In support of the overall Library mission, Arlington Public Library shall create a collection that represents a wide range of viewpoints and opinions, enriches life-long learning, contributes insight into human and social conditions, fosters civic engagement and provides enjoyment. Library selectors choose materials in a variety of formats, age ranges, education levels, reading abilities, languages and material types in order to fully serve the recreational reading and educational needs of Arlington County residents and library patrons.
Ultimate responsibility for materials selection and collection management rests with the Library Director, 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 materials selection and collection management to the Collections and Access Division Chief and the collection development staff.
The Library seeks to balance its collection of materials and resources so that it is 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 Library’s acquisition of any given material does not constitute endorsement of the material’s expressed views.
An overarching goal of the collection is to be comprehensive, featuring materials covering a wide variety of topics and interests, while maintaining a reasonable wait time on the most popular materials as measured by community interest. Library resources are finite and not every book published will be purchased nor are multiple copies of items guaranteed to be purchased.
The Library purchases materials from vendors who have gone through the formal County procurement process and who have active contracts with Arlington County. The Library cannot purchase materials for its collection if they are not available through an approved active vendor.
The responsibility for the use of the library collection by minors rests with parents or guardians. The 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. As part of the Library’s support of the Library Bill of Rights, access to the collection shall be equitable to users of all ages.
The criteria for the selection of library materials include, but are not limited to the following, in no particular order:
- Community interest and demand
- Literary or artistic merit
- Accuracy and authoritativeness
- Enduring value
- Social significance
- Collection balance
- Positive reviews in major review journals (paid or amateur reviews are not considered)
- Timeliness or currency of information
When choosing items for the collection, materials are judged as a whole rather than on isolated passages. Materials do not need to meet all the above criteria to be included in the collection and will not be excluded based solely on any of the following:
- Race, religion, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, or political views of an author
- Frankness or coarseness of language
- Controversial nature of an item, including visual aspects
- Endorsement or disapproval of an item by an individual or organization
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.
Deselection and Removal of Library Materials
Library staff review 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 become the property of the Friends of the Arlington Library and may be sold in a book sale or bookstore, donated to local non-profit organizations, or recycled. Criteria for the removal of library materials from a location or the overall collection include, but are not limited to:
- Material is no longer timely, accurate, or relevant.
- Material is damaged or in poor condition.
- There are space limitations within the library.
- Patron interest no longer requires the number of copies in the collection.
- There is insufficient use or lack of customer demand for a title.
- The title is available at other library locations or in other formats.
Arlington Public Library welcomes patron suggestions for new materials. To make a suggestion, please fill out the Materials Purchase Suggestion Online Form in your library account. While the Library will fulfill suggestions that meet its selection criteria whenever possible, not every suggestion can or will be purchased.
Donations and Gifts
Arlington Public Library welcomes donations of materials. All donated items are property of the Friends of the Arlington Public Library, though donated items may be added to the collection at the discretion of collection development staff and only if the materials meet the selection guidelines expressed in this policy. By donating an item to the Friends, the donor acknowledges that if the Library chooses not to add the item to the collection, it will remain property of the Friends of the Library to be sold in the Friends Bookstore or at a book sale, or otherwise disposed of as the Friends of the Arlington Library choose.
The Library also encourages monetary donations to the Friends of the Arlington Library to be used in the acquisition of new materials for the Library collection. The Library prefers that no constraints be placed on monetary gifts, but a donor may identify a general subject area or format if they so choose. All specific item selections will be made by collection development staff. Final acceptance of all donations and the use of donated funds is at the discretion of the Library Director or their delegated staff.