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Collection Development Policy

General Principles and Purpose

The materials collection, one of Cary Memorial Library’s major assets, is developed and managed to meet the cultural, informational, educational, and recreational needs of library patrons of all ages in the Town of Lexington.  This policy is meant both to guide librarians and to inform the public about the principles upon which selection and retention decisions are made.

The library is a forum for all points of view on current and historical issues and adheres to the principles of intellectual freedom as expressed in the Library Bill of Rights and contained within the Freedom to Read and Freedom to View statements adopted by the American Library Association.

Library staff members develop and maintain a patron-focused collection by anticipating and responding to user needs and interests.  The materials budget allocation, incorporating various public and private funding sources, is set annually.  Allocation decisions are based on factors including user demand, cost of materials, durability, publishing trends, changes in the information marketplaces, and overall collection balance. In selecting materials, library staff use reference resources, judgment, knowledge, and experience to select these materials, and will proactively solicit advice from, as well as anticipate the needs and interest of, the community.  The library collection includes popular and in-demand materials, such as best-sellers, large print books, business resources, local government documents, world language materials, medical and health guides, school and career information, and titles of interest to children and teenagers.  In addition, the library preserves and makes available a collection of texts, newspapers, maps, photographs, and documents pertaining to the history of Lexington, MA.

The library is currently collecting in multiple formats, including:

  • Print - hardcovers, paperbacks, magazines, and newspapers
  • Audio-Visual – CDs, DVDs, “Play-aways”
  • Microform – microfilm 
  • Digital – eBooks and eAudiobooks, streaming media platforms, online databases, digital historical archives, and the library’s website and social media
  • Special Collections:
    • Lexington Author Collection - Cary Library maintains a special collection of works by Lexington authors.  The library strives to include at least one representative work of every Lexington author in our collection. Space, staff time, and budget restrict our ability to collect more comprehensively. Gifts of titles by Lexington authors are greatly appreciated.
    • Library of Things - The Library of Things is a collection of non-traditional library items with the purpose of providing diverse opportunities for learning and engagement.  A Library of Things Collection Development and Circulation Policy as well as Library of Things Guidelines for Borrowing and Use are available.
    • Local History Collection – Cary Library collects, preserves and makes available to residents, researchers and the general public materials that document the history of Lexington. Priorities for materials selection and retention are: (1) Materials about Lexington's history, families, buildings, events, organizations, individuals, etc.; (2) Materials about communities with geographic or topical connections to Lexington; (3) Materials about other Massachusetts communities; (4) Materials about New England. Cary Library does not accept donations of archival records or personal papers of organizations or individuals, or donations of non-print materials (e.g., photographs, slides, objects, art, scrapbooks).
    • World Language Collections – Lexington is a diverse community and the library is committed to growing and maintaining World Language collections that meet the needs and interests of local residents. Because the library staff does not include native speakers of all the languages we collect, community volunteers who are fluent in those languages may be consulted for help in selecting and evaluating World Language materials. Guidelines for the World Language Collections are available.

The library provides free, open, and equitable access to library collections for all users.  The library neither encourages nor discourages any particular viewpoint.  Materials will not be excluded because of the race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political or social views of the author. Selection of materials by the library does not constitute endorsement of the content or of the views expressed in those materials.  Not all library materials may be suitable for all members of the community.  Responsibility for a child’s use of library materials, regardless of format or content, lies with the parent or guardian, not with the library.

Responsiblilty for Selection

Materials are selected by the library staff, based on the criteria outlined in this policy.  Designated staff are responsible for specific areas of the collection, under the overall direction of the Assistant Director.  The responsibility for selection ultimately rests with the Library Director, operating within the framework of this policy as voted by the library’s Board of Trustees.

Selection Guidelines

Materials selection is a critical and interpretive process.  Reviews are the principal tool used in the selection of library materials and electronic resources.  Staff members selecting library materials and electronic resources also consult bibliographic publications, publisher and vendor advertising and demonstrations, popular demand, and requests by library users.  All acquisitions, whether purchased or donated, are evaluated using the following guidelines (listed alphabetically):

  • Appropriateness
  • Authoritativeness
  • Availability of catalog records (for World Language materials)
  • Cost
  • Demand
  • Presentation
  • Relationship to collection
  • Relevance
  • Reviews
  • Significance of the work to local interest
  • Suitability of format

Guidelines for the evaluation of electronic resources also include:

  • Comparison of content with other available formats
  • Cost
  • Customer assistance requirements
  • Ease of access
  • Hardware requirements
  • Licensing requirements
  • Networking capabilities
  • Staff training

Resource Sharing with Other Libraries

Cary Library is a member of the Minuteman Library Network, whose community of 36 public and 5 academic libraries offers additional depth and variety of collections to which Cary Library users have access.  Selection of materials for the Cary Library collection is done with an eye to the special strengths and the immediate availability of these other library collections.  In the case of expensive electronic collections, group cooperative purchasing allows economically feasible access to these products for all member libraries and their users.

Patron Requests

The library welcomes suggestions from the community. A suggestion for purchase procedure enables users to request that a particular item or subject be purchased by the library.  All suggestions for purchase are evaluated using the same selections criteria as for other materials and are not automatically added to the collection.  Those not purchased are acquired for library users by interlibrary loan wherever possible.  A Purchase Suggestion form is available.

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.  In most cases, the library cannot guarantee the permanence of a gift in the collection.  Items not added to library collections may be sold, transferred to other libraries, donated to other nonprofit organizations, or recycled.  Items of extreme value or historic significance are handled on an individual basis.

Collection Maintenance

Systematic de-selection of materials from the collection is a necessary adjunct to selection.  Before being withdrawn, items are considered in accordance with the following guidelines (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Duplicate copies
  • Irreparable damage
  • Lack of use
  • Obsolescence
  • Updated editions available
  • Space needs

Reconsideration of Library Materials

The library carefully investigates and considers suggestions from patrons for the removal or reclassification of any material in the library collection.  Users may request this reconsideration by completing the Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form.  Completed requests are evaluated by the appropriate professional library staff.  Incomplete requests will not be considered. A written response is sent to the patron generally within six weeks.  The Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form, and the written response to it, become part of the public record.  In case of disagreement, a user may appeal a selection decision to the Assistant Director/Director, and finally to the Board of Library Trustees.

Reconsideration of digital content in the Minuteman Library Network collection may be made via


Policy approved by the Library Board of Trustees — 10/17/12
Last Updated — 1/8/2020

Procedures for the Disposal of Library Materials Withdrawn from the Collection