Title:  ARLS Regional Policy: Collection Management Policy
Prepared by: Resource Team, Branch Managers and Valerie Bell – Date: 10/9/2023
Submitted to: ARLS Policy Committee – Date: 10/9/2023
Approved by: ARLS Board of Trustees – Date:1/17/2002, Revised: 10/16/2014, Revised 07/21/2022, Revised 10/19/2023

Collection Management Policy

Policy Statement

The purpose of this Collection Management Policy is to articulate the collection goals and objectives of the Athens Regional Library System (ARLS), and to inform the public of how materials are selected, maintained, and evaluated.

Objectives of Library Collections

In support of the region’s mission, values, and strategic plans as determined by local and regional Library Boards of Trustees, objectives of all system library collections are:

  • To provide inclusive materials that reflect the cultural diversity of our communities
  • To promote literacy and support lifelong learning for all ages
  • To empower individuals and communities to discover more about themselves and their world
  • To provide materials that entertain and enhance the individual’s imagination and enjoyment of life
  • To maintain a virtual collection of materials that is accessible twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week

Responsibility for Selection

Overall collection management authority rests with the Executive Director, who operates within the framework of policies approved by the ARLS Board of Trustees. The responsibility for selection, maintenance, and evaluation of materials for all system libraries is delegated to qualified staff with the authority to interpret and apply the criteria outlined in this policy.

Staff in the centralized Collection Management Department provide the structure for budgeting, selecting, acquiring, organizing, and managing library materials.

Community Resource Sharing

By participating in multiple resource sharing networks, ARLS is able to expand patron access to more than its locally-owned materials and resources:

A. Public Information Network for Electronic Services (PINES)

As a member of PINES, a consortium of Georgia public libraries, ARLS patrons with a valid member library card are eligible to borrow books from any PINES library. The library may negotiate for patron use of local academic libraries when possible.

B. Georgia Download Destination (GADD)

As a member of GADD, a consortium of Georgia public libraries providing digital access to downloadable materials, ARLS patrons with a valid member library card are eligible to borrow digital content owned by the consortium and/or other GADD member libraries.

C. Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

ARLS makes use of ILL services to expand available resources outside the PINES network and arranges for patron use of local academic libraries when possible.

At the discretion of the Executive Director, other consortia may be joined for provision of electronic or downloadable materials and for emerging formats. Resources available through sharing networks and community agencies are considered when making collection management decisions for ARLS.

Structure of the Library System

A. The Role of the Regional Headquarters Library

The Athens-Clarke County Library serves as the central collection for the library system. It contains a comprehensive collection of materials to serve all residents of the Regional System and to carry out the vision, mission, and strategic plan of the Athens Regional Library System.

B. The Role of Branch Libraries

Branch library collections meet the basic needs of their primary service areas. They contain a limited selection of current and popular materials at a very general level. Onsite information services and resources may be limited. The Pinewoods collection focuses on enhancement for school-aged interests, Spanish language literature, and English as a Second Language materials.

C. The Role of Library Resource Centers

Athens-Clarke County Resource Center collections are limited and thus strategically curated to meet specific needs of their primary service areas. The Aaron Heard and Lay Park collections focus on enhancement for school-aged interests and African-American literature.

D. Local History Collections

The libraries of ARLS acquire local history and genealogy materials based on demand, cost, space, and relevance to the local area. Branch local history collections focus on materials useful for general interest; they are not considered to be archival in scope. The Heritage Room collects, preserves, organizes, and makes available on a limited basis regional resources for the purpose of research and/or conservation. See the Athens-Clarke County Library Heritage Room Policy for further description of the more extensive collection housed there.

E. Special Collections

Special collections may be created and maintained in order to better serve community needs.

Collection Development

A. Philosophy of Collection Development

Resources and materials selected for addition to the Athens Regional Library System collection will support the mission and vision determined by the Regional Library Board of Trustees. The library system upholds the right of the individual to secure information even though the content of that information may be controversial, unorthodox, or unacceptable to others. The existence of a particular viewpoint in the collection is an expression of the library’s policy of intellectual freedom and access to information, not an endorsement of the specific point of view in question. Library materials are not marked or identified to show approval, disapproval, or judgment of the contents. Library materials are not sequestered, except for the purpose of protecting them from damage or theft. Materials selected under the Collection Management Policy are considered protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

B. Scope of Collection

Athens Regional Library System materials are intended to meet the diverse informational, educational, cultural, and recreational needs of the general population of the region. The scope of the collection is intended to offer choices of format, treatment, and level of difficulty so that the needs of most library users can be met. Acquiring current materials of wide-ranging interest to the general public is emphasized. The collection is regularly reviewed and revised to reflect the changing demographics and needs of the communities served.

C. Criteria for Selection

All materials are selected and purchased based on the following criteria. Titles should meet one or more of the criteria, but the number and weight may vary in specific selection decisions. Materials are judged as entire works, not on isolated passages or sections. Donations and purchase suggestions are evaluated using the same selection criteria.

  • Current and anticipated needs and interests of library users
  • Current appeal and popular demand
  • Cost and availability
  • Quality of production
  • Suitability of format for library use
  • Space availability
  • Contemporary, historical, or local significance of author or subject
  • Sustained or renewed interest and popularity
  • Authority, accuracy, or currency
  • Literary merit or artistic quality
  • Suitability of subject, style, or format for the intended audience
  • Reputation or significance of the creator(s)
  • Availability of similar resources elsewhere in local community
  • Media attention, publicity, or critical review
  • Recognition in the form of major awards, prizes, and nominations
  • Contribution to the diversity and scope of the collection

D. Formats

Library resources are made available in a variety of formats including print, audiovisual, and digital. Multiple formats are often required to accommodate the various needs of the community. Additional factors governing the choice of format include anticipated use, storage requirements, accessibility, technical support, and cost. When choosing a format for a physical item, consideration is given to the condition and durability of the item’s construction and how the item will hold up to extended public use.

E. Languages

Books and other resources in languages other than English may be purchased in response to local demographics and demonstrated, measurable needs within the library’s service areas.

F. Materials Not Collected

The Athens Regional Library System does not collect resources or textbooks whose sole function is to support specific educational or religious curricula or other courses of study by individual organizations or institutions. Archival materials, artifacts, objects, and artwork are not added to the branch libraries’ resource collections. Other than the records of ARLS (see the Heritage Room Policy), the library system does not house official records or minutes of local or state governments or other local organizations. Materials in superseded or obsolete formats are not added to the collection.

Collection Maintenance

A. Criteria for Deselection

To maintain an up-to-date and useful collection, library materials are regularly and systematically reviewed by the Collection Management Team using the CREW method. Materials may be withdrawn from the collection based on one or more of the following criteria.

  • Misleading and/or factually inaccurate
  • Ugly (worn out beyond mending or rebinding)
  • Superseded by a new edition or a better source
  • Trivial (of no discernible literary or scientific merit)
  • Irrelevant to the needs and interest of the community
  • Elsewhere (the material may be easily borrowed from another source)

B. Withdrawn Materials

Library materials that are withdrawn from the collection may be given to Friends of the Library or other organizations to be used as fundraisers for the benefit of the library, donated to other non-profit community groups or organizations, or recycled. Withdrawn library materials are not sold or given directly to individuals.


A. Physical Donations

All donated and unsolicited materials become property of the library. These materials may be added to the library collection if they meet the library’s selection criteria. Items not needed for the collection may be given to Friends of the Library or other organizations to be used as fundraisers for the benefit of the library, donated to other non-profit community groups or organizations, or recycled. We will honor the wishes of donors whenever possible, but the library cannot guarantee that any donation will be added to the collection and cannot follow up with the donor regarding use of the donated items.

The library does not provide evaluations or appraisals of donations for tax deductions or other purposes, but will provide a receipt for any donation. Acceptance of donated materials that have been appraised elsewhere do not constitute the library’s endorsement of that appraisal. The library does not accept donations of any kind on temporary or permanent loan.

The library does not accept physical items (books, dvds, etc.) as honorary/memorial donations for bookplate recognition (see Monetary Donations).

B. Monetary Donations/Gifts

The library accepts monetary donations for the purchase of materials, including those made in honor or memory of a loved one. These donations may be made as cash or check only and must be accompanied by a Monetary Donations for Materials Form. Donors may request that funds go toward specific collections; however, final selection of titles purchased rests with the library. Due to the volume of donations, the library cannot follow up with donors regarding titles purchased.

Titles purchased in honor or memory of a loved one are eligible to receive bookplate recognition. Acknowledgement will be sent to the donor and to the honoree or family of the memorialized person(s). Library materials with bookplate recognition are subject to the same collection management selection criteria, use, and deselection criteria as are other items in the collection.

The library does not accept physical items (books, dvds, etc.) as honorary/memorial donations for bookplate recognition.

C. Independent Authors

Authors wishing to have their work added to the library’s collection may submit a Purchase Suggestion Form and/or donate a copy of their work for consideration. All suggested and donated items are subject to the same selection criteria that are applied to newly purchased materials. The library does not accept material for review. Due to the volume of submissions, the library cannot follow up with authors or return donated items.

Intellectual Freedom Statement

The Athens Regional Library System is committed to providing access to constitutionally-protected information and resources, without censorship or restriction. In a democratic society, free and open access to information is vital to societal involvement as well as to personal and intellectual stimulation and growth. The Athens Regional Library System Board of Trustees has adopted the American Library Association’s (ALA) position on intellectual freedom as stated in the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights:

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.

VII. All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use. Libraries should advocate for, educate about, and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information.

The regional Collection Management Team applies the principles of the Library Bill of Rights based on ALA interpretations.

The Athens Regional Library System Board of Trustees has also adopted the Freedom to Read Statement (ALA) and the Freedom to View Statement (ALA), maintaining that these freedoms are guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Reconsideration of Materials

The library offers a wide range of materials representing varying points of view. The library collection is not limited to ideas and information one person or group believes to be acceptable. Library materials may contain a certain amount of coarseness or frankness. Materials selected for children and young adults may include representations of the human experience which reflect a realistic or a fantastical point of view. Selection of library materials is not restricted by the possibility that a minor may use them. Responsibility for a patron’s use of library resources, regardless of format or content, rests solely with that patron or a minor’s parent or legal guardian, not with the library.

The library reconsiders any resource in its collection upon formal request of a local resident. “Local resident” is defined as a resident of Clarke, Franklin, Madison, Oconee and Oglethorpe Counties in the State of Georgia. Requests are restricted to materials owned in the county of residence. A petitioner can only submit one title for reconsideration at a time. The request must be filed in writing by completing and signing the “Request for Reconsideration of Library Resource or Service” form. Procedures are established to ensure that objections or complaints are handled in a consistent and timely manner. Subsequently, the Library will only process up to 5 titles per 3-month quarter regionally. Depending on the timing of the submission request, the review may carry over to the next quarter. Materials under reconsideration are not removed from the collection during the process, but may be recalled for the purposes of reconsideration. The local Library Boards of Trustees review requests for reconsideration of library resources and materials and determine the responses to the requests. If necessary, an appeal is heard by the Athens Regional Library System Board of Trustees, which retains responsibility for the final decision in reconsideration requests.

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