Collection Development Policy

Burbank Public Library Policy: Collection Development

This Collection Development and Selection Policy is used as a guide to direct the Library Services Director and librarians in their roles as selectors of library materials. It also serves as a method of communicating the library’s principles to the public, the library’s funders, and other libraries. From time to time, supplemental procedures relating to specific areas may be issued /added.


Authority and Responsibility for Collection Development

The ultimate responsibility for the selection of all library materials rests with the Library Services Director, who operates under the auspices of the Burbank City Council. Under his/her direction, members of the library staff—qualified for selection of materials by education, training, experience, and knowledge of the community served—make selections. All library staff and members of the public are welcome to offer suggestions for purchase.


Statement of Objectives

Burbank Public Library’s primary objective for collection development is to provide resources and services necessary to meet the educational, informational, and recreational needs of its community.

To support the primary objective, library materials are selected, organized, and made accessible in order to meet the diverse needs of the citizens, industry, and government of the City of Burbank.

Branch collections are not as comprehensive as that of the Central Library. Materials are selected for those collections according to the needs of those particular neighborhoods and also in relation to the collection as a whole.


Materials Selection Policy

Principles of Selection

Burbank Public Library serves a community of diverse interests and concerns. The library offers a broad selection of materials for children, adolescents, and adults. The Materials Selection Policy establishes guidelines for the selection and placement of library materials in the library.

Library staff makes selections based upon principle and not personal opinion; reason and not prejudice; and judgment, not censorship.

To build collections of merit and significance, materials must be measured by a number of criteria. The basic test for the selection of library materials is whether they are of proven or potential interest to the people served. Other criteria include:

  1. Quality of materials
  2. Reviews in professional journals
  3. Public demand
  4. Cost and budgetary limitations
  5. Timeliness
  6. Significance and importance of a subject
  7. Diverse opinions on a subject
  8. Reputation of author, publisher, editor or performer
  9. Format, ease of use and durability
  10. Accuracy of factual material
  11. Relation to existing collection

Materials are selected both to satisfy the tastes, needs and reading abilities of the community and to provide diversity in recognition of changing and minority interests. In choosing materials to suit a variety of tastes, differing viewpoints on controversial issues will be included. It should be recognized that some materials chosen may be offensive, shocking or boring to some readers yet meaningful and significant to others. Works being considered should be viewed as a whole, not in isolated parts.

Parents or guardians are responsible for decisions regarding their own children’s use of library materials. Selection of adult materials will not be restricted by the possibility that these materials may come into the possession of minors. The library will not act in place of the parent [in loco parentis].

Patron Challenges to the Collection

Within the framework of the United States Constitution, the Library Bill of Rights, and the Freedom to Read and Freedom to View statements of the American Library Association, the library will provide materials representing all approaches to public issues of a controversial nature.

The Library Services Director and librarians are aware that a person or persons may take issue with the selection of any specific item, and they welcome opinions from the public. However, they do not undertake to please all patrons by the elimination of items purchased under guidance of the policies herein.

Procedures have been established that will ensure consideration of any request for restriction or removal of any item in the library’s collection. However, until such an examination has been made and a decision has been reached by the Library Services Director, no such restriction or removal shall take place. No group or individual will be permitted to impose partisan emphasis upon the library’s collection, since all political, religious, and social opinions may be represented in a public library. Frankness of language will never be considered sufficient justification to restrict or remove library materials.

Citizens who have questions, concerns, or objections regarding a specific item may fill out a Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form. A committee consisting of the Library Services Director, a representative from the City Attorney’s office, and the supervisor of the library department in which the item is shelved will review the item and respond with a final decision.

Materials De-selection

The Library continually reviews its collections and removes materials that are worn, obsolete, or in unnecessary duplication. This act is also known as “weeding,” and is an ongoing process. When sources become dated and misrepresentative of current knowledge, they are marked for removal from the collection. These materials are then reviewed by a librarian to determine if they should be permanently discarded. The decision to retain the last copy of a title rests with the library staff charged with overseeing that portion of the library’s collection.

Disposal of Withdrawn Materials

Materials that have been withdrawn from the collection may be sold, discarded, or given away to local organizations.


The handling of unsolicited gifts of library materials is an important library activity. On behalf of the Friends of the Burbank Public Library, the library accepts gifts under the following considerations:

  1. All gifts become property of the Friends of the Burbank Public Library.
  2. Gift materials will be judged by the same materials selection standards that apply to purchased materials.
  3. The decision to accept or reject a gift is the library’s prerogative.

Gift materials are accepted with the understanding that they may be discarded if the library determines that they are of little or no value to the collections. Balanced development of the collection along lines of community needs and interests must be the prime consideration in handling gifts.

Monetary value of gifts for income tax purposes will not be determined by the library. Such appraisals must be made by the donor.

Library gift materials not added to the library’s collection may be sold or recycled by the Friends of the Burbank Public Library.

The Friends of the Burbank Public Library is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization (Tax Exempt ID# 95-3603527).


The Burbank Public Library attempts to serve the entire community. Selection of books and other materials is guided by community interest and demand, subject to the Library's Collection Development Policy; a copy of this document is available upon request.

It is the responsibility of librarians, as guardians of the people's freedom to read, to defend challenges to that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large.

However, if you feel that a particular item is not suitable for inclusion in this library's collection, please click here for a printable form. Fill in the form and either give it to a librarian or send to the Library Director, Burbank Central Library, 110 N. Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank, CA 91502.


Library Bill of Rights

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services:

I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

VI. Libraries that make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.

A history of the Library Bill of Rights is found in the latest edition of the Intellectual Freedom Manual


The Freedom to Read Statement

The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label "controversial" views, to distribute lists of "objectionable" books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.

Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy:  that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be "protected" against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression.

These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet. The problem is not only one of actual censorship. The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy or unwelcome scrutiny by government officials.

Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change. And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension. Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain. Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.

Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections.

We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture. We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend. We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings.

The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights.

We therefore affirm these propositions:

It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority.

Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different. The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested. Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy. The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process.  Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these. We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.

Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.

Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought. The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.

It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.

No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.

There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.

To some, much of modern expression is shocking. But is not much of life itself shocking? We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers from dealing with the stuff of life. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves. These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared. In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others.

It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous.

The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for others. It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.

It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people's freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.

It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group. In a free society individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive. Further, democratic societies are more safe, free, and creative when the free flow of public information is not restricted by governmental prerogative or self-censorship.

It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a "bad" book is a good one; the answer to a "bad" idea is a good one.

The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader's purpose. What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has been thought and said. Books are the major channel by which the intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth. The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all Americans the fullest of their support.

We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.

This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers.

Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.


The Freedom to View Statement

 The FREEDOM TO VIEW, along with the freedom to speak, to hear, and to read, is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In a free society, there is no place for censorship of any medium of expression. Therefore these principles are affirmed:

  1. To provide the broadest access to film, video, and other audiovisual materials because they are a means for the communication of ideas. Liberty of circulation is essential to insure the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.
  2. To protect the confidentiality of all individuals and institutions using film, video, and other audiovisual materials.
  3. To provide film, video, and other audiovisual materials which represent a diversity of views and expression. Selection of a work does not constitute or imply agreement with or approval of the content.
  4. To provide a diversity of viewpoints without the constraint of labeling or prejudging film, video, or other audiovisual materials on the basis of the moral, religious, or political beliefs of the producer or filmmaker or on the basis of controversial content.
  5. To contest vigorously, by all lawful means, every encroachment upon the public's freedom to view.

This statement was originally drafted by the Freedom to View Committee of the American Film and Video Association (formerly the Educational Film Library Association) and was adopted by the AFVA Board of Directors in February 1979. This statement was updated and approved by the AFVA Board of Directors in 1989.

Endorsed January 10, 1990, by the ALA Council