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Creating a Selection Policy for a Library Media Program

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

As a school librarian or library media specialist, you have a big responsibility in choosing and removing titles from your collection. This lesson discusses some of the issues involved in creating a selection policy.

Understanding the Role of a Selection Policy

As the librarian at Shelton Elementary school, Andrea is trying to establish coherent policies that will help her program run efficiently and ethically.

Right now, she is thinking about the need for a strong selection policy, which will guide choices about what materials to add to and remove from the collection.

Andrea realizes that a selection policy is not simple and that it has profound implications for how her program will run and how the library will be used.

Documents Guaranteeing Rights

First, Andrea can see that there are some specific documents that will guide the decisions she makes with her administrators and library committee regarding the creation of this policy.

Bill of Rights

Of course, the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of expression. For Andrea, this has profound implications. It means that she cannot censor library materials, for instance, because they say something she does not agree with or like.

Andrea uses this document to help explain to parents and teachers why she cannot exclude books from her collection, for instance, because they do not meet specific quality standards individuals might hold for language and discourse.

ALA Bill of Rights

Further, the American Library Association has its own Bill of Rights. Andrea can see that this document explains that librarians have a duty to fight censorship in their collections and also to represent a variety of perspectives.

ALA Code of Ethics

The ALA also has a code of ethics that guides Andrea in adhering to professional integrity and really thinking about what is right and wrong when it comes to selecting materials.

Components of a Selection Policy

With these guiding documents in mind, Andrea is ready to think about the different components of her selection policy.

Policy Statement

First, she knows she has to make a policy statement that coherently describes what overall approach she takes in choosing books and other materials for her collection. Andrea believes that the most important characteristic of a selection policy is clarity. Her policy statement needs to be readable and accessible to all of her patrons.

Andrea also thinks the policy statement should reflect the ethical stance her library takes when it comes to censorship, representation of perspectives, and allocation of resources toward collection expansion.

Criteria for Selection

Underneath the clear policy statement, Andrea gets more specific about her criteria for selection. She knows there are many different ways to approach and phrase these criteria, and this will vary from one library to another.

In her case, Andrea believes that the materials she chooses should be current and up to date, should be representative of a wide variety of cultures, perspectives, and genres, and should aim to balance out areas of deficit in the current collection.

Selection and De-selection Process

Andrea also knows that she needs procedures or protocols for selection and de-selection. Her selection procedures include reading listings from library journals, catalogues, and children's book reviews. She also runs selections by her library committee.

De-selection, or removing materials from the collection, is hard, but it is an important part of maintaining her space and running her library efficiently. Andrea thinks that to be de-selected, a material should be out of date, should circulate infrequently or never, or should be in poor physical condition.

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