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Collection Development Policy

The mission of the South Berwick Public Library is to create a cultural town commons where all who enter have free access to media that informs, educates and entertains.

Purpose of the Collection Development Policy: 
This document serves as a guideline for the staff in their role as selectors and provides the public with an understanding of the purpose and nature of the Library’s collection, explaining the criteria staff use for making decisions to add or withdraw items in the collection.

Selection of materials and collection development activities rest with the Library Director and staff delegated by them, operating within the framework of this policy, and adhering to generally accepted professional practices.

We are dedicated to the free and open distribution of ideas. The Library is primarily a government-funded agency. The First Amendment of the Constitution insures that ideas, even ideas that some find offensive, cannot be restricted by the government. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the Library to provide a wide-range of ideas, opinions and information necessary for the functioning of a democratic society

We are dedicated to free and open use for all. No restriction is placed on the use of the Library’s collection based on age, race, sex, nationality, educational background, physical limitations, or any other criteria that may be the source of discrimination.

We are dedicated to protecting individuals’ rights to decide for themselves and for their own children what library materials to use. Materials will not be added or removed from the collection, based upon protecting users from the contents of the materials. We strongly encourage all parents who wish to restrict their own children’s use of the Library to establish family guidelines for their children to follow.

The South Berwick Public Library endeavors to build a collection representing varying points of view.  The choice of library materials by users is an individual matter.  Responsibility for the reading materials of children and adolescents rests with their parents or legal guardians.  While persons may reject materials for themselves f and their children, they cannot exercise censorship to restrict access to the materials by others.  The library supports intellectual freedom and has adopted the following statements as policy: ALA Freedom to Read Statement, ALA Library Bill of Rights, and the “Freedom to View” statement of the American Film and Video Association. See attached.

Requests for reconsideration may be made only by registered members, and shall be made in writing and given to the library director for a written response. (See Appendix D). Appeals are directed to the Library Advisory Board.

Purpose of the Collection

The purpose of the South Berwick Public Library materials collection is to provide resources to assist individuals in their pursuit of educational objectives, intellectual and emotional growth, the enjoyment of leisure time and practical solutions to daily problems.  The library is responsible to evaluate and alter this policy statement as the community changes to increase the opportunity for all potential users of its resources to achieve their purposes through the library.

The library keeps the collection vital and useful by retaining or replacing essential materials, and by removing, on a systematic and continuous basis, items that are worn, outdated, of little historical significance, or no longer in demand.  The librarian may choose to consult specialists when adding or removing materials from the collection.  Materials that are removed from the library collection may or may not be made available for public purchase at book sales.

These resources respond to four categories of activity:

  1. Resources for Education

A.  Materials that supplement the formal curriculum of primary, secondary and post-secondary schools.

B.  Materials that support self-education pursued apart from a structured or formal program.

2. Resources for Emotional and Intellectual Growth

Materials that satisfy a personal need and relate to self-directed attempts at personal understanding and personal growth.  The acquisition of these materials represents a commitment to the improvement of the quality of life of the individual.

3. Resources that Enhance the Enjoyment of Leisure Time

Materials purchased as a source of pleasure and fun for the user.  These materials are not purchased as goal-oriented items, and therefore acquisitions decisions may rest more heavily upon the potential pleasure to be derived by the user than the critical appraisal of the materials.

4.  Resources that Assist in the Practical Solution of Daily Problems

A.       Materials that empower the individual to live more independently.

B.       Materials generally directed at the solution of short-term problems.

C.       Materials that help individuals save money, improve health, save time, etc.

The inclusion of any item in the Library’s collection does not constitute an endorsement by the Library or the Town of the item’s contents. 

Current Collection

Number of items: 25,874

Number of active patrons: 3,582

Circulation 2018/19: 43,120

Cooperative Collection Development:

To supplement its collection, the South Berwick Public Library and the Town of South Berwick have entered into agreements with adjacent towns to offer free borrowing to our residents at other convenient locations. Residents from the communities of Eliot, Berwick, and North Berwick Maine, and Rollinsford, N.H. may get free memberships at the South Berwick Public Library and South Berwick residents may apply for free memberships at these libraries.  Links to the collections of the above community libraries are found on the South Berwick Public Library web site. Additionally, as of June 2019, persons with South Berwick Public Library cards may use them to borrow items in person at the Berwick Public Library, the D.A. Hurd Library in North Berwick and the Springvale Public Library in Sanford.

The Maine State Library and Maine Infonet run group library consortia, in which libraries may subscribe to be members and use a shared library software product.  This facilitates direct electronic Interlibrary Loan (ILL) borrowing by patrons.  URSUS for large public and academic libraries, MINERVA for mid-sized libraries, and MILS for small libraries, are the consortia in the state of Maine.  The convenience and expansion of materials opened up to our members by joining represents a monetary value to the town and a guarantee of wider use of materials that the Town of South Berwick has purchased for our local collection.

The Library makes use of materials borrowed from other libraries through the MILS consortium, and use of a van delivery service that provides library to library delivery through a contract service.  At this time, the South Berwick Public Library receives two deliveries per week one day of which is a grant from the Maine State Library. The South Berwick Public Library is a member of the Region 1 Library District, which provides ILL for items through the national system that aren’t available in state.

Interlibrary Loan, however, is not a substitute for the development of adequate collections based on the needs of a member library’s service area and patrons. Requests for titles are evaluated for potential use and cost- effectiveness, and may be added to the collection despite the existence of copies in other local libraries. In addition, when areas in the collection are inadequate to meet regular patron demand, purchases are made to correct the situation rather than relying on Interlibrary Loan.  We want to keep an attractive, ecletic collection on our shelves for readers to browse.

Any resident of York or Cumberland County may also apply for a free membership to the Portland Public Library which gives access to both the physical collection in Portland and the digital resources such as language courses, auto repair & maintenance, and genealogy databases.

The Maine State Library provides online databases statewide, including current periodicals and topics of general interest including business, health, science, literary, and other research materials for all ages through the “digitalmainelibrary” databases which are available through the South Berwick Public Library’s website to residents of Maine.  The library purchases a subscription to the Maine Download Library (also known as the CloudLibrary) which provides electronic access to ebooks and digital audiobooks made available from the Maine State Library.

The library acknowledges that each person has information needs that are important to that individual.  It also recognizes that it has limited financial resources to respond to these needs.  The library has a responsibility to use public funds in ways that are advantageous to the largest number of its constituents.  While the library’s materials collection will not deny any need consistent with its mission, the library will develop its collections with the recognition that it has the ability to meet certain needs more effectively and efficiently than other needs.  Every effort will be made to direct individuals to area resources and institutions that may meet their needs.

Local History

The local history collection is largely a circulating collection of items historical in nature that inform and preserve our New England heritage.  Local history and genealogical materials relating to South Berwick are particularly sought for this collection whether they are current or retrospective and are shelved in the South Berwick collection. Histories, vital records, town reports, yearbooks, and books by local authors about the area are all collected. The Library works in partnership with the Old Berwick Historical Society to make historical materials accessible; with the library concentrating on print materials and OBHS collecting and preserving appropriate artifacts including photographs.

Special Collections:

The library may choose to define and collect for a particular special collection which could emphasize a strong community interest or a unique local feature.  The Sarah Orne Jewett Collection and the Gladys Hasty Carroll Collection are current special collections of the library.

Digital Collections:

The library collection includes a digital collection housed by the Maine State Library of area high school yearbooks that are available online for anyone to view.  The library hopes to add items unique to South Berwick to this collection as resources and staff time allow.

The Selection Process

Collection development decisions are made on the basis of staff judgment and expertise,

and by evaluating reviews in standard print and media selection tools, award lists, and bestseller lists.

Responsibility for the Children’s and Young Adult collections lie with the Children’s Librarian and responsibility for the Adult collection lies with the Director.

All materials, whether purchased by the library or donated to it, are evaluated in accordance with these guidelines.  Selection decisions may be made upon one or a combination of guidelines as applicable to the item in question.  Materials are purchased in a variety of formats including books, compact disk, DVD, toys, games, puzzles, cake pans, tools, computer software and digital materials.

  • The needs of the community.
  • The overall balance of the collection.
  • The spirit of service and the philosophy of the library.
  • The availability ofmaterial from other sources.
  • Budgetary limitations.
  • Suitability of the format of the item for library use.
  • Relation to existing collection and other material on the subject.
  • Reputation or significance of the author.
  • Reviews in professional literature or patron request.
  • Accuracy of the item.
  • Appearance in standard bibliographies and indexes
  • In-print availability.
  • Literary merit.
  • Locally produced or authored material.
  • Price.
  • Suitability of reading level, interest level and treatment of subject to the age of the intended audience.
  • Use of the material locally as assigned reading, viewing or listening

The Library collection contains materials representing various viewpoints on public issues of a controversial nature. The selection of material does not constitute an endorsement of content or viewpoints expressed therein. Selections are made solely on merits of the material in relation to the collection and user needs. Inclusion of materials is based on quality of the material and community needs.

Patron Requests

The Library welcomes requests and suggestions for purchase of materials for the library from members and will consider all requests that specific materials be acquired.  The library is under no obligation to fill any particular request if not deemed suitable to the collection.  Patron requests will be reviewed using the materials selection criteria listed in this document.  Any patron who would like to request a specific item for purchase should fill speak with library staff.  Every effort will be made to respond to these requests with either a commitment to purchase or direction to another source for the material.


Materials purchased for the collection of the South Berwick Public Library Public Library are paid for with funds provided through the annual operating budget from the Town.

Unrestricted monetary donations may be made to the library and will be accepted by the Town or the Friends of the South Berwick Public Library at any time.  Restricted gifts will be reviewed and accepted or rejected based on whether the gift fits the collection development needs of this institution.  All gifts made to the South Berwick Public Library are expended in a manner consistent with the Collection Development policy. The Library makes every effort to purchase items in subject areas or formats specified by the donor. However, we cannot guarantee that particular titles will be purchased.  All items will be subject to the same criteria as other areas of the collection including the perceived need and use to potential customers. The Library will identify materials purchased with donated funds by means of a bookplate that names the donor.


The South Berwick Public Library accepts gift books, and other items donated for the collection, with the understanding that the gift will be evaluated in accordance with the criteria by which purchased materials are judged. Donated materials are considered with the explicit understanding that such factors as duplication, lack of community interest, processing costs, or inadequate shelf space may prevent their addition to the collection or permanent retention on the shelves.

The Library will not agree to separate treatment for gift materials. Donated materials will not be placed on special shelves, or separated from other similar materials already in the library collection.

Gifts are accepted with the understanding that the Library, if it cannot use them, may at any time discard or sell them in any way it deems appropriate. Materials not of use in the library collection are may be given to o non-profits with a literacy objective and to the Friends of the Library for their book sale. The Library does not appraise donated books or other gifts.


Weeding the library collection is as much a routine as the acquisition of new books. The purpose of discarding materials from the collection is to maintain an accurate and up to date collection for library patrons and make room for new and requested material.

Materials are discarded from the collection using the CREW guidelines for weeding. The acronym CREW stands for Continuous Review, Evaluation, and Weeding. Items that are weeded from the collection include ones that are: misleading or factually inaccurate; damaged, soiled or worn; outdated or superseded by a new edition or newer title on the same subject; trivial or have no discernible literary or scientific merit; irrelevant to the needs and interests of the community or contain information that may be obtained more easily elsewhere. Materials that have not circulated in a chosen time period, duplicate titles no longer needed, or damaged materials are also considered for discarding.

Weeding the collection is an ongoing process and is the responsibility of the librarians. A complete weeding of the entire collection is should take place every five years.

Items discarded from the collection are plainly marked and may be donated to the Friends of the Library for their book sale, donated to other non-profit organizations or recycled.

Appendix A:

The Library Bill of Rights

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

Adopted June 18, 1948. 
Amended February 2, 1961, and January 23, 1980,
inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996,
by the ALA Council.

Appendix B:

The Freedom To Read

The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label “controversial” views, to distribute lists of “objectionable” books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.

Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be “protected” against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression.

These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet. The problem is not only one of actual censorship. The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy or unwelcome scrutiny by government officials.

Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change. And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension. Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain. Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.

Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections.

We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture. We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend. We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings.

The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights.

We therefore affirm these propositions:

  1. It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority.

Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different. The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested. Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy. The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process. Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these. We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.

  1. Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.

Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought. The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.

  1. It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.

No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.

  1. There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.

To some, much of modern expression is shocking. But is not much of life itself shocking? We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers from dealing with the stuff of life. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves. These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared. In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others.

  1. It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous.

The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for others. It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.

  1. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people’s freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.

It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group. In a free society individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read, and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive. Further, democratic societies are more safe, free, and creative when the free flow of public information is not restricted by governmental prerogative or self-censorship.

  1. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a “bad” book is a good one, the answer to a “bad” idea is a good one.

The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader’s purpose. What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has been thought and said. Books are the major channel by which the intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth. The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all Americans the fullest of their support.

We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.

This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers.

Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.

A Joint Statement by:

American Library Association 
Association of American Publishers

Appendix C:

The Freedom to View

The FREEDOM TO VIEW, along with the freedom to speak, to hear, and to read, is protected by the  First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States . In a free society, there is no place for censorship of any medium of expression. Therefore these principles are affirmed:

  1. To provide the broadest access to film, video, and other audiovisual materials because they are a means for the communication of ideas. Liberty of circulation is essential to insure the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.
  2. To protect the confidentiality of all individuals and institutions using film, video, and other audiovisual materials.
  3. To provide film, video, and other audiovisual materials which represent a diversity of views and expression. Selection of a work does not constitute or imply agreement with or approval of the content.
  4. To provide a diversity of viewpoints without the constraint of labeling or prejudging film, video, or other audiovisual materials on the basis of the moral, religious, or political beliefs of the producer or filmmaker or on the basis of controversial content.
  5. To contest vigorously, by all lawful means, every encroachment upon the public’s freedom to view.

This statement was originally drafted by the Freedom to View Committee of the American Film and Video Association (formerly the Educational Film Library Association) and was adopted by the AFVA Board of Directors in February 1979. This statement was updated and approved by the AFVA Board of Directors in 1989.

Endorsed January 10, 1990, by the ALA Council 

Appendix D:

South Berwick Public Library logo

Request for Review of Library Materials

Title of Item______________________________________________________ Author__________________________

Format (book, movie, magazine, etc.)_____________________________

Request initiated by_______________________________________________


Do you represent
____An organization or group (name)__________________________________

1. Did you read or view the entire work?__________What parts did you read or view?

2. To what in the work do you object? (Be specific; cite pages, sections etc.)

3. What do you believe is the theme of this work?

4. In your opinion, is there anything good about this work?

5. What do you feel might be the result of reading or viewing this work?

6. What would you like the library to do about this material?

7. Which title would you suggest as a substitute?_______________________________________________________


Request for Review of Library Materials Procedure

Despite the care taken to select materials for the South Berwick Public Library collection it is recognized that occasional objections may be raised by community members. 

In the event a complaint is made, the following procedures will apply:

  1. The complaint shall be heard first by the person staffing the public desk. 

2.  The person on duty may refer the complainant to the library director if the patron would like to further discuss their objections to the material.

3. If the complainant is not satisfied with the conversation they will be requested to fill out the “Request for Review of Library Materials” form.   

4. Challenged materials will remain in the library collection until the review  process is complete.

5. Upon receipt of the form the library director will forward the written complaint to the Library Advisory Board who shall consider the patron’s request and make recommendations to the library director.

6. The Library Advisory Board will respond with a formal, written reply to the patron who initiated the review.

Approved Library Advisory Board January 19, 2016