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Collection Development Policy

The Library's collections, as much as possible, should reflect the diversity of needs, interests, perspectives and backgrounds in the community.


  • The Collection Development Policy reflects the diverse needs of the Decatur community and the Library’s Strategic Plan to promote the love of reading and life-long discovery, helping ensure children and teens are ready and excited to learn, and offering robust connections to the digital world.
  • Decatur Public Library believes that collections are part of the broader content of a library: its experiences, spaces, materials, and collaborations. We seek to respond to our community’s needs and interests through this content.
  • Through our collections we work to facilitate equitable experiences for engagement, education, and inspiration.


  • The Library strives to achieve broad participation in its services, including the sustained use of materials. Decatur Public Library will regularly review the collection to ensure it reflects the diversity of needs, interests, perspectives and backgrounds in the community.
  • The Library also seeks to provide awareness of those cultures, traditions and ideas not represented in the local community.
  • The controversial nature of certain subjects, authors, or language will not be cause for automatic inclusion or exclusion. Each item will be selected on its individual merit and role in the collection. Decatur Public Library does not promote all of the ideas found in its collections or the discussions those ideas may inspire, but provides the spaces and opportunities for those ideas and discussions.
  • The Library protects the right of the individual to access information, even when the content may be controversial or unacceptable to others. Privacy and confidentiality are key tenets. As such, the Library upholds the American Library Association's Library Bill of Rights position statement, including the Freedom to View and Freedom to Read.
  • Decatur Public Library is committed to being a good steward of the community’s tax dollars and community assets.

Responsibility for Selection

Ultimate responsibility for selection rests with the City Librarian who operates within a framework of policies established by the Library Board of Trustees. The City Librarian delegates responsibility for collection development to the Heads of Programs, Resources and Services and Archives and Special Collections. Each Division Head delegates responsibility for selection and maintenance of specific areas of that department's collections to various staff members, operating within the guidelines provided by the Policy.


The Library develops a meaningful, evidenced-based collection that is positioned to meet the needs and interests of the community. Evidence-based methods include traditional metrics (circulation, usage analytics such as downloads and website visits, and usage ratios); and less formal inputs via conversations with the community and professional insights in the course of community engagement. Tools include collection analysis software to monitor collections according to use.


Material selection criteria are informed by:

  • Community interests & impact
  • National and international news and events
  • Publishing and social trends
  • Professional reviews and journals
  • Collection analysis software
  • Staff professional expertise
  • Holdings by other libraries in the SHARE consortium
  • Cost
  • Available space
  • Maintenance

Community requests and recommendations are welcomed and are subject to the same criteria as any other material. The Library does not collect textbooks, academic, technical, or self-published materials not professionally reviewed, unless they are considered useful generally.


A well-rounded collection of materials which serves a broad spectrum of users must provide the widest possible selection of print and non-print formats. The Library collects formats that are viable and discontinues ordering or phases out formats no longer available or in demand. Other developing types of material will be acquired and made accessible, as they are judged suitable, meaningful, and relevant to the community based on the stated selection criteria. We strive to be “format neutral”, defining physical and digital collections and content as materials to which we facilitate access for and with our community.

Special Collections

Decatur Public Library maintains a large local history collection which operates under its own Collection Policy.


No library has the resources available to meet the needs of all users all the time. The Library promotes and facilitates resource sharing through interlibrary loan and reciprocal borrowing arrangements as a means to provide our users with access to a wider selection of materials than our collections alone can provide. The Library works cooperatively with other local libraries, library systems state-wide and the State Library to provide the broadest access to materials for its patrons while minimizing duplication. Thus, the selection of materials for the Library's collection is influenced by the ability to readily borrow materials from other libraries that can support a limited demand from our Library's patrons.


Ongoing evaluation and review of Library materials is necessary to maintain a viable collection that meets the Library's needs and is of current interest to patrons. Physically deteriorated, duplicate, superseded and/or obsolete materials may be replaced or removed at the professional staff’s discretion. Materials that have not circulated in more than 1 year may also be removed. Updated versions may be purchased when indicated. Staff may use collection analysis software to inform
deselection decisions.

Reconsideration of Materials

Any citizen may request that the Library reconsider materials that are part of the collection. If a citizen wishes to make a complaint they should do so by calling the library administration office or contacting the City Librarian at The City Librarian, upon receipt of a formal complaint, will appoint an ad hoc committee of staff librarians to review the material in question and report their findings within one month. The City Librarian will use the findings of the committee to assist his decision regarding the retention of the item. The complainant will be notified in writing of the City Librarian's decision. The City Librarian shall include information on any formal complaints, and his decision with regard to the challenged materials, in the monthly report to the Library Board.

Gifts and Donations

Decatur Public Library encourages and accepts donations of materials, with the understanding that the decision whether to add gifts to the collection will be based on the same criteria that govern purchased materials. The donor of gift materials does so with the understanding that the Library reserves the right to assign gifts wherever needs exist and to dispose of gifts as it sees fit. Decatur Public Library does not accept gifts of self-published materials. Generally, gifts not added to the collection will be donated to the Friends of the Library for their book sales. Gifts to the Library cannot be returned to donor.

Review of Policy

This policy will be reviewed by the Board of Trustees biennially in accordance with Illinois statute (75 ILCS 5/4-7.2)

Approved by the Decatur Public Library Board of Trustees October 18, 2018, amended November 19, 2020. Approved September 15, 2022. Reviewed February 15, 2024.