Collection Development Policy

The Library’s Mission

Forbes Library exists to provide a wide range of information and materials to all of the people of Northampton, using traditional and innovative technology, and to encourage and support the civic, intellectual, and cultural pursuits of the community. It strives to meet these objectives with continuous sensitivity to the changing needs of the community, and adapts its services to meet these needs. The Library also provides a friendly physical environment which can serve as a community meeting place and in which it encourages curiosity, free inquiry and lifelong learning; and endeavors to make the community aware of its resources and services.

Collection Development Philosophy/Goals

It is the aim of the Library to meet the informational, educational, cultural and recreational needs of our patrons by providing Library materials and information sources in a variety of formats and reading levels in accordance with the mission and goals of this Library, the varied interests of our patrons, and budgetary constraints.

Collection development goals include:

  • Foster literacy skills and a love of reading required for a lifetime of learning for people of all ages
  • Aid in learning and improving job-related skills
  • Utilize computer technology to provide Library resources to patrons who are unable to physically come to the Library
  • Supplement formal study and encourage self-education
  • Deliver materials to those who cannot physically come to the Library
  • Provide materials for recreation, leisure, and entertainment
  • Stimulate thoughtful participation in the affairs of the community, the country, and the world

In compliance with our constitutional rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, the Library will attempt to provide the widest range of viewpoints based on the quality, cost, and availability of the materials for purchase.

The Library’s Service Population

Forbes Library patrons are of all ages and interests, and Northampton’s progressive community and high level of educational attainment ensures demand for materials on a wide variety of subjects. The Library is increasingly busy with circulation, interlibrary loan, reference questions, computer usage, and programming attendance, showing phenomenal growth. As a member of C/WMARS, the Library is able to provide very efficient interlibrary loan services for patrons with needs outside the scope of our collection. In addition, because of the Library’s unique holdings with the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum and the popularity of the Hampshire Room, with local history and genealogical materials, tourists and traveling researchers contribute significantly to the Library’s business.

The City of Northampton’s Web site describes Northampton as offering a sophisticated rural lifestyle rich in cultural, artistic, academic, and business resources. Northampton features one of the most vibrant downtown centers in New England and was named “Number One Best Small Arts Town in America” by author John Villani and is recognized as one of the top 25 Arts Destinations in the nation by American Style magazine. Further, Money magazine recently (August 2005) selected Northampton as one of the best 100 places to live in the United States.

According to 2000 U.S. Census data, Northampton was home to nearly 30,000 people. Because of the five colleges, there are an increasing number of students in the community who continually use the public Library as their point of access for information. As of Fiscal Year 2005, 16,097 residents of Northampton, Florence, and Leeds had active Library cards. Nearly 50% of adult residents 25 years and over have academic degrees at the bachelor’s level or higher. Approximately, 12.5% of Northampton’s residents speak a language other than English at home. Local employment is concentrated in educational, health, and social services, with arts and entertainment, professional, and retail next in line. Nearly 10% of the working population (16 years and over) is self-employed.

The current profile of the Northampton community is not expected to change significantly in the next 10 years, but the demand for Library services will continue to grow. The Library’s collection will reflect the fact that a majority of Northampton patrons read at the college level. Library collections will respond to community demand for materials in world languages spoken by the largest cultural groups, including Spanish and other indo-European languages, and for materials on learning to read, speak, and write in English. Increases in the number of small businesses and self-employment should continue, and will create a greater demand for business reference services and materials on accounting, personnel management, marketing, travel, and finance. The gap between the information-rich and information-poor will widen, increasing both the need for sophisticated reference service and a materials collection strong in basic life and skills information. The need for children’s materials will continue to increase because of the demands of well-educated parents, lack of other sources for these materials in the community, and the rise of home schooling.

Responsibility for Collection Development

The Board of Trustees sets Library policy, including the policy on collection development. The Trustees endorse the Library Bill of Rights, a fundamental philosophy statement formulated by the American Library Association (see Appendix A). The Director administers policy set by the Trustees and is responsible for all day-to-day operations of the Library. Individual decisions regarding selection and acquisition of materials, weeding, and discarding may be delegated to the several staff members who are responsible for specific subject areas or Library departments guided by the approved policy.

Selection Criteria

All materials, whether purchased or donated, are considered in terms of the criteria listed below. An item need not meet all of these standards in order to be added to the collection.

Public Demand and Community Interest

  • Popularity of title, as indicated by sales and circulation
  • Local emphasis, either subject matter or author
  • Patron requests

Merits of Individual Titles

  • Creative, literary, or technical quality: clarity, originality, readability, artistic excellence
  • Accuracy and currency of information, depth and breadth of coverage and indexing
  • Reputation, expertise, and/or significance of author, illustrator, publisher, or producer
  • Quality of physical format, bindings, durability, illustrations/reproductions, the technical quality of audiovisual formats and software, ease of use of software
  • Treatment of subject for age of intended audience
  • Reviews, critical assessments in a variety of journals

Collection Goals

  • Contemporary significance or permanent value: source material or a record of the times; representation of an important movement, genre, trend or culture
  • Relationship to existing collection: contribution to balanced, up-to date coverage of a broad range of subject areas
  • Representation of diverse points of view
  • Relationship to materials in other area libraries, especially availability within the C/WMARS consortium
  • Materials serving diverse local populations, including speakers of languages other than English
  • Materials accessible to patrons with different learning abilities, educational levels, and physical needs; for example, audio and large print formats
  • Currency and usability of formats; downloadable electronic books are purchased cooperatively through the C/WMARS network

Financial Considerations

  • Price and availability
  • Value for cost
  • Library materials budget

Selectors will consult professional library literature and publishing review media, examine other Library’s holdings in the C/WMARS catalog, and review suggestions directly from the public and other staff. An item will be purchased if there is heavy demand, even though reviews may be unfavorable or other items on the same subject are in the collection.

Guidelines for Specific Subject Areas and Formats

1. Fiction

Current adult fiction is in great demand and is purchased extensively. The collection includes recreational reading, classic literature, and titles representing styles of various periods and countries. Controversial books of recognized literary merit are acquired, as are experimental writings of high quality. Graphic novels are also collected.

2. Non-Fiction

The Library collects recognized, standard works as well as timely materials for current demand. Non-fiction may be excluded for inaccurate information, lack of integrity, sensationalism, intent to indicate hatred or intolerance, and text material of too limited or specialized a nature. In the case of controversial questions, variety and balance of opinion are sought whenever available.

3. Audiovisual Collections

  1. The music audio collection represents significant performers, composers, and styles of popular and classical music, including a variety of cultures and traditions. Quality of content and performance, production values, and diversity are considered.
  2. Recorded books include both fiction and non-fiction according to the same criteria as books, with the additional consideration of quality of the performance and recorded production. Audio books are collected in primarily unabridged formats, though abridged will be considered when appropriate to the topic.
  3. Video and DVD recordings are acquired primarily for home use, not for viewing in the Library. Considerations include the quality of production, the subject’s lasting value, its local appeal and its relationship to existing resources and collections. Contemporary and classic feature films are purchased, as are performances in music, dance and theater. The Library collects non-fiction video including, but not limited to, documentaries, health, travel, history, environment, local concerns, “how-to” subjects, and self-paced instruction. Described and captioned videos are also collected to meet patrons’ viewing needs.

4. Downloadable Ebooks, Audiobooks, and Videos

The Library provides access to a collection of downloadable ebooks, audiobooks, and videos made available to our patrons by virtue of our membership in C/WMARS. These items are provided for the use of those patrons who have access to a non-library Internet computer with the ability to install a software management console and then download the borrowed item. These items are largely not accessible from library Internet computers, which are protected with robust security. Although significant expansion in compatibility has been made in the last several years, some downloadable content is not universally compatible with personal playing devices.

5. Scores

The Library’s score collection includes piano, guitar, and vocal scores for folk songs, popular, rock and jazz standards, holiday, and topical songs; operas and popular musicals; classical and modern works for solo and grouped instruments and voice (collections, parts, and study scores); and instrumental methods. The main priorities are: providing a core representation of established composers in the classical scores and parts, study scores, operas and musicals for the use of area musicians and music students of all ages; and acquiring popular standards for the same user audience, as well as for those who use the materials for personal enjoyment and special occasion performance.

6. Periodicals

The Library subscribes to popular interest periodicals, news and informational publications, and a limited number of professional journals. Selection of adult periodicals is based on community interest, budget, and space considerations, periodical holdings of other libraries in the area, and coverage in the Library’s online and print indexing services. Requests from patrons and gift subscriptions are considered using the same criteria. Magazines and newspapers are acquired for both casual reading and research purposes, and may be provided in both print and electronic formats.

7. Reference

Within budgetary limits, the Reference Collection provides accurate, up-to-date information on a wide range of subjects of current and recurrent interest for the layperson. Materials include books, periodicals, pamphlets and leaflets, maps, and machine-readable materials. Electronic information sources, including online databases, are available for use in the Library and at home. Reference sources may be duplicated in various formats in order to accommodate various research styles. Print Reference materials are to be used in the Library only. Factors considered in the selection of reference materials are authority, reliability, scope, treatment, arrangement, format, cost, and existing holdings.

8. Local Authors

Every attempt is made to acquire titles by local (Northampton and the towns in the Pioneer Valley) authors, artists, and producers that are published by mainstream publishers. Titles that are self-published are not added to the collection unless there is a compelling reason to do so (valuable local content, high local interest). Print on demand titles that are self-published, even though available via mainstream distributors, will not be added unless they meet the Library’s collection criteria. Local authors’ works are integrated into the general collection.

9. Children’s and Young Adult materials

The Library collects print and audiovisual materials to stimulate creativity and to satisfy children’s and young adults’ needs for information. The materials are organized for easy access, given the varied capabilities of children and young adults.

  1. Young Adult materials are purchased for teens and include fiction, non-fiction, videos and DVDs, and spoken word tapes.
  2. Children’s and Young Adult movies are two distinct collections. We do purchase some PG-13 and a few movies that are rated R. The Movie Ratings System and an explanation of the rating system is posted for parents and caregivers.
  3. Children’s and Young Adult Reference is purchased to support the school curriculum as well as a backup for a limited circulating collection.
  4. Parenting materials for adults with children or caring for children are also acquired. Materials include both print and media.
  5. The Children’s Department purchases a wide variety of materials to appeal to children and young adults from varied backgrounds and families, religious affiliations, ethnicities, and sexual orientations.

As stated in Free Access to Libraries for Minors: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, “Parents-and only parents-have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children – and only their children – to library resources. Librarians and governing bodies have a public and professional obligation to provide equal access to all library resources for all library users.”

10. Academic Titles

Many books are published that are too specialized, too narrowly focused, or too academic for the Library’s collection. These books may have received excellent reviews, but do not meet the needs of the general audience that frequents a public Library. Unless the content of the book is of local interest and generates significant local demand the Library does not generally purchase and add these titles to our collection. School and college textbooks are also excluded.

11. Genealogy and Local History

Copies of local history books on Northampton and other local towns are acquired for the circulating collection while in print. The circulating collection also contains historical interpretations and narratives of local history that do not fall within the domain of quick reference. Basic genealogical handbooks are acquired for the circulating collections. Local history and genealogy are covered at the research level in the Hampshire Room for Local History.

12. Documents/Special Collections

The Library collects and preserves documents and images primarily of local historical value in three collection areas:

  1. Local History Department
  2. Photographs/Fine Arts and Image Collections
  3. Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum

Because of the very specialized nature of these collections, they are dealt with in separate collection development policy statements.

Requests for Purchase

The Library welcomes requests for purchase of materials; however, it is to be understood that such requests will be subject to the same criteria for selection as other considered materials.

Collection Maintenance/Weeding

Library collections should be fresh, exciting, and attractive. With the exceptions of the Local History collection, Special Collections, and the Coolidge Museum collection, the Library does not serve an archival function. Maintenance of the collection is an ongoing process. Removal of materials from the collection is called “weeding.”

Materials which are no longer appropriate for the collection because of out-dated or incorrect content, poor condition, irrelevancy to the needs and interests of the community, or lack of use will be identified by appropriate staff members and discarded from the collection according to the accepted professional practices as described in the publication, The CREW Manual: Expanded Guidelines for Collection Evaluation and Weeding for Small and Medium-Sized Public Libraries.

Materials discarded because of loss, vandalism, poor condition, or outdated content will be considered for replacement.

Disposition of deaccessioned materials will be according to the Library’s discretion.


Forbes Library welcomes and appreciates donations to its collections.

Donating Books

Forbes Library is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and contributions are tax deductible as allowed by law. The Library cannot appraise or place a dollar value on the items donated. A “Donated Goods Receipt Form” (see Appendix B) will be filled out by the donor and signed by a staff member for the donor’s tax records.

Forbes Library accepts for donation new and used books, audio books, CDs, Videos and DVDs in good, clean condition. The Library does not accept textbooks, magazines, outdated Reference books or items in poor condition (torn, worn, dirty, moldy, smelly). Please bring items to the Administrative Office or the Circulation Desk for donation.

The Library staff evaluates donations for acceptance into the collection by the same criteria for which materials are selected for purchase. See the Materials Selection part of this policy for more information. Gifts not accepted into the collection may be put into a book sale to benefit the Library. All gifts accepted into the collection will become the property of the Trustees of Forbes Library and are retained or disposed of according to the Library’s Collection Maintenance/Weeding Policy.

Gifts to Specialty Collections

All gifts accepted are accepted based on criteria in the Collection Policy. All accepted and accessioned items become the legal property of the Trustees of Forbes Library and will be administered and governed by the Collection Policy. Items may not be left at the Library for evaluation. A “Deed of Gift Form” (see Appendix B) signed by the donor and the Library is required. For the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum or the Hampshire Room for Local History and Genealogy, please contact the Archivist to discuss your donation. For gifts of art and photography please contact the Arts & Music Librarian to discuss your donation.

Cash Donations

Cash donations may be made to a general fund or targeted to a specific fund, project, or department. Donations not marked or noted for a specific purpose, will be considered for the general fund. All funds will be used at the discretion of the Trustees and Director. For targeted giving, please contact the Library Director to discuss how to match your personal interests with the Library’s needs.

Deferred Giving

Forbes Library is happy to be named as a beneficiary of your estate. Please see the Deferred Giving Options or contact the Library Director and your attorney for more information.

Unrestricted Bequest

Under discretion of the Board of Trustees, income, principal, or both may be used for the general purposes of the Library. An unrestricted bequest is especially valued by the Trustees who may then either use the gift for immediate needs, place it in the endowment, or reserve it for future needs.

Bequest to Establish an Endowed Fund

Bequests of $100,000 or more may be designated to establish a permanent, named fund, usually as a memorial, with the income available for the general operational needs of the Library or for a specific department, function or activity. Money is managed and allocated by the Board of Trustees or their designees.

Objection to Library Materials

The Library subscribes to the principles of intellectual freedom, which allows for every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. The Library provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause, or movement may be explored. Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive, and disseminate ideas.

The Library also subscribes to the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights. Included in this statement is the commitment to honor the rights of an individual to use the Library regardless of age, race, religion, national origin, or social or political views. Accordingly, the Library staff provides equal service to all Library users.

If an individual wishes to express concern about or objects to particular Library materials, the Library will request the individual complete a “Statement of Concern About Library Materials Form,” which is available in the Library’s business office. The Library Director will review the title, evaluate the original decision for the purchase of the material, meet with Library staff, and meet with the individual to review the complaint. The Director will make a written ruling on the request, based on the Collection Development Policy. If the individual is not satisfied with the Director’s decision, the person may make a written request to the Board of Trustees. The Trustees’ decision is final.

Library employees are protected by Chapter 78, Section 33, of the General Laws of Massachusetts: Policy for Selection and Use of Library Materials and Facilities, which states that no employee shall be dismissed for the selection of Library materials when the selection is made in good faith and in accordance with the standards of the American Library Association.

Policy Review and Revision

This Collection Development Policy will be reviewed annually by collection development staff and the Board of Trustees.

Approved by Board of Trustees 3/20/2006.

Appendix A: American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights

Appendix B: Library Forms