Image Description

Collection Development Policy

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

Community Description

Decatur Public Library serves the residents of the City of Decatur, Illinois. The fifth largest city in Central Illinois, Decatur encompasses 46.91 square miles and had a population of 76,122 at the 2010 Census. Decatur is a diverse community comprised of 72 percent Caucasian; 23 percent African American; 2 percent Hispanic or Latino and 0.9 percent Asian residents (U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census 2010).

Service Roles

In accordance with its mission, the Library strives to select, acquire and organize materials which:

  • Allow residents to pursue information, knowledge, recreation, and culture through the use of the library’s collection.
  • Meet the need for information and answers to questions on a broad array of topics related to work, school and personal life.
  • Address the desire of community residents to know and better understand personal or community heritage.
  • Help satisfy the need for information about elected officials and governmental agencies that enable people to participate in the democratic process.

General Selection Principles

In order to best meet the needs of the community it serves, the library must have an understanding of the community and its citizens. The Library's collections, as much as possible, should reflect the diversity of needs, interests, perspectives and backgrounds in the community. An awareness of the adequacy and availability of resources in other agencies and institutions is also essential to effectively define and develop the library's role in the community. Decatur has an extensive system of public and parochial schools and also serves the students and faculty of Millikin University and Richland Community College in Decatur. While the library provides no direct curriculum support, the library does strive to work cooperatively with agencies, organizations, businesses, other libraries and the educational community to ensure that the Library meets the needs of its users and to avoid duplication of services.

The library also seeks to provide awareness of those cultures, traditions and ideas not represented in the local community. Creative works in all media are chosen, in so far as possible, to meet the wide variety of cultural and recreational needs of the community. Works treating all aspects of human experience, theoretical ideas, historical topics, and current issues will be available to Library users. The nationality, religion, or political views of an author or artist will not cause his or her work to be automatically included or excluded. Nor will the controversial nature of certain subjects, authors, or language be cause for automatic inclusion or exclusion. Each item will be selected on its individual merit and role in the collection.

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 Adult, Local History and Children's Divisions. 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.

Selection Criteria

There is no single standard that can be applied in all cases when making a selection decision. Each type of material must be considered in terms of its own merit and the intended audience. Some materials may be judged primarily in terms of artistic merit, scholarship and/or their value as human expression; others are selected to satisfy the informational, cultural, recreational, and entertainment needs of the community. Items selected should meet several, but not necessarily all of these criteria in order to be added to the collection.

The addition of any item to the library collection in no way represents an endorsement by the library of any theory, idea or policy contained in it.

Generally, selection of materials will be based on the following criteria:

  • Quality and suitability of physical format for library use
  • Appropriateness of subject and style for intended audience
  • Present and potential relevance to community needs and interest
  • Insight into human and social conditions
  • Importance as a document of the times
  • Relationship to existing collection and other materials on subject
  • Authority and reputation of the author, editor, illustrator, publisher
  • Price
  • Demand


Specific criteria apply to selection of works of information and opinion. These include:

  • Accuracy of content
  • Timeliness of information
  • Authority
  • Comprehensiveness and depth of treatment
  • Objectivity
  • Clarity, accuracy, and logic of presentation


Specific criteria apply to selection of works of imagination. These include:

  • Sustains reader interest
  • Vitality and originality
  • Artistic presentation
  • Effective characterization
  • Authenticity of historical or social setting
  • Representative of important genres, trends, or national culture
  • Popularity of author


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.

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.

Decatur Public Library is the largest member of the Illinois Heartland Library System (IHLS), one of 3 library systems in Illinois. IHLS is a multi-type library cooperative serving 545 libraries, including academic, public, school and special libraries in Central & Southern Illinois. Membership in IHLS allows the library to maximize the scope and quality of the materials available to Decatur Library cardholders, by offering them the option to request materials from other IHLS libraries for their use. A fee may be assessed for interlibrary loan requests.

Materials not available at the Decatur Public Library or IHLS may be requested on interlibrary loan through the State of Illinois Online system or nationally through OCLC (Online Computer Library Center). Decatur Public Library will only place OCLC requests for Decatur Public Library cardholders.

Reconsideration of Materials

Any citizen may request that the Library reconsider materials that are part of the collection. Requests must be made in writing on the form provided for this purpose, Request for Reconsideration of Library Material. 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 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. The complainant will be notified in writing of the City Librarian's decision.

Intellectual Freedom

The library has adopted the American Library Association intellectual freedom statements found in the appendix.


The Library encourages requests for purchase of specific titles or subject areas with the understanding that not all such requests can be accommodated. Patron requests will be considered using the same factors that govern all selection decisions. Patrons should submit requests on the appropriate form, Patron Request for Material Purchase.


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. Generally, gifts not added to the collection will be donated to the Friends of the Library for their book sale.

Collection Maintenance

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.

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)

Adopted by the Board of Trustees October 16, 2014, revised October 20, 2016.


Library Bill of Rights

ALA Freedom to Read

ALA Freedom to View