Collection Management

Date Issued: 03/20/2002
Date Revised: 05/19/2021, 06/21/2023
Attachment(s): 1-Request for Review of Library Materials Form

1. Overview 

This policy defines the criteria and selection process for all library materials and management of the library collection. Mary Riley Styles Public Library (MRSPL) bases its selection and management policy on the philosophical statements of the American Library Association’s (ALA) Library Bill of Rights and its Interpretations and other pertinent ALA Position Statements including the ALA Freedom to Read Statement and Free Access to Libraries for Minors.  Please see the follow links to access the documents:

2. General Considerations

The Mary Riley Styles Public Library (MRSPL) is committed to providing open, free, and equitable access to quality resources to meet the needs and interests of the City of Falls Church and the communities in the surrounding region. The selection and evaluation of library materials reflects an understanding and knowledge of the diverse and dynamic demographics in these communities.

Patrons have the right to explore ideas without fear of judgment or censure. Selected materials represent popular as well as unpopular points of view which allow individuals to examine different sides of issues and make their own decisions. MRSPL does not endorse any particular views expressed in the materials that are selected.

The patron’s choice of library materials for personal use is an individual matter. While a person may reject materials for themselves, they cannot exercise censorship to restrict access to the materials by others. Resources are provided equally to patrons of all ages. MRSPL does not act “in loco parentis”. The monitoring of the use of library materials by children and adolescents is the responsibility of their parents or legal guardians. 

3. Responsibility for Selection

The Library Director is ultimately responsible and has the final authority for the selection of materials. The Director delegates responsibility for various areas of the collection to appropriate members of the staff with subject expertise. Patron suggestions are welcomed and given serious consideration. Gifts of materials and funds for collections are accepted and considered for inclusion into the collection according to MRSPL’s standard selection criteria. (See also Gifts/Donations Policy.) 

4. Criteria for Selection

Selection criteria are intended to ensure that the collection includes: 

  • representation of a wide variety of ideas and experiences through diverse authorship and subject matter;
  • responsiveness to community needs and interests;
  • materials recommended by professional and critical reviews;  
  • items in public demand; 
  • information that is appropriately presented for the age of the intended audience; 
  • items of lasting value and quality presentation;
  • materials pertaining to local history or of local interest;
  • consideration of budget and space limitations.

Every attempt is made to familiarize patrons with other sources of information in the metropolitan area. Citizens of the City can request materials not selected by MRSPL through Interlibrary Loan services. (See also Interlibrary Loan Policy).  

See Falls Church History Room Collection Management Policy for information about the Local History Collection.

5. Displays

MRSPL provides displays in the library to spotlight the collection, increase circulation, and inform the community about programs, services, resources, or other topics related to MRSPL and the community.  Displays are assembled by library staff in accordance with the collection management policy.  They reflect the current collection and all viewpoints on a given subject when appropriate.  Library staff may collaborate with other community entities and organizations such as the schools for co-sponsored displays.

Concerns, questions, or complaints about displays or MRSPL programs or services are handled in accordance with the policies and procedures outlined below under the Request for Review of Library Materials section of this Collection Management Policy.

6. Diversity and Inclusion

The library recognizes that many perspectives, which include but are not limited to racial, ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic demographic groups, have been historically underrepresented, stereotyped or excluded from library collections, and items are selected, offered, and maintained to redress this imbalance.

7. Collection Maintenance

Library materials are continuously evaluated to ensure accuracy, timeliness and relevance. Materials are withdrawn from the library to maintain a current, active, and useful collection reflecting the goals of the library and the needs of its users.  The removal of any particular item from the library collection is not intended to sanction removal of library materials based upon any controversy surrounding the material. Discarded materials become surplus property and may be sold for fund-raising purposes, donated to a third party, sent to recycling facilities for disposal, or discarded.

8. Request For Review of Library Materials

Any City resident cardholder who objects to the presence of a work must complete the Request for Review of Library Material Form. Only one form per household may be submitted and a requestor may only have one active form for the duration of the request process.  The material being challenged must be read, watched, or listened to in full by the requestor.  The form must be completed in full before the review process.  Responses may not be cut and pasted from other resources outside of a requestor’s own work.

The material(s) are reevaluated within the context of the Library’s Collection Management Policy (including the ALA Freedom to Read Statement) and mission statement. Once a Request for Review of Library Material form is completed in full, three (3) professional staff members will form a review panel.  The panel has thirty (30) days from the date the request is submitted to read the material, form a recommendation, and forward that recommendation to the Library Director.  The Library Director will notify the patron, in writing, of the decision as to whether the material will remain in the collection or not, within the thirty (30) day period.  If an appeal is not filed, the decision shall become a final determination and will remain in effect for two (2) years.

If the patron is not satisfied with the decision, written appeal may be made to the Library Board of Trustees. Any appeal must be made within thirty (30) days. Any appeal received in advance of three business days from the next regularly scheduled meeting shall be added to the agenda of that meeting of the Board. If the appeal is received within three (3) business days of the next regularly scheduled meeting, the appeal will be added to the subsequent monthly meeting of the Board. A final determination will be made in writing to the requestor within thirty (30) days of the date of the next scheduled Board meeting. The final determination shall remain in effect for two (2) years.

The challenged material shall remain in the collection until a final determination is made, including the appeal process. 

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