Collection Development Policy

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“Community residents from all walks of life shall have access to quality library services that will provide programming and activities to support lifelong learning and encourage the pleasure of reading and the freedom of information.”

Library History

The Ministerial Association of Hamilton opened the first public library in Ravalli County in April 1903 in a room donated by the Ravalli County Bank in Hamilton.  In July a special election successfully determined the City’s desire to take over the free public library and provide a 1 mill tax levy. In 1907 the library moved to the newly constructed city hall.  When the space proved inadequate the community approached steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, who helped finance over 1,600 library buildings across the country, for money to construct a library building. The process stalled due to the requirement for the city to provide a building site. The Hamilton Women’s club revived the campaign in 1914 by procuring the necessary gift of land from Margaret Daly, widow of Copper King, Marcus Daly. On July 8, 1916 the new Carnegie Library opened to the public. The $9000 structure’s symmetrical façade, daylight basement, and classical detailing are characteristics of Carnegie libraries.  The front portico was added later.  Enlarged in 1988 through enormous community support and spearheaded by dedicated volunteers the library continues to satisfy the diverse literary and information needs of the community.


This policy intends to standardize decision making for Library Staff by establishing goals and priorities to assist staff in selecting resources, evaluating the collection, and maintaining the collection’s currency, relevancy, and usefulness to the community. The collection development policy also serves to guide staff in using the library’s financial resources effectively in order to fulfill the present and evolving needs and/or wants of the population. Should the purpose or quality of the collection come into question with the public or governing authorities, this document will serve to explain the motivation behind selection decisions.

Community Profile

The Bitterroot Public Library is located at the heart of the beautiful Bitterroot Valley in Western Montana. The library is a multi-jurisdictional library district that receives local tax revenues through a mill levy in the school districts of Hamilton, Corvallis and Victor. The combined population of these three school districts, according to the 2010 US Census data, is 25,577. Although the library’s major source of funding comes from these three districts, we are happy to serve all of Ravalli County (population 40,212) and any visitors to the area.

Within this service area over 15% of the population is older than 65, with a median age of 44 in Hamilton, 35 in Victor and Corvallis. Over 95% of the population is Caucasian, with the other 5% being divided amongst African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asians. Over 80% of the population has received a high school diploma and about 15% have received a bachelor’s degree. About 50% of those over the age of 16 are in the workforce. (This information is from the U.S. Census Bureau 2010 census, tables “Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics” and “Selected Economic Characteristics”).

According to a community survey done by the library in the spring of 2011, most community members visit the library a few times a year (28%). About 20% of community members surveyed said they visit the library monthly. Another 20% said they visit the library on a weekly basis and a small portion (3%) said they visit the library daily. Of the survey respondents who said they visit the library, 90% said they come to check out books, 30% said they come to check out DVDs, 23% come to check out books on tape or CD, and 17% come to check out CDs (survey respondents could choose any number of reasons for visiting the library; the percentages do not add up to 100%).

Patron Needs and Library Goals

The Bitterroot Public Library seeks to collect, organize and make accessible materials of contemporary significance and of long term value. Selection decisions are made on the merits of the work in relation to the development of the collection while simultaneously meeting the needs and interests of users.  The Library does not express any particular belief or view through its collection.  It acts as an unbiased repository for a wide variety of opinions and ideas that are free to be examined by users.

The library strives to meet the needs of the community within the limits of budget and resources. To do this, the library is committed to using internal statistics such as circulation records and library catalog reports as well as external statistics like surveys and patron requests. Once compiled, the data will be used to create library goals.

Using the survey mentioned above, that was taken in the spring of 2011, it is clear that books are the primary reason library users come to the library. Having an up-to-date and popular print collection is a necessity. DVDs were the second most used items within the library and the library should strive to expand this collection. Books on tape and CDs were the third most popular items in the library’s collection and should also be a priority.

Collection Description

Currently, the collection contains approximately 50,000 items.

The collection is divided into six main sections: adult materials (45%), young adult materials (3%), juvenile materials (6%), easy materials (9%), audio visual (6%), digital materials (31%) and miscellaneous collections.

The adult collection is divided into four main sections: non-fiction (43%), fiction (46%), largetype (6%) and The Montana Collection (5%). The non-fiction section contains biographies and oversize materials, as well as the regular non-fiction books. The fiction section contains fiction, mysteries, science fiction and westerns.

The young adult collection is divided into three main sections: fiction (84%), non-fiction (3%) and graphic novels (13%).

The juvenile collection is divided into four main sections: fiction (50%), non-fiction (44%), audio books (2%) and videos/DVDs (4%).

The easy collection is divided into eight sections: easy books (66%), beginning reader (6%), easy chapter books (2%), easy non-fiction (5%), holiday (12%), audio (1%) and video/DVDs (3%).

The audio visual collection is divided into four sections: audio books (38%), music CDs (12%), videos/VHS (23%) and DVDs (25%).

Other collections in the library are: reference collection (less than 1%), the archival collection (less than 1%), and the parenting collection (less than 1%).

Cooperative Collection Management and Interlibrary Loan

The Bitterroot Public Library became a member of the Montana Shared Catalog in 2002. We are also one of twenty-five Partner Libraries that allow card holders to borrow items at any participating library and to place holds on any items in the combined collections. A list of items with holds from Bitterroot Public Library’s patrons is used to make purchases of popular materials.

Our library participates in interlibrary loan services through OCLC, a global bibliographic agency. Materials are borrowed from other libraries when more current information, technical research, out-of-print materials and further information on specific topics is needed. The titles and subjects of interlibrary loan requests are continually analyzed to aid in our collection development.

Chronological Coverage

In general, our library strives to maintain current reference information and new popular fiction and non-fiction. Materials over five years old are frequently weeded and rarely added to the collection. The library uses the following chart to evaluate certain sections of the collection.

Dewey Call Nos.Subject AreaAge of Item to be Re-evaluatedSpecial Concerns
000sGeneral Works5 yearsMust meet current needs. Note circulation statistics.
100sPsychology, Philosophy5 years for Psychology; 10 years for PhilosophyShifting interests/trends should be represented.
200sReligion7 yearsOver-representation of certain items should be avoided.
300sSocial Sciences7 yearsDiversity of viewpoints.
400sLanguage7 years 
500sScience5 yearsNote currency and accuracy. Must note if editions are superseded.
600sHealth, Cooking, Technology5 years except Cooking (10 years)Pay attention to information that may be misleading or no longer relevant in Health and Technology.
700sArts, Recreation10 yearsMust meet current needs. Note circulation statistics.
800sLiterature: Plays, Poetry, Writing10 yearsMust meet current needs. Note circulation statistics.
900sGeography, Travel, History5 years except Travel (3 years)Note currency and accuracy.

(Chart is a condensed version of the guidelines set forth in the CREW Method created by the Texas State Library). Exceptions include books written by authors from Montana, books about Montana history, books about the Lewis and Clark Expedition and works of classic literature.


Currently the Bitterroot Public Library collection is over 60% books, 30% digital materials, 4% audio books, 3% DVDs and videos, and 0.8% reference materials.

Multiple Copies

Multiple copies are purchased for highly publicized materials which have multiple patron requests/holds. Multiple copies are sometimes purchased for the Montana or reference collections if the item is needed in both the regular circulating non-fiction collection and in the special collection.

Funding Considerations

The library allocates as much of its funding as possible to the purchase of new materials for the collection. The base of our funding is from a mill levy collected and distributed by Ravalli County. Currently, approximately 5% of our operating budget is used for purchasing materials.

The library also uses donated funds to purchase materials. Donations from community organizations provide the funding for our large-type collection. Our magazine subscriptions are paid for through an endowment fund. The Friends of the Bitterroot Public Library provide funds for our children’s collection. Also, the Bitterroot Public Library Foundation provides funds for adult materials. When taking these other funds into account, the library spends about 8% of its budget on materials.

Collection Responsibilities and Selection Procedures

Final authority for the determination of policy in the selection and acquisition of library materials is vested in the Board of Trustees of the Bitterroot Public Library. The responsibility of materials for the library rests with the Library Director.  The purpose of the selection process is to obtain materials to supply information and reference assistance, and to provide recreation. The library’s policy is to purchase, within budget limitations, the materials which satisfy patron needs, following established criteria for selection which includes evaluating each title by:

  • Permanence or timely value
  • Clear presentation and readability
  • Social significance
  • Importance of subject matter to the collection
  • Author’s reputation and significance as a writer
  • Publisher’s reputation
  • Fair presentation of both sides of controversial issues
  • Avoidance of what is trivial, deliberately distorted, or primarily sensational or offensive
  • Reflection of community standards
  • Patron’s requests
  • Cost

The Library Director purchases materials for the adult fiction and non-fiction areas of the collection. The Director cannot be expected to personally review all titles and materials due to the sheer number of items published. Therefore, along with examining titles, (s)he will rely on valuable review sources to select materials that are suitable for the collection. Among these are:

  • Booklist
  • Library Journal
  • Patron requests
  • Purchase Alert report from the Montana Shared Catalog

The Adult Services Librarian is responsible for the library’s reference and periodicals collection.

The purpose of the Reference Collection is to provide readily available on-site access to resources that fit into the following categories:

  • Works meant to be consulted briefly for historical, statistical, or background information
  • Works that are best accessed as a set, example: World Book Encyclopedia
  • Indexes or abstracts
  • Works whose availability or content predisposes them to theft or loss if circulated, example: The Montana Code Annotated
  • Regional and local information

Additionally, the Library maintains a diverse selection of informational and entertainment magazines and newspapers representing local, state, regional, and national coverage. We keep cataloged back issues of magazines for 1 year and newspapers for one month or two weeks.

The reference collection is updated and weeded annually. We continue to downsize this collection and move items to circulation to provide better access to our patrons. The collection will continue to be evaluated annually, moving seldom used materials to circulation and marketing the collection, such as facing books out, associating our online resources with our OPAC and promoting the collection through shelf displays and website announcements.

The Library recognizes that reference information is available online and that this format provides both currency and ease of access (24/7) that normally cannot be matched by print sources.  The Library purchases online resources as well as those resources available through statewide database licensing. When selecting electronic sources, the Library considers ease of use and cost; frequency of updating; remote access capability; and whether or not there may be duplication with a print source already in the collection.

Reference items are selected primarily by the staff from review sources, publishers’ information and patron/staff input. Standard works are updated yearly, every other year and sometimes every 3-5 years.

The Children’s Librarian selects items for the children’s, juvenile and teen collections. The library provides a wide range of youth materials in all formats to fulfill the informational, cultural, learning, and leisure needs of children of all ages. The composition of the collection reflects interests of youth in the community as determined by analysis, requests for books on hold, and experience on the part of the Library Staff and the Youth Services Librarian. We have two separate spaces for youth, the “Children’s Corner” and   the “Teen Area”.

The “Children’s Corner” collection provides materials for infants through second grade. The collection is divided into the following divisions:  Board books, easy books, easy readers, easy chapter books, “holiday” collection, easy non-fiction books, a parenting collection, and children’s magazines.  A small collection of CD’s, videos, DVD’s and music CD’s are available in this area. Educational games, puzzles, and blocks provide open-ended learning experiences.  Online resources for children are available on our website made available through statewide database licensing.

The “Teen Area”

Materials in the Juvenile/Teen Area fiction collection were integrated and shelved together in 2008 for ease of browsing.  The collection provides reading materials for grades 3 through 12 and includes both Juvenile (J) and Young Adult (YA) in the following divisions: fiction, non-fiction including biographies,  J reference (World Book), and graphic novels.   Teen magazines, books on tape, videos, DVDs and educational games available in this area.  Online resources for youth are available on our website made available through statewide database licensing.

The books in the “Children’s Corner” and “Teen Area” collection have been weeded, inventoried, and repaired in 2010, 2011 and 2013.  Audio visual materials were also evaluated and updated.

Guidelines for Evaluation and Selection of Youth Resources:

  • Materials must be relevant to today’s world, reflecting problems, aspirations, attitudes, and ideals of society.
  • Materials must be representative of differing viewpoints on controversial subjects.
  • Materials must be representative of artistic, historic, and literary qualities or significance of author.
  • Materials must be of quality format and value, and be clear and accurate.
  • Materials are selected by the Youth Services Librarian using several resources, including: Caldecott and Newberry Award Winners, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Awards, Booklist, Radical Reads for Teens, select donations, and patron or staff requests.

Self-Published Works

The library wishes to support local authors and provide patrons access to unique materials relevant to Ravalli County and western Montana while maintaining the necessary standards of its permanent collections. Self-published works which are donated to the library or recommended for purchase will be considered using the following criteria and processed using the following guidelines:

  • Authors must be Ravalli County residents, or the book must take place in Ravalli County, or otherwise demonstrate a strong local interest. Priority for purchase or addition to the collection will be given to materials which would be added to the library’s Montana Collection.
  • Books must meet the existing collection development guidelines and these guidelines will be applied when selecting self-published works.
  • Brief listing for the book will be created in the Library Catalog, so that borrowers may access the item by title or author.
  • Books will be processed similar to other materials, including a barcode and BPL ownership marking.
  • Items may be withdrawn after one year, unless they have circulated regularly.
  • Materials that are donated become the property of the Bitterroot Public Library and as such cannot be returned to the donor.

Donation Policy

Gifts are a valuable source of enriching the library’s service and collection. The Bitterroot Public Library encourages public support of the Library by accepting donations, memorials, and gifts in accordance with the following guidelines:

  • Donations of monetary gifts are encouraged. Monetary gifts for purchase of specific books or materials will be accepted when the requested purchase is in accordance with the standard, criteria and policy of the library. Monetary gifts designated for new and improved library services are accepted when the requested services are part of the library’s plan or when the Library Director approves and determines the feasibility of the proposal.
  • Donations of physical materials will be added to the collection only if they meet the same criteria required for purchased materials. Whenever a gift is no longer needed, it will be disposed of in the same manner as purchased materials.
  • Receipts for donated materials are given to the donor upon request. The receipt shall be given for the number and types of items received. No monetary value will be placed upon gift items by the library; the donor will accept this responsibility.

Collection Maintenance

The Bitterroot Public Library strives to provide its community with a relevant, current, diverse, and dynamic collection that speaks to its needs.  To complete this task, Library Staff continually review, evaluate and possibly discard materials not meeting our selection standards.  Weeding is an effort to provide a responsive collection and not an outdated archive for our patrons.  The selection and de-selection of materials is largely based on user demand and the guiding principles of our mission statement.  Items that do not meet the goals of the library or that are no longer of use or interest to the library’s patrons will be de-selected or weeded from the collection.

A de-selection program is necessary for a healthy library for the following reasons:

  • To save space.
  • To improve access; an organized, stream-lined approach makes materials easier to find for patrons and librarians.
  • To save money; it eliminates the costs of maintaining unused materials.
  • To make room for new materials.
  • Makes the library more aesthetically pleasing, increasing customer traffic.
  • Enhances the collection for reputability and currency.

Candidates for discarding are materials which contain outdated or inaccurate information, have been superseded by newer editions, are worn or damaged and/or are seldom used, unless the material is of historic or literary value. Withdrawn materials are disposed through organizations which include the Friends of the Library book sales or other appropriate non-profit agencies such as nursing homes or local detention centers.

Reconsideration of Materials

The Bitterroot Public Library acknowledges that occasional objections to materials will be made despite the care taken and the procedures followed in selection or rejection. Each request is taken seriously; the decision will be based solely upon whether the material is appropriately selected under the Collection Management Policy.

Materials being reviewed will not be removed or added during the review process.

The presence of material in the Library does not indicate an endorsement of its contents by the library board of trustees, staff or funding agencies.

To ensure intellectual freedom for our patrons, the Bitterroot Public Library Board of Trustees and library personnel support the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and the American Library Association’s “Library Bill of Rights” (see Appendix).

Procedures for Reconsideration of Materials

  1. Citizen’s concerns about materials in the Library shall be referred to the Library Director who shall attempt to resolve the concern informally.
  2. If an informal resolution is not possible, the citizen shall be invited to complete and return a signed Reconsideration Request Form (see Appendix).
  3. The citizen must be a current Bitterroot Public Library cardholder and be at least 18 years old.
  4. Separate forms shall be completed for each topic or item to be considered.
  5. In the absence of a fully completed form there is no complaint and no action shall be taken.
  6. Reconsideration will not occur if the material has been reconsidered in the last three years.
  7. Upon receipt of a completed request form, the Chair of the Board of Trustees shall appoint a Review Committee, if one is not currently standing, and shall appoint a committee chair. The Committee shall consist of the Chair of the Board of Trustees, one other Trustee, the Library Director, one community library professional and one community member at large. The Committee shall be appointed within 30 days of the receipt of the written comment request.
  8. Each committee member shall review the material(s) or topic(s) in question and make an individual assessment. Committee members shall follow the “Instructions to the Review Committee” (Appendix) and any other information which may be provided in the review packet. The committee shall complete the review in a reasonable length of time.
  9. The Committee Chair shall arrange a meeting of the committee members to discuss the concern(s). The committee shall submit a written report, including its recommendation in the form of a resolution, to the Library Board of Trustees.
  10. The resolution will be on the agenda for the next regularly scheduled meeting at which the Board of Trustees shall vote to adopt or not to adopt the committee report in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order. The Chair of the Board of Trustees shall inform the citizen in writing of the Board’s decision. The Board’s decision is final.


Instructions to the Review Committee:

  • Committee members shall study the information provided in the review packet. The packet shall include “Instructions to the Review Committee”, the library’s “Collection Management Policy” and any other pertinent material which may aid in making a decision.
  • Committee members shall examine the material being reviewed in its entirety. Passages or parts should not be taken out of context. Each committee member shall consider the merits and the faults of the material based solely upon whether the material is appropriately selected under the Collection Management Policy and the citizen’s action request to make an individual assessment.
  • The Committee Chair shall arrange a meeting of the committee to discuss the concern(s). The committee shall submit a written report, including its recommendation in the form of a resolution, to the Library Board of Trustees. A minority report may be submitted.

CLICK HERE to download the reconsideration request form.

First Amendment of the United States Constitution

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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.

Approved by the Bitterroot Public Library Board of Trustees
November, 2011