The library & bookmobile are closed, but curbside pickup is available. Borrowed items are due in June. Click here for details..

Collection Development Policy

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

Revised and Adopted by the Rochester Public Library Board on September 18, 2013

Mission Statement

We strengthen community and enrich lives by sparking imagination, creativity, engagement and learning.

Vision Statement

Where aspirations, ideas and knowledge converge


The materials collection, one of Rochester Public Library’s major assets, is developed and managed to meet the cultural, informational, educational, and recreational needs of library patrons in the City of Rochester and Olmsted County. Library staff build and maintain a patron-focused collection by anticipating and responding to patron needs and expectations. Staff recognize the necessity of balancing budget, staffing, and building concerns when making decisions either to acquire or to provide access to materials and information. The materials budget allocation is set annually. Allocation decisions are based on factors including demand, cost of materials, publishing trends, changes in the information marketplaces, and Rochester Public Library strategic objectives.


This policy guides staff in and informs the public of the principles upon which collection development and management decisions are based. Collection development and management is the ongoing process of assessing the materials available for purchase or licensing and making the decision, first, on their inclusion, and, second, on their retention. This policy describes the role of collection development and management in achieving the library's mission and strategic objectives. It defines the scope of the collection, provides a plan for the continuing development of resources, and identifies collection strengths. It outlines the relationship of collection development and management to the library's goals and intellectual freedom principles.

Collection Responsibilities

Responsibility for the collection rests with the Library Director, under the authority of the Library Board of Directors. Securing funds for materials is included in the Library's annual budget process.  The Director delegates library collection development to specialists who most closely manage the wide range of services related to particular collections.  Specifically, the Youth Services Division Head, the Reference Services Division Head, and the Readers Services Division Head manage collection activities for their respective service areas.   The division heads have the authority to interpret and apply this policy and to further delegate and supervise collection development and management activities.

All staff contribute to the development of a collection driven by patron needs and expectations by:

  • engaging in open, continuous two-way communication with patrons and other staff
  • interacting with understanding, respect, and responsiveness to all
  • applying collection development policies and practices equitably to all material requests
  • understanding and responding to rapidly changing demographics, as well as societal and technological changes
  • recognizing that materials of varying complexity and format are necessary to satisfy diverse needs
  • balancing individual and community needs
  • seeking continuous improvement through ongoing measurement of collection use

The community has a role in shaping library collections by participating in the collection development process through suggestions and feedback.

Scope of Collection

The collection offers materials in choices of format, treatment, language and level of difficulty. "Materials" has the widest possible meaning and includes but is not limited to print, audiovisual, and electronic formats. "Collection" is defined as materials that are selected for the Rochester Public Library; those selected materials may be physically owned by the Rochester Public Library or may be accessed through its web page. "Selection" refers to the decision that must be made to add a given item to the Rochester Public Library collection and made accessible either at the main library, its bookmobile, electronically or delivered by some other means. Not all materials and information found using library computers or the library’s web page are part of the Rochester Public Library’s collection. Only web-based resources accessed over the Internet that are specifically selected using the criteria outlined in this policy are a part of the collection. This includes subscription databases, ebooks, and websites accessed free over the internet. See the Internet Policy for additional information on general use of the Internet in the Library.

Rochester Public Library collects, organizes, and makes available materials of contemporary significance and long-term value for its community. The collection is reviewed and revised on an ongoing basis to meet contemporary and future needs. Collections are broad, current and popular; not archival nor comprehensive.  However, general collections of unique historical value to Rochester and Olmsted County are collected and retained when possible.  Collections provide general coverage of subjects and reflect the characteristics of the community. Materials are withdrawn from the collection to maintain the collection's usefulness, currency, and relevance. Withdrawn materials are given to the Friends of the Rochester Public Library to dispose of to the best advantage, such as through sales by the Friends of the Rochester Public Library, distribution to other community organizations or recycling.

The Library strives to meet the collection goals described in the current edition of Standards for Minnesota Public Libraries. The Library recognizes and respects intellectual property rights and conforms to legislative mandates regarding copyright protections.

Collection Development and Management Criteria

To build a collection of merit, materials are evaluated according to one or more of the following criteria. An item need not meet all of these criteria in order to be acceptable.

  • current and anticipated needs and interests of the public
  • suitability of physical form for library use
  • suitability of subject and style for intended audience
  • evaluations in review media –  this may include authoritative review journals and popular reviews from a variety of sources
  • accuracy and timeliness of content
  • author’s, artist’s, or publisher’s qualifications and/or reputation
  • contribution of a work to the diversity or breadth of the collection and its relation to other materials on the subject
  • representation of unique or controversial points of view
  • receipt of, or nomination for, major awards or prizes, or inclusion of the title in standard bibliographies or indexes
  • quality of productions
  • requests by the public
  • affordability

 Special considerations for electronic information sources:

  • ease of use of the product
  • availability of the information to multiple, concurrent users, and/or remote users
  • technical requirements to provide access to the information
  • technical support and training

Additional criteria will apply to specific collection areas as detailed below:

  • Adult books are selected according to the criteria listed above. The library does not typically add abridged versions of books to the collection. As a general rule the library will acquire only works of interest to the layperson. Price, accuracy, and timeliness are other factors influencing selection. The library does not commonly purchase out-of-print material for the collection. No attempt is made to purchase all the works by a certain author.
  • Audio recordings – the library collects a wide range of musical and non-musical recordings including foreign language instruction, literature, sound effects, a variety of musical styles and more.  Unabridged editions are preferred; however, the library selectively adds abridged versions to meet popular demand.  As technology changes, the library will acquire audio recordings in the prevailing formats. 
  • Children's books and other materials expressly purchased for children are selected to meet the informational needs of children from birth through grade eight and recreational needs of children from birth through grade eight. The criteria of patron demand and need are also considered in acquiring children's materials.
  • Electronic Databases are selected according to the content that is needed to provide information for the public and the library staff. Databases may be purchased to replace printed materials in the reference collection if electronic access to the information improves the quality of materials and is electronically accessible to all library users.
  • Genealogical and historical materials dealing with Rochester and Olmsted County are sought by the library. The library prefers printed, audio, visual and electronic databases for this collection. The library does not attempt to include artifacts as part of the collection.  The library recognizes the important role of the Olmsted County History Center and its library and does not seek to duplicate the materials or services they provide.
  • Government documents - the library is committed to facilitating accessibility to federal, state and local government documents.  The Rochester Public Library is not a Depository Library.
  • Newspapers – the library attempts to provide representation from different regions of the country.
  • Pamphlets, brochures, and similar short publications not easily processed as books are made available in the library's pamphlet file. Special interest or promotional materials may be added if their basic purpose is to inform and if they conform to this materials selection policy.  Pamphlets, brochures, and flyers for activities not related to the library may be available in the community pamphlet rack if the content applies to the library’s Policy on Pamphlet Racks.
  • Periodicals – the library subscribes to a wide variety of magazines covering general interest subjects such as news, sports, fashion, cooking and hobbies. Academic or research journal print subscriptions are not purchased, but many journals have full-text access through online periodical databases. Magazine title selection is based on patron requests, interest in a subject as demonstrated in book circulation, and magazine reviews. Older issues of most magazines are available for lending in the circulating magazine collection.
  •  Reference materials – the library makes every attempt to purchase appropriate and up-to-date reference materials needed to answer the informational questions of library users.
  • Textbooks.  The library does not support educational curricula through the purchase of textbooks. However, textbooks may be added to the collection if they provide the best or only sources of information on a subject or if they complement an existing area with another perspective
  • Visual media – popular feature films, documentaries, instructional videos and other visual media are added to the library's collection in a manner consistent with patron demand and budget constraints. As technology changes, the library will acquire visual media in the prevailing formats.  
  • Young adult collection – the library selects materials for youth in grades nine through twelve for its specialized young adult collection according to the criteria listed above. This collection in this area consists primarily of fiction, a small collection of popular non-fiction, and selected circulating magazines. More in-depth non-fiction and other media titles are available for this age group in other areas within the library.

"Weeding", the review and removal of materials from the collection, is an ongoing process directly related to collection development. Materials that are worn, damaged, outdated, duplicated, or no longer used may be removed from the collection. Other factors taken into consideration are frequency of use, community interest, and availability of other material on the subject. Materials removed from the collection are given to the Friends of the Library for sale or distribution.

Intellectual Freedom

A democracy presupposes an informed citizenry and the public library has an integral role in achieving that goal. The Library provides an impartial environment in which individuals and their interests are brought together with the universe of ideas and information spanning the spectrum of knowledge and opinions. The Rochester Public Library had adopted the American Library Association’s Library Bill of RightsFreedom to Read and Freedom to View statements.  These principles guide the Rochester Public Library’s materials selection and use policies.

Collection development and management decisions are based solely on the merit of the work as it relates to the Library's mission and its ability to meet the expressed or anticipated needs and interests of the community; decisions are not made on the basis of any anticipated approval or disapproval of the material. The inclusion of an item in the library collection in no way represents an endorsement of its contents. Library materials are not marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of the contents, nor are materials sequestered.

The Library recognizes that many materials are controversial and that any given item may offend some. Only individuals can determine what is most appropriate for their needs and can define what material or information is consistent with their personal or family values. Individuals can apply those values to the use of library materials only for themselves. Parents and legal guardians have the responsibility for their children's use of library materials.

Access to Collection Materials

All library materials are available for use by all patrons. Access to materials is ensured by the way materials are cataloged, organized, managed, and displayed, through staff interaction, and through the delivery of materials.

The Library organizes its collection through a standards-based cataloging and classification system. Staff is available to assist patrons in the selection and location of materials of interest. The Library participates in interlibrary loan networks to make materials not in the collection available for patrons. Electronic resources are also made accessible through electronic environments.

To ensure equitable and efficient access, materials may be subject to use limitations. Remote electronic access to the library catalog and electronic resources is provided within technical, budgetary, and licensing constraints.

Reconsideration of Library Materials

Individuals may request reconsideration of a selection decision of library material by submitting a written request for reconsideration to any Rochester Public Library service desk (or bookmobile) using established Library procedures and guidelines. The selector of the material responds in writing to an individual's written request. The decision of the selector may be appealed to the Library Director.

The Rochester Public Library Board, upon request, hears appeals of the Library Director's written response. Appeals must be presented in writing to the Library Board at least ten days in advance of the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board. Decisions on appeals are based on careful review of the objection, the material, and Library policies including: this policy, the Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read and the Freedom to View and the American Library Association's guidelines on intellectual freedom. The final decision on appeals rests with the Rochester Public Library Board of Directors.

Donated Materials

The Library does not accept materials that are not outright gifts. Materials donated to the Library are received with the understanding that they are subject to the same selection, evaluation and disposal criteria as material acquired for purchase.

All gifts of books and materials must be in usable physical condition. Because of limitations of space, money, and staff, the Library reserves the right to accept or discard, at its discretion, any materials given to the library. Because of wear, theft and mutilation, the Library cannot guarantee the permanence of a gift in the collection.

Donated materials not added to the collection are not returned to the donors. The Library makes every effort to dispose of any gift materials it cannot use to the best advantage, such as through sales by the Friends of the Library, distribution to other community organizations or recycling.

Review of Library Collection Policy

Reviewed by the Library Board on 9/21/2016

Printable copy of Library Collection Development Policy (PDF)

Free viewers are required for some of the attached documents.
They can be downloaded by clicking on the icons below.

Acrobat Reader Download Acrobat Reader Flash Player Download Flash Player Windows Media Player Download Windows Media Player Microsoft Silverlight Download Microsoft Silverlight Word Viewer Download Word Viewer Excel Viewer Download Excel Viewer PowerPoint Viewer Download PowerPoint Viewer