Providing a wide array of materials is an essential way OPL serves its patrons. The purpose of this policy is to state the criteria the library uses to develop and maintain its collection.
OPL selects materials to support its mission, vision, and values. The library upholds the freedom to read, as stated by the American Library Association in the Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read Statement and protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
- OPL will select materials of interest to all members of the community, reflecting a variety of interests, viewpoints, ages, backgrounds, and education levels.
- OPL does not restrict selection based on the expressed opinion of an individual or group.
- Parents and legal guardians have sole responsibility for what their children read, view, or hear. Only parents and guardians may restrict their own children’s access to library materials. Selection of library materials will not be restricted by the possibility that materials could come into a child’s possession.
- Access to the collection will not be limited or denied because of origin, race, religion, age, background, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or views. These factors shall also not be cause to exclude any materials, authors, artists, or other creators from the collection.
The collection is for patrons of all ages, backgrounds, interests, education, and opinions. It will therefore reflect the diversity of the community it serves while also working within the realities of OPL’s collection space and budget. The responsibility for selection and weeding is vested in the library’s executive director, and under their direction, in staff qualified by pertinent expertise and experience. To select materials for purchase, the following criteria will be used:
- Style and presentation
- Comprehension level
- Overall demand
- Variety of viewpoints
- Not all selection criteria may apply equally to all content or formats.
- Selection of materials does not imply agreement with or approval of the viewpoints expressed.
- Materials are evaluated as a whole work and not by selected passages or scenes.
- Individual items which may be considered controversial or offensive by some may be selected if it will contribute to the overall variety and balance of the collection.
- OPL does not offer textbooks or other school curriculum and in general does not duplicate resources already provided at local academic and special libraries.
- Staff uses a wide variety of selection resources including, but not limited to, professional journals, popular media, publishing trends, local interests, patron recommendations, and circulation data.
- Patron recommendations for collection are welcomed and evaluated by the criteria listed above.
OPL will not restrict access to any library materials in public areas.
- All library cardholders may check out materials in accordance with circulation policies and procedures.
- Materials are labeled only by classification or as a directional aid.
- Children, young adult, and adult collections are differentiated based on reading level, language comprehension, and audience. These collections may be housed in designated areas to aid in discovery.
- Determining the appropriateness of materials for minors is the sole responsibility of the parent or guardian.
- Some materials are designated for use in the library only.
OPL maintains several collections that are specialized, rare, not readily available elsewhere, and/or of special interest to our community.
- Examples of special collections include genealogy, government documents, microfilm, Nebraska reference and local history.
- Special collections are established and maintained by library administration based on space, funding, local interest, and other criteria.
- Many items in these collections require special handling, due to their age and/or uniqueness. The goal is to provide access to these items, while also preserving them for continued use.
- OPL does not house private collections unless the collection is presented as a gift and it meets the necessary criteria for inclusion.
OPL staff removes worn, dated, and damaged items from the collection through procedures known as weeding. This process helps maintain the quality of the library collections and is not intended to sanction removal of items due to controversy of any kind. When weeding, staff considers the selection criteria in this policy. Weeded materials are disposed of according to the contract OPL and the City of Omaha have with the Friends of the Omaha Public Library. These materials may be disposed of through book sales, giveaways, or recycling.
Reconsideration of Library Materials
OPL recognizes that full information about issues of public concern requires access to resources that represent all those concerns. OPL also recognizes the right of individuals to question both materials selected by the library and those that are not. Individuals who wish an item to be removed from the collection may fill out a Request for Review of Library Materials form which will be reviewed by library administration. Material under review will remain in the circulating collection until a determination is made.
OPL accepts gifts to enhance library services through materials. Money gifts are the responsibility of the executive library director. Materials gifts are subject to the evaluation criteria stated in this policy. Processing costs and shelving limits are also considered before adding materials. Donations are accepted with the understanding that OPL has the right to determine the disposition of gift items. Materials not accepted by OPL are offered to the Friends of the Omaha Public Library for book sales.
Approved by the Board of Trustees
of the Omaha Public Library April 16, 2003
Re-approved July 18, 2019