Collection Development Policy

Purpose of Policy

The WFPL must have a collection development policy to guide staff in its efforts to meet community needs and interests due to the volume of publishing, as well as the limitation of budget and space. This policy is used by library staff to evaluate and select materials. This policy also serves to acquaint the general public with the principles which guide staff through the selection process. Please see the separate policy in regards to the WFPL Local History Collection.

WFPL Mission Statement

The Watertown Free Public Library extends beyond its walls to connect people to ideas, information, education, creative opportunities, and to each other. While preserving the rich history of Watertown, the WFPL embraces the advancement of library service, inspires personal development, and promotes community. The library provides free recreation, entertainment, and enrichment. It welcomes and serves everyone.

Responsibility for Selection

The ultimate responsibility for collection development rests with the Library Director who operates within the framework of policies determined by the Library Board of Trustees. The Library Director delegates the selection of materials to library staff.

Principles of Collection Development

WFPL adheres to the following collection development policy principles:

  • We serve patrons of all ages and cultural backgrounds, and we realize that patrons have diverse needs, interests, value systems, and reading abilities. 
  • The Library provides the best possible collection with the financial resources available. The decision to select any item for the collection is based on demand, anticipated need, and the effort to maintain a wide and balanced collection. 
  • Through ongoing assessment and maintenance, the library staff keep collections relevant in content and useful to patrons.  Factors used to determine whether material is added or kept in the collection include, but are not limited to:  currency, readability, accuracy, patron demand, circulation statistics, cost, availability, ease of use, critical assessments in review media, local interest, and the relationship of the material to other materials in the collection. New material types will be added to the collection when industry reviews indicate that the format is reasonably stable / viable and local requests suggest that a significant portion of the community has the necessary technology to make use of the new format. Similarly, the library staff may remove a material type when analysis demonstrates it is no longer a viable or desirable medium. 
  • Additional factors to be considered when purchasing digital materials and subscribing to electronic resources include, but are not limited to:  hardware/system requirements, licensing and access restrictions, comparison of content and cost with other available formats, training needs, vendor capacity for direct customer support, and privacy policies.
  • Not all materials will be suitable for, or of interest to, all segments of the community. 
  • Library staff is committed to providing an adequate number of copies of each title purchased so that patrons do not need to wait an unreasonable length of time to get any item.
  • By participating with other library network members in resource sharing, the Library is able to provide patrons with a larger volume of information. 
  • Library staff encourages purchase suggestions from patrons and items may be acquired if such suggestions fall within the collection development criteria. 
  • The Library provides free and open access. Selection criteria for children, teen, and adult materials differ; however, any patron may access and/or borrow from the entire collection. The Library will not act in the role of censor for any age level, material type, or subject matter.
  • The Library encourages parents to use the library with their children. The Library does not act in loco parentis, that is, caregivers, adopt the role as a parent for a child in the library. What this means is that the Library supports parents’ rights and responsibilities to guide their children’s reading and viewing of library materials. Librarians are available to assist parents, but not to determine what children should read, view, or borrow from the library. 
  • The Library endorses and defends the concept of intellectual freedom as protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Documents that support the foundation of intellectual freedom are included in the appendices of this document. 

Gift and Donation Policy

The WFPL welcomes donations of books and other library materials that are in good condition except for textbooks, magazines, or encyclopedias.  All donations become the property of the Library. Materials may be added to the collection if it falls within the scope of the Library’s collection development policy. 

The Library reserves the right to utilize donated materials in whatever way best benefits the collection and services. No donations are accepted unless given to the Library without restriction. Donations may be added to the collection, sold with the proceeds to benefit the Library, passed on to other libraries, or discarded if necessary.

The Library accepts donation of zines from creators and third parties. Zines that are of a highly personal nature will not be accepted by third party donation unless written permission is granted by the creator. 

The donor is responsible for obtaining an estimate or appraisal of the donated materials for tax purposes. The Library is unable to assess the value of these items. The donor may request a letter of acknowledgement from the Library for their donation.  Rules and regulations regarding charitable income tax deductions are available from the Internal Revenue Service.

Gifts of money for the purchase of materials are also welcome. Selection of the materials will be made by the Director in consultation with the donor within the scope of the Library’s collection development policy. The donor may request that bookplates be placed in/upon the materials purchased.

Maintaining the Collection 

The Library collection shall be periodically examined for the purpose of removal, repair, or replacement of materials. The same criteria for selection of materials will be used for the removal of materials from the collection. Materials no longer useful to the Library’s collection will be sold, passed on to other libraries, or otherwise disposed of.

Reconsideration of Library Materials

The WFPL recognizes that some materials are controversial and that at any given time an item may offend some patrons. Selection of materials will not be made based on approval or disapproval but solely on the principles stated in this collection development policy. Library materials will not be marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of their contents, and no library material will be sequestered except to protect it from injury or theft. 

The WFPL adheres to and supports the Library Bill of Rights (Appendix B) and the Freedom to Read Statement (Appendix C) which state that censorship is purely an individual matter. While anyone is free to reject books and other materials they do not approve of for him or themself, an individual cannot exercise this right of censorship and restrict the freedom of other persons to read or use library materials.

Responsibility for supervising children’s use of the library and library materials rests with parents or legal guardians. At no time will the library staff act in loco parentis. Selection of library material will not be inhibited by the possibility that materials may come into the possession of children. 

Concerns about materials offered at the Watertown Free Public Library may be expressed by completing a Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form (Appendix A) and returning it to the Library Director at 123 Main St, Watertown, MA 02472. Patrons submitting a Request for Reconsideration will be given a copy of this collection development policy; the ALA Library Bill of Rights the ALA Freedom to Read Statement, and the ALA Freedom to View Statement (Appendices B, C, D). Anonymous submissions will not be considered, nor will submissions from individuals or stakeholders not residing in Watertown, Massachusetts. During this process the library material remains in the library collection. 

A request for reconsideration will be reviewed by the Library Director or their designee, who will respond in writing to the patron initiating the request. The patron may choose to appeal the decision to the Board of Trustees. Such appeal must be made in writing and delivered to the Library Director. The decision of the Board of Trustees will be final. Once a title or material has undergone the reconsideration process it will not be reviewed for reconsideration again within the following 12 months. 


  1. Request for Reconsideration of Materials Form
  2. Library Bill of Rights
  3. Freedom to Read Statement
  4. The Freedom to View
  5. Free Access to Libraries for Minors-An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
  6. Advocating for Intellectual Rights

Approved by the Library Board of Trustees January 7, 2013
Updated August 1, 2017
Updated April 7, 2021
Updated October 4, 2022