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Collection Development Policy

Policy Name: Collection Development Policy (formally Materials Selection Policy, June 12, 1997)
Policy #: 90
Department: Library – Collection Management
Adopted: June 12, 1997
Reviewed: February 2012
Revised: Approved by Board, August 2, 2016


An informed and literate citizenry is essential to the future of New Orleans. The New Orleans Public Library functions as a major information source for the community and provides a broad and relevant collection of materials for informational, educational, and recreational purposes to people of differing ages, ethnic groups, lifestyles, and points of view, both in English and in other languages.

The New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) also has the responsibility to preserve the informational resources unique to the city of New Orleans through its Special Collections housed at the Main Library.


The Collection Development Policy is designed to support the Library’s mission statement and serves as a guide for the selection, acquisition, maintenance, and retention of materials by establishing roles, responsibilities, and a process for addressing Library user concerns.

Community Statement

NOPL branches serve the inhabitants of the city of New Orleans. Decisions regarding collection development are made with an understanding of the dynamic and diverse nature of the community. In order to best meet the needs of a changing population, Collection Development Librarians consider such factors as citywide and neighborhood demographics, as well as projected changes for given neighborhoods. The Library further serves the residents of our neighboring communities and beyond through the offering of reciprocal borrowing with nearby parish systems, and our substantial collection of electronic resources. Additionally, our interlibrary loan (ILL) service assures access to the extended resources of academic and public libraries throughout the Southeast and allows access to our collections in turn.

Responsibility Statement

The ultimate responsibility for selecting Library materials rests with the Library Director or designee, who operates within the framework of policies established by the New Orleans Public Library Board of Directors. The Director delegates selection responsibilities to a professional staff with the authority to interpret and apply selection policy.

Staff in the centralized Collection Development unit provide continuity in collections through an organized structure for budgeting, selecting, acquiring, and managing Library materials.

Material Selection

For a well-rounded collection, librarians select materials based on local and national demand, professional and popular media reviews, recommendations from the public and other Library staff, and evaluation of review copies from publishers, while also ensuring adequate availability of literary staples. Budget and space limitations require a focus on materials that appeal to a broad range of users, rather than the academic and highly technical works collected by universities and other research institutions.


All materials, whether purchased or donated, are subject to the criteria listed below:

  • Current and anticipated needs and interests of the public
  • Enduring value
  • Treatment of subject for intended audience
  • Physical durability
  • Creative, literary, or technical quality/merit
  • Quality of the production
  • Cost and availability
  • Evaluations in review media
  • Professional or literary reputation of the author, publisher, or producer
  • Relation to existing collection and other materials on the subject
  • Space and budgetary limits
  • Suitability of the format for Library use
  • Availability in other formats

An item need not meet all of these standards to be included in the Library’s collection. The choice of Library materials by users is an individual matter. Responsibility for the reading materials of children and adolescents rests with their parents or guardians.


The Library collects materials in a variety of formats including print, audiovisual, and digital. When choosing a format for a physical item, consideration is given to the condition and durability of the materials used in the item’s construction and how the item will hold up over time. Materials which are delicate or require special handling may not be suitable for our collection.

When selecting audiovisual and digital materials, the most commonly used format is chosen. Formats rendered obsolete due to the prevalence of a new format will not be added to the collection.

Foreign Language Materials

Materials published in languages other than English are purchased for the collection in response to local demographics, demonstrated need, and according to popular demand. Specific consideration is given to materials in Spanish, Vietnamese, and French, the prevalent foreign languages of the New Orleans area.

Collection Maintenance

Deselection: Deselection of material from the circulating collections is a vital part of successful collection maintenance. The same guidelines used for selection of Library materials provide the underlying principles for deselection, for which NOPL uses industry-standard MUSTIE (from the CREW Method Guidelines for Weeding).

Continuous evaluation is necessary to ensure that the Library’s materials are useful and accessible. Items are regularly removed to keep the collection current, accurate, and appealing. Authority of the work and author, quality of the publisher, currency of the material, condition of the item, number of additional copies of the title, relevance to the needs of the community, and format are all considered when removing materials from the collection. “Last copy” status is not a consideration.

Preservation: Library materials are expensive to purchase, process, and house. NOPL acknowledges the necessity of preserving Library materials and supports the American Library Association’s “Preservation Policy.” Damaged items that are found to still have value in our collection will be considered for mending. If mending is untenable due to continued use and wear, every effort will be made to replace those items if in accordance with collection development policies.

The Library maintains a disaster plan that designates procedures for the initiation of action should an emergency arise involving the Library’s collection.

City Archives & Special Collections

City Archives & Special Collections primarily collects resources relating to the study of Louisiana and its citizens and to the city of New Orleans and New Orleanians. Other areas of concentration are the Mississippi River, the Gulf of Mexico, and the South. Included within the City Archives & Special Collections are books by or about Louisianans; city, regional, and state documents; manuscripts, maps, newspapers, periodicals, microfilms, photographs, slides, motion pictures, sound recordings, video tapes, postcards, and ephemera of every sort.

The City Archives & Special Collections also houses the City Archives, the official repository for the records of New Orleans municipal government (1769-present), and holds on deposit the pre-1927 records of the civil courts and the pre-1932 records of the criminal courts of Orleans Parish.

Special Collections maintained by the City Archives & Special Collections are the Rare Vertical File, the Carnival Collection, the Louisiana Photograph Collection, the Map Collection, the Menu Collection, the Postcard Collection, the Manuscript Collection, and the Rare Book Collection.

The City Archives & Special Collections’ extensive Genealogy Collection contains books, periodicals and microfilms with emphasis on New Orleans, Louisiana, the Southeast United States, Nova Scotia, France, and Spain.

The City Archives & Special Collections acquire a range of publication types, including electronic resources, government publications, maps, microforms, monographic series, monographs, newspapers, pamphlets and other ephemera, prints and other images, and serials. Archival types include manuscript collections and government records. Archival documents include but are not limited to codices, personal papers, institutional records, photographs, programs, individual letters, typescripts, and transcripts. Almost all will be non-published. Digital and multimedia materials are acquired selectively. With rare exceptions, three-dimensional artifacts are not accepted.

Unless special circumstances arise, the City Archives & Special Collections does not acquire fiction, juvenile materials, CDs, DVDs, or VHS tapes.

Gifts and Donations

Material Donation: The Friends of the New Orleans Public Library accept donations of materials in good condition which are sold to raise money for the Library. Donations may be delivered to FNOPL locations.

The New Orleans Public Library accepts gifts for its collection that fall within needed subject categories as determined by Collection Development Librarians and Library staff. For an item to be added, it must meet the same selection criteria as purchased materials.

Donated materials are accepted with the understanding that the Library has the right to determine the disposition of the gift items. Donations become the property of the New Orleans Public Library, and may be given to other libraries and nonprofit agencies, sold at the Friends of the New Orleans Public Library book sale, or discarded at the discretion of Library staff. Donated materials which have been added to the collection will not automatically be replaced if worn-out, damaged, or lost, or if they have become obsolete.

Examples of materials that may not be added to the collection include those that are outdated, are in poor physical condition, lack any reviews or are poorly reviewed in professional reviewing sources, or are duplicates of items the Library already owns in sufficient quantity. The Library cannot accept magazine subscriptions, electronic books, or electronic audiobooks purchased by a donor.

Due to the volume of gifts received, the Library cannot track or return unsolicited items received from publishers or individuals. The Library can supply the donor with a letter of acknowledgment if one is requested at the time of donation. By law, the Library cannot determine the value of a donation for tax purposes.

Donors who wish to have an evaluation of their gifts for tax purposes are referred to the IRS Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property, and Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.

Monetary Donation: To support the enhancement of Library resources and/or to strengthen and promote the Library’s quality services, monetary donations can be made by contacting the New Orleans Public Library Foundation.

Digital Resources

Selection of and access to electronic resources are integral to fulfilling the mission and objectives of the New Orleans Public Library. The Library provides a number of web-based resources available via the Library’s website, selected using the criteria outlined in the Collection Development policy. These are considered a part of the Library’s collection. However, not all materials and information found via the internet are part of the collection.

Consortium Memberships

New Orleans Public Library belongs to a variety of consortium organizations that provide materials and databases for use by our Library users. NOPL, along with the other public library systems across the state, receives access to a wide variety of databases purchased with state funds through the Louisiana Library Network Database System.

NOPL is a United States Government Documents Depository Library, reporting to the Regional Depository at LSU in Baton Rouge. NOPL has been a depository since 1883. It houses a large collection of historical materials and continues to collect Federal Documents, primarily in online format, with records displaying within our online catalog.

NOPL is a member of the Louisiana Public Document Depository Program. NOPL functions as a selective depository, collecting both historic and current materials.

NOPL is an affiliate of the Foundation Center in New York, and is designated as a Grants Information Network facility. As a member, NOPL receives a hard copy of the Foundation Center’s major publications and access to the Foundation Center Online database, the premier source of grants information for the nonprofit communities of the United States.

NOPL is a member of OCLC Worldshare, the largest resource sharing system on the planet. Library user-initiated requests for materials not owned by NOPL can be requested via the system for short term use by our Library users. Reciprocally, libraries around the world can request circulating materials in New Orleans Public Library’s collections.

NOPL is a member of LOANSHARK, a consortium of Louisiana’s public libraries, which utilizes an online system for resource sharing among members. The State Library coordinates the system, with an in-state courier service to move materials from library to library with minimal expense.

Intellectual Freedom Policy

The New Orleans Public Library endorses the principles of the Freedom to Read Statement, the Freedom to View Statement, and the Library Bill of Rights adopted by the American Library Association.

As proclaimed in the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution, freedom of expression, specifically the right to publish diverse opinions, is essential to the democratic form of government. A public institution committed to the principles of democracy and intellectual freedom, NOPL recognizes its obligation to provide as wide a spectrum of materials as possible.

Diverse points of view, including controversial and unorthodox subjects, are available in this collection. Inclusion in the collection does not imply Library approval of or agreement with the contents.

Library materials are not marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of the contents, nor are materials sequestered except for the purpose of protecting them from damage or theft.

No restrictions are placed on what anyone may read, view, or listen to. Selection of materials to include in the collection will not be made on the basis of any anticipated approval or disapproval, but solely on the merits of the material in relation to building the collection and to serving the needs and the interests of all users.

Individuals or groups may occasionally question the inclusion of an item in the collection because of fear or doubt about the effects of the material on impressionable persons. Although the Library understands this concern, it is the Library’s position that the risk to society is far greater if public access to ideas and information is restricted. While anyone is free to select or reject materials for themselves or their own minor children or wards, the values of one will not be imposed on the many. Parents and legal guardians have the responsibility for their child’s or ward’s use of Library materials.

The Library is opposed to the removal from its shelves, at the request of any individual or group, materials which have been chosen according to the materials selection policy.

Reconsideration of Library Materials

If a Library user wishes the Library to consider the removal or reclassification of a work (i.e. a proposal to change a YA title to Adult), a “Public Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials” form (attached) is available at all Library locations. The request must be completed in its entirety and mailed or delivered to the City Librarian in order to initiate a review of the item in question. Once such a request is received, the City Librarian shall:

a. Forward the item in question to the Collection Development Department for review, utilizing Library Board-approved policies—and, as appropriate, the Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read, the Freedom to View Statements, and the American Library Association’s (ALA) guidelines on intellectual freedom.

b. Once this process is completed, a written response, signed by the City Librarian, will be mailed to the requester, stating the outcome of the review. If still unsatisfied, the requestor may present concerns to the Library Board, which is the final arbiter in matters of this nature. When necessary, information on how to do this will be included with the written response from the City Librarian.

c. The final authority regarding removal or retention of Library materials ultimately resides with the Library Board of Trustees.

Rev. 04/2016

Collection Development Policy Committee: Matthew Bowers, Chair Ariel Farrar, Editor Tony Barnes, Christina Bryant, Kacy Helwick, Lila LaGraize, Maria Landrum, Sarah Lewis, Adele Marrs, Kate Martin

Library Bill of Rights

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services. I. Books and other Library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the Library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation. II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval. III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment. IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas. V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views. VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use. Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.

Freedom to Read Statement

The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label “controversial” views, to distribute lists of “objectionable” books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read. Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be “protected” against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression. These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet. The problem is not only one of actual censorship. The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy or unwelcome scrutiny by government officials. Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change. And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension. Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain. Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference. Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections. We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture. We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend. We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings. The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights. We therefore, affirm these propositions: 1. It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority. Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different. The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested. Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy. The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process. Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these. We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it. 2. Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated. Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought. The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper. 3. It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author. No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say. 4. There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression. To some, much of modern expression is shocking. But is not much of life itself shocking? We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers from dealing with the stuff of life. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves. These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared. In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others. 5. It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous. The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for others. It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them. 6. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people’s freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information. It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group. In a free society individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read, and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive. Further, democratic societies are more safe, free, and creative when the free flow of public information is not restricted by governmental prerogative or self-censorship. 7. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a “bad” book is a good one, the answer to a “bad” idea is a good one. The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader’s purpose. What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has been thought and said. Books are the major channel by which the intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth. The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all Americans the fullest of their support. We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.

This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers. Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.

Freedom to View Statement

The FREEDOM TO VIEW, along with the freedom to speak, to hear, and to read, is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In a free society, there is no place for censorship of any medium of expression. Therefore these principles are affirmed: 1. To provide the broadest access to film, video, and other audiovisual materials because they are a means for the communication of ideas. Liberty of circulation is essential to insure the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression. 2. To protect the confidentiality of all individuals and institutions using film, video, and other audiovisual materials. 3. To provide film, video, and other audiovisual materials which represent a diversity of views and expression. Selection of a work does not constitute or imply agreement with or approval of the content. 4. To provide a diversity of viewpoints without the constraint of labeling or prejudging film, video, or other audiovisual materials on the basis of the moral, religious, or political beliefs of the producer or filmmaker or on the basis of controversial content. 5. To contest vigorously, by all lawful means, every encroachment upon the public’s freedom to view. This statement was originally drafted by the Freedom to View Committee of the American Film and Video Association (formerly the Educational Film Library Association) and was adopted by the AFVA Board of Directors in February 1979. This statement was updated and approved by the AFVA Board of Directors in 1989. Endorsed January 10, 1990, by the ALA Council

Citizen’s Request for Re-evaluation

All citizen’s request for re-evaluation will be reviewed by the Library Director (or “Acting” Library Director) and a committee appointed for this purpose. The individual submitting this form will receive a written response to this request. The request should be submitted to the Library Director, Main Library, 219 Loyola Ave. New Orleans, LA 70112

Citizen’s Request for Re-evaluation Form