Materials Selection Policy


The Clearwater Public Library System Materials Selection policy provides a basis for selection of materials by librarians; informs the public about the principles and criteria upon which these selection decisions are made; and promotes the purposes of the library's mission statement:

To meet the informational, educational, recreational and cultural reading, listening and viewing needs and expectations of all citizens and population groups in the community, using a wide array of library formats and materials and a trained and dedicated staff.


The final responsibility for the selection of materials is held by the Library Director, but day-to-day responsibility is centralized with the Collection Development Manager, who coordinates the activities of all assigned selectors. Professional and paraprofessionals in the system are encouraged to provide recommendations as is the general public.


The Clearwater Public Library System plays a vital role at the heart of the community by promoting full and equal access to information, encouraging the love of reading, enabling life-long learning, and empowering creativity. It will provide a responsive connection between the community’s needs, the collections, information technology, and diverse programming. It will strive for a standard of excellence by:

  • Providing convenient access to all members of the public through easy-to-reach, welcoming, and attractive neighborhood branch locations open during the hours of highest public demand.
  • Providing an outstanding collection of materials in a variety of formats that is responsive to the needs of the residents.
  • Providing access through public computers to the vast network of information and communication essential to every citizen today.
  • Providing a variety of programs and displays that enrich the lives of people of all ages and diverse backgrounds.
  • Supporting intellectual freedom and access to informational resources for all, while valuing diversity, maintaining the privacy of its patrons, and providing a safe and secure environment.
  • Continuously improving service, utilizing effective management, forging community partnerships, and providing a high quality, professional staff.

Principles and Criteria

Librarians will use professionally accepted reviewing media to help in the selection of resources in an appropriate format based on customer needs and interests as measured by requests and use studies.

Potential acquisitions are judged using the following criteria:

  • Current interest or permanent value.
  • Relevance of subject, format, and reading level for the intended audience.
  • Authority/competence of the author and accuracy of content.
  • Relation to already-available library resources.
  • Merit in comparison to other resources in the field.
  • Quality of content, format, and binding.
  • Price.
  • Availability elsewhere in the community.
  • Positive reviews by critics, staff members, or professional journals and/or winners of recognized award(s).
  • Coverage in local or popular media.

The following types of materials will not be routinely purchased:

  • Textbooks, unless they are the only or best available treatment of a subject.
  • Religious works of a devotional nature related to specific denominations.
  • Legal, medical, academic, and other highly technical works which can be found at other institutions.
  • Rare books, except for works pertaining to the Clearwater area, or the State of Florida.
  • Audio or video cassettes, slides, filmstrips, vinyl recordings, and 16 mm films or material in other formats that have been superseded in popular use.
  • Multiple copies of specific materials for special school assignments.
  • Government documents are selected under the free depository program.


The Clearwater Public Library welcomes the donation of books, magazines, and audiovisual material. Material that is not needed by the library will be turned over to the Friends of the Clearwater Library for sale, with the proceeds going to support library activities. The library will evaluate artwork valued at less than $5,000, furniture, audiovisual equipment, computer equipment, and other related items from individuals, corporations, and other sources for appropriateness and the needs of the library. Such gifts are accepted only with the understanding that they may be retained, relocated, or discarded at the discretion of the Library Director or designated staff. Such gifts cannot be given special housing, but will be integrated into the general library collection.

Internal functional areas, rooms, collections of materials, equipment or furnishings, which are accepted as gifts by the Library Director, and/or funded by individuals, corporations, or foundations, may be recognized by a discreet engraved plaque mounted on or near the gift as appropriate, with the name of the donor displayed. Naming of library internal functional areas, rooms, and major collections is the prerogative of the City Council. Artwork valued at more than $5,000 will be reviewed by the City's Public Art Review Committee.

Although the Library does not provide appraisals for tax purposes, a quitclaim deed may be issued when the donated items are delivered. The Library Director will also acknowledge gifts by letter upon request.

We encourage all memorial gifts be donated through the Clearwater Library Foundation. The Foundation will coordinate with the Collection Development Manager. Both the donor and a designated relative of the deceased will be notified by letter.

Weeding, Rebinding, and Discarding Materials

Materials which are out of date, in unsatisfactory conditions, or unused may be removed from the shelves. Designated staff will decide to repair, rebind, replace, or discard each unit based upon its past and anticipated usefulness to patrons. Disposal of discarded items will be consistent with the City of Clearwater Purchasing Department's rules and regulations and with pertinent City Charter provisions and ordinances.

Intellectual Freedom and Censorship


The Library preserves the right of citizens to obtain information on all sides of potentially controversial issues so that each individual can decide for themselves the value of opposing ideas. In representing various sides of a question, the public library thus provides citizens reliable sources of information on which to base intelligent decisions in their daily lives.

The Library has a responsibility to protect the rights of all patrons; works which may be considered frank or offensive to some are included if review material and/or staff opinion suggests that it makes a significant contribution either to the literary or informational complexion of the collection or to contemporary thought and style.

Only parents and legal guardians have the right and responsibility to restrict the access of their children to library resources. Selection of materials is not inhibited by the possibility that particular works may inadvertently come into the possession of children and young adults.

Labels will be provided only as viewpoint-neutral directional aids to facilitate access by making it easier for users to locate materials. The materials are housed on open shelves and are equally accessible to all users, who may choose to consult or ignore the directional aids at their own discretion.

The Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read, and Freedom to View statements are basic to the above policy.

Procedures for the Questioning of Material Selection by Patrons

In the event a patron questions the inclusion of any item in the library collection, the following procedure should be used:

  1. Patron is referred to a professional staff member.
    • This staff member makes every attempt to satisfy the patron's concern by clarifying the established selection policies on an informal, positive, one-to-one basis.
    • After the interview, the staff member notifies the Library Director in a brief written statement as to the date, circumstances, and the result of the patron's concern.
  2. A patron who wishes to pursue his/her question further is referred to the Director or his/her designated alternate as soon as possible. A concern taken to this level constitutes a formalized complaint.
    • During the interview with the patron, the Director or designated alternate fills out one copy of the Request for Reconsideration of Library Material form.
    • The Director then appoints a three-member committee of professional staff members to review the material in question and prepare a written recommendation within ten (10) days.
    • The Director makes a decision based on the committee's recommendation.
    • The Director notifies the patron in writing of his/her decision within five (5) working days of receiving the committee's recommendation.
  3. A patron who wishes to make his/her objection known even further can forward his/her complaint directly to the Chairperson of the Library Advisory Board for consideration at the next regularly scheduled Board meeting.
    • A copy of the complaint submitted to the Board is forwarded to the office of the City Manager.
    • The Library Board sends its recommendation to the Director.
    • The Director then reviews his/her original decision in the context of the Board recommendation and confirms or sends a revised opinion to the patron in writing, with a copy sent to the Library Advisory Board and to the office of the City Manager.
    • The Director's decision on the complaint is final and without further appeal.

Reviewed May 2017