Collection Development Policy




Purpose of the Collection Development Policy

This formal policy serves five vital purposes:

  • It acts as a blueprint for our collection, guiding staff in decision-making regarding the selection, management, and preservation of the collection.
  • It identifies responsibilities for developing collections.
  • It establishes parameters and priorities, guiding staff in developing budgets and allocating resources.
  • It informs the public of the principles guiding our collection development.
  • It states the Library’s commitment to intellectual freedom and to providing information expressing a variety of viewpoints.

Collection Development Responsibility

Ultimate responsibility for collection development rests with the Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director, who administers under the authority of the Board of Trustees. The Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director, in turn, delegates the authority for selection to the Public Services Director, who oversees this responsibility through the Materials Selection & Acquisition Department and designated professional staff who make individual selection decisions.

Community Profile

Knowledge of our community is essential in making decisions about the Library's collection. Our collection reflects the large, diverse, dynamic community we serve through our Downtown Main Library and branches.

The Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library defines its primary service audience as residents of Hamilton County, Ohio. As a secondary audience, we serve all residents of the state of Ohio who are also eligible for a library card from the Library, and residents who are eligible for service through reciprocal borrowing agreements. In addition, we serve users from around the world who access our resources via the web.

Hamilton County is an area of rich cultural tradition. Our community is proud of its many arts, civic, philanthropic, educational, sports, and recreational opportunities and institutions. Hamilton County is also characterized by a diversified economy transitioning from a manufacturing base to one that is based on the service and technology sectors.

Covering 407 square miles, Hamilton County has 49 separate political jurisdictions, the largest of which is the City of Cincinnati. During the past few decades, Hamilton County and the City of Cincinnati have experienced decreasing population; at the same time, that population has become more racially, ethnically, and economically diverse. In addition, the counties in the metropolitan area surrounding Hamilton County have seen high rates of population growth.

While those counties are served by different public library systems in their own communities, many residents of those communities also use the resources and services of the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library. As our community continues to change, the Library will continue to reassess and change its collections to reflect those new community needs.

Selection and Evaluation Criteria

Selection Criteria

Library staff utilize professional judgment and expertise in making collection development decisions, including decisions about choosing titles, identifying quantities for purchase, and selecting locations for materials. Anticipated demand, community interests, strengths and weaknesses of the existing collections, system-wide availability, physical space limitations, acquisitions procedures, and available budgets are all factors taken into consideration. Materials are acquired in multiple formats when appropriate, including print, audiovisual, and digital resources. Highest selection priority is given to those materials in all formats having the broadest appeal.

Library staff use their training, subject knowledge and the selection criteria to identify collection goals and priorities for Downtown Main Library departments and branches. The following criteria are used to evaluate and select items for the collection. An item need not meet all of these criteria to be selected. Certain materials are selected to address local community needs; branch materials, therefore, are not necessarily duplicated in the Downtown Main Library collection.


  • Content
    • Accuracy of the information
    • Comprehensiveness
    • Enduring significance or interest
    • Integrity
    • Purpose
    • Quality
    • Representation of controversial or diverse points of view
  • Cost in relation to use and/or enhancement to the collection
  • Critical reviews
  • Current and anticipated appeal
  • Format
    Additional format criteria are considered when selecting digital content, including: Accessibility; Ease of use; Equipment, training, and technology requirements; License agreement requirements and vendor support; Unique content
  • Local interest
  • Relation to the existing collection
  • Relation to other resources in the community
  • Significance of the author/creator or publisher
  • Suitability of subject and style for intended audience
  • Support of library programs and initiatives
  • Timeliness

Selection Sources

Sources for selection decisions encompass, but are not limited to, published reviews from standard review sources, publisher/vendor catalogs and advertisements, professional and trade bibliographies, and customer requests and recommendations. The Library strongly encourages customer input, and all customer requests and recommendations are subject to the selection criteria outlined above.


The Library accepts gifts of materials for the collection using the same selection criteria that are applied to purchased materials. Decisions regarding the final disposition of gifts are the responsibility of staff at individual agencies or the Materials Selection & Acquisition Department, using the following guidelines:

  • Not all gifts are added to the collection. Gift materials not added to the collection are not returned to the donor.
  • The Library retains unconditional ownership of the gift.
  • The Library reserves the right to decide the conditions of display, housing and access to the materials.
  • Gifts added to the collection are housed in the most appropriate location, determined by evaluating staff.
  • Unused gifts may be given to the Friends of the Public Library or the Anderson Township Library Association for public sale or further disposal as those groups deem suitable, or they may be disposed of through other means determined by the Library.
  • The Library does not place a value on gifts, nor provide appraisals for income tax or any other purpose.

The Library is pleased to accept monetary gifts intended for the purchase of library materials when the donors’ intentions for the gifts and the library’s collection development objectives are consistent.

Collection Evaluation & Maintenance

Once materials have been added to the Library’s collection, they are managed through an assessment and evaluation process to ensure that ongoing collection priorities are met; that collections remain up to date, balanced, and attractive; and that space limitations are minimized. This process identifies items for replacement, retention or de-selection. Library staff utilize professional judgment and expertise in deciding which materials to retain, replace, repair or de-select.

De-selection (removing items from the collection) is an integral part of collection development. De-selected materials will, at the Library’s discretion, be donated to the Friends of the Public Library or the Anderson Township Library Association for book sales, or disposed of through other means determined by the Library. The Library retains those materials that continue to have enduring or permanent significance to its mission and overall collection goals.

As a federal depository library and a patent and trademark depository library, the Library follows the retention and de-selection guidelines established by the Government Printing Office and the Patent and Trademark Office in managing those collections of government documents.

Along with the same criteria used to select new materials, general criteria for retaining, replacing, repairing or de-selecting include:

  • Availability of item in alternative formats
  • Feasibility, cost of repair
  • Historical significance, interest, or value
  • Physical condition
  • Relative usefulness of item
  • Space considerations
  • Superseded, inaccurate, or out-of-date content
  • Usage


Certain types of materials require activities to extend the physical life of the item or to retain the intellectual content. Decisions for preservation recognize that not all items need to be given the same level of care, security, and attention.

In addition to the criteria outlined above under Collection Evaluation and Maintenance, staff use the following criteria when evaluating an item for preservation:

  • Cost (includes value of the item and preservation expense)
  • Intellectual content
  • Intrinsic value
  • Significance/uniqueness of item to the collection
  • Storage/environmental capabilities

Intellectual Freedom

The Library is committed to the principle that the constitutionally protected freedoms of speech and press are enjoyed by all. To this end, the Library strives to offer a collection that represents the needs of our diverse community. Inclusion of an item in the collection does not mean that the Library endorses any theory or statement contained in those materials and resources.

While every customer may not agree with the viewpoints offered in some library material, the Library has a responsibility to provide a balanced collection with access to material reflecting diverse ideas through which any side of a question, cause, or movement may be explored, provided that the material meets the outlined selection criteria. The balanced nature of the collection is reflected in the diversity of materials, not in an equality of numbers. Customers are free to choose what they like from the collection, to reject what they don't like, but not to restrict the freedom of others to choose.

The Library’s collection may include proselytizing works representing political, economic, moral, and religious or other vested positions when those works meet the selection criteria. Materials are not excluded because of the origin, background or views of those contributing to their creation or because they represent a particular aspect of life, frankness of expression or controversial subject matter.

The Library does not use labels on any material in such a way as to show approval or disapproval of the content of that material. Materials are not sequestered to show approval, disapproval or judgment as to suitability of content for a particular audience. The Library does not remove or obliterate ratings attached to material by a publisher, industry group or distributor. Removing or altering such rating, if they are placed there by or with permission of the copyright holder, denies access to the complete work and the entire spectrum of ideas that the material intended to express.

Decisions about what materials are suitable for particular children should be made by the people who know them best - their parents or guardians. Selection of materials for adults is not constrained by possible exposure to children or teenagers.

The Library is committed to free and open access to its collections and to connecting people with the world of ideas, information and materials they wish to explore in a friendly, nonjudgmental manner.

Reconsideration of Library Materials

The Library welcomes expressions of opinion from customers concerning materials selected or not selected for the collection. If a customer questions the content, tone or placement of an item in the collection, he/she should first address the concern with a library staff member. Customers who wish to continue their request for reconsideration of library material may submit the Request for Reconsideration, opens a new window form.

After receiving the completed request for reconsideration, the Public Services Director will appoint an ad hoc committee consisting of the appropriate Materials Selection & Acquisition Department staff and two professional staff members with relevant subject knowledge. The committee will evaluate all requests to add or remove material from the collection within the context of the Collection Development Policy. During this process, the material in question will remain accessible to library customers. The committee will make a recommendation to the Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director who will respond by letter to the customer.

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