MATERIALS SELECTION POLICY AND PROCEDURES

1. RESPONSIBILITY FOR SELECTION

The policy statements contained herein are established by the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court in order to ensure that the citizens and taxpayers of Fort Bend County receive the maximum benefit from their investment in the library system. The procedures herein provide guidance to the professional library staff in implementing the policies for the Commissioners Court. Ultimate responsibility for the selection of library materials in Fort Bend County Libraries lies with the County Librarian, who is responsible for operating within the policies and procedures established by the Commissioners Court.

2. MISSION AND GOALS

The mission of Fort Bend County Libraries (FBCL) is to provide an environment of lifelong learning and enrichment for the entire, diverse community, through responsive service and access to timely and accurate resources.

Library materials and services are selected, organized, and made accessible in order to support the mission of the library, to meet the library needs of the community, to be responsive to recommendations for selections made by County residents, and to encourage use of the library. A written selection policy provides guidance for the library staff in their role as selectors, to ensure that the library is making the best use of its resources with respect to the needs and requests of the community. The policy also serves as a means of informing the public and county officials of the principles used in making selection decisions.

The public library is dedicated to the concept of service to everyone. In our diverse community, the library strives to make available materials that reflect the needs of citizens of all ages and abilities, as well as people with widely-varying educational, socioeconomic, philosophical, cultural, and religious backgrounds. Within the limitations of budget, space, and availability of materials, the County attempts to provide library collections of adequate size in a variety of formats that reflect the needs of the entire community. Library materials are not selected to promote any particular belief or view; rather, materials are selected to provide differing viewpoints about issues that individuals can use in determining their own opinions.

The library materials covered by the selection policy include printed materials such as books, newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets; microforms; audiovisual materials; electronic resources; educational toys; and the manuscripts and records housed in the Genealogy and Local History Department. Library materials may also include other resources that will be developed in the future and added to the library collections.

Under the policies and procedures established by Commissioners Court, the Library Director delegates responsibility for the selection of materials to coordinators, professional librarians, and other staff who are qualified for this task through education and experience. As directed by the Commissioners Court, the library routinely accepts input from the residents of the County regarding specific titles that are recommended for purchase. Titles may be recommended online by entering a title on the Suggest-a-Title page accessed from the library's home page. Also, any library user can recommend a purchase by giving the information to a staff member working at a reference desk in any of the eight libraries. In addition to recommending specific titles, the library encourages residents to recommend to the staff subject areas of the collections that they believe should be expanded or improved.

3. GENERAL PRINCIPLES AND GUIDELINES FOR SELECTION

In making selections for the library, staff are expected to be flexible and open-minded in making their decisions and to be responsive to the changing needs of the community. Because the community changes, materials already in the collections must be carefully evaluated on a continuing basis, as are those items initially added to the collection. In selecting materials, the library staff seek to represent differing viewpoints on a subject and to reflect the problems, aspirations, attitudes and ideals of our diverse community. The County selects, purchases, and promotes materials in any format that enriches and supports the informational, vocational, recreational, and educational needs of library users and that supports the business and civic activities of the community. Materials are evaluated as a whole, and not on the basis of a particular section or sections.

A single guideline cannot be applied to each potential item for selection; however, some of the general criteria for selection include patron demand; relative importance of an item in comparison with similar materials and viewpoints already in the collection; suitability of subject, style, and reading level for the intended audience; timeliness of the materials; reputation of the publisher or producer; authority and significance of the author, composer, etc.; and quality and style of writing or production. In some instances, the cost of an item and availability of the same or comparable material elsewhere in the Houston area may be considerations in selecting items.

In evaluating factual (nonfiction) works, selectors consider the timeliness and accuracy of the information presented, the known competence and objectivity of the author, the comprehensiveness and depth of the treatment of the topic, clarity of presentation, usability of the arrangement of the material, and inclusion of bibliographies and indexes. Considerations involved in evaluating an item that represents a specific opinion include clarity and logic of presentation, usability of arrangement, comprehensiveness and depth of treatment, degree and accomplishment of purpose, and availability of other materials on the subject. When selectors evaluate a work of the imagination (fiction, picture books, etc.), the considerations include representation of an important movement, genre, trend or culture; vitality and originality; artistic presentation and quality evidenced in the plot, setting, and theme characterization; point of view; style; and potential for sustained interest and entertainment.

4. HOW MATERIALS ARE SELECTED FOR ADULT COLLECTIONS

Materials for adult collections are selected by qualified, experienced adult-services librarians who are knowledgeable about adult materials and who interact regularly with library patrons by assisting them in locating requested information and fiction. Library staff involved in selection represent a cross-section of the county population and reflect the diversity of the community. Consideration of recommendations by County residents is a routine part of selection for adult collections.

Many professional and literary review sources are used to determine which of the thousands of materials published each year are appropriate to add to the library's collections. Other sources are also used to build a balanced collection. Some of these other sources include physical inspection of books and other materials at bookstores and at trade shows, bestseller lists, publisher's catalogs, flyers and information sheets received from publishers, and bibliographies from books already in the collections.

After information is gathered from a variety of sources, selection lists of possible purchases are reviewed and compiled by the Coordinator of Adult Collection Development. Titles for purchase are chosen from the lists by selectors in each branch and at George Memorial Library. The Coordinator reviews all items selected for purchase before the items are ordered. (See Appendix B, Selection and Purchasing Process for Library Materials.)

5. HOW MATERIALS ARE SELECTED FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS (TEENS)

Materials for children's collections are selected by qualified, experienced youth-services librarians who are knowledgeable about children's materials and who interact regularly with children and caregivers by assisting them in locating requested information, picture and easy books, and fiction for young people. Consideration of recommendations by County residents is a routine part of selection for youth collections.

Many professional and literary sources are used to determine which materials are appropriate to add to the collections. Other sources are also used to build a balanced collection. Some of these other sources include physical inspection of books and other materials at bookstores and at trade shows, publisher's catalogs, flyers and information sheets received from publishers, and bibliographies from books already in the collections.

After information is gathered from the sources noted above, selection lists of possible purchases are reviewed and compiled by the Coordinator of Youth Services. Titles for purchase are chosen from the lists by children's librarians from each branch and the Youth Department at George Memorial Library. The Coordinator of Youth Services reviews all items selected for purchase before the items are ordered.

Materials for the young-adult collections are selected by a group of experienced youth- services librarians who are knowledgeable about young-adult materials. Final approval for all purchases is the responsibility of the Coordinator of Youth Services. The same professional sources used for purchasing children's book are used for selecting items for the young adult collections. (See Appendix B, Selection and Purchasing Process for Library Materials.)

6. SPECIAL GUIDELINES USED IN SELECTING MATERIALS FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS (TEENS)

The materials chosen for the children's collections are selected to serve the library needs of children from birth, as well as the needs of adults who are concerned about this age group. Materials in a variety of print and non-print formats are selected for all levels of children's understanding and reading abilities. Selection criteria used in choosing children's books apply equally to all materials for children, with special attention given to stages of emotional and intellectual development. Materials are selected to meet the special needs of children for play and recreation, or for verbal, motor and sensory development. The library may select materials that do not meet literary standards in order to provide items that fulfill emotional needs, serve as stepping stones to better reading, or fulfill some other special purpose, such as beginner readers.

In selecting materials for children, the library staff are dedicated to introducing children to the finest-quality books and other materials available. The library selects materials that develop and foster children's enjoyment in books and reading; help children to better understand themselves, their community, and their world; and broaden minds and introduce children to experiences not encountered in their daily lives. The materials selected for children also contribute to their aesthetic experience; stimulate curiosity; improve children's ability to make critical judgments and build informational skills; and promote better appreciation for-and pride in-cultural and ethnic heritage.

In reviewing specific items for purchase, the selectors of children's materials consider each individual book or other material with regard to appeal to children, contributions to the aims of both formal and informal education, subject matter of current and traditional interest, good content and format, authority of the author, literary and artistic merit, and the contribution of single item to the balance of the entire collection.

Fort Bend County Libraries recognizes that young adults (also referred to as "teens") form a special service-population with unique information needs and reading interests. The young-adult collections are, therefore, separately identified to provide a transition from the juvenile to the adult collections and generally serve-but are not limited to-youth in sixth through eighth grades. At FBCL, the emphasis of the young-adult collections is on popular browsing materials, on fiction written specifically for adolescents or with adolescent characters, and on nonfiction uniquely of interest to young teens. In order to ensure the recreational emphasis of the young-adult collections, information for meeting school assignments is available in the adult and juvenile reference and circulating collections, rather in the young-adult collections.

7. SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS IN SELECTING AUDIOVISUAL AND MULTIMEDIA MATERIALS

Adults
The audiovisual collections for adults include music CDs and audiocassettes, books on CDs and audiocassettes, CD-ROMs, software, videotapes, and DVDs. New formats will be added as they become available in the future. The same criteria that are used for print materials are used for selecting audiovisual materials, with an additional emphasis placed on appropriateness of format, cost-effectiveness, and production quality.

Videos for adults, both VHS and DVD, must meet additional criteria to be added to the collections. Selected videos must receive above-average reviews or ratings from established rating sources, along with reviews from the same sources used in selecting print materials.

Youth
Audiovisual materials for children and young adults are selected on the basis of an acceptable level of quality that has been determined by considering the opinion of qualified reviewers in recognized authoritative review sources; through recognition by prizes, awards, etc., given by critical organizations, institutes, or associations; materials that have appeared on public television networks; and in-house-review evaluation by the FBCL youth coordinator.

Fort Bend County Libraries recognizes the importance of visual experience in the lives of children and teens. In selecting videos for children, special emphasis is placed on a child's developmental needs for stimulation of imagination and mental growth. Video adaptations of children's book, folktales and fairy tales, children's classics, animated stories, informational videos, and feature motion pictures with children as the intended audience are included in FBCL's collections. Concept videos (programs teaching basic concept skills, such as shapes and colors) and parenting videos are also included in the collections. Children's and young adult video selections are purchased for "home-use only."

Collections of up-to-date, multimedia, educational software are maintained in every library for in-house use by children while they are in the library and for checkout for home use. A variety of educational games is selected to support the developmental needs of children through 15 years of age. Selection criteria for multimedia materials are the same as those standards listed for other types of materials. Special considerations in selecting multimedia include placing special emphasis on programs that support and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, that are accurate and are age- appropriate, and that offer creative challenges. For older children, role-playing or dramatic situations, which include conflicts, goals and characters, will be selected. Consideration is given to information organized in a narrative or storytelling form that is the most easily comprehended and remembered.

In order to further meet the educational, recreational, and informational needs and interests of children from birth, toys are an integral part of each of the youth collections. The selection criteria stated throughout the policy apply equally to toys, with special emphasis on safety, sturdiness of construction, appropriateness for targeted age-levels, and suitability for circulation.

8. ELECTRONIC RESOURCES

Fort Bend County Libraries maintains a website that contains information about the library, provides access to the library's catalog, and links patrons to wide variety of resources available on the Internet and in specific databases purchased by the library. New databases that are under consideration for purchase by the library are reviewed by a panel of librarians representing each of the branches and George Memorial. New databases that are added to the collection must meet high standards of integrity, accuracy, ease of use, and timely inclusion of new information. Indexing and full text of many periodicals and newspapers are available through databases available at FBCL. Many titles available in full-text editions through databases are not duplicated in print versions. Databases covering similar materials, such as history or business, are compared to determine which database best meets the needs of FBCL users. Cost of a database and availability of the same information in other resources are also factors considered in selecting a database. Internet and informational databases are available to everyone at the library and from home, remotely. Access to a free homework help resource for youth is available through the Internet.

9. GENEALOGY AND LOCAL HISTORY

Materials for genealogical research and a comprehensive collection of historical and descriptive materials about Fort Bend County and the people and events associated with the county are collected by the Genealogy and Local History Department. Materials from adjacent counties, and from the remainder of the state to a lesser extent, are also collected. All materials in the collection are non-circulating.

Materials are purchased, or accepted as donations, on the basis of interest and research potential. Included in the collection are: censuses; surname histories; heraldry; school, courthouse, church, genealogical and cemetery records; immigrant and land-grant lists; as well as electronic sources, books and periodicals.

The department also accepts papers, photographs, and records that are considered significant to the history of Fort Bend County. The department manager has responsibility for the selection of the materials and acceptance of donated materials. Materials donated to the department will remain the property of the department or be disposed of in an appropriate manner.

Archives of the Regional Historical Resource Depository (RHRD) are held by the department for Fort Bend County and for five adjacent counties. RHRD is administered by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. These non-current city, county, and other local government records of historical value are available for public research. State policies govern the use, handling and preservation of the RHRD collection.

10. ADAPTIVE MATERIALS, SPECIAL NEEDS AND LANGUAGES

Collections of materials to supplement adult basic education, such as literacy and English-as-a-Second-Language tutoring, are part of the library collections. Materials in adaptive formats to accommodate persons with special visual or hearing needs are also part of the collections, including large-print books, books in Braille, audio-books on cassette and CD, and videocassettes and DVDs. Magnifying and color-enhancing equipment, as well as Kurzweil software that can scan and read printed words, are available to assist the visually-impaired in accessing printed information.

Collections of materials written or produced in non-English languages that are the most widely used in Fort Bend County are also maintained and purchased by the library. These collections are built and maintained by librarians and volunteers who are fluent in the language of the collection.

11. LAW LIBRARY

The Fort Bend County Law Library is administered by FBCL. The law library is a reference (non-circulating) collection of legal materials and electronic resources selected primarily for attorneys. These legal references are available for any Fort Bend County residents to use in the Law Library. The Law Library Committee of the Fort Bend County Bar Association decides which items will be added to the collection. Filing fees from cases filed in the county courts fund the County Law Library.

Also, each of the FBCL libraries maintains a self-help collection of legal resources that are available to everyone in the county. The materials are selected by the Adult Collection Development Coordinator.

12. RESOURCE SHARING

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission provides support for the interlibrary borrowing and lending of library materials. Users of FBCL can borrow library materials from many other libraries in Texas and the nation. In other words, Fort Bend County residents have almost unlimited access to all printed materials. Specialized materials with limited readership-such as highly-technical materials-and out-of-print books are usually obtained for a user by the interlibrary-loan process rather than by purchase. Audiovisual materials can sometimes be obtained through interlibrary loan.

Fort Bend County Libraries is an integrated library system. Access to most library materials at one branch or George Memorial Library are also available to users at other libraries in the system through the online catalog, fax service, the Internet, and daily deliveries. System delivery allows for the purchase of an appropriate number of copies for the system and, in some instances, eliminates the necessity to purchase a copy of a work for each library location.

Individual libraries in the Fort Bend County system do not have identical collections. All libraries have similar basic collections; however, each library also reflects the interests and needs of the residents in the neighborhood, the availability of space in the building, and funding available for purchasing materials.

13. WITHDRAWALS AND REPLACEMENTS OF LIBRARY MATERIALS

Library materials are regularly withdrawn from library collections. Materials are withdrawn when they provide out-of-date and, therefore, erroneous information; are about subjects or authors no longer popular; are excessively worn or dirty; or have been lost. Availability of other copies of the same or similar titles in the system, availability of shelf space in the particular library, and the number of times an item has circulated are also considered in withdrawal decisions. Librarians at each library location remove items for withdrawal. It is not the library's policy to automatically replace each item withdrawn because of loss or damage. An item is replaced when a documented demand for it exists. More-recently-published books on the same subject often replace a withdrawn item. The Coordinators of Adult and Youth Materials review all items considered for withdrawal in each library. Some items are sent to another location for further use; some are withdrawn from the system.

14. GIFTS, MEMORIALS AND DONATIONS

All donations of library material are accepted with the understanding that they become the property of FBCL and may be added to the collections, sold or disposed of at the Libraries' discretion. A form is signed by the donor, and the donation policies are followed. FBCL encourages gifts and is grateful for them. FBCL cannot appraise the value of donated materials for income tax purposes or set aside a special area for donations.

Fort Bend County Libraries' Materials Selection Policy applies to all books donated directly to the library or to any of the Friends of the Library groups. All donations given to the library and to the Friends are evaluated by the appropriate Coordinator of Selection or a selection librarian, in order to identify books and other materials that will be added to the collection based on the selection criteria of the Materials Selection Policy. Books and other donated materials that are not added to the collection are sold by Fort Bend County Libraries Friends organizations. The proceeds from these sales are used to purchase library materials and to support library programs and services.

FBCL encourages monetary gifts donated in memory of or in honor of a person, or in the name of an organization. Selection of items purchased with such gifts is made by the library staff members, with consideration given to the donor's preferences and FBCL's Materials Selection Policy.

15. CONTROVERSIAL LIBRARY MATERIALS

Fort Bend County is a diverse community in which many of the world's religions, ethnic groups, cultures and ideologies are represented; therefore, a great diversity exists in patrons' choices of library materials.

When a controversial issue has two or more-widely supported opinions or theories, the definite facts on the issue have not been established, or the issue by its very nature is not susceptible to factual proof, FBCL will provide material on both or all sides of the issue, if availability permits.

FBCL recognizes an individual's rights to express his/her opinion concerning materials in the library's collection. This Materials Selection Policy and the following "Request for the Reconsideration of Library Materials" (Appendix A; click here to get the form). have been written to assure that objections to controversial library material are handled in an attentive and consistent manner. In order to object formally to a controversial item, a Fort Bend County resident or a FBCL cardholder must submit a completed "Request for Reconsideration for the Library Materials" (click here to get the form) to Fort Bend County.

16. THE RECONSIDERATION AND REVIEW PROCESS

Anonymous complaints or objections will not be considered. The complainant must be willing to provide his/her name and contact information. Requests for reconsideration may be made asking for removal of an item from all library collections, or asking that the item be moved to another collection or location within the library. A step-by-step outline of the reconsideration/review process is as follows: (See Appendix C, Reconsideration and Review Process of Library Materials; call 281-341-2603 to request a copy.)

Step 1
If a person has an objection to a particular item in the library's collection/resources, (s)he may make that objection in writing or by email. The objection goes to the appropriate Collection Development Coordinator, who compiles reviews and additional information about the contested item and responds in writing or by email to the objecting patron, in an effort to resolve the issue informally. The patron is given the information needed to contact the Coordinator, if (s)he is not satisfied with the Coordinator's initial response. The Coordinator should respond to the initial objection within two (2) weeks of receiving the complaint. If the person filing the complaint is not satisfied with the Coordinator's informal response, the Library Director is notified by phone or email that further action is required.

Step 2
If the patron wishes to object further, the matter enters a formal reconsideration process. The patron, now referred to as the complainant, is given a copy of the Materials Selection Policy, which includes a copy of the "Request for the Reconsideration of Library Materials" form (Appendix A; click here to get the form). The complainant completes and returns the form to the appropriate Collection Development Coordinator. The Coordinator appoints a review committee of five (5) qualified librarians who are asked to consider the item(s) in question and who are given other relevant information, such as the review material originally used in selecting the item. Each member of the review committee reviews the item and writes an individual opinion about keeping, removing, or relocating the item. Committee members do not share their findings with each other. The committee members' opinions are given the Collection Development Coordinator, who writes a formal response to the complainant that states the committee's recommendation regarding the item under review and provides information for contacting the Library Director if further action is required. The Coordinator will provide a response to the complainant within one (1) month from the submittal of the reconsideration form.

Step 3
If the complainant is not satisfied with the committee's recommendation, (s)he may request further review of the item(s) in question. The Library Director will ask the Library Board of Trustees to form a five-person committee of members to review the item in question. The Board Committee will review the item and make a recommendation regarding the disposition of the item(s) in question. The Board Committee will return a response to the complainant within three weeks from the date the complaint is given to them for review.

Step 4
If the complainant is not satisfied with the Library Board Committee's recommendation, the matter will be passed to Commissioner's Court for final disposition. All of the background information and copies of the item(s) in question will be given to each member of the Court. The Court will render the final decision in the matter; its directives will be carried out by the Library Director.

Approved by Fort Bend County Commissioners Court
November 9, 2004