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Collection Development Policy


The Hepburn Library of Lisbon’s collection development policy is developed and managed to meet the majority of the cultural, information, educational, and recreational needs of the library’s service area. As such, the library builds and maintains a patron-oriented collection by anticipating and responding to needs and expectations. 

Collection decisions are made in conjunction with the strategic initiatives, especially the following:

  • Positioning the library as the preferred partner for lifelong learning.
  • Embracing diversity.
  • Developing library services that incorporate both physical and virtual collections.
  • Committing to excellence in service to improve effectiveness and remove barriers.  

The American Library Association (ALA) Library Bill of Rights, The Freedom to View, and The Freedom to Read Statements have been endorsed by the Hepburn Library of Lisbon Board of Trustees and are integral parts of this policy. 

Acquisitions Procedures

The Hepburn Library of Lisbon Director, The Central Libraries Committee, and the North Country Library System share in the acquisitions process of collection development, including the choice of materials, vendors, and all other aspects. 

  • The Library Director is responsible for acquisitions for materials and services housed within the Hepburn Library of Lisbon, or owned exclusively by the Hepburn Library of Lisbon
  • The Central Libraries Committee, under the direction of the North Country Library System is responsible for acquisitions of materials and services that are shared collaboratively by the system, and housed primarily at the two Central Libraries, Flower Memorial Library and Ogdensburg Public Library. All system libraries are encouraged to make suggestions as outlined in the Central Libraries’ Policies.
  • All materials for digital collections owned and managed by the North Country Library System, for which the Hepburn Library of Lisbon pays an annual fee, are under the direction of the North Country Library System. All system libraries are encouraged to make suggestions to NCLS regarding possible titles for purchase.

Challenged Materials

Although materials are carefully selected, there can arise differences of opinion regarding suitable materials. Patrons requesting that material be withdrawn from or restricted within the collection may submit, in writing, a request for reconsideration of library material. 

Collection Maintenance and Weeding

The library continually withdraws items from the collection, basing its decisions on a number of factors, including publishing date, frequency of circulation, community interest, and availability of newer or more valid materials. Items dealing with local history are an exception, as are certain classics, award-winning children’s books, and books belonging to a series. Fiction that was once popular but no longer in demand and non-fiction books that are no longer useful are withdrawn from the collection.

Books withdrawn from the collection may be used for programs such as the book sale, Little Free Library, or given to other local organizations such as schools, senior centers, or other community groups. When unsold or unused materials exceed storage capacity, they will be recycled if possible or disposed of at the Director’s discretion.

Consideration of New Material Formats for Inclusion

The process for including new material formats (e.g. online databases, eBooks, streaming media, games, apps) should be ongoing. Factors to consider in this decision include current demand, trends or growth in demand, and strengths and weaknesses of the format. Accessibility to patrons with special needs should also be considered when purchasing materials. Evaluating new material formats based on these criteria prepares the library to meet patron demands.

Criteria for Selection:

The primary considerations in the selection of materials are: 

  • Present and potential relevance to community needs
  • Suitability of physical form for library use
  • Suitability of subject and style for intended audience
  • Cost of individual items relative to the overall budget
  • Importance as a document of the times
  • Relation to the existing collection and to other materials on the subject
  • Attention by critics and reviewers
  • Potential user appeal
  • Requests by library patrons 

Gifts and Donations

Accepting gifts and donations is an important way for the Hepburn Library of Lisbon to benefit from the generosity of the community it serves. Gifts and donations of materials are reviewed using the same criteria as purchases. The library reserves the right to dispose of any gifts that are given to the library. The library will determine how to best incorporate such materials into the existing collections. Materials not added to library collections may be used for programs such as the book sale, Little Free Library, or given to other local organizations such as schools, senior centers, or other community groups.

Funds may be given for the purpose of acquiring materials recommended by library staff as prescribed in this policy, or for purchase of specific items suggested by the donor. When the library receives a cash gift for the purchase of materials, the library staff must make the selection with the general selection principles set forth in this policy. 

Suitable bookplates will be placed in or on gift items, at the donor’s request. By law, the library is not allowed to appraise the value of donated materials, though it will provide an acknowledgment of receipt of the items if requested by the donor. 

Potential Problems or Challenges

The Library recognizes that some materials are controversial and that any given item may offend some patrons. Selection of materials will not be made on the basis of anticipated approval or disapproval, but solely on the basis of the principles stated in this policy. 

Responsibility for the viewing of library materials by children rests with their parents or legal guardians.  Selection of library materials will not be inhibited by the possibility that materials may come into the possession of children. 

Library materials will not be marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of their contents, and no library material will be sequestered except to protect it from damage or theft. 

Responsibility for Selection

The ultimate responsibility for selection of library materials rests with the Library Director who operates within the framework of the policies determined by the Hepburn Library of Lisbon Board of Trustees.  

Staff contributes to the development of patron-oriented collections by:

  • Engaging in open, continuous two-way communication with library patrons and recognizing that individuals have different ways of expressing their needs based on age, language, economic status, culture, or other characteristics.
  • Interacting with patrons with understanding, respect, and responsiveness.
  • Handling all requests equitably.
  • Working in partnership with one another to understand and respond to community needs.
  • Understanding and responding to rapidly changing demographics, as well as societal and technological changes.
  • Recognizing that materials of varying complexities and formats are necessary to satisfy diverse needs of library users.
  • Balancing individual needs and broader community needs in determining the best allocation of collection budget for acquiring or providing access to materials and information.
  • Seeking continuous improvement through ongoing measurement.
  • Reviewing the collection on a regular basis to identify areas of community interest that may need to be strengthened.

The Role of Interlibrary Loan

Because of limited budget and space, the library cannot provide all materials that are requested. Therefore, interlibrary loan is used to obtain from other libraries those materials that are beyond the scope of this library’s collection.

In return for utilizing interlibrary loan to satisfy the needs of our patrons, the Hepburn Library of Lisbon agrees to lend its materials to other libraries through the North Country Library System, and when practical, through other networks. 

Selecting Materials on Controversial Topics

A balanced collection attempts to represent all sides of controversial issues as far as availability of materials, space, and budget allow. Selection is based upon criteria stated in this policy. The race, religion, nationality, or political views of an author or creator; offensive language; depictions or descriptions of violence or sexually explicit activity; controversial content of an item; or endorsement or disapproval by an individual or group in the community does not cause an item automatically to be included or excluded from the library’s collection.

Special Collections

The Hepburn Library of Lisbon maintains a collection of local history items available for borrowing. This collection includes materials related to the Town of Lisbon, County of St. Lawrence, North Country Region, Adirondack Region, and New York State. Such items are designated as locally significant. Most of these items may be borrowed; a few are for use only within the library building.