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Selection Policy for Library Materials

In support of its mission, the Library selects, maintains, and provides access to information, services, and materials in a variety of formats to fulfill the educational, informational, recreational, and cultural needs of the Prince George’s County community.

Policy Statement 

NOTE: For the purposes of this policy, the term “material(s)” is intended to encompass all forms of media and has the widest possible inclusion. Examples include, but are not limited to books, magazines and journals, newspapers, comics and graphic novels, DVDs, digital downloads, streaming services, and other digital resources.

Selection of library materials and resources is delegated to the Chief Executive Officer by the Board of Library Trustees. The Chief Executive Office appoints qualified professional staff to select materials and resources for the Library System.

The Board of Library Trustees of PGCMLS has adopted and included as appendices to this Selection Policy the following documents.

Materials and resources will not be excluded because of the race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, or the political, social, or religious view of the creator.

Choice of library materials and resources for personal use is an individual matter. Any customer is free to reject materials for his or her own use if that customer does not personally approve of them.

The freedom of access for a minor to library materials and resources may be restricted only by the minor’s parent or legal guardian. 

Challenged Materials

If a customer requests that an item be removed from the collection, the material will remain in the collection until all review procedures are followed and an official decision is made. Materials available in the library present a diversity of viewpoints, enabling citizens to make the informed choices necessary in a democracy. The library also selects a wide variety of library materials that satisfy the diverse interests of our community. The library upholds the right of the individual to secure these resources, even though the content may be controversial, unorthodox, or unacceptable to some. The library’s varied collection is available to all; however, it is not expected that all of the collection will appeal to everyone.

Customers who wish to request the withdrawal or reclassification of materials currently owned by the library may complete a form to request formal reconsideration of the library resource. A questioned item will be considered in its entirety, not judged solely on portions taken out of context. Questioned items will remain in circulation during the reconsideration process. The evaluation of the title will be based on the established prevailing needs of the community.

Parents or guardians have the right to guide the reading, viewing, and listening of their own children, but must accord the same right to other parents/guardians. 

Goals of Selection

PGCMLS acquires, organizes and makes available materials and resources in a variety of fformats which meet the needs of the Prince George’s County community: 

  • Meet the informational and recreational needs of the community;
  • Support cultural, recreational, business, and civic activities in the community;
  • Contribute to an individual’s self-understanding and growth;
  • Supplement learning needs of the population from birth to grade twelve;
  • Support lifelong learning for all ages;
  • Support workforce development;
  • Offer knowledge of and insight into a wide range of human and social conditions;
  • Present a variety of viewpoints and opinions on a subject;
  • Inspire and cultivate a love of books and reading.

In addition, the specific aim of the Children’s collection is to provide materials and resources in a variety of formats which will anticipate and meet the diversified needs, interests, tastes and backgrounds of children from infancy through age twelve.

The specific aim of the Teen collection is to provide materials and resources for young people ages twelve through eighteen. Recognizing that adolescence is a period of rapid physical, mental and emotional growth, and taking into account the many levels of maturity and sophistication of this age group, materials and resources are selected which vary in format, content and reading difficulty. 

Criteria for Selection

There is no single standard which can be applied to all materials included in the Library’s collection. Some materials are selected to meet informational and educational needs of the community. Others may be evaluated primarily in terms of their artistic merit or chosen to satisfy customer demand from within the community. Materials are evaluated as a whole rather than on the basis of a particular section or isolated passage. Works which present an aspect of life honestly will not be excluded because of frankness of expression.

To build a diversified, customer and community-focused collection which supports the Library’s mission, certain criteria are used: 

  • Demonstrated or anticipated customer demand;
  • Relevance to community needs;
  • Critical reviews and evaluations of material;
  • Suitability of subject, design, and format for users;
  • Accessibility of information for intended audience;
  • Comprehensiveness, currency, authority, and depth of treatment of subject;
  • Relation to existing material in the collection;
  • Availability of same or similar material in other collections to which the library
    system can provide access;
  • Reputation of author, publisher or issuing entity;
  • Literary, artistic, or other recognized merit;
  • Physical quality of material;
  • Price and availability of material.

Titles are acquired in multiple formats when appropriate, including print, audio, DVD/Blu-Ray, and digital resources, as space and budgets allow. At times, a digital edition may be deemed more appropriate than the print edition depending on accessibility, ease of use, and cost-effectiveness. 

Policy for Selection of Works by Local Authors 

Works donated by local authors who are current residents of Prince George’s County and the surrounding area (Montgomery County, Howard County, Anne Arundel County, Calvert County, Charles County, and the District Of Columbia) will be considered for the Library’s collection using the criteria stated in the Selection Policy for Library Materials. 

Special Collections

The mission of PGCMLS Special Collections is to explore our community’s past, inspire conversations, and anticipate the stories to come. These collections provide access to traditional library materials including books, periodicals, microforms, digital content, vertical files, photographs, pamphlets, and other ephemera. To build special collections which support this mission, certain criteria are used:

  • Demonstrated or anticipated enduring value relevant to the collection.
  • Suitability of subject, design, and format relevant to the collection.
  • Accessibility of information for the intended audience.
  • Comprehensiveness, currency, authority, and depth of treatment of the subject.
  • Relation to existing materials in the collection.
  • Availability of same or similar material in other collections to which the library
    system can provide access.
  • Physical quality of material.

The Library System maintains three Special Collections focusing on various unique aspects of the Prince George’s County experience from a historical perspective.  

  • Prince George's Room
    • This collection focuses on the general history of Prince George’s County with an emphasis on genealogy and local architecture.
  • Sojourner Truth Room
    • This collection focuses on local African American history with an emphasis on the African American Incorporated Towns of Prince George’s County.
  • Tugwell Room
    • This collection focuses on the history of Greenbelt, Maryland, a New Deal-era planned community.

Criteria for Withdrawing Materials from the Collection

In order to keep the library collection current and responsive to community needs, materials will be withdrawn when they are:

  • No longer timely or accurate;
  • Superseded by a new edition;
  • No longer in demand;
  • Worn or damaged.

Withdrawn items which are in good condition may be sold, with proceeds benefiting the library.