Collection Development

Purpose of the Collection 

The Sitka Public Library serves the various needs of the people of Sitka and the surrounding area. The Library endeavors to offer a useful, diverse collection of current and standard materials in a variety of formats.

Collection Responsibility

Operating within the framework of policies approved by the Library Commission, the Library Director is ultimately responsible for development and maintenance of the Library collection.
Guidelines for Selection

Selection for materials is based on the professional judgment of the Library staff and standard selection sources such as book reviews, bibliographies, selection lists, catalogs, media articles and interviews of authors. Major selection tools include Booklist, Library Journal, New York Times Book Review, McNaughton Selection List, the Wilson Catalogs (particularly Public Library, Fiction, Senior High School and the Children’s Library catalogs), Hornbook, School Library Journal, and Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books. Purchase requests from patrons are considered. Interlibrary loan requests from patrons are also considered as potential purchase suggestions. All materials will be considered in terms of the audience for whom they are intended. Purchases of materials in all formats must meet selection criteria established for the Library.

Selection Criteria

  • Selection criteria considered in the evaluation and re-evaluation of materials include:
  • Cultural, recreational, informational and/or educational value
  • Local interest, needs and potential use
  • Suitability of content and style for the intended audience
  • Accuracy, authority and effectiveness of presentation
  • Permanence, current relevance, or social significance of the content
  • Reputation and/or significance of author, producer, or publisher
  • Usefulness in relation to other materials in the collection and in other library collections in Sitka
  • The works’ contribution to the diverse representation of a broad range of opinions and perspectives, including various viewpoints on controversial issues
  • Suitability of the physical format for library use
  • Fiscal funding and building space limitations

Special Collections and Criteria

Reference Materials

Reference materials answer a variety of questions, are intended for use in the Library, and must be available at all times the Library is open. Consequently, reference materials cannot be checked out of the Library without special permission of the Library Director.
Alaska Collection

The Alaska Collection includes materials of special interest to Alaska. It includes materials of interest to the Sitka area, broad coverage for Southeast Alaska and selected coverage for Alaska, based on popular appeal and anticipated demand.
Local History Collection

The Local History Collection includes material relevant to the history and people of Sitka. It also includes publications by local authors, publishers, government organizations or other groups. It is complimentary to the collections of the Sitka Historical Society and The Sheldon Jackson Museum on the Sitka Fine Arts campus. Local History materials are only available for use in the library.

Children’s and Young Adult’s Collections

The Library maintains a collection of books, audio books, CDs, DVDs, and magazines which meet children’s and young adults’ informational, cultural and recreational needs. 

Large Print Materials

A collection of large print materials is maintained for visually impaired individuals. The collection is enhanced with interlibrary loan services and the Alaska State Library’s lending program.

Materials and Equipment for the Disabled

The Library’s website also includes a link to the Alaska State Library Talking Book Center, which provides audio books, magazines, Braille service, and playback equipment for people who cannot read standard print.

Audio Materials 

Collections of recorded books in CD format for adults and children are maintained. The collection includes non-fiction and popular genre fiction and classic titles. Due to demand, most materials duplicate titles in other formats in the collection. 


 DVDs are collected if the subject matter meets the informational and recreational needs of library patrons. 

Foreign Language Materials

The Foreign Language Collection includes dictionaries, grammars and learning materials in Alaska Native and other major languages. Foreign language fiction titles are not included in the Library collection due to space constraints.

Electronic Materials

The Internet and Statewide Databases provide access to a wealth of information resources, including: a collection of e-Books, audio books, and music through the Alaska Digital Library; back issues from The Daily Sitka Sentinel (2008-Current) and other newspapers from around the state of Alaska and the United States via NewsBank; access to more than 50 databases provided through SLED (The State Library Electronic Doorway); Alaska’s Digital Archives, including a wealth of information resources, historical photographs, albums, oral histories, moving images, maps, documents, physical objects, and other materials from libraries, museums, and archives throughout the state; an online language system (Mango Languages); The Library does not collect computer software, electronic books, video or computer games.
Collection Maintenance

Selection criteria are used for the removal of items from the collection. Items are removed because they contain outdated or inaccurate information, unless valuable historically; they are superceded by more recent editions; items are damaged or irreparably worn; or materials are seldom used. Discarded items may be offered to other libraries, schools or nonprofit groups, sold to raise money for new materials or otherwise disposed of.
Intellectual Freedom

Intellectual freedom is the basis of our democratic system. It encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas. We fully support the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. Intellectual freedom provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored.

The Library does not promote particular beliefs or views, nor does the selection of any item imply endorsement of its views. One of the essential purposes of the public library is to be a resource where individuals can examine many points of view and come to their own conclusions. The Library attempts to exercise impartiality in the materials selection process and provide materials representing different sides of controversial issues.

We believe that censorship is a purely individual matter and that while anyone is free to reject for themself materials of which they do not approve, they cannot exercise this right of censorship to restrict the freedom of others to read and to view whatever materials they choose. The Library endorses the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read Statement and the Intellectual Freedom Statement, which are guiding principles for the collection development policy [appended to these policies].
Access to Materials

Access to materials will not be restricted beyond what is required to protect materials from theft or damage. Selection of library materials will not be inhibited by the possibility that items may be seen by children. Library materials will not be marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of the contents, nor will items be sequestered, except for the purpose of protecting them from theft or damage. Responsibility for reading and information access of children rests with their parents and legal guardians. Parents who wish to limit or restrict the reading of their own child should personally oversee that child’s choice of library resources.
Reconsideration of Materials

The Sitka Public Library recognizes that groups and individuals exist in the Sitka area with diverse interests, backgrounds, cultural heritages, social values, and needs. While any person is free to reject for themselves materials of which they do not approve, they cannot exercise this right to restrict the freedom of others to read, view, listen, or inquire. The Sitka Public Library subscribes to the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights as guiding principles to assist in fulfilling the Library’s goal to serve all the residents of Sitka. Questioned materials will not be removed or restricted from the collection during any reconsideration process. Should a patron have a concern about library materials, the following procedure shall be followed:

We strive to resolve concerns informally before starting a formal process of reviewing material:

  • A patron can request to speak with collection development staff about any concerns regarding an item in the Library’s collections. Collection development staff can explain selection criteria and provide a copy of the collection development policy
  • If unsatisfied with the outcome of that discussion, the patron can request to meet with the Library Director to discuss their concerns

If, after speaking with collection development staff and the library director, the patron feels material does not meet SPL collection development policy the formal review process starts:

  • Patron must be a current card holder of the Sitka Public Library
  • Patron submits a written Request for Reconsideration form to the Library Director
  • Only one item can be reconsidered at a time. Each reconsideration will be handled during staff working hours at the library and will be handled as time permits while performing the duties of operating the library
  • A Review Committee of SPL librarians shall read, view, or listen to the material in question in its entirety; review general acceptance of the material by reading professional reviews and consulting recommended resource lists; apply all appropriate selection criteria to the work; assess the value of the material as a whole, not just in part; and make a decision on if the resource should be retained in the library collection
  • The patron and the Library Commission will be notified from the review committee after a decision is made with a full written explanation
  • If the patron is unsatisfied with the Review Committee’s interpretation of the collection development policy, they may submit a written appeal to the Library Director, who will consider the appeal and notify the patron of their decision 
  • Library Director’s decision will be final

Material Format

The Library offers materials in a variety of formats including book, periodical, CD, DVD, and microform, etc. It also utilizes online communications technologies that extend, expand and enhance service, such as the Internet.

Duplicate Titles

Due to space and funding limitations, multiple copies of titles are generally not purchased. Duplicate copies may be purchased if high demand for a particular title is expected.

Gifts are accepted with the understanding that they will be considered for addition to the collection if they meet selection criteria. No condition or restriction placed on gifts can be honored unless agreed upon by the Librarian and donor. The Library does not appraise gifts for tax purposes. Monetary donations, used to purchase new materials, are accepted.
Memorials and Endowments

The Library encourages donors of financial gifts, real property, and/or stocks to consider the Library Endowment Fund. The Library Endowment Fund was established to acquire and invest contributions that provide, in perpetuity, income used to enhance the Library’s collections. It may include distinct funds established in honor or memory of an individual with Director's approval.

Copy Machine and Copyright Law

Sitka Public Library complies with Title 17 of the United States Code, titled “Copyrights,” and other federal legislation related to the duplication, retention and use of copyrighted materials. Patrons using Library materials are responsible for the legal use of those materials.

Update approved by Library Commission March 2, 2022