Mission and Purpose

This policy functions as a general guide for the development of a robust collection of reading, listening, viewing and information/research material that allows the Milton Public Library (MPL) to fulfill its mission to empower the community to read, learn, create, and connect. The Collection Management Policy sets out the parameters for the development of the collection including the selection of materials, and is the basis for collection evaluation, planning, and budgeting. The MPL functions as a major information source for the community and provides a broad and relevant collection of materials for informational, educational, and recreational purposes to a diverse community.


The goals of this policy are to provide general principles and more detailed information to Library staff and our community regarding the following:

  • Professional standards used to guide the development of the collection
  • Criteria and methods used by library staff to select new material
  • Collection maintenance, including how materials are deselected from the collection
  • How community input is used to maintain the collection

General Principles and Professional Standards

Responsibility and Authority
Responsibility for selection and maintenance of the collection is at the discretion of the Chief Librarian and /or a staff delegate; it is their decision as to what is ordered and what remains in the collection.

Intellectual Freedom
The MPL adheres to a number of statements on intellectual freedom, including the Ontario Library Association’s Statement on the Intellectual Rights of the Individual (Appendix A) and The Canadian Federation of Library Associations’ Statement on Intellectual Freedom and Libraries (Appendix B).

The MPL has an obligation to select, maintain, and support access to content on subjects by diverse authors and creators that meets—as closely as possible—the needs, interests, and abilities of all the people that MPL serves. This means acquiring materials to address popular demand, direct community input, and address collection gaps and unexpressed information needs. The MPL believes that persons in a democratic society can make informed judgments only when they have free and open access to comprehensive information. Unless in exceptional circumstances, MPL does not mark selected materials in order to indicate approval or disapproval of item contents or attempt to expurgate information contained in selected items. Access to library collections is not restricted by age. Responsibility for the use of the collection by children rests solely with their parents or legal guardians. MPL users of all ages have open access to all materials in the collection.

Quality is pursued and maintained by applying professional discretion and standards established by the library profession and through the use of appropriate selection aids, including book reviews, best seller lists, professionally recognized periodicals, standard bibliographies and booklists.

Collection Classification and Arrangement
Books and other materials are initially placed in areas of the collection based on the publisher and author’s intended audience and review source recommendations. Occasionally, materials are subsequently referred to their respective age-appropriate selectors for re-evaluation. Materials will be organized and maintained according to subject, format, type, user level or other category to achieve their most effective utilization by the public and by library staff. An item’s placement in a collection allows for the organization of resources and provides viewpoint-neutral guidance to users. It is not intended to imply that every item in that collection will be of interest to or relevant to the collection’s intended user.

Diversity and Inclusion
The MPL strives to meet the informational needs of all ages, backgrounds, and educational levels of our community by providing alternative perspectives and/or opposing views on topics including those that may be perceived as less popular and/or unorthodox. The collection broadly reflects the diversity that exists in our culture and society. The existence of a particular viewpoint in the collection is an expression of MPL’s policy of intellectual freedom, not an endorsement of that point of view.

Selection Criteria/Guidelines

The MPL acquires materials in many subjects and formats, based upon the merits of a work in relation to the needs and interests of the community. Each item is evaluated objectively and in its entirety, taking into consideration selection criteria set forth herein, including but not limited to content, educational, creative, literary, and technical quality and merit.
Library materials are selected for the general reader rather than the specialist. Although MPL attempts to provide materials on many subjects and grade levels, no attempt is made to match the collection to a particular curriculum. The MPL may serve as a limited, supplementary source to meet the educational needs of students.

Selection Criteria

  • Suitability of subject, style, and reading level for intended audience
  • Reputation or authority of the author or publisher, with preference generally given to titles vetted in the editing and publishing industry
  • Quality of writing, illustration, and production ( e.g., binding, size, quality of paper and typography)
  • Recommendations by critics or reviewers
  • Suitability of format for library use
  • Relationship of subject to existing collection
  • Extent of publicity, critical reviews and current or public demand
  • Importance of subject matter in relation to community needs
  • Timeliness and/or permanence
  • Availability of materials through other libraries or institutions
  • Canadian content
  • Purchase price and other budgetary considerations
  • Diversity and inclusivity
  • Current or historical significance of the author or subject
  • Award-winning or award-nominated materia
  • Accuracy of information
  • Patron requests (see RESPONSIVENESS)

Items need not meet all criteria to be acceptable. The presence of a book, digital resource, or other material in the collection does not indicate an endorsement of its content.

Children/Young Adult Collections
The MPL’s Children’s Collection is intended to serve children through age 12. The MPL’s Young Adult Collection is intended to serve teens from age 13 to 17. The MPL contains a wide variety of materials and opinions reflecting various points of view. MPL does not serve “in loco parentis”; responsibility for overseeing a minor’s use of the Library collection rests with the parents and/or legal guardians, not the Library. It is the right and responsibility of the parent or legal guardian to restrict their children, and only their children, from access to library material and resources to which the parent or legal guardian may object. Parents or legal guardians may find certain materials objectionable or inappropriate for their children, and they may want to carefully review the content of library materials being accessed by their children. Selection of library materials, in this and other collections, will not be restricted by the possibility that materials may inadvertently come into a child’s possession.

Digital Resources
Digital resources fall into two classes: Owned materials and accessed materials. Owned or purchased material is selected by librarians and will fall under “Selection Criteria”. Many accessed digital resources are curated by third-party sources, and as such the MPL does not control the content. Digital resources are evaluated annually to determine ongoing need for the collection.


The MPL collection serves, to the degree possible, the interests of a diverse community without exclusion. The MPL believes that individuals have the freedom to accept or reject an item from the MPL’s collection for their personal use. Responsiveness to the interest of one individual or group is not restricted based on the dislike or objection of another individual or group.

Patron Requests
Patrons are encouraged to submit suggestions for possible addition to the library collection. The MPL will consider all patron requests using the same selection criteria for all materials.

Donations of Materials
For addition to the collection, gifts and donations must meet the general selection criteria and guidelines and be added at the discretion of the selector(s). If accepted, the materials become the property of MPL and will be handled according to MPL’s procedures and regulations, including book sales and recycling of discarded items.
Tax receipts are not issued for donations of materials nor applied to pay fines.

Request for Reconsideration
MPL believes that a vital society encourages members of its community to actively participate in an open exchange of ideas and opinions. Material selectors consequently strive to provide the widest possible range of resources within MPL’s collections. The content or manner of expressing ideas in material purposely selected to fill the needs of some library users may occasionally be considered offensive by other library users. The MPL recognizes the right of any individual or group to reject library material for personal use but does not accord to any individual or group the right to restrict the freedom of others to make use of that same material. Library users who object to materials located in the collection are asked to complete a written Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form (Appendix C). Complainants must have an active library card in good standing and may only submit one (1) Request for Reconsideration at a time. The form will be forwarded to the appropriate staff who will review the material in question and who will then submit a report to the Chief Librarian. A response will be sent to the complainant within thirty (30) days. Once a decision has been made the same item will not be reconsidered again for a period of six months. Only forms completed in full will be reviewed.

Collection Maintenance

In addition to acquiring new materials, it is important to remove from the existing collection those items no longer deemed useful or relevant. Evaluation techniques are used to measure collection usefulness in terms of scope and depth, as well as strengths and weaknesses. Withdrawing materials, or de-selection, is based upon the elimination of unnecessary items, outdated materials, materials no longer of interest or in demand, duplicates, worn or damaged copies, and spatial limitations. Frequency of circulation, community or regional interest, and availability of newer and more up-to-date materials are of prime consideration. Material of local historical importance and interest is retained where the content has enduring worth to the community.

Related Documents

Ontario Library Association. Statement on the Intellectual Rights of the Individual  (Appendix A)

Canadian Federation of Library Associations. Statement on Intellectual Freedom and Libraries (Appendix B)

Milton Public Library.  Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials Form (Appendix C)


Policy Approval Date: June 2009

Policy Review Date: July 2023


Related Documents

In affirming its commitment to the fundamental rights of intellectual freedom, the freedom to read and freedom of the press, as embodied in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Ontario Library Association declares its acceptance of the following propositions:

1) That the provision of library service to the public is based upon the right of the citizen, under the protection of the law, to judge individually on questions of politics, religion and morality.

2) That intellectual freedom requires freedom to examine other ideas and other interpretations of life than those currently approved by the local community or by society in general, and including those ideas and interpretations which may be unconventional or unpopular.

3) That freedom of expression includes freedom for a creator to depict what is ugly, shocking and unedifying in life.

4) That free traffic in ideas and opinions is essential to the health and growth of a free society and that the freedom to read, listen and view is fundamental to such free traffic.

5) That it is the responsibility of libraries to maintain the right of intellectual freedom and to implement it consistently in the selection of books, periodicals, films, recordings, other materials, and in the provision of access to electronic sources of information, including access to the internet.

6) That it is therefore part of the library’s service to its public to resist any attempt by any individual or group within the community it serves to abrogate or curtail access to information, the freedom to read, view and listen by demanding the removal of, or restrictions to library information sources in any format.

7) That it is equally part of the library’s responsibility to its public to ensure that its selection of material is not unduly influenced by the personal opinions of the selectors, but determined by the application of generally accepted standards of accuracy, style and presentation.


Updated and Approved,

Ontario Library Association

1998 Annual General Meeting

November 7, 1998

Approval History: ~ CLA: June 27, 1974. Amended November 17, 1983; November 18, 1985; September 27, 2015. CFLA-FCAB: Adopted August 26, 2016; Reviewed April 12, 2019.

The Canadian Federation of Library Associations recognizes and values the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as the guarantor of the fundamental freedoms in Canada of conscience and religion; of thought, belief, opinion, and expression; of peaceful assembly; and of association.

The Canadian Federation of Library Associations supports and promotes the universal principles of intellectual freedom as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which include the interlocking freedoms to hold opinions and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

In accordance with these principles, the Canadian Federation of Library Associations affirms that all persons in Canada have a fundamental right, subject only to the Constitution and the law, to have access to the full range of knowledge, imagination, ideas, and opinion, and to express their thoughts publicly. Only the courts may abridge free expression rights in Canada.

The Canadian Federation of Library Associations affirms further that libraries have a core responsibility to support, defend and promote the universal principles of intellectual freedom and privacy.

The Canadian Federation of Library Associations holds that libraries are a key institution in Canada for rendering expressive content accessible and affordable to all. Libraries are essential gateways for all persons living in Canada to advance themselves through literacy, lifelong learning, social engagement, and cultural enrichment.

Libraries have a core responsibility to safeguard and facilitate access to constitutionally protected expressions of knowledge, imagination, ideas, and opinion, including those which some individuals and groups consider unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable. To this end, in accordance with their mandates and professional values and standards, libraries provide, defend and promote equitable access to the widest possible variety of expressive content and resist calls for censorship and the adoption of systems that deny or restrict access to resources.

Libraries have a core responsibility to safeguard and foster free expression and the right to safe and welcoming places and conditions. To this end, libraries make available their public spaces and services to individuals and groups without discrimination.

Libraries have a core responsibility to safeguard and defend privacy in the individual’s pursuit of expressive content. To this end, libraries protect the identities and activities of library users except when required by the courts to cede them.

Furthermore, in accordance with established library policies, procedures and due process, libraries resist efforts to limit the exercise of these responsibilities while recognizing the right of criticism by individuals and groups.

Library employees, volunteers and employers as well as library governing entities have a core responsibility to uphold the principles of intellectual freedom in the performance of their respective library roles.