Collection Development Policy


The following Collection Development Policy is designed to provide guidance for librarians to use in materials selection and to inform the public about the principles upon which librarians develop and maintain collections.

The library collection supports the mission of Benicia Public Library (BPL):

"The Benicia Public Library contributes to the success of our diverse community by being a vital center of learning, communication, culture, and enjoyment."

The BPL acquires and makes available materials that inform, educate, entertain, and enrich individuals. Since no library can possibly acquire all print and non-print materials, every library must employ a policy of selectivity in acquisitions. The Library provides, within its financial limitations, a general collection of reliable materials embracing broad areas of knowledge. Works included contain enduring value and timely materials on current issues. Within the framework of these broad objectives, selection is based on community demographics (census – ages, formats, educational levels, etc.) and evidence of areas of interest as determined by use and surveys.

Other city and regional resources are taken into consideration when developing collections. Through interlibrary loan, librarians may obtain materials from other sources. Additional information may be obtained through electronic access and the Internet. Databases and electronic resources purchased for the public that can be accessed through the Internet will be selected using the same principles that are applied to books and other formats. New formats will be considered for the collection when a significant portion of the community population has the necessary technology to make use of the format.

Impartiality and judicious selection will be exercised in all materials acquisitions practices. Allocation of the materials budget will be determined by the Library Director and will be based upon indicators of use, the average cost per item, and objectives for development of the collection as expressed in this Collection Development Plan.

BPL supports the individual's right to access ideas and information representing all points of view. To this end, the library welcomes and solicits patron suggestions, comments, and ideas about the collection and its development. The Board of Trustees of the Benicia Public Library has adopted the American Library Association's Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read Statement, and the Freedom to View Statement.

Library Service Roles

BPL serves a community comprised of a wide range of ages, ethnic backgrounds, educational levels and interests. To meet this diversity, the library must fill a number of service roles for the community. After considering building and materials use, current and past strengths, local demographic trends, citizen expectations (as expressed in surveys), other library resources in the area and current resources of the Library, the Benicia Public Library chooses to emphasize the following service roles:

  • CURRENT TOPICS AND TITLES - The library helps to meet our public's need for information about popular cultural and social trends as well as their desire for satisfying recreational experiences. This includes current materials such as bestsellers (fiction and non-fiction) and non-fiction topics of current interest.
  • LIFELONG LEARNING - The library helps address our public's desire for self-directed personal growth and development.
  • EDUCATION – The Library works with local schools to help elementary, junior high, and high school students achieve their educational objectives.
  • GENERAL INFORMATION - The library helps to meet our public's need for information and answers to questions on a broad array of topics related to work, school, and personal life.
  • FACILITY - The library provides an environment and space that helps our public meet and interact with others and to participate in public discourse about community issues.
  • CULTURAL ENHANCEMENT – The library helps address our public’s desire for cultural enhancement through art displays, poetry readings, concerts, and other recreational resources.


  • Provide materials that meet the patrons' interests and needs in a timely manner.
  • Provide materials for preschool and grade school children to facilitate completion of school assignments and to encourage and promote continued use of the library.
  • Provide a broadly based and diverse collection that can support the roles of the library as a popular materials center, a reference center, and an independent learning center.
  • Provide a variety of viewpoints on all subjects in the collection.
  • Participate in cooperative collection development programs.


Responsibility for Selection

Prior to 1984, the Benicia Municipal Code Section 2.64.060 gave ultimate responsibility for material selection to the Benicia Public Library Board of Trustees. With the provisions of Ord. 84-9 N.S. § 1, 1984, the powers and duties of the Board of Library Trustees were revised and now fall into two categories.

2.64.060 (D). Purchase necessary books, journals and publications and other personal property;

2.64.060 (E). Borrow books from and rent books to and exchange books with other libraries and allow nonresidents to borrow books set upon such conditions as the Board prescribes.

According to these sections, the overarching responsibility of the Board is to set policy that will provide direction for the purchase and exchange of library materials.

The specific selection of materials is procedural and responsibility falls to the Director, who operates within the framework of policies approved by the Board of Library Trustees. The Director’s primary responsibility is to oversee and provide professional support for material selection.

Collection Development staff oversee the selection of materials that meet the Material Selection Plan and the Collection Development Plan. They are responsible for choosing, replacing and deselecting materials that reflect community demand and library service roles, while keeping the collection in good condition.

The Public Services Librarian oversees the information sources made available to the public through the Internet.

All staff members and the general public may recommend material for consideration.

Principles of Selection

Four factors determine the selection of materials for the library

Methods for Selection

Selection is a discerning and interpretive process, involving a general knowledge of the subject and recognition of the needs of the community. Material is judged on the basis of the content and style of the work as a whole, not by selected portions or passages. The library strives to collect and make available differing points of view. Among standard criteria applied are: literary merit, enduring value, accuracy, authoritativeness, social significance, importance of the subject matter to the collection, cost, scarcity of material on the subject, and availability elsewhere. Quality and suitability of the format are also considered. Specific considerations for each area of the collection are noted in the Collection Development Plan. At all times selectors should choose material that will build a well-rounded collection, including varying viewpoints and opinions that will meet supplementary study needs. Selectors should seek to maintain a balance of current popular works with timeless classics, dependent on usage, along with the other criteria described above.

Placement of Material

The placement of material within BPL is a professional decision that depends upon a number of factors. The library uses Dewey Decimal Classification: this classification scheme divides material by subject. Professional catalogers using Dewey Decimal Classification and Library of Congress subject headings place materials ordered in the proper subject area and assign them to Adult, Juvenile, Young Adult, Reference, etc., areas of the library. Reviews by professionals in the field recommending age appropriateness of material aid librarians in choosing and locating material.

Although the library facilities are divided into sections such as Juvenile, Reference, Fiction, Nonfiction, etc., for the convenience of the public, patrons of any age may use any part of the library. The classification scheme, reviews by professionals, and the librarians' expertise contribute to the proper placement of material. It is the responsibility of the parents, not the library staff, to monitor library use by children.

Various material formats other than print materials are purchased by BPL. To offer ease of use to our patrons, these formats are usually shelved in separate areas from print materials. These collections may include audio books, MP3 players, e-book readers, DVDs, video and computer games or gaming devices, multimedia kits, music CDs, maps, vertical files, and magazines and newspapers. Some materials, such as e-books, are available only through the Internet and can be obtained on any public library computer.

Material Format

Material is purchased in the most appropriate format for library use.

Textbooks may be purchased in areas where there is little or no material in any other format or where they add substantially to the collection. While BPL will occasionally buy textbooks to support Benicia schools when staff feels these would be widely used, BPL typically does not buy the textbooks used by schools outside of Benicia, regarding it as the responsibility of the school, community college, or university library to provide copies of these course materials for their students.

New formats will be considered for purchase as demand and use dictates. Some titles may be purchased in several formats in order to serve the most patrons. Availability of items in the format, the cost per item and the library's ability to acquire and handle the items will also be factors in determining when a new format will be collected. Similar considerations will influence the decision to delete a format from the library's collection.

Assessment of Collection

In order to maintain a collection of current, relevant library materials that meets the needs of our diverse, changing constituents, BPL engages in an ongoing process of continual assessment. BPL has established a set of criteria, the Collection Development Plan, to determine when an item should be transferred from one location to another, or removed from the collection entirely.

The collection needs continuous evaluation in order to be sure that the library is fulfilling its mission to provide material in a timely manner to meet patrons' interests and needs.

Withdrawal of Materials

Items may be withdrawn from the collection if they are no longer needed, if their information has become obsolete, or if they are physically so worn as to be unusable. The same care used in selecting materials is used in weeding the collection. Most discarded materials will be donated to the Friends of the Benicia Public Library book sale. However, the library reserves the right to donate or sell the materials to another group, or to dispose of them through a recycling or disposal service.

Gifts of Library Materials

Gifts added to the collection must meet the same selection criteria as materials purchased for the collection. If gifts do not meet these criteria, they may be conveyed to the Friends of Benicia Public Library, sold, or otherwise disposed of.

BPL accepts unrestricted, irrevocable gifts of books and other library materials. Gifts are accepted with the understanding that they will be considered for addition to the collection in accordance with the Material Selection Plan (see above). The library reserves the right to sell or otherwise dispose of gifts and donated materials through the Friends of the Library book sales, recycling, or disposal services.

BPL will not assign a value to donated gift materials. However, the library will make available to patrons a receipt indicating the type of items donated. Patrons may complete the form with more details to use for tax purposes.

Monetary Donations

Gifts of money to the Benicia Public Library are always welcome and appreciated. Specific recommendations from the donor are honored as far as the suggestions enhance subject areas of need within the collection and are in accordance with the Material Selection Plan.

Special Collections

BPL will not establish a "Rare Book Room"; however, the library may maintain special collections. A special collection is defined as a collection of materials that focuses on one topic to provide more in-depth coverage of that topic than may otherwise be found in the general public library collection. In general, special collections will be limited to topics that fulfill a specific community need or library role. Priority will be given to maintaining those special collections that the library has a contractual or special commitment to maintain. The BPL may collect materials in subject areas of interest to its local constituents and will develop such collections to the extent that space and budget allow.

Reconsideration of Library Material

A singular obligation of the public library is to reflect within its collection differing points of view. BPL does not endorse particular beliefs or views, nor does the selection of an item express or imply endorsements of the viewpoint of the author. Library material will not be marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of the contents, nor will items be sequestered, except for the purpose of protecting them from theft or damage.

Comments from members of the community about the collection or individual items in the collection frequently provide librarians with useful information about interests or needs that may not be adequately met by the collection. The library welcomes the expression of opinion by patrons, but will be governed by the Collection Development Policy in making additions to or deleting items from the collection.

Patrons who request the reconsideration of library materials will be asked to put their requests in writing by completing and signing a form, appended to this policy, entitled "Patron comments regarding library material.” (Note: this should link to Board policy 3.2)

Upon receipt of a formal written request, the Director will ask for background information from the library staff as to criteria used in ordering the material in question, its place in the collection, and reasons for having the material in the collection. Outside consultants may be asked for additional information pertinent to the subject in question.

The Director will, at the earliest possible date, study the information provided by the library staff and respond, in writing, to the person who initiated the request for reconsideration. The Director will keep the Board of Library Trustees informed of all requests for reconsideration of library material and disposition of their requests.

In the event that the person who initiated the request is not satisfied with the decision of the Director, he/she may request a hearing before the Board of Library Trustees by making a written request to the President of the Board. The Board has final authority in all book selection and retention decisions per the Benicia Municipal Code section 1.44.100. Upon receipt of the request, the Board may make the request an agenda item and the person(s) will be notified of the time and place of the Board meeting. The Board of Library Trustees reserves the right to limit the length of presentation and number of speakers at the meeting.

After hearing from the person(s) making the reconsideration request, the Board will determine whether the request for reconsideration has been handled in accordance with stated policies and procedures of BPL, will review the background information provided by the library staff, will review the position of the patron, and will also review the decision of the Director. Based on the information presented, the Board may vote to uphold or override the decision of the Director. The Board’s decisions in all book and materials selection complaints are final and not appealable to the City Council.

Approved: August 20, 1985

Revised: January 10, 2000

Revised: September 13, 2016