Intellectual Freedom

Collection development and materials policies are guided by the principles of intellectual freedom. These stem from the First Amendment of the Constitution, which affirms a citizen’s right to hold beliefs and to express them. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press also apply to its counterpart, the right to unrestricted access to the expressions and beliefs of others.

The Role of the Public Library
Public libraries play a unique role in the preservation of democracy by providing an open, non-judgmental institution where individuals can pursue their interests and gain an understanding of diverse opinions. Libraries must continue to play an essential role in safeguarding the intellectual liberty of the public and they must recognize, understand and support freedom of access.

Selection Development Policy

Purpose of Policy

  • To guide the library staff in the selection of materials.
  • To inform the public about the principles upon which selections are made.

Definition of Book Selection
“Selection” refers to the decision that must be made either to add materials or to retain materials already in the collection.

Goals of Book Selection
To maintain a well balanced and broad collection of materials for information, reference and research.
To support the democratic process by providing materials for the education and enlightenment of the community.
To provide recreational resources.

General Principles

  1. Materials to be added to the collections of the Haverhill Public Library are selected on the merits of a particular work in relation to the needs, interests and demands of this community. Basic to this policy is the Library Bill of Rights, as adopted by the American Library Association and endorsed by the Haverhill Public Library Board of Trustees. This states, in part, that “In no case should any book be excluded because of the race or nationality or the political or religious view of the writer. There should be the fullest practicable provision of material presenting all points of view concerning the problems and issues of our times – international, national and local; and books or other reading material of sound factual authority should not be proscribed or removed from library shelves because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” The library does not promulgate particular beliefs or views, nor is the selection of any given book equivalent to endorsement of the viewpoint of the author expressed therein.
  2. Responsibility for the reading of children rests with their parents or legal guardians. Selection should not be inhibited by the possibility that books may inadvertently come into the possession of children.
  3. Materials with an emphasis on sex, or containing profane language should not be automatically rejected. Selection should be made on the basis of whether the book presents life in its true proportions, whether characters and situations are realistically presented, and whether the book has literary merit.
  4. Based on the services it is expected to perform, it is the responsibility of this library to provide circulating, reference and research material for both the diverse general public of this community as well as students, at all levels of formal and informal education.

Specific Principles for Selection

The following principles will help to condition selection:

  1. Contemporary significance or permanent value
  2. Accuracy
  3. Authority of author
  4. Relation of work to existing collection
  5. Price, format and ease of use
  6. Scarcity of information in subject area
  7. Availability of material elsewhere in this community (holdings of the school and college libraries in Haverhill are considered in developing this library’s collection)
  8. Popular demand – The library should make available materials for enlightenment and recreation even if not enduring in value, interest or accuracy. A representative sampling of experimental or short-lived material should be purchased

Specific Criteria for Selection

Adult Non-Fiction:
Chief points considered are readability of material, authenticity of factual matter presented, quality of writing, cost, format, existing library holdings and suitability of material to the community. Non-fiction may be excluded for inaccurate information, lack of integrity, sensationalism, intent to indicate hatred or intolerance, and text material of too limited or specialized a nature.

Titles are selected on the basis of the content as a whole and without regard to the personal history of the author. Important books of all persuasions should be carried. In no case is any book included or excluded merely because of the race or nationality, or the political or religious views of the writer. In the case of controversial questions, variety and balance of opinion are sought whenever available.

Adult Fiction:
Selection of adult fiction is made with reference to one or more of these criteria:

It should contribute positively to the individual’s awareness of self, community and social heritage.
It should contribute to the value of the library’s collection as a whole by representing all types and styles of literature.
It should provide pleasant reading for recreational and creative use of leisure time.

Serious works which present an honest aspect of life are not necessarily excluded for frankness of expression.

Young Adult Materials:
The teen collection consists of material considered to be of particular interest to adolescents, particularly in grades 6-12. Materials are selected for this collection to broaden the horizons of teens, help them to cope with the problems of adolescence, and encourage leisure reading. To fulfill these needs, the collection will inevitably include materials on controversial or sensitive topics. Because of the wide range of maturity and reading levels among individual teens, the suitability of any particular item must be determined on an individual basis by the parent or guardian of that teen. It is not intended to be a comprehensive collection serving all the needs and interests of teens, nor is it the Library’s intention that teens should be confined to the use of this material. Please see the Library’s separate policy statement regarding the selection of materials for the Teen Services Department.

Children’s Materials:
The first objective in selecting children’s materials is to encourage the child’s joy in reading and in being read to. Books are selected which offer adventure of mind and spirit to the growing child, cultivating an appreciation of literature both oral and written and encouraging the creative use of leisure time by inquiring minds. Special attention is given to books of use and value to parents and teachers, or other adults working with children.

The public library does not provide basic texts or materials needed in quantity for school work. It accepts as its responsibility the providing of supplemental materials of varied kinds to enrich the resources available to the individual student and teacher. Please see the library’s separate policy statement regarding the selection of materials for the children’s room.

Reference Materials:
Factors considered in the selection of reference materials are authority, reliability, scope, treatment, arrangement, format, cost, and existing holdings.

Documents/Special Collections:
The library collects and preserves documents primarily of local importance or historical value.

Magazines and Newspapers:
Basic popular, general informational, and scholarly magazines are selected to supplement the book collection, bring book information up to date, and fill in those areas where book resources are weak, inferior, or non-existent.

Newspapers are selected to meet reference and research needs of patrons, to provide current information, and to satisfy casual interest in current events. Local and National newspapers are supplied upon sufficient demand and within budget and space limitations.

Non-Book Materials:
The library recognizes the importance of non-book materials both as a supplement to its book collection and to its concept of service. Within budget limitations CD’s, videos, Internet services and other materials will be purchased in accordance with criteria outlined for adult and children’s materials. Please see the library’s separate policy statements regarding the selection of videocassettes and Internet services.

Please view our Gifts Policy. Gifts accepted by the Haverhill Public Library are judged upon the same basis as purchased materials. They are considered with the explicit understanding that such factors as duplication, lack of community interest, processing costs or inadequate shelf space may prevent their addition to the collection or permanent retention on the shelves. Gifts are accepted with the understanding that the library, if it cannot use them, may at any time dispose of them in any way it sees fit. Any conditions proposed to a gift must be formally accepted by the Board of Trustees. No conditions may be imposed relating to any gift after its acceptance by the library.


Materials are withdrawn regularly in accordance with the criteria for selection. Replacements are based on the same principles.

Stolen or mutilated materials will be replaced when deemed necessary to the maintenance of a well-rounded collection. Materials of marginal importance whose use cannot be adequately controlled may not be replaced.

Adopted by the Board of Trustees, January, 1986; amended, January 2001, May 2008