In 1931, the great Indian librarian S. R. Ranganathan published his Five Laws of Library Science. Law #2 states “Every reader his book.” That means that for every reader out there, there is a book (or magazine or audiobook or film or video game…) that he or she will find interesting, engrossing, informative, useful, or any number of good things. While we know it is impossible to house every book on our shelves, it IS our goal to offer materials in a variety of subject areas to reflect community interest as well as inform our patrons about global trends and issues. We want everyone in Natrona County to be able to walk through our doors and find something—anything—that speaks to who they are, what they love, or what they seek to find.
To make sure that our collection is consistently and effectively supporting the mission of the Library, we have a formal Collection Development Policy in place. It provides the steps and processes necessary to grow and manage our collection. In it, we include the “Library Bill of Rights” of the American Library Association, which is sort of like a continuation of Ranganathan’s Five Laws. It states (in part) that:
I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
The Library does not subscribe to or promote any particular point of view, and we have an entire collection development team that uses all kinds of reviewing resources to select new materials based on trends and the interests of our community. Our collection is also evaluated on an ongoing basis, which is how we decide which older items should be removed—or “weeded”—due to low use or irrelevancy.
It is in the public’s interest that libraries like ours curate collections that provide the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox or unpopular with the majority. It is not our intent that all materials be suitable for all readers/viewers at all times. The Library supports Intellectual Freedom, and notes that it is a patron’s right and responsibility to select and/or reject materials that are not suitable for them personally, or for their children.
From time to time a patron may encounter material that he or she believes is classified incorrectly or has no redeeming social value, which is why we have a formal process in place for objections or concerns. Should someone want to challenge a book in our collection, they can submit a “Request for Reconsideration,” and designated reviewers will make a decision and provide a response. Patrons may also place requests for new books to be added to the collection if they can’t find what they want on our shelves.
Learn more about our Collection Development Policy at natronacountylibrary.org/policy