Overall Collection Development



The purpose of the North Adams Public Library Collection Development Policy is to provide guidelines for day-to-day acquisition and withdrawal decisions and long-range planning of collection needs in accordance with the Library’s mission.


The mission of the North Adams Public Library is to assemble, preserve and administer a collection of resources in a variety of formats that meet the needs of the community, and to share resources with the larger library community. As a source of knowledge for the community, an encourager of reading for all ages, a leader in cooperation with schools and organizations, and a supporter of life long learning, a high level of service will be delivered in a welcoming, responsive,and efficient manner.

Because library materials and information come in a wide variety of formats, the Library fulfills its mission by buying materials in both print and non-print form. Cassettes, videocassettes, compact disks, and microforms are examples of some formats being purchased. Additionally this extends to providing access to the vast collection of information beyond its own collection through interlibrary loans and efficient use of technology.


The Library Board delegates to the Library Director the authority and responsibility for the selection and management of all print, non-print and electronic materials, within the framework of this policy. Selection of library materials is a joint effort by all members of the staff, with the primary responsibility resting with the adult services and children’s librarian. Staff members consult with each other to review the needs of the community as documented in circulation statistics and requests. All staff members and the general public are encouraged to recommend material for consideration.

The Library endorses the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read statement and The Library Bill of Rights.


In general, collection priority is given to:

  • Print over non-print materials.
  • Collection emphasis is on up-to-date information. Older materials which remain accurate will be retained and replaced according to patron demand.
  • General treatments of subjects versus those which are specialized, scholarly, or primarily for professional use.
  • Single copies of a wide range of titles will be purchased rather than multiple copies of the same title. Multiple copies may be purchased when warranted by public demand, or when the title is of local interest and may go out of print, or if it is the definitive title on a particular subject.
  • Single-volume overviews over multi-volume works.
  • Materials written in English language.
  • Unabridged editions over abridgments. Abridgments will be considered only if they retain the flavor and quality of the original.


Selection tools include, but are not limited to:

  • reviews in professional library journals or periodicals which specialize in a particular subject
  • individual subject expertise of staff or community members
  • suggestions from NAPL patrons
  • coverage in local bookstores and newspapers
  • publishers catalogs
  • bibliographies


Materials are selected in accordance with one or more of the following guidelines:

  • artistic, literary, historic and/or scientific merit
  • availability of shelf space
  • authority and reputation of author
  • availability of material
  • awareness of significant new trends in literature, technology, and formats
  • clarity and accuracy of information and/or presentation
  • community requests and/or anticipated popular demand
  • favorable reviews
  • format and durability
  • practical usefulness and permanent significance
  • price, in relation to total budget
  • relationships to existing materials in collection.
  • relative importance in comparison with other materials available on the subject

In general books and other materials may be excluded for one or more of the following reasons:

  • inadequate characterization, plot, literary style, or atmosphere
  • inaccurate information
  • lack of integrity
  • over-sentimentality
  • sensationalism
  • written to incite hatred or intolerance, or presenting any individual or group in a prejudicial manner
  • religious books that are not of general interest
  • professional books in law and medicine
  • obscene or pornographic books, or books that, as a whole, offend standards of good taste and morality
  • textbooks for students
  • a variety of books because of cost, slight demand, or availability elsewhere
  • subject area is already well covered in other books
  • format of the book may be unsuitable for library circulation: poor binding, loose leaf, etc.


As stated in the Library Bill of Rights:

“Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Material should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.”

“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.”


Occasionally an individual of group may feel strongly about a particular item’s inclusion or exclusion from the collection and feel that a protest is necessary. Formal requests for acquisition or removal of specific items can be submitted in writing to the Library Director, who will refer it with the Board of Trustees on its acquisition or removal.


Gifts of books and other materials are accepted with the understanding that the library may make whatever use of the material it feels appropriate. The same criteria is used for gifts as for collection development. Items not needed in the collection may be sold and the proceeds given to the Friends of the North Adams Public Library.


In order to maintain a vital, current collection that meets the needs of the community, examination of materials is an ongoing process. Book withdrawal is an important aspect of collection development. When library books lose the value for which they were originally selected, they should be withdrawn. The purpose of a withdrawal policy is to insure that the collection remains vital and useful by:

  • discarding and/or replacing items in poor physical condition
  • eliminating items with obsolete, misleading or superseded information
  • reducing the number of copies of titles whose relevance to the community has lessened

The professional staff will evaluate the materials collection for replacement and/or discard on an ongoing basis, using the CREW method of evaluation developed by Joseph P. Segal. This process (Continuous Review, Evaluation and Weeding), uses the following criteria to evaluate a title’s current usefulness to the materials collection:

  • M = Misleading (and/or factually inaccurate)
  • U = Ugly (worn and beyond mending or rebinding)
  • S = Superseded by a truly new edition or by a much better book on the subject
  • T = Trivial (of no discernible literary or scientific merit)
  • Y = Your collection has no use for this book (i.e. irrelevant to the needs and interests of the community). Date of publication, last date circulated and average number of circulations per year are useful indicators of the above factors. The guidelines by Dewey classification and CREW should also be followed.

Professional staff will also consider a title in terms of its relevance to NAPL collection priorities, level of community interest, ability to provide diversity or balance to the collection, availability through interlibrary loan, collection priorities of other libraries in the service area, and funding and spatial constraints.


To ensure that the Library’s collection is fulfilling its mission to provide materials in a timely manner to meet patrons’ interests and needs there must be continuous evaluation. Circulation reports, collection turnover rates, fill rates, reference fill rates, shelf allotments, and volume counts are studied to determine how the collection is being used and how it should change to meet the needs of patron usage. Patron input and community surveys are also used to evaluate the collection.

Approved by the Board of Trustees on February 22, 1999