Because the freedom to read freely from a variety of sources is essential in a democracy, the Carroll and Madison Library System (CAMALS) believes there shall be no censorship. We subscribe to the book selection principles contained in the Library Bill of Rights adopted by the American Library Association, and the Freedom to Read Statement endorsed by the American Library Association Council and the Association of American Publishers. CAMALS recognizes that many books are controversial and that any given item may offend some patrons. Selection will not be made on the basis of any anticipated approval or disapproval, but solely on the merits of the work in relation to building the collections and serving the interests of the patrons. All materials added to the collection shall be judged on the content as a whole, not by detached excerpts. The personal behavior of the creator of any material has no bearing on the selection of the material.
Maximum effort is directed toward maintaining a standard of excellence in materials selection for all segments of the community, striking a balance between public demand and diversity of material. Factual accuracy, effective expression, significance of the subject, sincerity and responsibility of opinion are acceptable criteria for a high standard of quality. The interest and current needs of the community, the individual merit of each item, and the library’s existing collection, budget and services are the main factors in selection. The Director, with the aid of the library staff, shall be free to use her or his judgment in the selection, retention and withdrawal of materials within the guidelines of this selection
Library materials are selected by the Director and the library staff after consulting professional review media including: Library Journal, New York Times Book Review, Voice of Youth Advocates, Baker and Taylor Booklist. Final responsibility for purchase of materials resides with the Director of the Library.
Standards of Selection
Books and eBooks
Adult Fiction – Points considered in adult book selection are informational, recreational, literary and educational value; authority and effectiveness of presentation; and availability of funds and space. Contemporary authors are included as well as those who have demonstrated enduring worth.
Adult Non-Fiction – Points considered include the author’s competency, the information presented, and the potential usefulness in the library’s collection. The Library Director attempts to 1) meet the patrons’ demands, 2) purchase material that is pertinent and timely, and represents all sides of controversial issues, 3) purchase material in which the author presents the material accurately, clearly, and in a readable manner. The Library Director purchases materials relating to local and regional history and seeks other relevant material in this area to add to the collection.
Young Adult Fiction and Non-Fiction – Both fiction and non-fiction books are selected to meet informational and recreational needs. Materials are chosen from reviews in journals or through booklists from established sources.
Children’s Fiction – Literary merit and validity of theme whether it be fantasy, history, sport, or contemporary life are deemed of prime consideration in the selection of juvenile fiction. Fiction plays an important role in the learning experience of a child through its ability to introduce a wide range of experiences which otherwise may never be encountered by the child.
Children’s Non-Fiction – An effort is made to obtain only material that is authoritative and up-to-date. Subjects relating to contemporary issues such as drug abuse and sex education are not be avoided due to their potentially controversial nature; rather such material is purchased for various levels of maturity and for parents to use with children. Book selections for the children’s collection are not curriculum oriented. Books are chosen for their individual values for individual children. Exposure to a broad selection of informational and recreational materials is a good way to stimulate the desire to read and grow intellectually. Final responsibility for an individual child’s selection of library materials rests with the parent or guardian.
Non-book materials are considered an integral part of the library collection. They provide an additional dimension to the book collection and provide alternative methods of access to information and recreation. Standards of quality are the same as those established for the library collection as a whole.
Periodicals – The libraries in CAMALS shall subscribe to periodicals that meet both informational and recreational needs of adults, young adults, and children. Periodical titles are reviewed annually to insure maximum usefulness to the public, taking into consideration the year’s budget and the following criteria: community, interest, accuracy and objectivity, accessibility through indexes, need as a reference source, price, and space. Back issues of periodicals are kept for a select number of heavily used titles. No attempt is made to house extensive back issues of all periodicals received.
Newspapers – The libraries subscribe to selected local, state and national newspapers for news, current affairs and business information. Limited back issues of paper copies are maintained along with more extensive microfilm back issues of selected newspapers when available.
The libraries meet both recreational and informational needs through the provision of various formats of non-print materials.
Audio Recordings – Sound recordings consisting of both music and spoken word are chosen to meet recreational, instructional and educational needs of community members of all ages and abilities.
Video Recordings – Documentary, instructional, recreational videos for all ages are provided to complement the library’s total collection. Visual recordings are selected by the same general criteria as outlined in this policy.
Electronic Resources – Electronic resources are an essential format of information delivery and entertainment. These include but are not limited to electronic indexes, electronic encyclopedias and other electronic databases. In addition to criteria used for book selection, such factors as ease of patron use, currency of information, cost and physical requirements of necessary equipment are considered in choosing these materials for the collections.
Basis For Withdrawal
Weeding is part of the continuous evaluation of the Carroll and Madison Library System’s collections by the professional staff. This process is an integral part of collection development and maintenance. Reasons for weeding material from the collection are lack of space, poor physical condition, outdated information, and low circulation. The primary goal of weeding is to keep the collection current, attractive, and usable. Materials are not removed from the collections solely as a result of pressure or demand from patrons.
Reconsideration of Materials
A patron who questions any material in one of the libraries in CAMALS may register his/her opinion in writing on the form Request for Reconsideration, and the matter will be referred to the Library Director. The form is available at all libraries in the system.
Upon receiving a written request, the Library Director shall notify the Regional Library Administrator and the local library board that a request has been made, and provide them with all information including the date of the next board meeting when the Request for Reconsideration shall be on the agenda. The item in question will be subject to recall from circulation in time for examination at the meeting; otherwise, will remain in the circulating collection of the library.
The Library Director and/or Library Administrator will assemble all information about what selection and retention principles were used with the item, such as reviews, quotations, and the number of circulations.
The local library board shall meet with the Library Director and CAMALS Administrator to consider the item in light of library policy. A decision to retain or withdraw the item shall be made.
Notice of the board’s decision will be sent to the Requestor. If the item is removed or restricted and if the removal or restriction is objected to by anyone in the area served (person hereafter called the Supporter), the Supporter may request reinstatement and/or retention of the item.
If the decision made is unsatisfactory to the Requestor or Supporter, the same or a second Request for Reconsideration may be made through the Library Director. This request will lead to a meeting of the county board or regional board, if the county board has already considered the matter.
Notice of the action taken will be sent to both the Requestor or Supporter. If the action is unsatisfactory, the Requester or Supporter may then request a formal open hearing on the item. Public notice will be given for a minimum of 60 days throughout the library region. The Arkansas State Library, the Arkansas Library Association, and the American Library Association shall be notified. The open meeting will be held at a time convenient to the public.
This will be an open meeting of the CAMALS Board, and the Requestor or Supporter may be asked to explain the request for reconsideration and answer questions from the Board. Both the Requestor and/or Supporter and the library board may invite testimony from representatives qualified to present information on the item.
The CAMALS Board will then reconsider the item and decide whether or not to restrict access to the item or withdraw the item from the collection.
Notice of the Board’s decision will be sent to the Requestor and Supporter and to any organizations involved or notified of the meeting.
CAMALS reserves the right to use gifts of materials in a manner in keeping with its collections and with its selection policy. Materials considered unsuitable for the collections will be placed in a book sale or discarded.
CAMALS accepts donations toward the purchase of memorial or commemorative books. Library staff will select the title (or titles) in accordance with the donor’s wishes regarding the subject specified. The Library may accept a donation for a specific title if the title meets collection needs and selection policy standards. An identifying bookplate shall be placed inside the front cover of each memorial or commemorative book.