Policy for Selection of Books & Material

Effective date: July 1, 2018

Adopted by the Board of Trustees: April 17, 2018

Service Mission, Vision, & Values

Vision Statement: A versatile community center, open to all, that evolves with changing technology and social trends to empower lifelong growth, learning, and education.

Mission: Meeting individual and community needs through information, education, engagement, and enrichment.

Values: To realize our vision and fulfill our mission, the following ideals direct us in our service to Gaston County and interactions with one another:

  • Quality of service: Respectful, polite, and consistently relevant, effective, efficient, and professional.
  • Communication: Clear, concise, collaborative, and ongoing.
  • Comfortable, Welcoming Environment: A place for relaxation and entertainment that is welcoming to all.
  • Adaptability: Agile and responsive while making resources and services available to all
  • Trust: Dependable, reliable, and always there to help you find what you are looking for.
  • Empathy: Understanding, recognition, and honoring of a diversity of experience and perspective.

The Library subscribes in principle to the following statements of policy on library philosophy expressed in the Library Bill of Rights and its official interpretations as adopted by the American Library Association, and it should be considered as an integral part of this policy. Copies of this document can be found in the latest edition of the Intellectual Freedom Manual, compiled by the Office of Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association and located in the reference section at each Gaston County Public Library facility.

  • The Library Bill of Rights (1996) and its official interpretations as adopted by the American Library Association.
  • The Freedom to Read Statement (2004) as adopted by the American Library Association and the Association of American Publishers.
  • The Freedom to View Statement (1990) as adopted by the American Film and Video Association in 1989 and endorsed by the American Library Association.
  • Statements of Policy on Confidentiality of Library Records (1986) as adopted by the American Library Association.
  • Statements of Policy Concerning Confidentiality of Personally Identifiable Information About Library Users (2004) as adopted by the American Library Association.
  • Statements of Policy on Governmental Intimidation (2004) as adopted by the American Library Association (ALA).
  • The American Library Association's Code of Ethics (2008) as adopted by the ALA Council.
  • The Libraries: an American Value (1999) statement adopted by the American Library Association.
  • The Diversity in Collection Development (1990) statement adopted by the American Library Association.

Authority & Responsibility for Library Materials Selection

Final authority for the determination of policy in the selection and acquisition of all Gaston County Public Library material resources is vested in the Library Board of Trustees.

Ultimate responsibility for the selection of books and materials rests with the Library Director who operates within the framework of library policies adopted by the Board of Trustees.

Professionally trained Library staff from all service sections serve on the Library's Collection Development Committee. They apply their judgment and experience in selecting library materials according to Board-adopted selection principles and criteria. The Librarian Supervisor of Collection Development Services coordinates and manages the Library's materials selection and acquisitions processes.

Selection Principles & Criteria

Selection is based on the merit of a work as it relates to the Library's stated mission and goals and on its value in relation to the Library's existing print and non-print resource collections. Anticipated community interests and needs are considered as well as the expressed interests and needs of current library users. Selection decisions are also made with the Library's physical space and budgetary limitations in mind.

The Library strives to maintain a balanced collection in which diverse points of view regarding contemporary and historical issues are represented. The presence of a book or media selection in the Library does not constitute endorsement of its contents.

Library materials are not labeled, rated, or housed in any manner intended to prejudice users or to restrict or deny access to them. The Library does not serve in loco parentis. Parents and legal guardians are responsible for monitoring their children's access to library materials.

Individual print and non-print works are evaluated as a whole. They will not be rejected on the basis of single passages or scenes taken out of context. Titles acquired satisfy one or more of the following criteria:

  • Authority: the author/producer's education, training, field of specialization, contributions to his/her field, professional reputation of the author/producer or of the publisher
  • Content: objectivity, accuracy, point of view, authenticity, contribution to the subject area
  • Style: clarity, readability, artistic or literary excellence, manner of presentation
  • Format: physical condition and quality, ease of storage and maintenance, sturdiness of binding or packaging, quality of print/sound/video, size of item, etc.
  • Value: permanency, currency, temporary interest, educational, recreational, historical, ephemeral, special interest
  • Price: reasonable cost considering quality/demand, good value
  • Demand and nature of the demand: bestseller, popular interest, supplements local school curricula, special local interest
  • Scope and audience: potential use, content appropriateness for intended users
  • Professional Reviews: acceptable evaluations in reputable book and media review sources
  • Common sense

Standing Orders & Automatic Purchases:

Selective lists of library materials are ordered on a continuing basis rather than by title-by-title. These lists include, but are not limited to:

  • Updated editions of reference and nonfiction works already owned by the library
  • Popular interest paperback series titles for juvenile and teen readers
  • Books by notable and well-known authors whose new works generate high demand
  • Favorably reviewed top ten titles on the New York Times Bestsellers list
  • ALA Award-winning titles

Standing orders and automatic purchase plans are regularly reviewed and revised to maintain collection currency and relevance.


Recommendations from library users are welcomed and encouraged. Those that meet the established selection criteria are acquired as available. Requesters are notified of the Library's decision and first-loan opportunity is offered. LIBRARY MATERIAL REQUEST FORMs are available at all Library locations and on the Library's website.

Gifts & Donations

The Librarian Supervisor of Collection Development Services is the Library's designated contact for donations of, or contributions for, books and media. The Library cannot accept gifts with donor-imposed conditions. Donations are evaluated by the same selection criteria applied to purchased library materials. All donated and freely distributed items become Library property and, as such, are subject to established collection maintenance standards for subsequent retention or discard.

Dealers, Vendors, Jobbers

The Librarian Supervisor of Collection Development Services is the Library's designated contact for dealers, vendors, jobbers, or others who wish to propose their publications and products for purchase consideration. The Library does not accept unsolicited shipments or subscribe to approval plans.

Library Collections

The Library's book collections contain general reference works, trade fiction and non-fiction in hardcover and paperbound formats, and mass-market paperbacks. Non-print collections contain digital videos (DVD), audiobooks (CD), selected music genres (CD), Playaways, Launchpads and eContent. The purposes and resources of community library collections are considered in the Library's collection development process so that needless duplication of materials and services is avoided. We strive to supplement and enrich local academic and school curricula but cannot supply textbooks.

The Library acknowledges special interest in local history and genealogy, in general works about the State of North Carolina, and in works by and about North Carolina authors. Resources for the North Carolina Collection housed at the Main Library are selected in accordance with specific guidelines developed by Library staff.

The Library also provides access to online databases and eContent. Some of these electronic resources are made available to all North Carolina public libraries and others are subscribed to individually. In either case, the Library may or may not control the content.

As new formats emerge, the Library carefully monitors public response. Library collections evolve as technology and usage trends require. A new format may, therefore, be an addition to existing library collections or a replacement for an obsolete one.

Collection Maintenance

The maintenance of current, useful, and active library collections requires constant, methodical attention. Addition, replacement, and withdrawal decisions are made following the same criteria applied to new title selections. Underutilized resources may be transferred from one branch location to another. Materials that are damaged, excessively worn, and outdated are removed.

Review of Challenged Materials

Anyone who questions, or objects to, the presence of a specific title in the Library's print or media collections may request a formal review. Formal review requires the submission of a written Reconsideration of Library Materials Request form and return of the item it pertains to. This form and associated procedural information are available at all Library locations. Complainants are notified by the Library Director of the review outcome. If a review decision is unsatisfactory, a complainant may appeal it to the Library Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees has final authority in determining the retention or removal of challenged library materials.