An official website of Arlington County Government

Materials Selection Policy

“The public library is more than a repository of books. It is a mysterious, wondrous place with the power to change lives.” Elizabeth Taylor, Literary Editor, Chicago Tribune.

In support of its mission to provide access to information, create connections among people and promote reading and culture, Arlington Public Library offers materials in a variety of formats to represent a wide range of viewpoints and opinions, enrich life-long learning, contribute insight into human and social conditions, foster civic engagement and provide enjoyment.

The library seeks to balance its collection of materials and resources so that it is broadly inclusive rather than exclusive of ideas.  In a democratic society, individuals are free to form and express their own opinions. The library does not take sides on issues, but takes seriously its role to provide information on opposing sides of issues, even when they may be controversial.

The responsibility for the reading, viewing and listening of minors rests with parents or guardians. The Arlington Public Library affirms its support for and adoption of the principles set forth in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights and its Freedom to Read statement.

Materials are judged as a whole rather than on isolated passages. The criteria for the selection of library materials include:

  • Community interest and demand
  • Literary or artistic merit
  • Accuracy and authoritativeness
  • Enduring value
  • Social significance
  • Collection balance
  • Availability
  • Cost

Materials are purchased in the most appropriate format(s) for library use.  New formats are considered for the collections when need and interest from the community has been established, budget support is available, and the format can be successfully adapted for library circulation or use.

Library staff reviews materials regularly for condition, relevance and frequency of use to maintain dynamic collections that meet customer interests and information needs. Materials withdrawn from the Library collections are sold by the Friends of the Library, donated to local non-profit organizations, or recycled.

Arlington Public Library welcomes customer suggestions for new materials. To make a suggestion, please fill out the Materials Purchase Suggestion Online Form.

Ultimate responsibility for materials selection and management rests with the Director of Libraries, who operates within the framework of policies set by the Arlington County Board, the County Manager and the Library’s management team. The Director delegates the responsibility for material selection and collection management to the Materials & Technology Division Chief and the collection development staff.

(Revised 09/2011)