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Materials Selection

Role of the Library’s Collections

The role of the Fauquier County Public Library is to select, organize, preserve, and make available to all individuals in the community materials that reflect the library’s vision, mission, and values. The library recognizes that for many residents of Fauquier County the public library serves as the primary resource for information access. The library is responsible for providing a broad range of materials, information and assistance, presented in a variety of formats such as print, audiovisual, and electronic for patrons of all ages. The library actively integrates information and referral services, interlibrary loan functions, and collection management to provide the most efficient and timely delivery of information services to our patrons.

Intellectual Freedom Statement

The library takes no sides on public issues and does not attempt to promote any beliefs or points of view through its collections. The library does not endorse the opinions expressed in the materials held. The library recognizes its responsibility to provide materials presenting various and diverse points of view.

Responsibility for the use of library materials by minors rests with their parents or legal guardians. Parents who wish to limit or restrict the use of the library by their child should personally oversee their child’s selections.

Acquisition of materials for the adult collection should not be restricted by the possibility that the item may come into the possession of minors. The library believes that each individual has the right and responsibility to determine for himself or herself whether an item from the library’s collection is acceptable and suitable.

Collection Development Management/ Responsibility

The ultimate authority for selection rests with the Library Board through its role in setting policy. The responsibility for coordinating the selection process lies with the Library Director. Daily selection is handled by the Manager of Collection Services and the Youth Services Librarians.


The library’s primary sources of funding for materials are from a Virginia state aid grant and Fauquier County. Additional funding through private donations from individuals and community organizations, and groups such as the Friends of the Fauquier Library are generally used to target special projects or specific sections of the collection. Funds received from county writ tax receipts are used to purchase legal resources.

The library, using careful stewardship of the funds it receives, recognizes the wealth of resources available through other libraries and agencies and does not needlessly duplicate materials.

Selection Process

The library strives to maintain a diverse collection of materials responsive to community needs. Selection of materials, whether purchased or donated, is based upon the library’s mission statement. Selection is determined by factors such as budget, space, and the content of existing collections. While the library tries to maintain copies of standard and important works, it does not automatically replace all materials that have been lost or damaged.

Each item must be considered in terms of its own excellence and the audience for whom it is intended. Materials are judged on total effect rather than specific illustrations, words, passages or scenes that in themselves may be considered by some to be offensive.

A policy, however detailed, cannot replace the judgment of individual librarians. Professional judgment and expertise is based on an understanding of user needs and knowledge of both authors and publishers. Reviews from professional, specialized and general periodicals, in addition to standard lists of basic works, are also consulted as part of the selection process.

The library acquires materials in a variety of formats and will select materials in the media most appropriate to their efficient use. In some circumstances the same work may be acquired in more than one format; for example, hardback, paperback, large print and audio and digital versions of popular titles are often purchased to meet patron demand.

Expanding areas of knowledge, changing social values, technological advances, and cultural differences require flexibility, open-mindedness, and responsiveness in the evaluation and re-evaluation of all library materials. Material will not be excluded or included because of the race, nationality, or the political or religious views of the writer. In order to build collections of merit, materials will be considered according to the general criteria listed below.

General Criteria for the Evaluation of Library Materials

  1. Reputation and/or significance of the author, producer, performer

  2. Suitability of subject and style for intended audience

  3. Relation to existing collection and other material on the subject

  4. Suitability of physical format for library use

  5. Present and potential relevance to community interests

  6. Value of the resource in relation to its cost

  7. Appropriateness and effectiveness of medium to content

  8. Prizes, awards, or honors received

Gift Policy

The library accepts gifts of books and other materials with the understanding that items added to the collection must meet the same selection criteria as purchased materials. All gifts become the property of the library and will be used in the manner most beneficial to the library. Factors such as the physical condition of the material, the number of copies already in the collection, or the currency of the information contained in the item may prevent the addition of an item to the collection. The library retains the right to accept or reject gifts and to make all decisions as to their use, housing and final disposition. Gifts not added to the collection will be made available to the public, through the Friends of the Library Book Cellar, a used book shop located in the basement of the John Barton Payne building. (See library policy for gifts.)

Patron Requests for Materials

Library patrons may nominate books or other materials to be added to the collection. Requests are referred to Manager of Collection Services and the Youth Services Librarian at Warrenton who will apply the same selection criteria described above in determining what will be added to the collection.

The library also provides several other mechanisms to facilitate community involvement in the selection process. These include active monitoring of holds or requests placed by patrons for specific titles, and a variety of questionnaires and surveys.


The library recognizes that individuals may question library materials that do not support their tastes and views. Library staff is available to discuss concerns and to identify alternate materials that may be available. If concerns are not satisfied through a discussion with staff, a formal reconsideration of library materials may be requested. (See the library’s policy for reconsideration of library materials.)

Collection Review

The content of the present collection is continuously reviewed so that gaps in various subject areas, series of special interest and various formats may be filled, replacement of worn, damaged or outdated materials take place and unnecessary duplication may be avoided.

Some materials that are withdrawn from the library collection may be offered for sale through various channels, such as in the library, at the Book Cellar, or through online resources.

Adopted: 1/25/99
Revised: 4/15/99, 10/25/12

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