Selection of Library Materials


The objective of the Central Arkansas Library System is to provide a balanced and broad collection of materials and resources in varied formats to enlighten, inform, and empower the diverse community of Pulaski and Perry Counties. This includes the Library’s commitment of responding to patron suggestions of items and subjects to be included in the library collection.

Selection Principles

The Board of Trustees of the Central Arkansas Library System recognizes the pluralistic nature of the community and the varied backgrounds, levels of education, and needs of all citizens of all ages. The responsibility for selection of library materials is delegated to the Director and under their direction to those members of the staff who are qualified by their education, training, and experience. The Board, therefore, establishes the following principles to guide the Library in the selection process.

  1. Develop a well-rounded collection of current, high-demand, high-interest materials in a variety of formats for our patrons.
  2. Make available a wide diversity of points of view, subjects, opinions, and modes of expression, reflecting the diversity of the community and world we inhabit, and the diversity of reader tastes and interests. No library material will be excluded because of the race, nationality, sex, or the political, social, or religious views of its author or its intended audience.
  3. Provide materials to meet the recreation and information needs and interests of our patrons.
  4. Make available current, accurate, and useful information to encourage lifelong learning by independent adult learners.
  5. Encourage children to develop an interest in reading and learning by providing an outstanding collection of materials and promote their use through programs and services aimed at children, parents, and teachers.
  6. Provide materials in digital/electronic formats. Changes and advances in technology make it imperative that the library adapt in order to offer the best and most complete information services.
  7. Provide an adequate number of copies for each title purchased so that patrons do not need to wait an unreasonable length of time to get any item.
  8. All patrons are free to reject any materials of which they do not approve for their use. The choice of library materials for personal use is an individual matter. No one has the right to exercise censorship to restrict the freedom of use and/or access of others. Any request for reconsideration of an item in the collection must follow the procedure outlined in the “Collection Development” section of “Policies and Governance” on the CALS website. (click here »)

The Library subscribes to the philosophies outlined in the following documents.

Selection Criteria

There is no single standard that can be applied to evaluate all the materials included in the Library’s collections. Each type of material will be evaluated in terms of its own qualities and merits. Some general criteria used are:

  • Selectors respond to community interests by careful consideration of patron requests for purchases, use patterns for existing materials, purchase trends of similar materials by peer libraries, and any other source of information indicating community interests.
  • Evaluation in reputable review sources such as: Booklist, Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, The New York Times Book Review, School Library Journal, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette as well as various websites and blogs.
  • Popular demand.
  • Accuracy and currency of information.
  • Authority and reputation of the author or publisher.
  • Artistic and literary merit.
  • CALS staff is encouraged to recommend titles and subjects to be purchased for their branches based on knowledge of their patrons’ needs and interests.
  • The choice of format will be made considering customer needs first, then taking into account technological developments, cost of the item, and CALS ability to acquire, process, and circulate the items in the specific format.
  • The format of materials must be suitable for library use and must be appropriate to convey the subject matter. Materials with formats that do not conform or lend themselves to library use are usually excluded. This includes items with processing and storage issues, single use items, and items and services not commercially available to libraries.
  • The relation of new materials to existing CALS collections shall be considered.
  • All materials will be judged as a whole rather than on isolated parts or passages. Works that depict an aspect of life honestly will not be excluded because of frankness of expression.
  • Since technical systems do not exist to insure Internet conformity with CALS’ Selection Policy, users of the Internet are expected to know and abide by CALS’ Public Computer and Internet Use Rules and Responsibilities.
  • Unsolicited gifts will be subject to the same selection policies and procedures applied to any materials added to the collection. Any materials not added to library collections will be given to the FOCAL book sale.

Patron Involvement

Providing materials and resources to meet the needs and demands of our patrons is a priority for CALS. Accordingly, funds are available to purchase materials requested by our patrons. The same criteria used to select other materials for the collection will be used to determine if the patron’s request will be added to the collection.

From time to time, a person may be concerned about a particular book or other material in the Library. Patrons may request that the Library reconsider the inclusion of an item in the Library collection, or the decision to place the item in a particular area of the collection. Any request for reconsideration of an item in the collection must follow the procedure outlined in the “Collection Development” section of “Policies and Governance” on the CALS website. (click here »)

Location of Materials

Libraries will receive materials in keeping with their location’s ability to promote, circulate, and house them. In deciding whether to locate materials in the adult or youth services collections of any library, members of the staff shall first be guided by recommendations made by professional journals that routinely review materials for young persons. Materials may be kept in closed stacks if they circulate infrequently or not at all, or if they are rare, fragile, or likely to be mutilated or stolen if placed on open stacks.

Collection Maintenance

Periodic and continuous evaluation of materials in the collection is a priority of collection development and is considered of equal importance to the acquisition of new materials. Systematic and ongoing weeding of library materials is essential in order to assure an active and useful collection and the best use of available space. In addition to weeding of print materials, the discontinuation of purchasing and/or housing of older media formats will be considered when demand and availability indicate they are no longer appropriate for the collection.

Materials that are weeded may be given to the Friends of Central Arkansas Libraries (FOCAL) or non-profit organizations for resale and/or reuse. Some items may be physically discarded due to significant damage or in a condition in which they cannot be sold or reused.

Special Collections

Richard C. Butler, Sr. Center for Arkansas Studies Collection

The Butler Center for Arkansas Studies exists to collect, preserve, promote, and provide access to the historical, cultural, political and societal records of Arkansas, her counties, the city of Little Rock, and the immediate region. Toward that end, the Center shall collect the literature of the state, including both fiction and nonfiction. The Research Services Division of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies acquires and preserves documents, photographs, maps, pamphlets, media, ephemera, and other primary materials. Along with materials that focus on events within the boundaries of the state and in keeping with its founding documents, the Butler Center collects material that provides insights into Arkansas’s place in broader political and bioregional contexts.

A separate genealogical collection will also be maintained in the Butler Center. The genealogy collection will have a national scope, supplemented by materials covering foreign countries and regions. The Butler Center will maintain close relationships with the Arkansas Genealogical Society and other private genealogical organizations in an attempt to acquire holdings of such groups.

Additional guidelines for selection for this collection will be implemented and revised, as needed, by Butler Center Staff.

Policy Information

Board Policy #300
Board Approval: 03/27/91, 08/25/05
Revision: 04/20/99, 08/05/05, 10/26/15
Director’s Recommendation: 03/27/91