4.1 Materials Selection

The Chelmsford Public Library system accepts in full the Library Bill of Rights, as adopted by the American Library Association in 1980:

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

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 creations.

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.

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

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

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

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.

The Chelmsford Public Library supports, as well the Freedom to Read statement which was adopted by the American Library Association in 1972. A copy of that document is appended.

Overall, the Chelmsford Public Library system seeks a strong and useful collection. It seeks to include rather than exclude materials. Additionally, no item (including books, audio cassettes, or videos) will be chosen or excluded solely because of the presence of expletives, sexual descriptions, or particular political, social, or religious ideals. There is no list of approved materials to which this library confines its selections.


The Board of Library Trustees is responsible for adopting a materials selection policy. Responsibility for implementing the policy is delegated to the Library Director, who may in turn delegate further portions of that responsibility to selected staff members.

A Materials Selections Committee composed of the Director, a Trustee representative, and an appropriate Department Head may be convened to reevaluate selected materials on occasion.


It is the Library’s duty to provide a wide range of recreational and informational materials in order that all citizens be free to decide for themselves the merits of arguments, points of view, or works of art. Selections must never reflect the tastes and opinions of the selector(s) to the exclusion of other representative points of view; neither will the Library yield to any pressure to influence the selection to this end. Materials may undergo a staff review period before being added to the collection. Generally, four selection criteria are used:

Anticipated usefulness or popularity, based on Chelmsford’s past library reading trends and informational needs, and on national interest or reading preferences (as indicated, for example, by the New York Times and Publisher’s Weekly best sellers lists.)

Quality based on review, recommended booklists, authors, and/or publishers’ reputation; patron request and/or recommendation, and academic importance.

All materials must promise a reasonable correlation between cost and actual or potential value to the community.

Quality material for which there is no present demand may be selected in limited quantity on a trial basis to establish whether or not sufficient and legitimate market exists.

The Library will not attempt to furnish materials needed for formal courses of study offered by public or private schools. The Public Library has materials for self-study, but it is not primarily designed to furnish reading required for academic study.

In general, the collection is confined to currently useful materials, with the exception of material pertaining to Chelmsford and the surrounding area. The Library does not attempt to serve as a research center, nor does it try to develop research collections in any subject field except local history. Every effort is made within the region and the state to promote and participate in cooperative programs for the acquisition or interlibrary loan for scholarly, specialized, costly, and/or seldom used materials.

Chelmsford Authors & Self-Published Works

The Library maintains a Chelmsford Authors collection, both to encourage resident authors as well as showcase the writing talent of Chelmsford. The Library will endeavor to purchase works by Chelmsford authors published through mainstream publishers.

Self-published authors (e.g., print-on-demand, vanity, or subsidized presses) who are Chelmsford residents (past or present) are welcome to donate their works to the library. These will be shelved in the Chelmsford Authors collection. We may occasionally purchase self-published titles by Chelmsford authors for our regular collection, if there is a compelling reason to do so (valuable local content, high local interest.)

Authors who are not residents of Chelmsford are welcome to donate copies of their work for consideration for our regular collection. If the item does not meet our collection development criteria, it will be given to the Friends of the Library.


The Chelmsford Public Library recognizes its right and responsibility to provide worthwhile materials of interest to its readers and not prohibited by federal or state law, including those on all sides of controversial issues. If materials meet the criteria of selection, they will not be removed from the collection because of pressure by any individual or group. The Library will not indicate through labels or other devices particular philosophies presented in library materials.

It is deemed the responsibility of parents to determine what their children may read, hear or view. The selection of material for the Adult Collection is not restricted by the possibility that young people may obtain materials their parents may not consider appropriate.

Access to library material shall be controlled only to the extent necessary to protect it from damage or theft.

The Library Director is available to review selection decisions, and welcomes the opportunity to discuss the interpretation of library goals and principles with interested individuals or representatives of groups.

Formal requests for withdrawal of specific items must be submitted to the Director in writing. A copy of the form is appended. Copies of the form are available at all circulation desks and the Reference Department. If the Library Director cannot resolve the issue to the satisfaction of the citizen in question, that person may request a hearing before the Selection Committee (See: “Responsibilities for Book Selection,” above.)


Systematic removal of materials no longer useful to the collection is essential in maintaining the purposes and quality of resources. Weeding is as important as the original selection, and the same criteria are applied. Materials withdrawn from the collection generally are either too worn for continued use or repair, outdated (particularly in rapidly changing fields), or no longer in active use due to changing user interests. Materials withdrawn from the collection are made available to the Friends of the Library for their sales to benefit the Library (per MGL Ch. 30B, S. 15 (g)). Unsold materials may be given away for charitable purposes or recycled if no other options are available.


The Library welcomes gifts of books and other materials with the understanding that it will evaluate them in accordance with the criteria applied to purchased materials. Those that do not conform with the general selection criteria are generally not added to the collection.

Approved, Library Board of Trustees, December 2015