1.0 INTRODUCTION The Niagara Falls Public Library Board operates under the Public Libraries Act.
1.1 MISSION STATEMENT The Mission Statement of the Niagara Falls Public Library Board is to be an informational, educational,
cultural and recreational resource valued by the Niagara Falls community as a vital asset enhancing the quality of life.
1.2 GOAL OF THE LIBRARY To provide a comprehensive and efficient public library service reflecting the unique needs of the citizens of the City of Niagara Falls with up-to-date resources, trained staff, well maintained facilities, effective programs, continuing evaluation and promotion, and responsible budgeting.
1.3 PURPOSE OF A MATERIALS SELECTION POLICY The Board has approved a Materials Selection Policy in order to 1) establish general guidelines for the selection of materials for the library collections in accordance with the library's goals; 2) define the responsibility for the selection of the materials; 3) establish criteria for purchase recommendations, assessment of gifts and donations, withdrawal of materials and handling challenges to items in the collections; and 4) serve as a written guide for staff and others who are interested.
1.4 COMMUNITY TO BE SERVED The Library serves the residents in the City of Niagara Falls and recognizes the diverse nature of this community and the varied backgrounds and unique needs of its citizens.
1.5 NIAGARA FALLS PUBLIC LIBRARY WITHIN THE LIBRARY COMMUNITY The Library belongs to the provincially designated Southern Ontario Library Service (SOLS): Escarpment Area, a group of public libraries which extends from Fort Erie to Mississauga. Some public libraries within this area may extend free reciprocal borrowing privileges to non-residents and others may impose non-resident borrowing fees. An interlibrary loan network extends throughout the province and beyond in order to request materials not owned by the Niagara Falls Public Library.
2.0 VICTORIA AVENUE LIBRARY & BRANCH LIBRARY ROLES The Victoria Avenue Library acts as both the resource library for all of Niagara Falls and as a Branch Library for its immediate neighbourhood. It has more diverse, extensive and specialized collections with many materials formats than the Branch Libraries. As well as English and French, materials in other languages are available. With the exception of an all-inclusive local history collection, exhaustive collections designed to serve the user doing extensive research are considered to be the province of the academic and special libraries. Specific collections are outlined in the Appendix.
Branch library collections provide a general collection for all age groups in the immediate neighbourhood and a general reference collection which will answer most questions. The collections are broad in scope but have fewer materials in all areas. The emphasis is on up-to-date materials and regular weeding is a priority.
2.1 PUBLIC LIBRARY/SCHOOL LIBRARY ROLES The public library seeks to enrich, not duplicate or supplement, the holdings of the school resources centres. The library acquires only those text books and other curriculum-related material which would be considered useful to the general reader and on which other authoritative material is unavailable. The library fosters co-operation with local schools regarding teacher-student-public library relations including class visits and tours.
2.2 PUBLIC LIBRARY/UNIVERSITY/COLLEGE ROLES The public library's role differs from that of the university or college library. Materials in the public library are selected primarily for the independent learner. Some will reflect popular courses taught by local institutions, particularly the continuing education courses.
3.0 INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM Basic to the Library's policy is the Canadian Library Association's Statement on Intellectual Freedom (amended Nov. 18, 1985) and the Ontario Library Association's Statement on the Intellectual Rights of the Individual (Nov. 7, 1998) which are endorsed by the Library.
The C.L.A. Statement on Intellectual Freedom states:"
All persons in Canada have the fundamental right, as embodied in the nation's Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to have access to all expressions of knowledge, creativity and intellectual activity, and to express their thoughts publicly. This right to intellectual freedom under the law is essential to the health and development of Canadian society. Libraries have a basic responsibility for the development and maintenance of intellectual freedom. It is the responsibility of libraries to guarantee and facilitate access to all expressions of knowledge and intellectual activity, including those which some elements of society may consider to be unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable. To this end, libraries shall acquire and make available the widest variety of materials. It is the responsibility of libraries to guarantee the right of free expression by making available all the library's public facilities and services to all individuals and groups who need them. Libraries should resist all efforts to limit the exercise of these responsibilities while recognizing the right of criticism by individuals and groups. Both employees and employers in libraries have a duty, in addition to their institutional responsibilities, to uphold these principles."
The O.L.A. Statement on the Intellectual Rights of the Individual states:
"In affirming its commitment to the fundamental rights of intellectual freedom, the freedom to read and the 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:
(i) That the provision of library service to the public is based upon the right of the citizen, under the protection of law, to judge individually on questions of politics, religion and morality.
(ii) 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.
(iii) That freedom of expression includes freedom for a creator to depict what is ugly, shocking and unedifying in life.
(iv) 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.
(v) 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.
(vi) 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.
(vii) That it is equally part of the library's responsibility to its public to ensure that its selection of materials 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."
3.1 LEGISLATION The Library will comply with any law enacted at the federal, provincial or municipal level, for example, the Criminal Code of Canada prohibitions against sedition, hate propaganda and obscenity. It is acknowledged that definition and interpretation of these terms and decisions on application of the law rest with the courts.
4.0 SELECTION PROCESS Materials are selected on the basis of their interest to, and for the information of, Niagara Falls residents. The collection seeks a variety of viewpoints and balance of opinions within the constraints of availability to purchase, space and budget. Materials are selected a) to enrich human understanding and to educate by dealing informatively with a variety of issues and b) to satisfy the need for recreational reading, listening and viewing materials for users of differing tastes, interests, purposes and reading skills.
The following criteria are used to evaluate materials. Items need not meet all the criteria to be acceptable.
a) suitability of physical form and technical quality for library use
b) budgetary and space priorities
c) attention of reviewers, critics and public
d) relationship to existing collections and other material on the subject
e) current and potential relevance to community needs & interests
f) reputation, skill, competence and purpose of the originator of the work
g) quality of the writing and/or visual art
h) insight into the human, social, cultural & psychological condition
i) importance as a document of the times
j) comprehensiveness and depth of treatment
k) clarity, accuracy and logic of presentation
l) authoritativeness and objectivity
m) recency of data
n) representation of challenging, though extreme or minority, point of view.
4.1 Selection is a judgmental and interpretive process which involves perception of the actual and potential needs of the community, awareness of the major works and trends in subject areas and familiarity with the current collections.
4.2 The process is supported by attention to review media, publishers' advertising, authoritative discussions of the literature of the subject and requests and suggestions from library users.
4.3 Each item must be judged on its own merits as well as on the purpose and audience for which it is intended.
4.4 The Library acquires materials not only for its present users but also for those who have not traditionally been library users.
4.5 The Library is responsive to selecting non-print formats such as recordings, films, cassettes, pictures, videotapes, microfilms and electronic products. Materials in these formats are judged by the same criteria as for print materials. In the selection of fiction paperbacks, there is an emphasis on popular interest as these may have only temporary value.
4.6 The Library does not buy textbooks specifically related to courses of study in the community. Textbooks may, however, be purchased if the subject information is not available in any other form.
4.7 The Library does not advocate the ideas and opinions found in its collection. The presence of any book, video, painting or other material in the library does not indicate endorsement of its contents by the Library. Challenging, extreme or minority points of view are represented although quantity may be limited. While people have the right to reject for themselves material of which they do not approve, they do not have the right to restrict the freedom of others.
4.8 The following will not cause an item to be excluded from the collection solely because of a) the originator's race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or their political, social or sexual views; b) frankness or coarseness of language; c) controversial content; or d) endorsement or disapproval of an individual or group.
4.9 If there is considerable topical interest in the subject matter and a manifest public desire to read and judge the book first-hand, a title may be included which is not accurate, according to the best scientific opinion.
4.10 Library materials will not be marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of the contents. No catalogued book or other item will be placed on closed shelves, except because of space limitations or to protect it from damage or theft.
4.11 The Library recognizes that some materials may be controversial and that any given item may offend some users. Selection of items will be based upon how well the work conforms to the library's selection policy as well as how well it serves the expressed or anticipated needs and interests of the community. In the case of controversial issues, an effort is made to see that all points of view are represented. Not all materials selected, therefore, will be suitable for every user or group of users. While the library staff will attempt to guide individuals and groups to materials suitable for their use, the ultimate responsibility for the choice lies with the user.
4.12 Library users of all ages have open access to all library materials listed in the public catalogue. Responsibility for the monitoring of the choice of library materials by children rests with their parents, legal guardians or caregivers. No item will be excluded from the library collection only because it may come into the possession of children or teenagers. The Library believes in the freedom of the individual and the right and obligation of parents, legal guardians or caregivers to develop, interpret and enforce their own code of acceptable conduct in their own household. The Board's Circulation Policy outlines borrowing privileges. Some restrictions apply to children using some materials from the Local History Collection.
5.0 MANAGING THE COLLECTION The responsibility for the selection and withdrawal of library materials is vested with the Chief Librarian who implements the policies established by the Board. In practice, this authority is delegated to designated library staff. Any library materials selected or withdrawn are held to have been selected or withdrawn by the Board. The Chief Librarian will bring to the attention of the Board any title which in her/his opinion may be of concern to the Board.
5.1 Systematic withdrawal of materials no longer useful is necessary to maintain relevant resources. The same criteria are used in withdrawing materials from the collection as are used in their selection. The decision to withdraw library materials shall also be based on a) the physical condition of the material, b) the use of the material; and c) the age of the material as a mis-information factor. Replacement depends on the demand for the title, the availability of more current materials on the subject, and the extent of the coverage of the subject in the collection.
5.2 The library welcomes for consideration donations of money, books and other materials subject to the library's selection policy. No condition may be imposed relating to any book or other item after it has been added to the collection. Those items which are duplicates or unwanted may be offered to other libraries, discarded or sold. The library is not responsible for informing the donor of such disposition. The Library reserves the right to refuse any gifts and donations and any conditions placed upon them.
6.0 REQUESTS TO PURCHASE MATERIALS Suggestions from residents for the purchase of library materials not in the library collections are referred to the staff member in charge of the collection concerned for consideration.
7.0 REQUESTS TO RECONSIDER MATERIALS A resident expressing a concern about any item in the collections will be directed to the senior staff person on duty in the Department, Branch or Library system. If after discussing the matter, the resident wishes to request that the item be reconsidered, he/she will be given a copy of the Niagara Falls Public Library's Material Selection Policy with the Request For Reconsideration Of Library Materials form.
7.1 Completed Reconsideration forms will be forwarded to the Chief Librarian for review by the staff member in charge of that collection. Written recommendations will be made to the Chief Librarian. The Chief Librarian will review the matter to ensure that all pertinent information is in hand to support or override the recommendation of staff. This decision will reflect the principles outlined in the selection policy which emphasize that it is not the public library's function to be a supervisor of public morals. The library's responsibility is to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions including those that may be unorthodox or unpopular with the majority.
7.2 If the resident is not satisfied with the decision of library staff, a copy of the written complaint and the explanation is sent by the Chief Librarian to the Library Board. The Library Board will render a decision or refer the matter to the Board's Library Collections Committee for a decision.
8.0 REVISION This selection Policy will be revised as necessary by the Library Board and will be reviewed every three years at the meeting following the Inaugural Meeting of the new Board.
Date of last revision: May 17, 2000
Reviewed: October 20 2004
Date of last review: March 21 2007