Selection of Library Materials

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  • Board Policy #300
  • Board Approval: 03/27/91, 08/25/05
  • Revision: 04/20/99; 08/05/05
  • Director's Recommendation: 03/27/91


The objective of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) is to select, organize, and make accessible material to meet the expressed and anticipated needs and interests of the diverse public in the CALS service area. CALS selects those materials from printed, audio, video, and electronic formats. Materials, regardless of format, must conform to CALS' Selection Policy. Since technical systems do not exist to insure electronic (Internet) conformity with CALS' Selection Policy, users of the Internet are expected to know and abide by CALS' Public Computer & Internet Use Rules and Responsibilities.


The Board of Trustees of the Central Arkansas Library System recognizes the pluralistic nature of the community and the varied backgrounds, levels of education, and needs of all citizens of all ages. The Board, therefore, declares and establishes the following policies and priorities:

  • The responsibility for selection of library materials is delegated to the Director and under his direction to those members of the staff who are qualified by their education, training, and experience.
  • Priorities of selection are:
    • Materials to meet information needs, both expressed and anticipated, of patrons of all ages;
    • Materials to meet the continuing education needs of out-of-school adults and for the enrichment of the formal education needs of children and young adults;
    • Materials to meet the recreational needs of patrons of all ages.
  • Selection of books and/or other materials will be made on the basis of their value to meet informational needs, to promote ideas, and to be of interest to the library's users and to enrich their lives through the stimulation of reading, listening, or viewing. CALS seeks to make available a wide diversity of points of view, themes, opinions, and expression, reflecting the diversity of the community and world we inhabit, and the diversity of reader tastes and interests. No library material will be excluded because of the race, nationality, sex, or the political, social, or religious views of its author. Materials that are patently false or obscene shall not be selected. Obscene materials are, by legal definition, those which, taken as a whole, appeal to the prurient interest, contain patently offensive depictions or descriptions of specified sexual conduct, and on the whole have no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. In addition to these requirements for all materials, Internet websites must meet the requirements of the Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and Arkansas Code Annotated 13-2-103.
  • Anyone is free to reject materials of which he or she does not approve. The choice of library materials for personal use is an individual matter. No one has the right to exercise censorship to restrict the freedom of use and/or access of others. Any request for reconsideration of an item in the collection must follow the procedure outlined in the "Collection Development" section of the CALS Procedure Manual.

The Board of Trustees of the Central Arkansas Library System:


The Central Arkansas Library System acquires, organizes, makes available, and encourages the use of all library materials which:

  • Meet informational needs, encourage informal self-education, and supplement formal study.
  • Contribute constructively to an individual's awareness of self and community by providing insight into and broadening understanding of a wide range of human and social conditions and varying cultural heritage.
  • Stimulate thoughtful participation in the affairs of the community, the state, the nation, and the world.
  • Provide access to a variety of opinions on matters of current interest, reflecting minority opinions as well as the opinions of the majority.
  • Meet the recreational needs of individuals of all ages, recognizing that what material is considered recreational is a personal and subjective matter.


Factors to be considered are:

  • Expanding areas of knowledge, changing social values, technological advances and cultural differences require flexibility, open-mindedness, and responsiveness in evaluation. The same sensitivity is required in re-evaluation. All types of library materials are acquired and made accessible which meet the stated Goals of Selection.
  • Each item considered for selection must be evaluated on its own merits. There is no single standard that can be applied. Some materials must be judged primarily in terms of their contribution to the continuing exploration of new ideas; their contribution to the continuing exploration of form in literature, art, and other artistic endeavors; or their value to humanity through the exploration of cultural or other differences. Other materials are selected to fulfill the information, educational, and recreational needs of the community. Present and potential relevance of work to community needs should be considered, as well as its importance as a document of the times. Selectors respond to community interests by careful consideration of the following: patron requests for purchases, use patterns for existing materials, purchase trends of similar materials by peer libraries, and any other source of information indicating community interests.
  • Works that depict an aspect of life honestly will not be excluded because of frankness of expression. All materials will be judged as a whole rather than on isolated passages.
  • Unsolicited gifts will be subject to the same selection policies and procedures applied to any materials added to the collection. Any materials not added to library collections will be given to the FOCAL book sale.
  • The physical format of materials must be suitable for library use and must be appropriate to convey the subject matter.
  • The subject and its interpretation, presentation, and literary style should be suitable for the intended audience.
  • The relation of new materials to existing CALS collections, shall be considered.


  • For books, consideration should be given to the professional and/or literary significance of the author, as well as to critical attention, reviews, and public awareness/demand. For audiovisual materials, consideration should be given to the reputation and/or significance of the performer(s) and/or producer, as well as to the subject and content of the work itself.
  • Comprehensiveness and depth of treatment should be appropriate for the intended audience.
  • Objectivity of the treatment of a topic will be sought, though non-objective works may be included if they are recognized as such and if they serve to balance the representation of viewpoints in the collection. Materials that are patently false or obscene shall not be selected. Obscene materials are those which, taken as a whole, appeal to the prurient interest, contain patently offensive depictions or descriptions of specified sexual conduct, and on the whole have no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
  • Works selected should reflect clarity, accuracy, and logic in their presentation.
  • Electronic resources should, as far as the format permits, meet the above criteria. In addition, consideration should be given as to their impact on/relationship to print items, the number of simultaneous users who can access them, and initial and ongoing costs.


  • Effective characterization and setting are important qualities for literary endeavors.
  • Works should be included which are representative of an important movement, genre, trend, or culture. Consideration should be given to the originality of form or content or artistic or experimental presentation.
  • Attention will be given to anticipated public interest in either the author or the subject matter.

In addition, the following selection criteria apply to audiovisual works. Any or all of the criteria may apply:

  • A positive review in at least one professional review journal or publication or other local media such as papers and magazines.
  • High standards of quality in content and expression.
  • Content that is timely, accurate, and representative of various viewpoints.
  • Significant reputation of the performer, producer, or artist.
  • A strong likelihood that material will not be available in other libraries in the community.
  • Items that continue to have cultural, historical, or aesthetic significance.
  • Reasonable cost with regard to budget restrictions.

New formats will be considered for the collection when industry reports, national survey results, and local requests indicate that a significant portion of the community has the necessary technology to make use of the new format. The following factors must be taken into consideration when deciding whether to add a new format to the collection: availability of items in the format; cost per item; and CALS’ ability to acquire, process, and circulate the items in the specific format. Likewise, discontinuation of purchasing and/or housing older formats will be considered when demand and availability indicate that they are no longer appropriate for the collection.


Materials are placed in a particular library because, in the professional judgment of the staff, they will receive maximum use at that location. Members of the staff use their professional judgment to determine if those materials should be circulating or non-circulating. In deciding whether to locate materials in the adult or youth services collections of any library, members of the staff shall first be guided by recommendations made by professional journals that routinely review materials for young persons. Materials may be housed in closed stacks if they are 1) magazines, 2) rare, 3) fragile, 4) likely to be mutilated or stolen if placed on open stacks.


Richard C. Butler, Sr. Center for Arkansas Studies Collection

The Butler Center exists to collect, preserve, promote, and provide access to the historical, cultural, political and societal records of Arkansas, her counties, the city of Little Rock, and the immediate region. Toward that end, the Center shall collect the literature of the state, including both fiction and nonfiction. Selected government documents will also be included. Additional copies of the materials may be duplicated in the general circulation, reference, and branch collections. In addition to the holdings dealing specifically with Arkansas, additional materials dealing with the Mississippi River Valley and the larger American South may also be collected.

A separate genealogical collection will also be maintained in the Butler Center. The genealogy collection will have a national scope, with additional materials possibly covering foreign countries and regions. The Butler Center will maintain close relationships with the Arkansas Genealogical Society and other private genealogical organizations in an attempt to acquire holdings of such groups.

Government Documents Collection

CALS is a selective depository for U.S. Government documents. Items selected are determined by the needs of the library and the community, the availability of space and staff, the presence of other depository libraries in the community, and the requirement to maintain a basic collection of government information. CALS has full depository status in the state documents program administered by the Arkansas State library. CALS also collects local municipal publications.


The continued evaluation and re-evaluation of existing collections is an integral part of a comprehensive collection development plan. Space limitations prohibit the indefinite retention of all copies of all titles acquired. Effective weeding provides improved collection access.

In general, the same factors outlined in the Policy for the Selection of Library Materials will be considered when withdrawing volumes from the collection.