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Collection Development Policy

Purpose of Collection Development Policy

The collection development policy is intended to provide guidance, within budgetary and space limitations, for the selection and evaluation of materials which anticipate and meet the needs and interests of the Nashville community. It directly relates the collection to the Library's mission statement, and defines the scope and standards of the various collections.

As the community changes, Nashville Public Library (NPL) reassesses and adapts its collections to reflect new and differing areas of interest and concern. The collection development policy is periodically evaluated and revised as necessary to provide guidance for implementing changes in the collection.

NPL Mission, Vision and Values

Mission: Inspire reading, advance learning and connect our community.

Vision: All members of our diverse community are empowered through limitless learning opportunities to enrich their lives.

We Value:

  • Extraordinary Customer Service
  • Love of Reading
  • Lifelong Learning
  • Intellectual Freedom
  • Innovation
  • Excellence
  • Inclusiveness

Philosophy of Selection

In support of its mission "to inspire reading, advance learning and connect our community," NPL fully endorses the principles documented in the Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read Statement of the American Library Association. The Library upholds the right of the individual to secure information, even though the content may be controversial, unorthodox, or unacceptable to others. Materials available in the Library present a diversity of viewpoints, enabling citizens to make the informed choices necessary in a democracy.

Scope of the Collection

The primary responsibility of Nashville Public Library is to serve the citizens of Davidson County by providing a broad choice of materials to meet their informational, educational, cultural and recreational needs. Materials are selected to aid individuals, groups and organizations in the effort to attain practical solutions to daily problems, and to enrich the quality of life for all community members.

Budget and space limitations, as well as local needs, preclude the Library from duplicating the specialized and comprehensive collections that exist elsewhere in Davidson County. Access to these collections is provided through cooperative networking, interlibrary loan, and direct referral. All outlets of the Nashville Public Library system are designed to provide access on an equal basis to the collections of both the Nashville Public Library and the Metro Nashville Public School system. Emphasis is placed on shared access and ease of use through the online catalog and the Limitless Libraries program of school delivery.

Scope of the Main Library

The Main Library serves the Davidson County community as a whole, in addition to serving as a resource for the twenty branch libraries. The size and scope of its collection attracts users from surrounding areas as well as the rest of the state, but the main purpose is to serve Nashville citizens and employees. As an urban library, the Main Library places major emphasis on the provision of information. It offers a strong reference collection that supports an extensive and in-depth reference service. A broad choice of circulating print and non-print materials is selected to accommodate the diversity of tastes, reading levels, languages and interests of users of all ages. The Main Library aims at providing a comprehensive collection of materials relating to the Civil Rights Movement, Nashville history, Genealogy, and local author collections. The Main Library also builds upon existing strengths in the arts. Scholarly and highly technical or specialized materials are not acquired, but are made available through other libraries with strong collections, through our Interlibrary Loan department.

Scope of the Branch Libraries

The twenty branch libraries serve specific neighborhoods in the City. The interests and needs of the actual and potential users of the branch are continually evaluated so that each library has a collection reflecting the community that it serves. While each branch serves basic reference needs of its neighborhood with a core of reference materials, it does not duplicate the in-depth sources or special collections of the Main and other area libraries. Branch collections are designed to serve the current, high interest needs of library patrons.

Responsibility for Selection

The authority and responsibility for the selection of library materials rests ultimately with the Library Director. Under his/her direction, selection is delegated to professional collection development library staff. All staff members and the general public are encouraged to recommend materials for consideration.

All materials, whether purchased or donated, are considered in terms of the criteria listed below. An item need not meet all of these standards in order to be added to the collection.

  • Contribution to the diversity and scope of the collection
  • Contemporary significance
  • Relevance to the needs and interests of the public
  • Popular appeal
  • Physical format
  • Quality of production
  • Receipt or nomination for awards
  • Reputation or significance of one of the creators of the work
  • Available space
  • Published evaluations or reviews
  • Impact on materials expenditure plan
  • Accessibility of material
  • Accuracy and timeliness
  • Relevance of format and content to the intended audience
  • Effectiveness and suitability of format in communicating the content

It is the responsibility of NPL staff, acting under the authority and direction of the Library Director, to select and discard library materials. These decisions are made within the limitations of available space and funding, and within the scope of a written collection development plan. Materials will be selected based upon their value as a whole. Selection presumes liberty of thought and intellectual freedom within the bounds of reason and law.

Suggestions for Purchase

Nashville Public Library strongly encourages input from the Nashville community concerning the collection. A suggestion for purchase procedure enables Nashville citizens to request that a particular item or subject be purchased by NPL. All suggestions for purchase are subject to the same selection criteria as other materials and are not automatically added to the collection. It is the Library's intent that suggestions for purchase be used to help NPL in developing collections which serve the interests and needs of the community. You can make a material suggestion online.

Requests for Reconsideration

Persons from the Nashville community wishing to recommend the removal or reclassification of a particular item in the NPL collection may submit a Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form. The request will be reviewed by the Library Director and staff, bearing in mind the Library's mission statement and the selection criteria of this collection development policy. After evaluating journal reviews and other materials submitted by the patron and the staff, the Library Director, or the Collection Development Manager as his designee, will respond within 30 days of receiving the formal request.

Independently Published Material

Nashville Public Library is often asked to include items in our libraries that are written and/or published independently. This can include materials that are self-published/produced or items published through a vanity press company. NPL looks for material with regional connections and collection relevance that will appeal to a wide audience. The best way to bring an item to the Library’s attention is through reviews. Review sources that specialize in independently published material include the following:

  • Foreword
  • Small Press Review
  • Independent Publisher

A positive review in one or more of the library review journals, such as Library Journal, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, Publisher's Weekly or in the Sunday edition of the local daily paper will give an independently published book an improved chance for selection by Nashville Public Library.

Information regarding the material should be sent to the NPL’s Collection Development Department. The following information should be included:

  • A brief summary of the material
  • Any professional reviews
  • Intended audience
  • Author background and contact information
  • Publisher information
  • Item description (price, ISBN, date of publication)
  • Distributor(s)
  • OCLC World Cat Record

Preview copies will be treated as a donation and their disposition will be covered under our Gifts and Donations Policy.

For more information, please see the Small Press and Local Author Publication Inquiries information sheet.

New or Emerging Formats

NPL develops collections that include a comprehensive range of formats utilizing the unique capabilities and advantages of alternative, new and evolving technologies in delivering information and expressing creativity and ideas. Before adding new formats, the following criteria should be considered:

  • Impact on equipment, staff, storage, and space
  • Demand for format in community
  • Durability of format for library use
  • Technical quality of production or reproduction
  • Compliance with industry standards and specifications
  • Availability of adequate startup and continuing funding
  • Capability for networked distribution, download and printing
  • Suitability to be circulated or housed in a sturdy, safe and convenient manner
  • Availability of technical support and staff training
  • Accessibility of material
  • Ease of use by customers and staff
  • Ownership of product

As new formats emerge, steps will be taken to phase-out duplicated, obsolete mediums. These include discontinuation of ordering new or replacement copies, redistribution, and removal of existing collection from within the system. The time frame and need for implementation of each of these steps will vary based on customer demand for product (as demonstrated by circulation affordability, and availability of product from vendors.

Gifts and Donations

NPL welcomes gifts of books and other materials. The Library reserves the right to keep, discard, sell, or make other appropriate disposal of any books or materials that are donated as determined by its mission and needs.

Staff members review all donated materials for potential addition to the Library’s collections. Materials may also be used to help the Friends of the Library hold successful book sales. Funds raised at these sales support the Children’s Summer Reading Program and other valuable library programs. Donated material that will be sold at Friends’ book sales is not covered under this policy. Friends’ donation instructions are located on the NPL’s website under Friends of the Library.

Nashville Public Library accepts gifts at any of our facilities in Davidson County. Customers are encouraged to call ahead. Books donated in boxes are most helpful. Metro Archives and Special Collections staff follow separate guidelines for accepting donations.

What will be considered for addition to the collection:

  • Material in like-new condition
  • Books
  • Music CDs
  • DVDs
  • MP3 audiobooks
  • Audiobooks on CD (unabridged only)

What is not accepted for the collection:

  • Material in poor condition (has stains, water damage, smell, writing, etc.)
  • Formats not currently being collected by the Library, such as VHS, audio cassettes, LPs, etc.
  • Textbooks (except current Metro school textbooks)
  • Magazines & Newspapers as well as magazine gift subscriptions

Collection Maintenance

In addition to acquiring new materials, it is important to remove from the existing collection those items no longer deemed useful or relevant. This policy provides authority for the systematic and regular evaluation of the existing collection and subsequent withdrawal of worn, obsolete or infrequently used materials and supports the public’s right of access to an appealing and relevant collection.

Library Management Staff systematically review the collection with the goal of maintaining the quality and vitality of library resources. This process of collection analysis incorporates the use of output measures, circulation reports, and other statistical information for continuous collection evaluation.

Weeding Evaluation Criteria

Weeding in this context is defined as the process of evaluating a book to determine if it will be retained, relocated, or replaced. Selection of materials for discarding is based on the CREW method.

  • Continuous
  • Review
  • Evaluation
  • Weeding

This system uses the acronym, MUSTIE, to help evaluate an item for withdrawal:

  • 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 your community
  • Elsewhere (the material may be easily borrowed from another source)

Replacement Criteria

While NPL attempts to have copies of standard and important works, it does not automatically replace all materials withdrawn. The same criteria that apply to original selection also apply to replacements. The need for replacement is based on:

  • The number of duplicate copies
  • Existence of adequate coverage of the subject in the collection
  • Demand for the specific title or subject area
  • Availability of material

Removal of Withdrawn Material

Materials that no longer meet the stated objectives of the Library will be withdrawn from the system. NPL reserves the right to determine how materials are removed.

Duplication of Material

Multiple copies of materials are purchased in response to user demand as evidenced by number of reserves, anticipated popularity, repeated requests and monitoring of the collection. For popular fiction and non-fiction titles, NPL maintains a holds ratio (i.e. for every 5 holds on a title, another copy is purchased) as allowed by budget constraints.

View the Complete Policy (pdf)