials are separated by department: Adult, Young Adult, and Youth, but some audio-visual materials are not, PCDL makes every attempt to purchase visual materials that are rated to assist patrons with their selection decisions. However, we recognize that neither a library nor the motion picture/ television/music rating can take the place of an individual's parental judgment.

Budget Allocations

The Director and Fiscal Officer will establish, subject to the approval of the Library Board of Directors, the annual allocation of funds for purchasing library materials. Allocations will include, but not be limited to, funds for the purchase of standing orders, leased books, periodicals, and digital and other non-print media.

Once allocations have been made, individuals assigned to the selection of materials for a given area are responsible for pacing their ordering of materials to ensure that there is a steady flow of new materials throughout the entire year and that the allocation for a particular area is never exceeded.

Collection Development Responsibility

Ultimate responsibility for collection development rests with the Director who administers under the authority of the Board of Trustees. The Director, in turn, delegates the authority for selection to designated professional staff who make individual selection decisions.

The Department Heads are responsible for each of their areas of expertise in choosing the materials; the Collection Development Librarian chooses the general adult and eBook collections and all video games; the Reference and Information Services Librarian chooses reference materials, including databases, for all ages; and the Youth Services Manager chooses materials for teens and children. The Preble County Room is considered a Special Library Collection. The majority of the collection is for research. Its purpose is three-fold, to house historical information on Preble County, to provide genealogical information on Preble County residents and to preserve the genealogical and historical records of Preble County whenever possible. The scope of the collection includes materials about Preble County and its neighboring Ohio and Indiana counties and other states and specific counties from whence Preble Countians originated, as well as ethnic and religious groups which have ties to Preble County. The collection and preservation of Preble County documents is determined by the Preble County Room Supervisor. The Library Director has the final responsibility for the selection of materials within the framework of this selection policy as adopted by the PCDL Board of Trustees.

Access and Resource Sharing

It is the philosophy of this library to collaborate with Ohio libraries as much as possible. To ensure that there is diversity and a wide range of materials available to our patrons, PCDL belongs to two consortia: the SEO Library Center, a consortium of 93 library systems with a total of 237 locations across 47 Ohio counties (including three of Preble County’s school systems and all of Preble County’s libraries), and the Ohio Digital Library with 185 library/library systems. Preble County District Library Branches collaborate in programming, sharing resources and training.

Funding Statement

Library funding, which includes funding for the collection, comes from the Public Library Fund and the local levy. Additional support for the Library’s collection is provided by Friends groups of Preble County District Libraries, trusts, grants, fines and fees, and additional gifts and donations.

Selection and Evaluative Criteria

The Collection Development Librarian, Youth Services Manager, Reference Librarian, and Head of Genealogy utilize professional judgment and expertise in making collection development decisions such as choosing titles, identifying quantities for purchase, and selecting locations for materials.

Material selection staff is guided by two basic principles when selecting books for the library collection. Materials will be collected that the patrons of PCDL either desire or need.

  • Selection based upon desire: The expressed or otherwise obvious desires of library patrons as evidenced by the circulation of materials, individual requests for information via online requests, the submission of blue request cards and/or an evaluation of requests made directly to PCDL librarians, are examined by the library selection staff and used for the development of the collection in popular subject areas. The expedient purchasing and processing of popular works, such as those on the New York Times best-seller lists, is vital to the materials’ utility.
  • Selection based upon need: The library selection staff examines the scope and depth of the library’s collection to ensure that core subject areas and classical works are topically current and well represented.  Although a medium-sized public library such as PCDL cannot attempt to collect materials at a comprehensive or research level for any subject area other than local issues, a broad range of materials should both serve and await the needs of the library’s patrons.

Library selection staff try to not emphasize selection of materials based upon one principle over another, but strive to strike a balance between purchasing both desired and needed materials.

The following criteria are used to evaluate and select items for the collection. Not all criteria will be applied to each selection decision. Certain materials are selected to address local branch community needs.

General criteria for selection:

  • Present and potential relevance to community needs, industry trends, and events
  • Suitability of format or physical form for library use
  • Suitability of subject and style for intended audience
  • Relation to the existing collection and other resources in the community
  • Current and anticipated demand
  • Requests from patrons/individual staff (limited to no more than 4 requests each per month to ensure fairness and balanced input from each library branch and its patrons) and monthly lists submitted by branch librarians.
  • Attention by critics and reviewers
  • Availability in multiple formats
  • Support of library programs and initiatives
  • Relevance of the item as an artifact or for its historic significance
  • Cost of item in relation to use and/or enhancements to the collection
  • Scarcity of information in the subject area
  • Physical space limitations

Materials that have been published or released within the last year, unless it is a replacement, a “classic” or highly requested or regarded title, are given priority

Content criteria for selection:

  • Accuracy, integrity, and currency of the information
  • Comprehensiveness
  • Enduring significance or interest/demand
  • Skill, competence, purpose, reputation and qualifications of author/publisher
  • Consideration of the work as a whole
  • Objectivity
  • Clarity
  • Technical quality
  • Representation of controversial or diverse points of view
  • Representation of movements, subjects, genres or trends of lasting patron interest
  • Artistic presentation and/or experimentation, unique content
  • Purpose of material in relation to community
  • Relevance to local history collections

No textbooks will be purchased for the public library

Additional Criteria for Electronic Formats

  • Technical and support requirements needed for access to the product (ease of use)
  • Availability of the product to multiple, concurrent users (accessibility)
  • Equipment, training and technology requirements
  • Availability of print equivalent
  • License agreement requirements and vendor support
  • Market penetration of the media format compared to existing and competing formats
  • Cost per use

Selection Levels

A library’s collection can be or be suitable for:

  • Comprehensive or exhaustive: Collection of all print and non-print materials related to a specialized subject area.
  • Research: Collection of major reference works, primary sources, secondary sources and specialized monographs supporting college and university school educations.
  • Study: Collection of major reference works, periodicals and core titles which introduce or supplement high school collections in major subject areas.
  • Popular: Collection of the major works or titles of authors or subjects of popular interest.
  • Basic: Highly selective collection of works which introduce and define the author or subject.
  • Skeletal or minimal: Collection of the most general treatments of the subject.

Generally, PCDL does not attempt to support comprehensive or research level collections except in the area of local history. Most selections will be for the purpose of supporting study, popular, basic or skeletal levels of collection development within the limitations of the library’s budget.

Selection Sources

Sources for selection decisions encompass, but are not limited to, published reviews from standard review sources (Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, AARP, Dayton Daily News), publisher/vendor catalogs and advertisements (Cengage, Brodart, Blackstone, Ingram, Dreamscape), professional and trade bibliographies (Booklist, Book Page). Self-published materials must have been reviewed by at least one standard review source and must be readily available through book distributors such as Amazon or Ingram to be considered for the PCDL collection.

PCDL strongly encourages customer input. All customer requests and recommendations are subject to the selection criteria outlined above.

Collection Maintenance

Once materials have been added to the Library’s collection, they are managed through an assessment and evaluation process to ensure that ongoing collection priorities are met; that collections remain up-to-date, balanced and attractive; and that space limitations are minimized. Staff relies on a set of criteria to guide on-going collection maintenance decisions. Based on the evaluation, materials may either be kept in a branch’s collection, preserved to ensure long term retention, put into storage, or permanently withdrawn from the collection. Should the material be deemed important but in bad condition, it will be discarded and replacement copies purchased. Material of lasting value will be repaired or rebound if necessary. Each department has unique weeding requirements.

De-Accessioning (Weeding)

Generally, PCDL uses the CREW method for weeding (Continuous Review, Evaluation and Weeding). Not all criteria will be applied to each de-selection decision.

General criteria for de-selection:

  • Age, format or physical condition is no longer suitable for library use
  • Content is available in multiple formats
  • Material superseded by a new edition or a better title
  • Obsolescence – information that is no longer timely, accurate or relevant
  • Insufficient use or lack of patron demand
  • Little or no relevance to current trends and events
  • No long-term or historical significance
  • Space limitations
  • Sufficient number of copies in the collection
  • Easy availability in other collections locally or nationally  
  • Too costly to repair  

Removal of Items

Often, when a specific branch wishes to refresh its collection, it will exchange titles with another branch. Likewise, when weeding newer items, it may offer those items to another branch in our system. Our local school librarians are given first priority, at no charge, for any materials being removed, but PCDL may also collaborate with non-profit organizations in the community to contribute weeded materials for their use. The library also holds book sales for the public to further defray the cost of new materials. In situations where the items are damaged and no longer useable or wanted, the library disposes of the material.

It is important to note that weeding is done on an ongoing basis as needed, to make room for newer titles with updated information/formats and when materials that are in poor condition or are not circulating come to our attention.                           

Intellectual Freedom

PCDL follows the guidelines of our national library organization, the American Library Association. The American Library Association supports intellectual freedom and opposes censorship. The PCDL Board of Trustees and Staff subscribe to ALA Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read Statements.

The Library Bill of Rights

The Freedom to Read Statement

Gifts, Material Donations, and Memorials

Gifts are welcome with the understanding that they may not always be added to the collection. The same criteria used for the selection of all materials will be used in evaluating donations. All donations must be clean and gently used. No moldy or mildewed books will be accepted. Items not chosen for the collection may be placed in the library's book sale.

If a patron wishes to make a donation as a memorial, the library prefers guidance as to the preferred type of material and a dollar amount ( A bookplate will be placed in the book/item indicating that it is in memoriam. Unless, designated otherwise, all memorial donations will be used to purchase materials for the Adult collection. All items donated in memoriam will remain in the collection as long as the item is relevant, contains accurate information, and/or circulates. PCDL retains the right to remove any items from the collection which do not meet this criteria.

The Library does not provide appraisals for income tax or any other purpose.  

Challenged Materials

Every public library will house a material that is objectionable to some of its patrons. If the public library is truly fulfilling its role in a democratic society, this should be expected. In effort to minimize this from happening, Banned Book Week will be promoted in the community to remind our patrons the role the public library serves. If a patron wishes to file a formal complaint regarding material they find objectionable, they may fill out a “Request for Reconsideration of Materials” form ( The completed form will be given to the Director. If an open conversation between the complainant and the Library Director does not resolve the patron’s concerns, the Library Director will present the “Request for Reconsideration of Materials” form at the next regular Board of Trustees meeting. The Board of Trustees will review the case and communicate their decision directly to the complainant within a week after the review. A copy of the decision will be sent to the branch where the “Request for Reconsideration of Materials” form was originally filed.