Collection Development Policy

Collection development is the ongoing process of assessing materials available for purchase or licensing and making decisions about the inclusion and retention of materials. This policy provides guidance, within budgetary and space limitations, for the selection and evaluation of materials to meet the needs and interests of the Duluth community.

Scope of Main Library

The Main Library serves the Duluth community as a whole in addition to being a resource for the two branch libraries. Its collection provides a broad array of circulating print and non-print materials that are selected to appeal to a diversity of tastes, interests, and reading levels. However, only the Duluth Collection is intended to be comprehensive and archival.

Scope of Branch Libraries 

The branch libraries serve specific neighborhoods in the city. Branch collections are designed to serve the current, high-interest needs of actual and potential library users in their neighborhoods.

Collection Development and Management Criteria

To build a collection of merit, materials are evaluated according to one or more of the following criteria. An item need not meet all of these criteria in order to be acceptable.

General criteria:

  • relevance to community needs
  • contribution to the diversity and scope of the collection
  • content created by and representative of marginalized and under-represented groups
  • physical format that meets the needs of library users, including those with disabilities
  • suitability of subject and style for intended audience
  • cost
  • contemporary significance
  • relation to the existing collection
  • relation to other material on the subject
  • published evaluations, reviews, and awards
  • requests by the public
  • materials of local interest and/or written by local authors

Special considerations for electronic information sources:

  • ease of use 
  • availability of the information to multiple, concurrent users
  • technical requirements to provide access to the information
  • technical support and training
  • quantity and quality of titles available on the platform


Collection Responsibilities

Staff responsibility for the collection rests with the Library Manager, who operates within the framework of the Duluth Public Library Board's collection development and management policy. The Manager delegates to staff members authority to interpret and apply this policy in daily operation. 

The community has a role in shaping library collections by participating in the collection development process through suggestions and feedback.

Intellectual Freedom

A democracy presupposes an informed citizenry, and the public library has an integral role in achieving that goal. The library provides an impartial environment in which individuals can access information representing many different points of view on a variety of topics. The American Library Association's Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read and Freedom to View statements guide the acquisition and management of collections and can be accessed through the library’s website.

Collection development and management decisions are based on the merit of the work as it relates to the library's mission and its ability to meet the expressed or anticipated needs and interests of the community. Decisions are not made on the basis of any anticipated approval or disapproval of the material. The inclusion of an item in the library collection in no way represents an endorsement of its contents. Library materials are not marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of the contents, nor are materials sequestered except for the purpose of protecting them from damage or theft.

The library recognizes that many materials may be controversial and that any given item may offend some people. Only individuals can determine what is most appropriate for their needs and can define what material or information is consistent with their personal or family values. Individuals can apply those values to the use of library materials only for themselves. Parents and legal guardians are responsible for their children's use of library materials.

Independently Published Material

The Duluth Public Library often receives requests to include items in its collection that are written and/or published independently. DPL looks for material with local connections and collection relevance that will appeal to a wide audience. The best way to bring an item to the library’s attention is through reviews.

Suggestions for Purchase

The Duluth Public Library encourages input from the Duluth community concerning its collection. A suggestion for purchase enables Duluth citizens to request that a particular item or information about a certain subject be purchased by DPL. All suggestions for purchase are subject to the same selection criteria as other materials and are not automatically added to the collection.

Reconsideration of Library Materials

Individuals may request reconsideration of a selection decision of library material by filling out a written "Statement of Concern" form, available at any Duluth Public Library location. The library manager will respond in writing to an individual's written request.

The Duluth Public Library Board, upon request, will hear appeals of the manager's written response. Appeals must be presented in writing to the library board at least ten days in advance of the next regularly scheduled meeting of the board. Decisions on appeals are based on careful review of the objection, the material, and DPL policies, including: this policy, the Library Bill of Rights, the Right to Read and the Right to View, and the American Library Association's guidelines on intellectual freedom. The final decision on appeals rests with the Duluth Public Library Board.

Collection Maintenance

In addition to acquiring new materials, it is important to remove items from the collection that have become worn, obsolete, or infrequently used. Library staff evaluates the collection on an ongoing basis to remove or replace materials. DPL reserves the right to determine when and how materials are removed, as well as what is done with the materials after removal.

The Duluth Public Library's policies are subject to change without notice.

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Adopted January 2021
Duluth Public Library Board