Collection Development Policy

adopted by the Alameda Free Library Board 10.31.2016


The purpose of this Collection Development Policy is to define the scope of the Alameda Free Library’s (the Library) collection. It functions as a blueprint to guide the Library’s decision-making in the selection, acquisition, and maintenance of the Library’s collection.

Collection Scope

The Library’s collection is distributed among the Main Library and two neighborhood branches, West End and Bay Farm Island. Our collection includes fiction and non-fiction materials and resources for all ages, supporting a community of readers and lifelong learners. The Library’s collection is designed to support the cultural, informational, educational, and recreational interests of the residents of the City of Alameda and is based on awareness of community interests and concerns, national and international issues and events, publishing trends, new insights, societal trends, and the professional judgment of selectors regarding the material’s value to the Library’s collection. It reflects the interests of the general public and supports the demographics and diversity of the community of which it is a part.

Intellectual Freedom

The Library does not serve as censor of the reading of any member of the community. Individuals apply their personal interests and values to the materials they choose for themselves. The values of one may not be imposed on another. The Library does not stand in loco parentis (in the place of parents). Parents and guardians have the responsibility to guide and direct the reading, listening, and viewing choices of their own minor children.
The Library’s selection of materials for the collection does not constitute an endorsement of the content. Library materials are not marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of the contents, nor are materials sequestered except for the purpose of protecting them from damage or theft.
The Library will uphold the freedom to read as expressed in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read, and Freedom to View statements.

Responsibility for Selection

The responsibility for the selection of Library materials rests ultimately with the Library Director. The Library Director delegates the tasks of selection and maintenance to the Adult and Children’s Services Supervisors and other professional library staff. All staff members and the general public are encouraged to recommend materials for consideration.  

Selection Criteria

Collection Development librarians, using available collection tools and knowledge of community trends, select and evaluate materials and resources for the collection. Gifts, purchases, and e-resources are selected for the collection using the same criteria. The following general criteria are incorporated to evaluate and select materials for the collection:

  • Popular demand
  • Currency of material
  • Present and potential relevance to community needs
  • Relevance to current trends and events
  • Publicity, critiques, and reviews
  • Material’s contribution to a diversity of viewpoints
  • Provides unique contribution to a field of study
  • Format options
  • Physical design suitable for library use
  • Publication date, price, availability, and materials budget
  • Relationship to existing material in collection


Deselection and Collection Maintenance

Maintenance of the collection through continuous evaluation by library staff is critical to ensuring its continued usefulness and relevancy. Materials are regularly removed to maintain a current, accurate, and appealing collection and to facilitate its ease of use. Decisions are influenced by patterns of use, the capacity of each location, and the holdings of other libraries that may specialize in a given subject matter. An item may be deselected for several reasons including:

  • Damage or poor condition
  • Number of copies in the collection
  • Relevance to the needs and interests of the community
  • Current demand and frequency of use
  • Accuracy and timeliness
  • Local interest
  • Availability elsewhere including other libraries and online


Not all criteria are applied to each de-selection decision. Deselected items may be given to a third party book recycler, Friends of the Alameda Free Library to sell, or may be recycled at the discretion of the Library.


As materials become worn, damaged, or lost, replacement will be based on whether or not:

  • Item is still available
  • There is ongoing demand or need
  • Another item or format might better serve the same purpose
  • Updated, newer, or revised materials would better replace a given item
  • Item has historical value
  • Another library system could better provide item or comparable item


Patron Requests for Purchase

Alameda Free Library welcomes suggestions from the community for possible purchases of materials. All suggestions are given serious consideration and are subject to the same criteria as all other materials purchased for the Library.

Local Authors and Self-Publishing

Authors who live within the boundaries of the City of Alameda may donate one copy of their book to be added to the Alameda Collection located at the Main Library.

The Alameda Free Library does not purchase unsolicited materials or act in lieu of professional review sources. The Library accepts donated copies of self-published books, but does not guarantee inclusion in the collection. Items donated to the Library become the property of the Library and may not be returned to the donating party. The library cannot acknowledge receipt of the item or of the final selection decision. Acceptance of an item does not guarantee the purchase of additional items. If the item is not accepted, the donated copy will be repurposed according to our gift policy.

Gifts and Donations

The Library accepts donations of materials in usable condition, including works by local authors, for consideration as additions to its collection. All donations are subject to the same selection criteria as purchased materials. The Library reserves the right to determine the conditions of display, housing, and access to the materials. Materials not added to the collection are not returned to the donor and may be given to the Friends of the Alameda Free Library for resale, with proceeds going to support the Library.

The Library welcomes monetary gifts for collection enrichment. Donors may request that these funds be directed to particular collections or subject areas. The Library reserves the right to make the final selection decisions.

Reconsideration of Materials

Persons seeking the reconsideration of an item in the collection will be offered the Request for Reconsideration of Materials form and asked to provide a written explanation of their objections, citing specifics from the material in question. These requests will be reviewed by the Library Director, members of the Collection Development team, and librarians specializing in the content area. In accordance with the guidelines for the selection of Library materials, the use of profanity, sexual incidents, and violence does not automatically disqualify materials from inclusion in the collection, and decisions are made on the basis of an item’s overall value, rather than on isolated parts.

The decision about reconsideration will be communicated by letter from the Library Director. The Library Board, upon request, hears appeals of the Library’s response. Appeals must be presented in writing to the Library Board at least ten (10) days in advance of the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board. Decisions on appeals are based on careful review of the objection, the material, and the material selection criteria. The final decision on appeals rests with the Library Board and will be taken up at publically held Board meetings.


Attachment A: American Library Association Library Bill of Rights

Attachment B: American Library Association Freedom to Read Statement
Attachment C: American Library Association Freedom to View Principles

Attachment D: Alameda Free Library Request for Reconsideration of Materials Form

A Joint Statement by:


Subsequently endorsed by:


Freedom to Read Foundation
National Association of College Stores National Coalition Against Censorship
National Council of Teachers of English
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression