Material Selection Criteria

Issued/Reviewed: October 12, 2001
Revised: January 2016

Purpose 

  • To provide direction in the development and maintenance of the collection, continuity in selecting, purchasing, processing / cataloguing, and retention decisions
  • To familiarize Ottawa Public Library (OPL) customers with the principles that inform the selection of materials, ensuring collections remain relevant for all

Statement

  • Scope: The Materials Selection Policy applies to all formats including print, non-print, audio-visual and digital, and complies with all applicable legislation. OPL endeavours to ensure both depth and breadth of its collections. It actively seeks new ways of making resources available by evaluating and integrating emerging formats and communication technologies where appropriate and economically feasible.
  • Access: The collection supports the interests and needs of people of all ages starting with early literacy, and including children, teens, and adults, in both English and French.
  • Pursuant to the Ontario Library Association’s position on Children’s Rights in the Public Library, children are entitled to open and ready access to materials provided by the OPL. Responsibility for the use of the collection by children rests with their parents or legal guardians.
  • As a community tax-supported institution, the OPL is committed to providing equitable access to its collections to all of the people of Ottawa including those individuals with special needs.
  • The OPL does not keep, acquire, or purchase material that the Canadian courts have found to be obscene or child pornography.
  • Intellectual Freedom: The OPL adheres to both the Canadian Federation of Library Associations and Ontario Library Association’s statements on Intellectual Freedom.
  • Selection Criteria: Budget allocation by audience and format is based on public demand, usage statistics, and available resources, including physical space requirements. Collection items need not meet all selection criteria to be acceptable. The presence of a book, periodical or other material, regardless of its format, in the Library does not indicate an endorsement of its content.

The following selection criteria have been approved by the OPL Board in April 2014 as part of the Collection Management Framework (2014-2016). They include: 

Criterion Definition
Demand Customer demand and anticipated demand
Quality Attention of critics and reviewers, award winners, or inclusion in bibliographies; Literary merit and contribution to the field of knowledge; Reputation or authority of the author, creator, or publisher; Quality of writing, production, and illustration.
Subject matter Significance, timeliness, or permanence of subject matter; Representation of diverse points of view; Relationship to the existing collection; Importance of subject matter in relation to community needs; Canadian content.
Audience Relevance to early literacy; Responsive to school age and teen interest; Scholastic support and enrichment; Suitability of subject and style for intended audience.
Availability and Access Availability of content through the internet, subscription databases, or other means; Suitability of format for library use; Availability of materials through other libraries or institutions; Copyright issues and the availability of public performance rights; Ease of use and remote access potential; Hardware, software, networking, and storage requirements; Licensing requirements; Long term availability and perpetual access rights.
Price Purchase price and other budgetary considerations; Comparison of content and cost with other available formats.
  • World Languages: OPL collects material in languages other than English and French to meet the needs of Ottawa’s diverse population, provided that this represents a critical mass of of new immigrants to Ottawa, reaching more than 2,000 people (as per the current Canadian Census), who speak the language at home.
  • Suggestions to Purchase: All OPL customers, including employees and volunteers, are encouraged to place requests for the purchase of library material by completing a form provided on the OPL website.  Suggestions for purchase of books or other materials will be considered in accordance with the Materials Selection Criteria.
  • Donations of Materials: While OPL accepts donations that supplement and enhance its collections, it does not accept all donations. Retention of donations shall be based on the same criteria used for purchasing material.

Significant resources are required to process donations, including evaluating, cataloguing, and providing access. As such,

  • Donations become the property of the OPL and are subject to its policies and procedures. Gifts not included in the collection may be sold through the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association (FOPLA) to benefit the OPL, discarded, or recycled.
  • The OPL does not perform appraisals or provide itemized lists of donations.
  • Due to the volume of donations received, it is not possible to notify the donor of the status or the time frame of the decision.
  • Materials in poor physical condition will not be accepted.
  • Tax receipts are not issued for donations of materials.
  • Requests for Reconsideration: Individuals who object to materials in the collection may express their concern by filling out a ‘Request for Reconsideration of Library Material’ form.  The final decision on reconsideration rests with the Chief Executive Officer.
  • Collection Maintenance: The Library maintains a policy of on-going de-selection based upon the elimination of unnecessary items, outdated materials, materials no longer of interest or in demand, duplicates, and worn or damaged copies. Frequency of circulation, community or regional interest, and availability of newer and more up-to-date materials are of prime consideration.