Plainview Public Library

209 N Pine St., Plainview, NE


Written By: Donna Christiansen

Material Selection Policy
            The Plainview Public Library seeks to provide the community with information that satisfies educational, entertainment and recreational pursuits through the purchase and organization of books, periodicals, newspapers, audio and video recordings, and other forms of electronic media.  In support of these goals, the Library Board emphasizes the importance of materials which have contemporary significance or permanent value. Materials are chosen, within budgetary limits, to inform, inspire and entertain; to excite new interests and to satisfy free inquiry. The Library Board of Trustees delegates the authority and responsibility for the selection of library materials to the Library Director who is qualified by reason of education, training and experience.  To build a collection of enduring merit, materials must be measured by objective guidelines. All acquisitions, whether purchased or donated, are subject to the standards listed below. An item need not meet all of the criteria for acceptance. Some materials may be judged primarily on artistic merit, while others are considered because of scholarship, historic value or ability to satisfy the needs of the community.

A.  General Criteria
            1.  Relevance, present and potential, to community needs. The Library makes a conscious effort to obtain materials pertaining to local matters – civic, cultural, artistic, educational, recreational and historic.
            2.  Topicality, or the importance of material as a document or recording of the times.  Relation to the existing collection and other materials on the subject. An effort is made to include significant works to illuminate the different and important sides of issues.
            3.  Reputation and significance of the author. No item will be excluded because of the race, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, political or doctrinal beliefs or personal history of an author.
            4.  Insight into human and social conditions.
            5.  Attention given by critics, reviewers and the public.
            6.  Suitability of physical form of the material for library use.
            7.  Price as a reasonable value for anticipated use.
            8.  Accuracy of scientific or historical fact.
            9.  Popular demand.
The Library recognizes that certain materials are controversial and that any item may offend some library user. Selections are not made on the basis of any anticipated approval or disapproval, but solely on the merits of the works in relation to the goals of building and enhancing a collection that serves the diverse interests of the community.  Continual evaluation of library holdings is an essential part of collection development. To ensure a vital collection of continued value to the community, materials that are judged by the library staff to have outlived their usefulness are withdrawn. Decisions for removal are based on diminished circulation, physical condition, usefulness and accuracy.  Library materials are not marked or identified to imply or show approval or disapproval of the contents. All materials are kept on open shelves except those that are: in poor physical condition and not replaceable, duplicate copies, extremely expensive or subject to mutilation.  The Library provides books and other materials suitable for children and young adults in collections that are clearly labeled and separate from the adult collection. Materials are selected for their merits and not necessarily excluded because of coarse language or frankness. The Library does not deny or limit access to any item because of its content or style.  Selection of materials for the Library’s collections shall not be inhibited by the possibility that some material may inadvertently come into the possession of children. Responsibility for the reading, listening and viewing of Library materials by children rests with their parents or legal guardians.  Once an item has been accepted under the Materials Selection Policy, it will not be removed at the request of those who disagree with its inclusion; unless it can be shown that retention of the item would be in violation of that Policy. Copies of the Materials Selection Policy, the Reconsideration of Library Materials Policy and the Request for Reconsideration of Library Material Form may be obtained at the checkout desk.
            The Library Board endorses the Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read Statement adopted by the American Library Association.

Material Complaints
A. Complaints from Patrons
1. Complaints from the public shall be handled courteously to avoid confrontations.
2. Challenge library material.
3. Have them fill out a form for removing a library material.

B. Materials Complaint Policy
The Materials Selection Policy; the Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read Statement guide the Library Director in the development of the collection. The only recognized ground for challenging an item in the collection is a complaint that these policy statements do not support the Library Director’s decision to include an item in the collection. The following is the procedure for handling complaints about materials present or not present in the collection.

1. Staff members receiving a complaint WILL NOT try to defend the material or lack of material. They should react in a manner indicating understanding of the concern (even though they may disagree with the complaint). They should tell the person complaining that materials selection is the responsibility of the Library Director and invite the person to visit with the Director. (If the Director is not in, they should find out when the Director will be in and invite the person to visit with the Director at that time.) Staff members can give the person a copy of the Material Complaint Form and the complaint should promptly be reported by the staff to the Director.
2. On receipt of a complaint, whether through a staff report, contact with the complaining person, or receipt of the Material Complaint Form the Library Director and the Library Board will examine the complaint, including consideration of the item in question and the circumstances involved in the complaint. If the Director and the Library Board is able to resolve the matter, no further action needs to be taken.
3. The Library Director will inform the patron what the decision is and the patron will be invited to the next Library Board meeting to discuss the material further, if they choose to further the discussion on the material in question.

Material Complaint Form is available at the Circulation Desk.

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

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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.

B.  Gifts, Bequests, and Memorials
            The library accepts gifts of books, pamphlets, periodicals, videotapes, audio books, DVD’s, and the like with the understanding that they will be added to the library collections only when needed.  The same principles of selection, which are applied to purchases, are applied to gifts.  Some gifts may not be able to be used to full advantage because of reasons such as these:
            1.  Duplication of materials already owned by the library.
            2.  Physical condition of the donated materials.
            3.  Extent to which the donated materials meet the library’s mission.
            4.  Unrestricted gifts of money, lands, or property will be gratefully accepted by the board to be used at its discretion.  Gifts or bequests with specific restrictions attached will be reviewed by the board before acceptance

C.  Weeding
            An up-to-date, attractive and useful collection is maintained through a continual withdrawal and replacement process.  Replacement of worn volumes is dependent upon current demand, usefulness, more recent acquisitions, informational significance, and availability of newer editions.  This ongoing process of weeding is the responsibility of the library director.