Collection Development Policy

Objective of Policy

The Collection Development Policy of the Lancaster Public Library (LPL) formally outlines principles and responsibility for the selection of books, audiovisual materials, and other items which make up the collection of the LPL and its branch library in Mountville.

Role of the Lancaster Public Library

The Lancaster Public Library (LPL) is a local library and a member of the Library System of Lancaster County (LSLC). As a local library, LPL seeks to encourage lifelong learning for its patrons, and to support that mission for other member libraries of LSLC. The following statements of the American Library Association are considered to be an integral part of this policy: Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read, Freedom to View.

Authority And Responsibility

Final authority for LPL materials selection is vested in the Board of Directors of the LPL. The Board has delegated this authority to the Executive Director of the Library who has delegated responsibility for materials selection to qualified LPL staff.  At the discretion of the Executive Director, staff members are given selection responsibility based on their education, training, and experience.

Selection Criteria

In considering items for purchase for LPL’s collection various factors are kept in mind, according to the type and format of the material:

  • Accuracy and authoritativeness
  • Critical and staff reviews
  • Social significance
  • Timeliness
  • Enduring value
  • Demand
  • Relevance to community needs
  • Suitability of subject, style, and reading level for intended audience
  • Suitability of format to subject matter and intended audience
  • Suitability and physical quality of format for a public library
  • Reputation of publisher/producer
  • Quality of design and illustrations
  • Contribution to a balanced point of view of subject matter
  • Relationship to existing materials in the collection on same subject
  • Literary value
  • Cost

The selection of any given item does not constitute an endorsement of contents by the library or library staff members. The library recognizes that some materials may be controversial and may offend some patrons. Library materials are evaluated as a whole and not on the basis of a particular passage or passages. A work will not be excluded from the collection because it presents an aspect of life honestly or because of frankness of expression.

Lancaster Collection

LPL houses and maintains the Lancaster Collection, a non-circulating comprehensive collection of materials about Lancaster, broadly interpreted. Books and other materials are added on topics such as the county’s people, cultures, traditions, religions, arts, history, governmental units, businesses, educational institutions, and civic organizations. Both adult and juvenile materials are collected, fiction, and nonfiction. The Lancaster Collection also includes selected works by authors and illustrators residing in the public. Books published in Lancaster prior to 1900 are retained.


Gift and memorial books or other materials are accepted with the understanding that they may be used or not used in accordance with the selection policy. New titles acquired as gifts are subject to the same selection criteria as purchased materials. Replacement and duplicate copies are added to the collection, if necessary. The cost of processing and cataloging and the availability of space are also factors in determining the addition of gifts to the collection. The library does not provide evaluation of gifts for tax deduction or other purposes.

Collection Maintenance

In order to maintain a vital and accurate library collection, deselection of materials is necessary. Nonfiction materials become outdated, books and other materials are damaged, the demand for certain materials decreases.

LPL staff members assigned collection development duties are also responsible for deselection in their respective selection areas, with final decisions being the responsibility of their supervisor.  Specific deselection methods are recommended by the Assistant Director of Executive Director.

The roles of LPL as District Library and local library are considered in deselection decisions.

Reconsideration of Materials

LPL endeavors to acquire materials representing diverse points of view, and not to label or censor materials. Parents or legal guardians are responsible for the reading and viewing of their children and adolescents.

Recognizing that a collection representing diverse viewpoints may result in some complaints, a procedure is in place to assure that complaints are handled in an attentive and consistent manner.

A patron wishing reconsideration of library materials may ask for a ‘Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials’ form. This form is available at public service desks of all LPL locations and through the Executive Director’s office.  The form will only be considered if the complainant has read, listened to, or viewed the material being challenged, at least until the part that the individual found objectionable.  Once the original form has been completed in its entirety, the complainant must return it to the Library, in-person or by mail.

Upon receipt of a completed Request for Reconsideration form, the Executive Director will appoint a staff committee to evaluate the material in light of the patron’s request, using published reviews and the above-stated selection criteria. Evaluators will submit their recommendations to the Executive Director, who will make a decision concerning the material.

The Executive Director will notify the patron who originated the request. If the individual is not satisfied with the action taken, he/she may appeal to the LPL Board of Directors.  The President of the Board will appoint a committee consisting of board and staff to review the request and recommendation.