Informed by the Library’s strategic plan, MCPL builds its collections for all Monroe County residents by assessing community needs and considering the interests of intended audiences.
A diverse collection of physical and digital resources supports the Library’s mission to “enrich lives and strengthen our community by providing equitable and impartial access to information and opportunities to read, learn, connect, and create.”
Intellectual freedom is the core tenet of collection development. Library material meeting the selection criteria is not excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to its creation, and the Library’s collection may include items that are considered controversial and may offend some users. Inclusion of objectionable language or attitudes in materials is not in itself a reason to exclude them from the collection. The Library’s acquisition of these items does not constitute endorsement of their content but rather ensures their availability in support of open inquiry and independent thought. The Library affirms the rights of all individuals to choose whether or not to read something from the collection and to form their own opinions about resources they choose to read.
Selection of materials intended for adults is not inhibited by the possibility that materials may be discovered by children. Responsibility for a child’s use of library materials rests with their parent or guardian. The Library encourages each family to decide which items are appropriate for use by their children. Library materials are not sequestered except for the express purpose of protecting them from damage or theft. Materials are not labeled in any systematic way to show approval or disapproval of content and/or creator. However, the Library may choose items or subjects for display or promotional purposes solely in the effort to encourage literacy, lifelong learning, and the exploration of varied subjects and perspectives contained in its collections.
The Library objects to censorship in the fulfillment of its responsibility to provide information and enlightenment, and adheres to the principles of intellectual freedom adopted by the American Library Association.
- Library Bill of Rights
- Freedom to Read
- Freedom to View
- Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights
The scope of the collection refers to the range and type of materials selected, including reading levels and formats. The scope is as broad as possible to allow for the expression of a wide range of topics and perspectives. MCPL collects materials on a variety of literary, cultural, educational, informational and recreational topics for people of all ages with a focus on serving members of the general public. MCPL also purchases digital media and subscriptions to support community access to the full range of quality informational and recreational resources available.
Collections emphasize popular and in-demand materials and may include special formats such as large print books, audiobooks, and materials in languages other than English to meet the diverse needs of MCPL patrons. The Library maintains special collections to provide information about local people and events, to highlight the works of local authors, and to meet the evolving needs of community members. MCPL collections are not archival. No extraordinary efforts are made to retain last copies or out of print titles. However, materials of local significance or value may be digitized to expand and preserve access.
Examples of special collections include:
- The Indiana Room Collection, which contains materials documenting the history of Bloomington and Monroe County.
- The Local Authors Collection, which features donated copies of works published by residents of Monroe County.
- The Library of Things Collection, which provides tools, technology, and non-traditional circulating items to help community members express themselves intellectually and creatively, and improve their self-sufficiency.
Selection of Diverse and Inclusive Materials
MCPL strives to create a balanced collection that embraces and promotes diversity and inclusion. The collection serves to preserve, promote, highlight and give voice to individuals and groups with varying identities, experiences, values and beliefs.
The MCPL Board of Trustees delegates the development of the collection to the Library Director. The overall collection development process for MCPL involves a wide variety of individuals including the Content Development Manager, librarian selectors, audience managers, and librarians.
MCPL looks for reasons to add material to its collections, and not to exclude items. Selectors use the following criteria and annually review collection profiles and goals to help prioritize and guide purchasing decisions. An item need not meet all criteria in order to be selected.
- Community demand, interest or need; current or anticipated
- Recommendations of critical media reviewers; nomination for awards
- Prominence, authority and/or credibility of author, creator or publisher
- Representation of diverse identities and experiences
- Statement of challenging, original, or alternative point of view
- Contribution to breadth and balance of the collection
- Accuracy and timeliness of content
- Quality of packaging and production; durability
- Accessibility and ease of use
The Library’s digitization program serves to produce, organize, disseminate, and maintain a collection of digital content that expands free public access to materials of local significance or value. Physical materials owned by MCPL may be considered for digitization based on the following criteria:
- Library has license or permission to digitize content and provide unrestricted access
- Content contains unique, original items not previously digitized
- Library has capacity and budget to digitize defined content
- Subject matter meets MCPL’s collection development and selection criteria
- Collection is capable of organization and metadata description
The materials budget is recommended by the Library Director and approved by the Board of Trustees annually.
To ensure a responsive collection which reflects the needs and interests of Monroe County residents, MCPL routinely considers patron suggestions for additions to the collection. Individuals may complete a Suggestion for Purchase Form online or at any Library location. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with criteria for selection.
Interlibrary loan is a process by which MCPL borrows materials directly from another library on behalf of a patron, or another library borrows materials from MCPL on behalf of its users. The purpose of interlibrary loan is to create access to materials which would not ordinarily be purchased by MCPL and to share material from MCPL's collection with other libraries. Patrons in good standing may submit interlibrary loan requests for items not found in MCPL's collection or other local library collections, such as Indiana University.
MCPL’s Librarian Selectors review special requests to add donated material to an MCPL collection. Items that do not meet selection criteria are offered to the Friends of the Library Bookstore. No conditions may be imposed relating to any gift, donation, or memorial either before or after its acceptance. Items are not returned to donors. For additional information about donations, please see the Library’s Gift Policy.
Collection Maintenance and Review
MCPL staff routinely review all collections to ensure they continue to meet the needs of its patrons while providing diverse representation of community interests and experiences. Materials that are worn, no longer in high demand, or potentially obsolete may be deselected and removed from the collection. Librarians assess replacing materials that are damaged, destroyed or lost. Items are not necessarily automatically replaced, as decisions are based on need, demand and budget.
The selection and deselection of materials is an ongoing process involving many different staff and frequent conversations with community members. We encourage patrons with questions about items in the collection to speak with a Library staff member, or submit a comment card, available at public service desks and online. Patrons who wish to initiate a formal review process may complete the Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials Form available online or at any library location. See the MCPL Request for Reconsideration form for more information.
This policy is reviewed annually, and recommended changes are sent to the Library Director for consideration. Changes recommended by the Library Director will be sent to the Board of Trustees for approval.
Approved by the Library Board of Trustees September 20, 2023