Sonoma County Library

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Collection Management


To provide guidelines for the development and continuous evaluation of a high quality collection of public library materials, and to inform the public of the principles upon which collection decisions are made.


In support of its Mission, the Sonoma County Library is committed to providing a variety of library resources to meet the general informational, educational, recreational and cultural interests of the residents of Sonoma County.  To that end, the Library will develop, maintain, and provide free access to a materials collection that reflects the changing needs of the people in its service area.  This includes people of every age, ability, education, economic level, ethnic origin, occupation, religious belief and human condition. 

The Sonoma County Library endorses the principles documented in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read and Freedom to View statements.


  1. Responsibility for selection
    1. The Joint Powers Agreement vests the Library Director with responsibility for selection of materials.
      1. “Materials” includes all formats including books, periodicals, discs (CD/DVD), other tangible formats, and online electronic resources. 
    2. The Library Director delegates selection responsibility to the professional staff who are qualified by reason of education and training. 
    3. All staff members and the general public may recommend material for consideration for purchase.
  2. General guidelines for selection
    1. Provide a broad and balanced public library collection
      1. “Broad” means covering many subjects and multiple titles on a subject.
      2. “Balanced” means covering a broad range of viewpoints on a subject.
      3. As a public library, we provide primarily current and popular materials.  This is distinct from an academic, archival, or special library whose focus is deeper and more specialized.  While we support K-12 and college students by purchasing some supplementary materials, we do not attempt to select text books or fill the role of a school library.
      4. An item will not be excluded because it is controversial.     
    2. Provide materials for all ages and reading levels
    3. Provide a variety of formats, which will change as trends change.
    4. Provide the above within the limits of space and budget.
  3. Withdrawal of materials from the collection
    1. Items are withdrawn from the collection with the same degree of attention as initial selection.
    2. The collection receives ongoing regular review in order to maintain its quality, relevancy and physical condition.
  4. Gifts
    1. The Library welcomes both gifts of materials and money donated for the purchase of materials.
    2. Monetary gifts may be designated with a suggestion of a particular subject area or format.  Material gifts become the unconditional property of the Library.
    3. For both types of donations, library staff will make the final decisions on which materials to add to the collection.
  5. Reconsideration of materials
    1. Anyone who objects to an item in the library collection is invited to speak with the Branch Manager, or alternately the Collections Manager, Children’s Services Coordinator or Public Services Manager. 
    2. If the patron wishes to pursue the objections, he/she will be asked to complete a form provided by the Library for that purpose.
    3. Each formal request will be given full consideration and will be reviewed in accordance with the selection criteria of the Library’s Collection Management Plan.  Materials that have been questioned will remain in the active collection until the Commission has made a determination of its status.
    4. The Library Commission makes the final decision about retaining or removing an item that a patron requests be reconsidered.

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