The Middlefield Public Library, herein referred to as ‘The Library’, serves the residents of the Hampshire County town of Middlefield, Massachusetts. This policy establishes the criteria and tools to be used by the Library Director in the selection of new materials, and those to be withdrawn, so as to meet the need of its patrons for recreational reading & continual learning.
The Middlefield Board of Library Trustees is responsible for this policy, in collaboration with the Library Director and Staff. The Library Director is responsible for implementation of this and all other Library policies.
The Scope of the Collection
The Library’s collection consists primarily of English language materials, including fiction and non-fiction hardcover, paperback, and reference books, as well as periodicals, newspapers and a limited selection of audio and video recordings. Local history and genealogical materials relating to Middlefield and the surrounding area are also included in the collection. Histories, local publications and pamphlets, vital records, town reports, area maps and photographs, books by local authors, and books set in local areas are all collected.
The Library is a member of CW MARS, the largest library network in Massachusetts, made up of 148 member libraries with 175 branches through Central and Western Massachusetts. The Library participates in the statewide Commonwealth Catalog, which is a single, searchable catalog of materials owned by participating academic and public libraries in thirteen Massachusetts automated networks. These networks may be used by library patrons to request items that are unavailable in the local collection. The Library will not needlessly duplicate services or materials available through any of these external resources.
The Library provides access to a collection of downloadable e-books, audiobooks, and videos made available to our patrons by virtue of our membership in CW MARS. The Library is also a participating library in the Libby Library reading app for mobile devices, and patrons are eligible to make use of the downloadable resources offered by the Boston Public Library. Items downloaded by patrons from these resources are not considered part of the collection, but are available as a customer service.
Patron demand, such as direct requests and proven popularity of similar material types and genres, is the primary means of selection. The Director also uses a variety of print and online tools in this selection, including professional publications, bestseller lists, popular and genre-focused magazines, and published reviews and recommendations. New titles are often available simultaneously in a variety of media formats – the Director will choose among media formats taking into account such considerations as anticipated shelf life or long-term appeal, anticipated public demand, and timeliness of the content.
The Library’s collection consists of both fiction and non-fiction materials and is grouped into three age-related categories: Adults (18+ years), Young Adults (12 to 18 years), and Children (up to 12 years). Materials are chosen to satisfy the diverse interests of the community. Fiction titles are chosen on the basis of patron popularity and requests, popular and genre-focused sources and reviews that consider the appeal of a book for the targeted audience, the artistic skill evident in its rendering, and the literary reputation of the author. Non-fiction titles are considered on the basis of the author’s competency in the subject area, overall excellence of the material (scientific, literary, artistic, etc.), as well as superiority in treatment of controversial issues, and potential usefulness to the Library’s collection.
The Children’s and Young Adult collections are targeted to all persons up to 18 years of age, and is intended to serve the educational, developmental and recreational needs of our young patrons. The Children’s collection is targeted to toddlers, pre-school, and elementary school aged children, while the Young Adult collection is targeted to those in middle and high school, to act as a stepping stone into the Adult collection. Titles for both of these collections are selected using similar tools as described above. Literary quality, good design and format, and illustration are important criteria in the evaluation of materials for the Children’s and Young Adult collections, as are subject-matter relevance and appropriateness for the intended audience.
Some items may be included that are not considered appropriate by all adults for all children. While some topics and themes may be too mature for one child, other children may be ready for them. Only the child and their parent/guardians can decide what materials shall be used by which child. While the Library Director will assist unaccompanied children in choosing which titles to read, they will not restrict access to any title.
The Library also collects periodicals (newspapers, magazines, and journals) to provide our patrons with timely information on a variety of subjects. Due to physical space limitations, only a small selection of titles are offered by the Library, and these titles are focused on the interests of the local community. Past issues are retained at the discretion of the Library Director.
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. Patrons requesting items that are not ultimately purchased will be referred to network, statewide or national lending resources to obtain access.
Withdrawal of Materials
Selection of materials for the Library collection is an ongoing process which includes the removal of materials: replacement of lost or worn materials that are still of value for informational or recreational needs, and/or the replacement of materials in a format more responsive to patron demand and expectation. Materials are regularly discarded from the library collections because they are out of date, so badly worn or damaged they cannot be rebound or mended, because it is cheaper to replace them, or because they are once-popular materials that are no longer used.
Gifts of books and other materials in good condition are welcomed by the library. Due to space constraints, only a limited amount of material can be added to the collection. Material is accepted with the understanding that it may be used or disposed of as the Library Director sees fit. Donated material will be checked to see if it meets the Library’s criteria for selection, helps maintain the Library’s need for balance on matters of opinion, and are not already present in the collection. Sincere proponents of various causes or beliefs may offer the Library materials espousing their special viewpoints. The Library will utilize only a small proportion of such material.
The Library cannot make cash assessments of donations, nor does it assume the responsibility of returning any items to donors not added to the Library collection.
Freedom to Read, See and Hear
The Library subscribes to the principles of intellectual freedom as stated in “Freedom to Read,” “Freedom to View,” and the “Library Bill of Rights” and their interpretations issued by the American Library Association. Included in these statements 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, library staff provide equal service to all library users. Children and adults are equally free to use the entire Library and to borrow all materials in the circulating collections. Limitations to be placed upon the reading and viewing materials of young people are left to the discretion of the parents.
Well intentioned persons or groups occasionally question the inclusion of items in library collections. Although we understand and appreciate their fears and doubts about the effects of materials on impressionable persons, the Board takes the position that the risk of not providing access to information and ideas is greater than the risk of providing it. Sometimes suggestions are made regarding the restriction or removal of certain library materials, and the Board, therefore, wishes to establish the following principles:
Controversial Materials: In an effort to provide Library patrons with diverse sources of information and the widest possible range of ideas and viewpoints, the Library will acquire some controversial materials. Some of these materials may be offensive to individuals or groups because of perceived profanity, social, economic and political ideas, religious viewpoints, the background of the author, the kinds of information provided, illustrations, or other reasons. Acquisition or use of any item does not imply approval or endorsement of the contents. Indeed, it cannot, since such a variety of ideas is collected. The Board of Trustees believes it is essential to provide such materials if the American ideal of freedom is to be retained, and thus materials will not be withdrawn solely upon a patron’s request.
Age: Judges, legislators, educators, and others are giving increased recognition to the fact that young people need access to all the information and ideas that are essential to their growth. Therefore, anyone, of any age, who is eligible for a Library card may use any materials in the Library, and is not to have that privilege limited by any staff member. If parents wish to deny their children access to certain materials they must take the responsibility themselves.
Labeling: The Library does not subscribe to the practice of affixing descriptive labels to library materials indicating a political or social point of view or indicating that an item is questionable or controversial. Such labeling suggests that patrons are incapable of making up their own minds about controversial subjects. This is not to be confused with the routine genre labeling (i.e. mystery, romance western, etc.) of library materials which makes no attempt to prejudice the attitude of potential readers about the work in question.
Local Reference Section: The use of locally-focused and/or fragile items may be controlled to the extent required to preserve them from harm, but no further action shall be taken to restrict the public’s access to the Library’s collections.