501. Collection Management

Originally adopted January 2008. Current version adopted October 2022. Last reviewed October 2022. Next review, October 2025.


The Library’s foundation in fulfilling its mission of “encouraging reading, learning and exploration of ideas” is the curated collections housed in its three branches and digitally online. Given that the collection is a major asset and most-used service, the Library thoughtfully selects, acquires, organizes, maintains and provides access to varied materials that address cultural, informational, educational and recreational needs and interests of a diverse community.

Collection management embraces the principles of intellectual freedom, the right to read and equal access for all. The Library strives to include a myriad of viewpoints across a broad spectrum of opinion and subject matter in formats suitable to a variety of learning and recreational interests and skills. Using selection practices that are flexible and responsive to the changing needs of the community, the Library builds and maintains collections for the general public while recognizing the needs of special populations and strategically targeted groups. As these needs evolve and change, the collection must also evolve, which makes it more ephemeral than a long-term, permanent collection.


Using the Library’s mission, vision and values as the bedrock of this service, the Library Board establishes the guidelines by which the Library selects, purchases, maintains and provides access to materials, articulating the overarching principles that shape the management of the Library’s collections. It also presents the process by which customers may express concerns over particular materials and how the Library responds.

Section 1 Objectives

The Library Board and Staff:

  • Value intellectual freedom and an individual’s right to read, view and listen across a wide continuum of knowledge, ideas, opinions and expressions in an array of formats, so will seek out materials in a broad range of subjects in many formats.
  • Encourage the variety of ways people seek and find materials for intellectual and recreational pursuits, so will continually evaluate and include ways in which to organize and present materials both physically and digitally.
  • Embrace the diversity of the community and the Library’s role to be inclusive, so will not exclude materials due to origin, background or views.
  • Believe the Library must be responsive to the ever-changing nature and needs of the community, so will use ongoing evaluative methods to keep up with new requests, changes and observations to keep the collection fresh and useful.
  • Participate as a local leader in collecting, producing and preserving regional cultural heritage, so will partner with other educational organizations to increase access to historically important materials.
  • Recognize the importance of sharing the Library’s resources with Plum Creek and other libraries across Minnesota, so will strive to make the majority of the Library’s collections available for loan.

Section 2 Scope

Attending to residents in multiple communities and across Lyon County in three locations, the scope of the Library’s collection must be varied to address a population diverse in ethnicity, socio-economic position, educational attainment and interests. Thus, collections must be equally varied, casting widely across topics while diving deep in some areas and maintaining the basics in others. Further, the scope will shift as the community itself changes and presents different or new needs and interests.

With budget being the most significant boundary, the collections will maintain materials on many topics and viewpoints, include different formats, diverse in languages and reading level, and keep materials that have historical, cultural or archival significance.

Section 3 Access and Resource Sharing

The Library does not restrict access to materials and they are available to all who come into a building. Checking out materials, both physical and digital, requires a library card in good standing. Use or checkout limitations ensure fair and equitable access to materials. Access to some items may be limited by their rarity, value, uniqueness, fragile physical condition, or a combination of these factors. In-house and remote access to digital and electronic resources is provided within technical, budgetary, and licensing constraints and, therefore, may be only available to Lyon County residents.

Access to materials is ensured by the way they are organized, managed, and displayed. The Library uses standards-based cataloging and classification systems, with some minor changes and adaptions to respond to local browsing habits. Customers access the collection via the Library’s catalog (a shared catalog with other Plum Creek Libraries), the Library’s website, and through interactions with staff. Items located at any Plum Creek Library location may be requested for pick up at a more convenient Library location. Customers who are unable to get to a Library location may be eligible for the Homebound service, where materials are brought to the customer.

Items that are not in the Library’s or Plum Creek’s collection may be obtained through the MNLink/Minitex Interlibrary Loan (ILL) network, that facilitates ILL borrowing across the state. Likewise, the Library’s materials may be lent to other organizations that also participate in the statewide network. On occasion, should an item be unavailable within Minnesota, the Library will attempt to ILL the item directly through another Library within the U.S.Section 4 Roles and Responsibilities

Under the direction of the Library Board, the Director is responsible for the purpose, scope, balance and budget of the collection. The Director may delegate any or all responsibilities to other staff, including:

  • Final selection decisions and overall success at meeting customers’ needs to the Public Services Manager;
  • Acquisitions, record holdings and quality of processing to the Collections Librarian;
  • Cataloging classification decisions and the digital library to the Virtual Services Librarian.

All staff participate in collection management through:

  • Recommendation lists to purchase materials in their area of expertise (such as the Children’s and Teen Librarians), particularly focused on professional reviews and recommendations;
  • Recommendations from engaging with customers or their own reading areas;
  • Identifying shifts in customer requests, demographic changes of those using the collections and popularity of authors;
  • Working as a team through open conversations and sharing observations regarding customers’ use of and interactions with the collection.

Customers also play a critical role in collection management by making suggestions for purchase, providing feedback and bringing damaged items to staff’s attention.

Section 5 Selection of Materials

Customer demand and interest, both expressed and anticipated, is the main driving force in the materials and formats that are selected. Materials are also selected to ensure that the collection as a whole contains materials on many different topics, that there is a choice of materials or formats on a particular subject, and that multiple viewpoints are expressed.

Staff use a set of criteria to guide selection decisions. Not all criteria need apply to each selection decision.

General Criteria

  • Customer requests / potential appeal to a wider audience
  • Present and potential relevance to community needs
  • Format options
  • Physical design is suitable for library use
  • Subject and style is suitable for intended audience
  • Publicity, critiques, awards and reviews
  • Price of material
  • Relevance to current trends and events
  • Relation to the existing collection

Content Criteria

  • Competence, reputation and qualifications of author, illustrator and/or publisher
  • Consideration of the work as a whole
  • Currency of information
  • Objectivity and clarity
  • Comprehensiveness
  • Represents a diverse point of view
  • Representative of subjects, genres or trends of lasting interest
  • Sustained interest or demand
  • Usefulness of the information
  • Relevance to local, regional or state history

Digital Library Criteria (additional to General and Content)

  • Ease of use
  • Quality
  • Availability to concurrent users
  • Remote access
  • Technical and support requirements
  • Vendor data privacy practices
  • No location restrictions

Media and Library of Amusements Criteria (additional to General and Content)

  • Limited or no budget/rely more heavily on donations, gifts and grants
  • Significant demand and popularity
  • Popularity of format and technical requirements for use

Section 6 Special Collection: Minnesota Collection and Room

A collection of materials related to Minnesota, including history, authors and general information, is housed in the Minnesota Room at the Marshall branch. Due to the longer-term interest of the items in this collection, it’s meant to be more permanent that the rest of the collection and does not follow typical selection and de-selection processes.

Selection and Weeding Criteria (including definitions)

  • All materials relating to the region (the nine counties in Southwest Minnesota) are actively sought, purchased or accepted as a donation.
  • Materials relating to the history of the region may also include the counties in South Dakota and Iowa that border the regional Minnesota counties should also be considered for addition to the collection.
  • Minnesota fiction authors for consideration for the collection are defined as a person who grew up or lived a significant portion of his/her life in Minnesota and writes stories that take place in Minnesota.
  • Nonfiction is based solely on the subject matter, which should be about Minnesota, not based on the author’s connection to Minnesota.
  • Minnesota fiction authors and nonfiction materials that take place or are about regions outside of Southwest Minnesota will be purchased following the general process and cataloged for the general collection. When an item of Minnesota interest should be weeded from the general collection due to lack of circulation, it will be considered for addition to the Minnesota Room collection.
  • No regionally related materials will be weeded from the Minnesota Room collection. Materials relating to other parts of the state may be considered for weeding due to outdated information, condition or lack of circulation.
  • Regionally significant materials are processed with an eye toward long-term preservation, including the use of archival materials to protect such items.

Section 7 Collection Maintenance

Systematic and thoughtful removal of materials is essential in order to maintain the quality, health, currency and purpose of Library collections. As such, the collection is reviewed on an ongoing basis, de-accessioning (weeding from the collection) materials that no longer serve their purpose.

Weeding Criteria

  • Accuracy, particularly in the areas of medicine, law, travel, taxes and personal finance
  • Dated (new edition or information is available) or obsolescence (no longer timely or relevant)
  • Physical Condition beyond simple repair
  • Content is available in multiple formats, including in the Digital Library
  • Insufficient use
  • Little or no relevance to current trends and events
  • No long-term or historical significance (see Section 6 for Minnesota Room collection)
  • Space limitations

The Library only does minor repair (torn page or cover; a few pages loose or falling out; spine broken in a single place; disc needs cleaned). Any item that needs significant repair is weeded and may be replaced if there is demand.

Weeded materials that are in good shape and still accurate are surplussed to the Marshall Lyon County Library Friends for their bookstore and book sales. All other materials may be donated to community efforts or recycled.

Section 8 Gifts and Customer Requests

The Library accepts any materials in good condition that fit within the scope of the collection. At any given time, the Library determines what kinds of materials it accepts and how it deals with materials it cannot use. No materials can be returned after they have been donated.

As one criteria for purchase is demand and popularity, the Library encourages customers to request the Library purchase specific materials. However, the Library is not required to purchase all suggested materials. All suggestions from the public must be reviewed under the Selection Criteria (Section 5) in deciding whether a requested item is purchased.

The Library also accepts monetary donations for memorials and other events that customers may want to commemorate. Staff will work with the family to determine the best materials that fit within the scope and criteria of the collection while working to honor the request.

Section 9 Expressions of Concern

The Library recognizes that some materials or content may be considered controversial or offensive. The Library’s role is to provide materials which will allow individuals to freely examine subjects and make their own decisions. While customers are free to reject for themselves materials they do not approve of, they may not restrict the freedom of access to others.

The Library does want to hear an expression of concern a customer may have about a title in the collection. Customer concerns will be dealt with promptly and courteously as outlined in the process below:

  1. Staff will listen to a customer’s concern and seek to understand the concern being brought forward with regard to an item; staff will share a copy of the Library Collection Management Policy with the customer and explain the selection process; the customer may also request to speak with the Public Services Manager about his/her concern.
  2. After discussion with Library Staff, the customer may choose to fill out a Statement of Concern about Library Materials form, completed in its entirety, and submit a signed copy to the Library.
  3. Written, signed forms are sent to the Director for review, which may include a request for a meeting with the customer submitting the form. Within thirty (30) days, if the form is not rescinded, the Director will respond to the concern in writing; both the form and the response will be forwarded to the Library Board.
  4. The customer may appeal the Director’s decision and response to the Library Board if dissatisfied with the response; all appeals to the Board must be done in writing at least one week prior to the Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting.
  5. The final decision regarding any action rests with the Library Board.

Please see the below policies:
ALA Bill of Rights (104)
Library Materials Lending (403)
Freedom to Read/Freedom to View (502)