Materials Selection Policy

It is the function of the Frederick County Public Libraries to provide materials for all citizens, and all ages, from preschool through maturity.  As many subject fields as possible are provided; limitations are those of budget.

Thousands of new books are published annually; the variety of audio-visual materials increases rapidly.  The FCPL budget provides for the purchase of a limited number of new titles and the processing, housing and maintenance of a limited amount of material, new or old.  Our selection is based upon principles rather than personal opinion, reason rather than prejudice, and judgment rather than censorship.

Reviews written by and for public libraries are our most dependable selection tool.  Other tools used are journalistic reviews, bibliographies prepared by authorities, patron requests and examination of the materials.  FCPL selection is not limited by any other agency.  Local interest and availability of materials in other local agencies are considered.  Although we welcome suggestions from small study groups, materials will be added to the collections only when we expect them to be of value to others also.

In addition to wide and current appeal, (or continued use over a longer period) each item should meet one or more of the following criteria:

  1. It should be well-written (or in audio-visual materials well-produced):  have adequate characterization, plot or theme, style or atmosphere.  If it purports to be realistic, it should avoid over-sentimentality and sensationalism.  If unrealistic, it should have redeeming social or literary values.
  2. Information is sought in all fields of interest to Frederick County Citizens.  This material should be accurate, clear and not too specialized.  Professional works in law or medicine are very carefully selected, as we wish to avoid misleading patrons into unsafe or illegal practices.  For instance, matters of such complexity as diagnosis and treatment are generally avoided by public libraries; but preventive medicine, personal health and hygiene, and public health problems are emphasized.  More specialized books may be borrowed from other libraries, and other sources of A-V materials can be recommended.
  3. Instructional materials are most welcome in the public library when the format permits use by many patrons; spiral binding, charts, slides or recordings in paper pockets, and practice quizzes with blanks to fill all shorten the life of a library book.  Audio-visual materials selection must consider the availability of related equipment.  Provision of textbooks and curriculum materials is the function of school and college libraries.  Texts are selected by public libraries when they contain information of interest to the public; but, in these cases, we seek to avoid volumes which are likely to be borrowed for an entire semester.  Texts are not furnished in quantity.
  4. The public seeks to provide a variety of opinion on all problems of general interest.  We will include argumentative, controversial, and very frank (even coarse) materials in the adult collection so long as they are not deliberately false.  The library does not intend to select or accept propaganda: i.e. false or undocumented material disguised as instructive or recreational reading.  Once accepted, the library does not label controversial material in any way.

Since younger patrons have less experience against which to judge the accuracy of realism and the value of opinion, materials for boys or girls are more carefully selected than those in the general collection for patrons high school aged and older.  Parents who wish their children to borrow only “ J” materials should assist their children in their choices.

The “J” COLLECTION seeks to provide pleasurable reading for reading’s sake and to provide information in all fields of knowledge which are of interest to children.  A variety is selected in hope that children of all ages will stimulate their imagination, their mental growth, and the development of their taste for fine literature and fine illustration.

It is our intention to buy ADULT MATERIAL that will make for development of the individual and the community; that will enable the citizen to form his own opinion about the problems of our times, international, national, state and local; that will give him practical help in whatever field of endeavor he may be engaged; make him aware of the great advances in science, more appreciative of the arts and make his leisure time more pleasant and more interesting.

The LIBRARY BILL OF RIGHTS of the American Library Association was incorporated into this selection policy and approved by the trustees, July 30, 1957.  The revised edition was approved on September 30, 1972.