Collection Management

The purpose of the collection management policy is to inform the public of the policies and practices guiding the development of the Library's collection.

Collection Principles

The goals of the collection are to support the Library's mission, vision, and strategic framework by providing materials and resources that meet the learning, information, education, and entertainment needs of our community. 

The Library emphasizes breadth over depth, unabridged over abridged and general materials over specialized, scholarly, and professional materials.  Budget and space restrictions preclude the Library from duplicating the specialized and comprehensive collections that exist elsewhere in the region. The Library is fully committed to providing access to these specialized materials through referral, cooperative agreements, and resource sharing through interlibrary loan. The Library does not serve as an archive for the City of Saint Paul or any organization.

Central Library

As the Library's largest facility, the Central Library houses an expanded collection and acts as a resource and referral center for the entire Library system. Staff at neighborhood libraries refers patrons to Central for in-depth reference help and access to materials beyond the scope of the smaller locations. The Central Library houses a number of special collections including the Saint Paul Collection, the Severson Collection, the Fitzgerald Collection and the Miller Sheet Music Collection. Also housed at the Central Library are decades-long collections of general interest print magazines actively used by students and researchers. These collections are unique and significant resources for the City and region.

Selection of Materials

The collection should reflect the diversity of the community, providing information in a variety of formats and at multiple levels of complexity. Patron requests and neighborhood needs are integral to the selection process, resulting in patron driven acquisition of materials.

There is no single set of selection criteria that can be applied in all cases. The Library's general selection criteria include: 

  • support of the Library's mission, vision and strategic framework
  • representation of diverse points of view
  • currency, timeliness and accuracy of the content
  • public demand
  • relevance to the community
  • relation to the existing collection
  • cost
  • positive professional reviews

Specialized librarians, centrally located at the Materials Management Center, select materials in all formats and subject areas for the entire Library system. The selectors consult with staff in all Library branches and make data-driven decisions based on professional expertise, collection analysis, and circulation and use statistics.

Selection staff welcomes input and suggestions from the community. A Suggestion for Purchase form is available online at http://www.sppl.org/suggest

Independently published materials are subject to the selection criteria outlined above. Preview copies will be treated as donations and will be handled in the same manner as all gift materials.

Online resources extend the collection by providing instant, 24-hour access to information. As new online resources are added, preference is given to those which can be accessed by more than one user at a time and from any location. Because technologies for sound, image, and electronic delivery of information continue to evolve, the Library will monitor and evaluate new formats, implementing them when appropriate. 

Gifts

The Library welcomes gifts of materials with the understanding that the same standards of selection are applied to gifts as to materials purchased for the collection. Gifts are accepted with the following restrictions:

  • the Library retains unconditional ownership of the materials;
  • donated materials must be in excellent condition and published within the last three years;
  • the Library makes the final decision regarding the use or other disposition of the gift.

The Library does not accept gifts of magazines, textbooks, computer manuals, condensed books, or any materials that are worn, stained, or mildewed.  Prospective donors should contact the library to discuss donations and procedures before bringing them to the Library. The Library does not assign a value to the materials. It is a donor's responsibility to determine the value of the donated materials.

Evaluation and Management of the Collection 

Ongoing and regular withdrawal of items is required to keep the collection current, to ensure its vitality and usefulness to the community, and to make room for newer materials. Staff identifies damaged items, materials no longer used, and out-of-date materials.  Regardless of use, materials will be withdrawn if they are damaged, worn, have pages missing, contain dated or obsolete information, or have been replaced by a newer edition.  Regularly scheduled review also helps the Library evaluate the collection by identifying areas or titles where additional materials are needed.  Materials withdrawn from the collection will be disposed of in the most appropriate manner, which may include sale to the public, donation to another organization, or in some cases, discarding as waste.    

The Library holds the special collections at the Central Library for the benefit of future patrons, students and researchers. Items are withdrawn for reasons of condition only.

Intellectual Freedom

The Library is a forum for all points of view and adheres to the principles of intellectual freedom as expressed in the Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read and Freedom to View Principles as adopted by the American Library Association. The Library considers reading, listening and viewing to be individual, private matters and that full and confidential access to information is essential for patrons. Responsibility for children's use of library materials rests with their parents or legal guardians. Selection of materials for adults will not be inhibited by the possibility that such materials may be accessible to children.