Collection Development Policy

Selection and Weeding of Materials


  1. Materials are selected to support the Library’s Mission Statement to “strengthen our communities by connecting people with ideas, information and innovative services.”
  2. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the freedom to read. It is essential to our democracy and will be upheld in the selection and access to all library materials. Further, the Library will uphold the freedom to read principles contained in the statements of the American Library Association. Examples of these include the Library Bill of Rightsopens a new window and the Freedom to Read Statementopens a new window.
  3. Forms of expression that are unprotected by the First Amendment will not be included in the collection. All materials selected under this policy are considered constitutionally protected until such time as any item, taken individually, is determined by judicial action in courts of jurisdiction to be unprotected and after all appeals have been exhausted.
  4. While it is this policy’s intent to encourage free access to materials, the Library reserves the right to designate some materials for in library use only.
  5. Parents and/or legal guardians have sole responsibility for what their children read, view, or hear. Only parents or guardians may restrict their own children’s access to library materials. Selection of library materials will not be inhibited by the possibility that materials might inadvertently come into a child’s possession.
  6. The Library will attempt to provide materials for all members of the community. Access to and use of materials will not be denied or abridged because of origin, race, age, background, sex, or views. Likewise, none of these factors shall be cause to exclude any material of authors, artists, publishers, or producers.
  7. The Library will consider the following criteria as valid factors in the selection process as they relate to library customers of all ages, walks of life, value and interest patterns, education, opinion, and persuasion:
    • Content
    • Subject of interest
    • Style and presentation
    • Format and genre
    • Organization of material
    • Range of appeal
    • Age appropriateness
    • Quality
    • Availability
    • Authority
    • Scope
    • Relationship to other items in the collection
    • Budgetary constraints
    • Variety of items, of subjects, and of opinions
  8. Selection of materials by the librarian does not imply agreement with or approval of the content, viewpoint, implication, or expression of the material.
  9. Librarians will evaluate materials on the basis of the content and style of the work as a whole, not by selected or random passages or scene.
    The public library is not a curriculum center and does not provide basic texts, curriculum resources, nor materials needed in quantity for schoolwork.

The following policy is established in accordance with the principles above:

1. Selection
The Library has funds to purchase only a small portion of what is published or produced each year. Therefore, to best use public money, library staff will select materials in accordance with the principles and policies of this document. At the same time, they will strive to maintain diversity, quality, and responsiveness to community interest patterns.

a. Criteria aiding in selection as listed under PRINCIPLES will be used to guide in selection of all library materials. No single standard applies in all cases. Individual items which, in and of themselves, may be controversial or offensive to some, may appropriately be selected if their inclusion in the collection will contribute to the balance and effectiveness of the Library collection as a whole.
b. Diversity of materials to meet the purposes of use, age levels, and educational levels will be maintained by providing for alternative and/or opposing views and unpopular as well as popular materials in order to reflect the diversity that exists in our culture and society.
c. Quality of materials will be maintained by the application of professional discretion and standards established by the library profession and through the use of appropriate selection tools.
d. Responsiveness to interest patterns will be maintained by careful consideration of requests for purchase, patterns of use of existing materials, patterns of purchase of similar materials from retailers, and any other source of information that informs librarians of community interest patterns.
e. Inclusiveness will be exercised. Library staff will select materials of interest to all individuals or groups within the community and will not restrict selection based on the expressed opinion of an individual or group.
f. Duplication of materials already in other local special or professional libraries will be avoided when possible. Some examples are items that are in church libraries, law libraries, medical libraries, or libraries supporting specific curricula.
g. Funding availability and budgetary constraints must be taken into consideration during the selection process.
h. Request for purchase by customers will be evaluated according to this policy.
i. Availability of similar content elsewhere, through the internet, subscription databases or other means, may mean that resources are not purchased in print format.

2. Accessibility
The Library will not restrict access to any library materials in public areas.

a. All library cardholders may check out materials in accordance with circulation rules and procedures.
b. The Library will not label materials other than by classification or by directional aids.
c. The Library observes a distinction between children, young adult and adult collections on the basis of reading level, language comprehension, and audience. Adult, young adult, and children’s collections may be housed in separate and designated areas. Determining the appropriateness of materials for minors is the sole responsibility of the parent or guardian.
d. Some materials are designated for use in the Library only.
e. Some materials will be shelved separately for ease of customer browsing.

The Library maintains several special collections. Examples include:
Government Documents
Nebraska Reference and Local History
Youth Historic Collection

These collections provide access to information that is specialized, rare or unique, valuable, or no longer in print nor readily available. Many of the items in the special collections are designated as reference and may be used only in the library. Special collections are established upon approval of the library administration based on local interest, space, cost, funding and other criteria. The Library does not house private collections unless the collection is presented as a gift and it meets all the necessary criteria for inclusion.

The professional staff will systematically weed worn, dated, or damaged library materials as an integral part of the selection process. The process helps maintain the quality of the library collections and is not intended to sanction removal of library materials based upon any controversy surrounding the material. Staff, during this process, should consider the selection principles stated in this Policy. Weeded materials are disposed of according to the contract the Library and the City have with the Friends of the Omaha Public Library and materials may be disposed of through book sales, giveaways or recycling.

The Library Board recognizes that full information about issues of public concern requires access to information sources that embody, represent, and illustrate those concerns. The Board also recognizes the right of individuals to question both materials in the Library or those not selected for the Library. Material under question will remain in the active collection until a judicial determination is made. A “Request for Review of Library Materials” must be completed and submitted to the Library Director.

The responsibility for selection and discarding is vested in the Library Director and, under his or her direction, in members of the staff qualified by education and sufficient pertinent experience with public library collections.

Omaha Public Library accepts gifts of money to enhance library services through the materials. Gifts of money are the responsibility of the Library Director, and gifts of materials are subject to the evaluation criteria stated for the selection of materials. The Library must consider processing and shelving costs before adding materials. Donations are accepted with the understanding that the Library has the right to determine the disposition of gift items. Materials not accepted by the Library are offered to the Friends of the Library for their book sale.

Approved by the Board of Trustees
of the Omaha Public Library, April 16, 2003
Re-approved April 15, 2015