Collection Development Policy

Mission Statement

The mission of the Scotch Plains Public Library is to welcome and support our entire community with resources and services that enhance lifelong learning.

Collection Development

Collection development is the ongoing process of assessing the materials available for purchase, subscription, or licensing; and making decisions about their inclusion and retention within the Library. Collection development supports the Library’s mission statement and includes the selection and deselection of Library materials. Collection development also facilitates access to electronic resources and original electronic content. 

Philosophy and Scope of the Collection

The Scotch Plains Public Library defines its primary service community as the residents of Scotch Plains. Within the constraints of its budget, the Library selects a diverse range of materials to support the informational, educational, cultural, and recreational needs of the community. In addition to patron demand, selections are made to provide diverse and inclusive collections that contain viewpoints by and about a wide array of people and cultures to authentically reflect a variety of ideas, information, stories, and experiences. Materials are selected to provide useful, current information sources that reflect a wide range of interests, opinions, and viewpoints. Those materials are intended to complement rather than duplicate the collections of the local school district. As the Scotch Plains community continues to change, the Library will continue to reassess and change its collections to reflect new community needs. The Scotch Plains Public Library endorses the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights, The Freedom to Read statement, and The Freedom to View statement. 

Authority and Responsibility for Collection Development

The Library director will be responsible for collection development in accordance with the general policies established by the Library Board of Trustees. The director will delegate material selection and withdrawal responsibilities for specific areas within the collection to members of the staff who are professionally licensed and qualified to perform collection development duties.

Access to the Collection

Reading, listening to, and viewing library materials are individual and private matters. It is the right and responsibility of each individual library user to select the materials that they will use. Members of the community are free to choose what they like from the collection, to reject what they don’t like, but not to restrict the freedom of others to choose. Parents and legal guardians have the primary duty and responsibility to guide and supervise the reading, listening, and viewing habits of their children. The Scotch Plains Public Library cannot assume such a role “in loco parentis”.

The Library does not mark or identify material to show approval or disapproval of their contents. Materials are not labeled to restrict their use by age, nor will they be sequestered, except to protect valuable items from damage or theft. Placement in a special location does not imply censorship. 

Criteria for Selection of Library Materials

The selection of materials for the Library’s collection is based on accepted professional standards. Suggestions from library patrons will be accommodated when the item requested meets the Library’s selection standards. If the item is not purchased, every effort will be made to obtain the item through the STELLA Consortium or interlibrary loan for the patron’s use. 

Materials will be selected to meet high standards in quality, format, content, and expression. These criteria will include, but may not be limited to: appeal and relevance to the community; informational or educational value; contribution to the diversity, depth, or breadth of the collection; popularity of the author or particular title; reviews in professionally recognized sources; recreational value; relevance to the existing collection’s strengths and weaknesses; usefulness to the staff as a professional tool; accuracy and timeliness of the materials; suitability of format; budgetary limitations; authority and competence of the author and/or reputation and standing of the publisher; availability of the material within the STELLA Consortium; relevance to the Library’s mission; and relevance to the history of the Township of Scotch Plains.

Collection Maintenance

The collection as a whole is not archival. In order to maintain a collection that is current, accurate, and inviting to library users, materials are withdrawn on a systematic and continuing basis. The choice of materials to be withdrawn is determined by the professional staff under the supervision of the director. The following factors will be taken into consideration: accuracy and timeliness, subject coverage available in the collection, age of material, physical condition, frequency of circulation, number of copies, space limitations, and compliance with the Criteria for Selection of Library Materials.


The Library is pleased to accept donations of both money and material to support our library services. 

Money donated to the Library as a memorial, in honor of a person, or as a gift, will be used to purchase items needed for the collection. These items will be selected according to the Criteria for Selection of Library Materials. If the donor requests items be purchased in a particular subject area, genre, theme, or format, every effort will be made to purchase in that area. 

The Library accepts gifts of materials without commitment as to their final disposition. Donated materials will be evaluated by the same criteria as purchased materials. Once accepted, donated materials become the exclusive property of the library. The Library will assume responsibility for the disposition of these materials in the manner it deems appropriate. 

Request for Reconsideration of Materials

Scotch Plains residents who believe that an inappropriate item has been selected for the collection may request that said item be reconsidered or withdrawn. In such a situation, the following steps shall be taken: 

  1. The staff member to whom the question is first addressed will discuss the complaint with the patron. If the patron is not satisfied with the result of this discussion, the patron will be provided with a Request for Reconsideration of Materials form. This completed form will be given to the Director.
  2. The Director will review the request, evaluate the original reason for purchase, and consider the objection in terms of the Collection Development Policy. The Director will then reply in writing to the patron. A patron who is not satisfied with this reply may request a review by the Library Board of Trustees.
  3. When such an appeal is received by the Library Board of Trustees, it will discuss the complaint at the next regularly scheduled meeting. The patron will be invited to attend this meeting and notified in a timely manner of the Board’s decision.

During the process of reconsideration, the questioned item shall remain in the collection.

Download the Request for Reconsideration of Materials form.

Scotch Plains Public Library

Adopted by the Scotch Plains Library Board of Trustees on June 15, 2023