Collection Development Policy

I. Introduction and Background Information

The purpose of the Collection Development Policy of the Duxbury Free Library is to provide guidelines for acquisition and withdrawal decisions, allocation of resources and long-range collection development in accordance with the library’s mission.

Mission Statement
The Duxbury Free Library serves as a community space for everyone to explore, learn, create, connect, enjoy, and expand horizons.  It champions reading and informational literacy.  The library is an inclusive learning environment and offers free physical and digital materials, technology, and cultural programming.

Vision Statement
The library will be a dynamic center dedicated to innovation, interaction, and inclusion.  We will provide unique experiences and opportunities for growth and personal fulfillment.  Through relevant social discourse and content creation, we will connect with the global community.

Community Description
Duxbury is a residential, seaside community of over 15,000, approximately 35 miles southeast of Boston.  First settled in 1628 and incorporated in 1637, the town boasts a long history, including prominence as a ship building and shipping center at the start of the 19th century.  Duxbury has a high percentage of single-dwelling homes and is not zoned for industry.  Citizens tend to be family oriented, with high expectations of their town services.

Library Description
Since it opened in 1890, the Duxbury Free Library has been a place where people of all ages have been able to pursue research, keep informed, and find popular materials in many formats.  The library sits in an attractive campus-like setting in close proximity to the Duxbury Art Association, the South Shore Conservatory, the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society, and three of the town’s four public schools.

Resource Sharing
The library is a member of the Old Colony Library Network, an automated resource-sharing network of 29 South Shore libraries, providing bibliographic access to these collections and an efficient delivery system.  For patrons with needs outside the scope of our collection or the collections of network libraries, we are able to provide interlibrary loan service through cooperative agreements with the state library system.

Service Goals
The Collection Development Policy supports the 3 service responses indicated in the Long Range Plan: Commons, Current Topics and Titles, and Information Literacy.

II. Responsibility for Collection Development

The Library Director has responsibility for collection development, operating in accordance with policies set by the Board of Trustees.  Responsibility for selection of materials lies with the Library Director, who delegates areas to appropriate professional staff, who are qualified by reason of education, training and experience.

III. Selection Tools and Selection Criteria

Selection Tools 
Selection tools include, but are not limited to:

  • Professional journals or periodicals
  • Newspapers,  magazines and broadcast media
  • Specialized websites/social media
  • Suggestions from Duxbury Library staff and patrons
  • Materials related to library programs
  • Publishers catalogs

Selection Criteria
Selection criteria include, but are not limited to:

  • Library budget
  • Relevance to Library’s mission and service goals
  • Informational and recreational needs of users
  • Recommendations in authoritative reviewing media
  • Reputation of the author or publisher
  • Space limitations
  • Artistic worth
  • Authority, accuracy, and timeliness of information
  • Appropriateness for the intended age level
  • Relevance to the existing collection’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Contemporary significance
  • Importance as a local or historical record
  • Availability through the Old Colony Library Network or through interlibrary loan

Material is selected to meet the needs and interests of the general public, not to duplicate research or special collections found elsewhere.  Materials are selected in various formats.  Every effort is made to keep up with emerging technologies.  In 2015, a great deal of focus is centered on adding eBooks and eAudio to our collection.  The key criterion is useful content.  Some items are selected knowing use will be short lived while other materials are selected for long-term significance.  Inclusion of an item in the collection does not indicate library endorsement of its content.

IV. Selection

Adult Materials


Every attempt is made to provide a wide selection of various types of fiction, and to include the best works of the past and present.  Each work is judged on individual merit and the needs of the collection as a whole.  Nonfiction selection often involves striking a balance between demand for current highly requested titles and the need to maintain and develop a collection of standard works of lasting value.  Occasionally a work may be added despite an unfavorable review or in a format not generally chosen (i.e. textbook), if it fills a gap in the collection where a better work is unavailable, or if patron requests have been made.  Works are selected to provide a range of viewpoints on issues, recognizing the individual’s right to read controversial opinions.  The library cannot normally support, except through interlibrary loan, the needs of individuals whose interests require very specialized information.  The library selects a small amount of books printed in large type format.  Self-published books of local or regional interest may be added to the collection at the discretion of the Library Director.

The Library provides periodicals in a wide range of subjects of reference value and recreational interest.  In addition to general selection criteria in Section III, periodicals are also selected if they are of local or regional interest.  Periodicals are kept for two years plus the current year.  DFL maintains current copies of major newspapers and Duxbury newspapers’ back files are retained on microform.  Many newspaper and magazine articles are available through the library’s electronic resources.

Audio and Video Materials 
The library purchases both fiction and nonfiction audio book titles.  Selection is made on the basis of favorable reviews, popular interest, and specific patron requests.  The library purchases foreign language instructional recordings as well as a language instructional electronic resource.

The library attempts to provide a representative selection of the most significant and broadly-known music in each of the following genres:  classical, jazz, blues, popular, rock, folk, soundtrack/film scores and musical theater.  Selection is based on artistic and technical quality, favorable reviews, and patron requests.

Video recordings, including feature films, documentaries, and television productions,  are selected based on favorable reviews, prior viewing, patron demand and the reputation of the filmmakers and distributors. They are evaluated as a whole and not on the basis of particular scenes or segments.  An item need not meet all of the selection criteria to be acceptable.  Nonfiction videos are purchased when the format provides a useful way of providing information to library patrons. Foreign films are selected based on favorable reviews, critical acclaim or having won a major award in their country of production.

Non-Traditional Materials
The library increasingly selects items in non-traditional formats (current examples: Launch pads/tablets, Makerspace kits), in response to patron interest.  The criteria for selecting these items remain the same as for traditional library collections.

Reference materials include both electronic and print resources.  Print sources are designated for use within the library, and are located in Adult or Children’s Reference sections.  Electronic resources are available through the library’s website, and most are accessible remotely.  Reference materials can provide quick, concise, and current information.  The following factors should be considered when deciding which Reference format will be the favored medium:

  • Access
  • Potential use of material
  • Patron preference
  • Availability
  • Storage space
  • Equipment for reading and printing
  • Costs of various formats

The library maintains a small collection of maps, with emphasis on the United States and the Northeast, including the U.S. Geological Survey topographic quadrangles for local areas, local history, and planning board maps.

Local History
Mission and Scope of the Collection
The Duxbury Collection is intended to serve as a resource for research, study and understanding of the Town’s history.  In pursuing this mission, the Library will:

  • Collect, catalog and preserve records of historical value relating to the Town
  • Provide facilities for the retention, preservation and research of the collection
  • Provide guidance to individuals using the collection

The Duxbury Collection is housed in two rooms: the Duxbury Room, which contains books relating to local history and genealogy, and the Archives which contains published and unpublished local history materials, including fragile items and items not easily replaced or irreplaceable.  The collection consists primarily of books, but may also contain pamphlets, manuscripts, photographs, artifacts, art work and other special forms of materials published and unpublished.  Certain maps of historical interest are collected.
Published works on Duxbury are acquired.  In addition, books on surrounding towns, Plymouth County, and Massachusetts history are acquired according to their relevance to the Duxbury and Plymouth area.  Town histories and genealogical research materials are selectively acquired.  Because of the town’s prominence in early shipping prior to the Clipper Ship era, the library makes an effort to acquire books on this subject.  Some works by local residents are included in the collection.

The Duxbury file is a collection of selected articles from newspapers, magazines, and other sources.  Only items with historical significance for the Town are saved.  Articles are organized alphabetically by topic, and are housed in a file cabinet in the reference collection.  Scanned copies of some articles are also accessible via the Library website.

The library may elect to digitize material in order to provide better access to fragile material of historic value.  Material converted to digital format will be processed in accordance with current practices applicable to preservation, migration, portability and maintenance.

Young Adult Materials
Young adult materials are aimed at addressing the needs and concerns of teen patrons.  Needs of young adults differ in kind and intensity from those of adult users. Young adults often look to the library for materials and resources to meet academic demands.  Materials are selected using the same general criteria used in the selection of the adult collection, but with the focus on the experience,
maturity, and interests of young people.

In general, young adult service is geared to grades 7-12, overlapping somewhat with children’s and adult services.  There are, however, many potential users for this material and this factor is given consideration when developing the collection.

The young adult fiction collection consists of material written for and/or appealing to this particular age group regardless of genre.  Every effort is made to provide teenagers with fiction that deals with their concerns in open, honest ways, and which meets their recreational and academic reading needs.  Paperback format is selected where possible since this is the preferred format for this age group.  Young adult non-fiction is selectively chosen to meet teenage needs and interests.  The young adult collection also includes periodicals and some audio book titles.

Children’s Materials
The principles which guide the selection of materials for children are fundamentally the same as those for adult materials.  The collection is carefully chosen for children of all ages and abilities with emphasis on materials which entertain, stimulate the imagination, develop reading ability, and enable children to learn about the world around them.  Materials are evaluated for reading level, interest level, and treatment of the subject for the age of the intended audience.  Purchases are chosen to assure a well-rounded representation of all points of view as with adult books.  Although these collections contain materials useful in completing school assignments, they are selected to complement, not take the place of, school resources.

The selectors do not assume that all children's materials will be suitable for every individual.  Responsibility for overseeing a child's reading choices rests with parents and/or caregivers.

Since community demand for preschool and primary school literature is high, priority is placed on maintaining a collection that contains a wide variety of picture books, board books, and beginning readers.  Phonics series are given priority.  The easy paperback collection is a donated collection.

Self-published books of local or regional interest may be added to the children’s collection at the discretion of the children’s librarian.

The parent shelf contains material in a variety of formats covering topics of interest to parents, teachers, and child care providers.

Children’s Non-Book Materials
The Children’s Department recognizes the importance of non-book materials in helping to fulfill the library’s mission and as a supplement to its book collection.  Within budget limitations, a variety of formats are purchased in accordance with the criteria outlined for adult and children’s materials.

Duxbury Free Library Website
​​​The Duxbury Free Library website advances the Library’s mission as an information center that supports the educational and recreational needs of its users and provides access to materials beyond the local collection.  The site provides guidance for patrons exploring online resources and assists users seeking information about Library programs and services.  Library staff evaluates and selects online resources and links to other websites that have proven useful in answering patron questions or that have been favorably reviewed.

While the Library cannot control the accuracy or availability of information accessed through the Internet, selectors attempt to select resources or links noted for reliability, authority and accessibility.  Content of these resources should be accurate, factual, substantive, and relevant to users’ needs.

Selected links may be removed from the Library’s website if they change and no longer meet the above criteria.

V. Withdrawal of Materials

The systematic removal of materials no longer useful is an essential part of maintaining an effective library collection.  A withdrawal policy insures that the collection remains vital and useful by:  discarding and/or replacing items in poor physical condition; eliminating items with obsolete, misleading or superseded information; and reducing the number of copies of titles whose relevance to the community has lessened.  The professional staff will evaluate the materials collection for repair, replacement, and/or discard on an ongoing basis, using the CREW method of evaluation developed by Joseph P. Segal.  This process (Continuous Review, Evaluation and Weeding) uses the following criteria to evaluate a title’s current usefulness to the collection:

  • Is content misleading or factually inaccurate?
  • Is item worn out and beyond mending or rebinding?
  • Has item been superseded by a new edition or a better book on the subject?
  • Is this item trivial or of no lasting literary or scientific merit?
  • Is the material irrelevant to the needs and interests of our community?

Date of publication, last date circulated, and average number of circulations per year are some of the useful indicators of the above criteria. 

Materials withdrawn from the Duxbury Free Library will be disposed of in a manner consistent with their quality and condition.

VI. Gifts Policy

The library accepts gifts of materials, but reserves the right to evaluate them in accordance with the criteria applied to purchased materials.  The library may choose not to accept gifts which do not meet this policy.  The library retains unconditional ownership of the gift and makes the final decision on the use or disposition of the gift.

A receipt providing a description of the material and the date of donation will be provided upon request.  However, the library will not provide monetary appraisal of any gift for income tax or other purposes.

The library reserves the right to decide the conditions of display, housing, and access of gift materials.  Items with restrictions necessitating special handling or preventing integration of the gift into the general collection will not normally be accepted.  See also the Library Collection Space Policy.

VII. Intellectual Freedom and Access

The Board of Library Trustees, the Library Director, and the library staff recognize the responsibility of the Duxbury Free Library to provide materials representing diverse points of view on various topics.  Selection is made solely on the merits of the work in relation to collection development and in relation to the needs of library patrons.  The presence of an item in the library’s collection does not indicate an endorsement of the item’s content.

Selection cannot be restricted by the possibility that certain materials might be considered objectionable by some users on moral, religious, political, or other grounds.  Well-intentioned individuals or groups may occasionally question the inclusion of an item in the collection because of fear or doubt about the effects of the material on impressionable persons.  Although the staff and trustees understand this concern, it is our position that the risk to society is far greater if public access to ideas and information is restricted.  No individual, group, or library staff member has the right to decide what others may or may not read.  The Library opposes any attempt by individuals or groups to censor items in its collection.
All materials are shelved on open shelves, freely and easily accessible to the public.  There will be no labeling of any item to indicate its point of view or bias.  The library assures free access to its holdings for all patrons, who can select or reject for themselves any item in the collection.

Children are not limited to the children’s collections, which are kept separate from other library collections to facilitate use.  Responsibility for a child’s reading, listening, or viewing of library materials rests with the parent or guardian, not with the library staff.

The staff and Board of the Duxbury Free Library believe that the right to read is an important part of the intellectual freedom that is basic to democracy.  We have adopted the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights and Freedom to Read statement as official library policy.

VIII. Reconsideration of Materials

Any patron may question the desirability of material in the collection.  The following procedure has been developed to assure that all questions are handled in an attentive and consistent manner.

  1. The patron will be offered the opportunity to discuss the material in question with the Director or the appropriate Division Head.
  2. If not satisfied with the outcome of this discussion, the patron may fill out a “Request for Reconsideration”.
  3. The Director will make a decision on the item and notify the person in writing.  If the person wishes to appeal the decision, he/she may send a written request to the Board of Trustees.
  4. The Board of Trustees will discuss the concern with the person at a board meeting.  The Board will take a vote on the request no later than the next meeting. The decision of the Board of Trustees is final.
  5. The patron will receive notification of the decision in writing within 7 days of the vote.

IX. Review of Policy

To maintain a dynamic selection program which reflects current community needs, this policy should be reviewed whenever necessary by the Board of Trustees.  Revisions should be developed by the staff and presented to the Board for its acceptance.  This evaluation will be performed at least once every five years.  9/28/15.


Library Bill of Rights
The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

  1. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves.  Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
  3. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
  4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
  5. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
  6. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.

The Freedom to Read Statement
The freedom to read is essential to our democracy.  It is continuously under attack.  Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label "controversial" views, to distribute lists of "objectionable" books or authors, and to purge libraries.  These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals.  We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.

Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad.  We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe.  We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be "protected" against what others think may be bad for them.  We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression.

These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet.  The problem is not only one of actual censorship.  The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy or unwelcome scrutiny by government officials.

Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change.  And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension.  Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain.  Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice.  Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.

Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms.  The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience.  The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth.  It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections.

We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture.  We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend.  We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read.  We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings.

The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution.  Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights.  We therefore affirm these propositions:

  • It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority.

Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different.  The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested.  Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy.  The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them.  To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process.  Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these.  We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.

  • Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available.  It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.

Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning.  They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought.  The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church.  It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.

  • It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.

No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators.  No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.

  • There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.

To some, much of modern expression is shocking.  But is not much of life itself shocking?  We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers from dealing with the stuff of life.  Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves.  These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared.  In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others.

  • It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous.

The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for others.  It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine.  But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.

  • It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people's freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.

It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group.  In a free society individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read, and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members.  But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society.  Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive.  Further, democratic societies are more safe, free, and creative when the free flow of public information is not restricted by governmental prerogative or self-censorship.

  • It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression.  By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a "bad" book is a good one, the answer to a "bad" idea is a good one.

The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader's purpose.  What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has been thought and said.  Books are the major channel by which the intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth.  The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all Americans the fullest of their support.

We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations.  We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word.  We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free.  We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons.  We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant.  We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society.  Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.

This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers.  Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.
A Joint Statement by: Association of American Publishers.

Freedom to View Statement
The FREEDOM TO VIEW, along with the freedom to speak, to hear, and to read, is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  In a free society, there is no place for censorship of any medium of expression.  Therefore these principles are affirmed:

  1. To provide the broadest access to film, video, and other audiovisual materials because they are a means for the communication of ideas.  Liberty of circulation is essential to insure the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.
  2. To protect the confidentiality of all individuals and institutions using film, video, and other audiovisual materials.
  3. To provide film, video, and other audiovisual materials which represent a diversity of views and expression.  Selection of a work does not constitute or imply agreement with or approval of the content.
  4. To provide a diversity of viewpoints without the constraint of labeling or prejudging film, video, or other audiovisual materials on the basis of the moral, religious, or political beliefs of the producer or filmmaker or on the basis of controversial content.
  5. To contest vigorously, by all lawful means, every encroachment upon the public's freedom to view.

This statement was originally drafted by the Freedom to View Committee of the American Film and Video Association (formerly the Educational Film Library Association) and was adopted by the AFVA Board of Directors in February 1979. This statement was updated and approved by the AFVA Board of Directors in 1989.  Endorsed January 10, 1990, by the ALA Council.