Collection Development Policy


Sacramento Public Library provides ideas, information and resources to help our community discover, learn and grow. The Sacramento Public Library’s Collection Development Policy supports the direction, goals and objectives of the Library as a whole.

The Sacramento Public Library Authority is the fourth largest library system in California, serving the public in the City and County of Sacramento, as well as in the cities of Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Galt, Isleton and Rancho Cordova. The Sacramento Public Library operates 28 libraries, including a Central Library in downtown Sacramento and two bookmobiles, and serves a total estimated population of 1.4 million. The collection consists of more than 1.5 million print and digital items.


The library selects materials in a variety of formats and languages that best serve the needs of the community. Selections are made by library staff to provide a broad and relevant collection, while being good stewards of the community’s tax dollars. The greatest value is received by focusing on the most popular and wide-spread formats and by not duplicating the comprehensive collection efforts of college and research institutions. Material selection is based on awareness of community interests and concerns, national and international issues and events, publishing trends, new insights, societal trends, and the professional judgment of selectors regarding the material’s value to the Library’s collection. It is the Library’s intention that the collection addresses the needs and interests of its communities and, as much as possible, reflects the diversity of the entire Sacramento Public Library service area.
In order to enhance the collection, Sacramento Public Library participates in regional, state and national cooperative networks, facilitates interlibrary loans, and is partnered with four contract libraries: Folsom Public Library, Woodland Public Library, Sutter County Public Library and Colusa County Public Library.
The Sacramento Room is dedicated to promoting an appreciation and understanding of the history of Sacramento by collecting, preserving, and providing access to special collections relating to the diverse history of the area. The Sacramento Room Collection Development Policy is supplemental to the general library collection development policy.


The Library will uphold the freedom to read as expressed in the Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read Statement and the Freedom to View Statement adopted by the American Library Association
(Attachments A-C). While anyone is free to select or reject materials for themselves or their own minor children, the freedom of others to read or inquire will not be restricted. The Library does not stand in loco parentis (in the place of parents). Parents and guardians, not the Library or staff, have the responsibility to guide and direct the reading, listening and viewing choices of their own minor children.


Responsibility for Selection
The responsibility for the selection of library materials rests ultimately with the Library Director. Under the Director’s guidance, the professional staff has responsibility for the selection of materials. All staff members and the general public are encouraged to recommend materials for consideration. The library collection shall be an unbiased and diverse source of information, representing as many viewpoints as possible.


Selection Criteria
Sacramento Public Library selects materials for all ages and relies extensively on professional review sources. Material is not excluded because of the race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political and social views of the author. Inclusion of materials does not imply agreement with or endorsement of content.

  1. General criteria for selecting print material include, but are not limited to:
    • Patron interest and demand
    • Historical significance of author or subject
    • Timeliness of material
    • Local emphasis
    • Diversity of viewpoint
    • Budgetary considerations
    • Authority and accuracy
    • Literary merit
    • Cultural influence
  1. World Languages
The Library collects recreational and informational material in languages other than English for adults and juveniles to meet the needs of a diverse population, focusing on languages that are actively used and can be purchased, cataloged and accessed accordingly.
  1. Patron Driven Acquisitions
Sacramento Public Library welcomes suggestions from the community for possible purchases of materials. All suggestions are given serious consideration. Titles are considered by the same criteria as all other materials purchased for the Library.
  1. Local Authors and Self-Publishing
Authors who live within the boundaries of Sacramento County may donate one copy of their book to be added to the Local Author collection at the Central Library.
The Sacramento Public Library does not purchase unsolicited materials or act in lieu of professional review sources. The Library accepts donated copies of self-published books but does not guarantee inclusion in the collection. Items donated to the Library become the property of the Library and may not be returned to the donating party.
  1. Additional criteria for the selection of audio, visual, and other non-print formats:
    • Technical quality of production
    • Artistic merit
  1. DVD Collection Guidelines
The Sacramento Public Library maintains a broad selection of entertainment, informational and instructional DVDs. The emphasis is on popular materials and is balanced with classic films, independent films, foreign films and documentaries.

Selection Criteria
The following selection criteria are considered when evaluating DVDs for purchase.
  • Budgetary constraints
  • Age of production and timeliness
  • Awards and critical acclaim
  • Broad community appeal and popularity
  • Cultural influence
Film and television series are collected based on feasibility of the cost of the entire series, broad community appeal and currency. Due to budgetary constraints, it is not feasible to replace individual seasons of titles. Titles suggested by patrons are evaluated based on the above selection criteria.
  1. Criteria for the Selection of Digital Resources
Digital resources, including ebooks, eaudiobooks, streaming video, government documents and databases  are subject to the same general selection criteria as other materials.
The Library’s customer base includes a segment that is exclusively virtual. Digital resources extend the reach of the Library because they are available remotely, 24/7. The ebook landscape is an area of rapid growth and development, and the Sacramento Public Library is moving toward a collection that is as diverse and encompassing as the print collection. Additional selection criteria for digital resources include accessibility and compatibility; for example, universality of format and compatibility with current digital platforms.
  1. Gifts - Donation of Books Policy
The Sacramento Public Library accepts donations of books and other material in good condition. Some items may be added to our collection or passed along to the Friends of the Sacramento Public Library-- a support organization -- and sold in used book sales to generate funds for the library. Donations are accepted at all locations and an acknowledgement form is provided upon request.
Because of limitations of space, money and staff, the library does reserve the right to accept or discard, at its discretion, any donated materials.


Deselection of material from the circulating collections is a vital part of successful collection maintenance. Continuous evaluation is necessary and materials are regularly removed to maintain a current, accurate and appealing collection and to facilitate its ease of use.
An item may be deselected for several reasons, including:
  • Out-of-date information
  • Wear or damage
  • Item no longer responds to current needs or interests
  • Materials in the format are no longer collected
Deselected items may be given to the Friends of the Library to sell or may be recycled at the discretion of the Library.


Individual items, which in and of themselves may be controversial or offensive to some patrons or staff, may be selected if their inclusion will contribute to the range of viewpoints in the collection as a whole and the effectiveness of the Library’s ability to serve its community.


Persons raising an objection to a book or other material in the Library collection will be offered the Request for Reconsideration of Materials form and asked to provide a written explanation of their objections, citing specifics from the material in question. Library staff will respond to the request in accordance with the Reconsideration of Materials Procedure (Attachment D).


Attachment A: American Library Association Library Bill of Rights Attachment B: American Library Association Freedom to Read Statement
Attachment C: American Library Association Freedom to View Principles Attachment D: Reconsideration of Materials Procedure

Sacramento Public Library Collection Development Policy


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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
  1. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
  1. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background or views.
  1. 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.


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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
A Joint Statement by:


Subsequently endorsed by:


Freedom to Read Foundation National Association of College Stores National Coalition Against Censorship
National Council of Teachers of English
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression

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.
  1. To protect the confidentiality of all individuals and institutions using film, video, and other audiovisual materials.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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


Reconsideration of Materials - Procedure

Persons raising an objection to a book or other materials in the library collection will be offered the Request for Reconsideration of Materials form and asked to provide a written explanation of their objections, citing specifics from the material in question. The following actions will be taken:
  1. A copy of the form and the material in question will be sent to the Collection Management Services Manager.
  1. A form letter shall be sent to the patron acknowledging receipt of the Request for Reconsideration within five business days of receipt by the Collection Management Services Manager.
  1. A minimum of four Library staff will convene and consider the request, evaluating the material based on content, circulation, awards and reviews, and make a decision about the work.
  1. The Collection Management Services Manager will write a response letter to the patron and submit it to the Library Director for review.
  1. A letter of determination in response to the Request for Reconsideration shall be provided to the patron within 30 days of submission, during which time the material in question shall remain in the active collection.
  1. A copy of all Requests for Reconsideration, and associated correspondence shall be retained.