Materials Selection Policy

The purpose of the Highland Park Public Library (HPPL) is to provide all members of the community
access to a broad collection of carefully selected materials in a variety of media that record
knowledge, ideas, and culture; to offer guidance and encouragement in their use; and to provide
access to reliable and easily available sources of information and reference.
The Highland Park Public Library has served the recreational, educational, and informational needs
of the Highland Park community since 1922. Throughout its history, the Library has grown with its
community, adding services and materials in response to user needs and altering the course of its
development in order to provide the best possible library service to its population.
The Library serves as a forum for access to the full range of published information within the
marketplace of ideas, representing a wide range of viewpoints on subjects of interest. Because of
the volume of publishing as well as the limitations of budget and space, the Library has adopted a
Materials Selection Policy with which to meet the interests and needs of a diverse, multiethnic
community. Collection development is an ongoing process involving the purchase of new materials
as well as the evaluation of the present collection. Library staff use this Materials Selection Policy to
select print, online, and other formats of materials, and also to acquaint the general public with the
principles of selection.
The Library provides an impartial environment in which individuals and their interests are brought
together with the universe of ideas and information spanning the spectrum of knowledge and
opinions. All library users have a First Amendment right to read, view, and listen to library resources.
The Highland Park Public Library Board of Trustees affirms the American Library
Association’s Library Bill of RightsFreedom to Read, and Freedom to View Statements, which are
integral parts of this policy.
Library staff and the Library Board of Trustees will review and/or revise this and other library policies
as the need arises.

The responsibility for selection of materials, as with all library activities and services, rests with the
Library Director, who operates within the framework of policies determined by the Highland Park
Public Library Board of Trustees. This responsibility is shared by other members of Library staff.
The Library welcomes requests from the public for the purchase of specific materials. Each request
is reviewed and deemed suitable for inclusion in the library collection based on the selection criteria
stated in the Materials Selection Policy and within the budgetary limits of the Library. The Library will
attempt to obtain items not purchased for the collection through reciprocal borrowing relationships
within our cooperative network.

Public libraries strive to make materials available that present the widest possible diversity of
viewpoints, enabling citizens to make the informed choices necessary in a democracy. The Highland
Park Public Library selects a wide variety of materials that satisfy the broad array of interests of our
community. Staff considers each type of material in terms of its own kind of excellence and for whom
it is intended, and cannot apply a single standard in all cases. Library staff approach the selection
process with a responsibility toward inclusion, not exclusion.
HPPL upholds the right of the individual to access these resources, even though some may find the
content controversial, unorthodox, or unacceptable. The Library’s varied collection is available to all
even though all items in the collection will not appeal to everyone.
HPPL opposes any attempts by individuals or groups of individuals to censor materials selected for
its collection. Further, the Library will not determine a decision to acquire or remove materials from
its collections by partisan or doctrinal point of view. The Library’s decision to acquire material does
not constitute endorsement of its content.
Library staff and the Board of Trustees acknowledge the right and responsibility of parents and
guardians to guide the reading choices of their children. Such rights should not in any way inhibit the
rights of others to read or view any material of their choosing.
Librarians are trained to select materials for the library’s collection based on professional expertise,
experience, and knowledge of the community, the existing collection as a whole, the Library’s
materials budget, and the policies set by the Board of Trustees. Within this policy are criteria used in
the selection of materials, but no material must meet all criteria.
Library staff judge materials on the basis of the work as a whole, not on a part taken out of context.
Staff use reviews in professional, literary, and general periodicals, as well as standard bibliographies
to facilitate the selection process, and will not reject a title solely because of the lack of a review or
an unfavorable review.
Recognizing that no single library can fulfill all the information and materials needs of its users,
HPPL has long participated in cooperative borrowing and interlibrary loan networks. This
cooperation impacts our local materials selection by providing access to much more extensive
collections than we can provide through a single stand-alone organization.

Criteria for the selection of materials includes:

  1. Present and future relevance to the interests of the community
  2. Literary or production quality of the work as a whole
  3. Informational, educational, or recreational value of subject matter
  4. Permanent or timely value of subject matter
  5. Authority and accuracy of matter presented
  6. Reputation and significance in the field of those involved in the work
  7. Reputation of the publisher or producer
  8. Appropriateness of format to subject matter
  9. Representation of diverse viewpoints, authors, and publishers
  10. Price
  11. Relationship to cooperative collection arrangements with other libraries
  12. Relation to the rest of the library’s collection
  13. Opinions of others as expressed in published professional and literary periodicals

The Highland Park Public Library maintains an up-to-date, attractive, and useful collection through a
continual withdrawal and replacement process, based on professional criteria, care, time, and
knowledge of the Library’s collection and community. Library staff may discard or sell withdrawn or
donated materials, including through book sales hosted by the Friends of the Highland Park Public
Library. The proceeds of these sales will benefit the Library.

Criteria for the deselection of materials for weeding and/or replacement includes:

  1. Accuracy
  2. Timeliness/currency
  3. Relevance
  4. Circulation/decreased demand
  5. Physical condition
  6. Inclusion in standardized lists
  7. Number of copies
  8. Space limitations
  9. Edition and format
  10. Cooperative collection arrangements with other libraries
  11. Items dealing with local history are an exception, as are certain classics and award-winning children’s books

The Highland Park Public Library maintains a special collection of local history materials, which may
include a clipping file, oral history recordings, and transcripts, as well as publications of the
municipality, schools, or other community organizations. The Library encourages donations from the
community of related sources. The Library also welcomes donations or submissions of related
sources or prepared for the Borough of Highland Park containing public information from members
of the community, as well as from Borough departments, boards, commissions, committees, and
HPPL is pleased to accept private donations and gifts of books and other materials with the
understanding that staff will add them to the collection only if appropriate and needed, and without
any restrictions placed upon their use. The Library is not obligated to retain any gifts that fail to meet
its criteria for selection and has the right to discard gifts not needed due to condition, duplication, or
dated information. Library staff will acknowledge donations of books and other materials in writing,
but cannot appraise them.

The Highland Park Public Library strives to maintain a well-rounded, diverse, and representative
collection, and recognizes that library users differ in their opinions of the content of materials. Library
staff base the selection and deselection of materials solely on the basis of professional principles
stated in this Materials Selection Policy, not on the basis of anticipated approval or disapproval. Like
all public libraries, HPPL contains materials that community members may find objectionable and
omit others that some feel are important. In either case, the Library has procedures for users to
request challenges to materials.
The Library will not mark, label or otherwise identify materials to reflect any perceived approval or
disapproval of their contents, nor will it sequester library materials, except to protect them from
damage or theft. Discretion for choosing library materials to read, listen to or view rests with
individual library users, and in the case of minors, with their parents or legal guardians. HPPL will not
inhibit the selection of library materials based on the possibility they may come into the possession
of children.
The Library and its Board of Trustees recognize and respect the right of our users to question
selection decisions. Librarians are available to assist users in finding alternate materials that better
meet their and/or their family’s needs and interests. Users should address requests to withdraw or
reclassify materials to a library supervisor or the Library Director, who will attempt to resolve the
inquiry by a review of the criteria outlined within this Materials Selection Policy. If users choose to
pursue a more formal complaint process, the Library will provide a Materials Challenge Request
Upon formal written request through the HPPL Materials Challenge Request form, the Library
Director and a committee of library staff will review selection decisions regarding a specific work
using the criteria in the Materials Selection Policy. The committee will read and thoroughly review
each challenged work in its entirety, a process that may take up to four weeks per challenged item.
Challenged works will be evaluated sequentially, based on the order in which Materials Challenge
Requests are received. After determining the suitability of the item, the Director will contact the
concerned individual in writing with the final decision. The Library will only accept Materials
Challenge Requests from verified Highland Park, New Jersey residents. Identified materials will
remain in the library’s collection throughout the reconsideration process.
If unsatisfied with the decision, an individual may request placement of the inquiry on the agenda of
the next regular meeting of the Highland Park Public Library Board of Trustees for determination
whether the response to the Materials Challenge Request has conformed with stated policies. Based
on this determination, the Board of Trustees will make the final decision whether to uphold or
override the decision of the Library Director.

Adopted October 27, 2014; amended August 13, 2019; May 25, 2022; April 15, 2024