Freedom to Read
It is the policy of the Ritter Public Library Board of Trustees that 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 or unpopular with the majority.
The Ritter Public Library does not endorse every idea or presentation contained in the materials it makes available. It would conflict with public interest of the library to establish its own political, moral, or aesthetic views as standard for determining what books should be published or circulated. It is contrary to the public interest of the library to determine the acceptability of a book on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.
The library’s collection development policy provides a written definition of the scope and nature of its existing collection. In addition, this policy outlines a means for continuing development of the library’s resources to meet its institutional goals, to provide general selection criteria, and to foster intellectual freedom. “Library collection” and the standards of selection included herein will apply to all items acquired for use by the library in any format.
The selection objectives of Ritter Public Library are:
To help people know more about themselves and their world To supplement formal study and encourage informal self-education To meet the information and entertainment needs of the community To stimulate thoughtful and informed participation in community, national, and world affairs To support the community’s educational, civic, cultural, and recreational activities To assist in the learning and improvement of job-related skills To provide material to help people attain citizenship To assist with individual intellectual and spiritual growth and to heighten enjoyment of life Because no library budget or building is large enough to permit the purchase of every worthy resource, this policy guides the staff in the most effective use of the library’s financial resources to meet present and anticipated needs of the community.
The collection of Ritter Public Library includes material in print, audio, visual, and digital formats selected for the community. Typically, the print and nonprint collections of the library serve the general needs and interests of the library’s patrons. It is intended to introduce and define a subject rather than address highly specialized needs.
To meet the demand for the specialized information that is out of its collection development scope, the library participates in resource sharing collaborations to provide individual access to information and material. It should be noted, however, that the use of resource sharing is not intended to substitute for sound collection development.
Responsibilities for Material Selection
Ultimate responsibility for the selection of print and nonprint material, as with all library activities, rests with the Library Director, operating within the framework of policies determined by the library’s Board of Trustees.
No policy can replace the judgment of librarians. Instead, this policy will assist in the selection of library material. Good material selection must be based on a thorough knowledge of the community’s needs, resources, and issues combined with a thorough knowledge of the library’s collection and overall balance.
The selection of all library material should be as objective as possible. Selection influenced by personal prejudice, especially when rejecting an item or items, is prohibited. When selecting material of a controversial nature, the Director and staff will make every attempt to present balanced points of view and opinion. Popular demand will be taken into account in order to maintain community interest in and support of the library. However, material selection by popular demand must be guided by consideration of merit, use, cost, and balance in the library’s overall collection. The Director and staff will abide by the Intellectual Freedom policy, Freedom to View policy, Freedom to Read policy and the Library Bill of Rights as set forth in the Ritter Public Library Board of Trustees By-Laws. The selection of material by the Director and staff is geared toward interests of the majority within the service district and not to satisfy any specific academic need or special interest group/s. Material selection will be judged upon authoritativeness and the overall effectiveness of the presentation. Each item will be considered in total and not judged by any of its parts.
The materials budget will be expended to meet the demands placed upon it, and to insure that those demands are proportionately served. In regard to areas of controversial material, a limited budget does not justify a one-sided collection.
Each suggested title must be given an honest and objective analysis prior to purchase. Selection by the Director and staff of any material should not be construed as the library’s endorsement of the views or opinions therein.
Criteria for Selection
The following is a list of general criteria to be considered in the selection of library materials in whatever format or for whatever age the material is intended. This list is not in priority order, nor is it meant to be exhaustive. Material selected will not necessarily satisfy all of these criteria.
- Educational value
- Public demand
- Insight into human and social conditions
- The suitability of subject and style for the intended audience
- Present and potential relevance to the community needs and interests
- Timeliness or permanent value
- Attention to critical reviews, whether positive or negative
- Scarcity of information in the subject area
- Availability of material elsewhere in the community
- Comprehensiveness and depth of treatment
- Clarity, accuracy, and logic of treatment
- Vitality and originality
- Artistic presentation
- Authenticity of historical, regional, or social setting
- Local historical value
If a member of the public would like to suggest a particular title be added to the library’s collection, they must contact library staff or use the library’s website to request the title.
In recognition of local literary and creative efforts, the library includes works by local authors in its collection. When works by local authors or creators are being considered for inclusion, the selection criteria outlined in this policy may be relaxed or modified at the discretion of the Director.
Items purchased for the collection are sometimes purchased in multiple formats to meet the varying needs of the community. Books are often purchased in regular print, large print, audio, and electronic formats. Electronic databases and other emerging electronic formats will be reviewed as requests and funding allows. Additionally, the library may provide auxiliary equipment from time to time to support use of various formats.
Exclusion of Materials
The Library Director is expressly charged with the legal and professional obligation to execute, in good faith and with the highest degree of skills, the library’s Collection Development Policy. The Director has a professional obligation to follow this policy and shall not agree to a modification of material selection or services based upon criteria that are substantially in conflict with the policies established by the library’s Board of Trustees.
No material will be excluded because of race, nationality, disability, age, political, social, or religious views of the originator. By providing free and open access to diverse information and viewpoints, the library may serve as a cornerstone of the principles of a democratic society.
While the library’s collection supplements formal study, it is not within its scope to support area schools’ curricula by providing multiple copies of books for use in or out of the classroom.
Library materials are not marked or labeled in any way that indicates approval or disapproval of their contents. Labels or ratings that provide assessments such as “This material contains language that some may find offensive” are not applied to the item by the library. Library materials are selected in their entirety and not subject to modification or alteration by the library staff.
The responsibility for monitoring a minor’s reading, listening, or viewing rests solely with the parent or legal guardian. Selection of library materials is not restricted by the possibility that a minor may obtain materials that a parent or guardian consider inappropriate.
No tax, legal, or medical advice is provided. Such advice can only be provided by a qualified practitioner (such as an accountant, attorney, or physician) in the field. Librarians will, however, direct patrons to the legal and medical materials house in the collection where patrons may reach their own decisions.
Discarding of library materials is necessary to maintain a vital, useful, and well-ordered collection. The purpose of weeding is to provide for a regular re-evaluation of the collection in conjunction with the selection of new and replacement material. An active and continuous weeding program is essential to maintain a viable and useful collection.
Any material that is not circulating and is taking up space that could otherwise be more profitably used by other material is subject to re-evaluation and discard by the Director. This includes nonfiction that is no longer current or accurate and once-popular fiction that is no longer in demand. Items that are weeded will be donated to the Friends of Ritter Public Library.
Donations, Gifts, and Memorials
The library accepts donations from the community. The donor agrees that when materials are donated to the library, the Director has sole discretion as to their use.
Materials are accepted with the understanding that they may be added to the collection using the same standards that are used to purchase materials with library funds. Materials not added to the collection will be donated to the Friends of Ritter Public Library or disposed of if outdated or physically damaged.
The library always welcomes memorial monetary gifts. At the Director’s discretion, these gifts may be used to purchase materials suggested by the donor. The library will maintain a record and acknowledgment of such gifts. With the approval of the donor, a bookplate is placed in each item purchased with gift monies.
Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials
A request to remove or add to the library’s collection by any individual or group should be made via the “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials” form (see Library Director) and presented to the Director. This item will be reviewed by the Director who will utilize the library’s selection criteria and formulate an appropriate response to the requester. If the requester wishes to pursue the issue further, they may schedule a meeting with the Board of Trustees Reconsideration Committee which will utilize the library’s selection criteria and formulate a response to the requester. If the requester wishes to pursue the issue further, they may request a hearing before the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees will utilize the library’s selection criteria and make a final decision. No materials will be removed from the library except by a unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees.
The material under consideration will remain in the library’s collection throughout the process to support the freedom of other patrons to read, listen, or view.
Amended by the Ritter Public Board of Trustees – June 13, 2023