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Collection Development Policy (2.101)


This policy applies to the community of Bellingham, Washington.


  1. Library collections meet the diverse needs of the community.

The mission of the Bellingham Public Library is:

Connecting our community with each other and the world

Our community is composed of individuals of varying ages, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations and faiths from diverse educational, cultural and economic backgrounds.  The library is committed to providing meaningful collections that are inclusive, unbiased, and responsive to a wide variety of interests and viewpoints.

  1. Library collections are developed using the principles of intellectual freedom.

The Library Board of Trustees supports an individual’s right to read, listen, view, or otherwise experience a wide and varied expression of ideas and thoughts.  Furthermore, the Library Board endorses the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, Article I of the Washington State Constitution, and the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights and its Interpretations.

  1. Library encourages parental participation in materials access for their children.

Individuals are free to select or reject materials for themselves or their minor children but may not restrict the freedom of others to use or access materials or information.  Parents and guardians are responsible for guiding and directing the reading, listening and viewing choices of their minor children.  The Library does not stand in loco parentis (in the place of a parent).

  1. Library sets these collection priorities:
  • Children’s materials and materials for people who work with children. Emphasis is on reading readiness, early learning, and promoting the joy of reading and learning.
  • Lifelong learning for adults.
  • Popular recreational reading, listening, and viewing for all ages.
  • General research, information, and fact finding sources.
  • Occupational and vocational guidance materials.
  • Supplemental educational materials for students.
  • World languages and English language learning materials for existing and emerging populations of non-native English speakers in the Bellingham community.
  • Genealogical research.
  • Local and regional history, government documents, and the literature of the City of Bellingham, as well as Whatcom and Skagit Counties.

General subjects will be collected broadly to meet anticipated and expressed individual and community needs. Collections of local relevance to the citizens of Bellingham, specifically history, literature, and government documents will be collected in greater depth.

  1. Criteria considered when selecting library materials are:
  • Community relevance.
  • Timeliness.
  • Diversity of viewpoint.
  • Authenticity and accuracy of factual material.
  • Level of demand.
  • Audience for material.
  • Current or historical significance of the author or subject.
  • Local significance of the author or subject.
  • Existing subject coverage.
  • Aesthetic considerations: literary, artistic, or social value; appeal to the imagination, senses, or intellect.
  • Quality of writing and its readability.
  • Popular appeal: reading, listening or viewing enjoyment.
  • Favorable critical reviews.
  1. Electronic collections have additional considerations for selection:
  • Usability: the product is user-friendly, well indexed, and offers numerous points of access.
  • Availability: to multiple simultaneous users 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Accessibility: to retrospective information when necessary or desirable.
  • Best Format: the electronic resource provides added value over other formats.
  1. Collections are selected and maintained by qualified library staff.

Selection and maintenance of library materials is guided by the Deputy Library Director and will be assigned to qualified library staff based on their experience, training, expertise and interest. Final responsibility for the collection rests with the Library Director, under the authority of the Library Board.

  1. Library collections are continually evaluated and maintained.

Withdrawing materials is a vital part of collection maintenance and ensures attractive, relevant, current, and responsive collections.  The Library follows these withdrawal guidelines:

  • This library is not a historical repository for last copies, hard-to-find materials or materials that have had limited use or checkouts
  • Condition, currency, content, usage, and consistency with the library’s mission are the primary criteria for determining retention in the library collections.
  • Collection evaluation and maintenance is an ongoing process.

Withdrawn library materials or donated materials that are not added to the library’s collection are given to the Friends of the Bellingham Public Library.  The proceeds raised by the Friends from the sale of withdrawn or donated items are used to enhance library programs, services and collections.

  1. Library welcomes collection suggestions and comments from the community.

Individuals are encouraged to submit suggestions for purchase of individual titles, the development of subjects areas, and the addition of new formats.

If an individual objects to a title in the library collections, they are asked to complete a “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials” form.  The Library then reviews the item for inclusion in the collection in light of the library’s overall objectives, this policy, the Library Bill of Rights, and ALA guidelines on intellectual freedom.

  1. Library accepts materials donations for the library or its collections.

Donated materials in good condition and of value to library collections are gratefully accepted (see 2.102 Donations Policy for details).

  1. Library Board reviews this policy.

This policy is periodically reviewed, revised, or reaffirmed by the Library Board.


Title: 2.101 Collection Development Policy
Code: 2 Library Collection Services
Chapter: 2.100 Selection
Type of Policy: Departmental
Date Developed: 19 February 2008
Date Revised: 15 November 2022
Revised by: Bethany Hoglund, Rebecca Judd
Developed by: Beth Farley
Approved by: Library Board of Trustees
Cancels:      2.101 Materials Selection Policy

See Also:

Library policy: 5.101 Confidentiality Policy

Library policy 2.102 Donations Policy
Codes and laws: Bellingham Municipal Code 1.24.010
Other resources: Library Bill of Rights
ALA’s Freedom to Read Statement
ALA’s Freedom to View
ALA’s Free Access to Libraries for Minors
ALA’s interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
United States Constitution, Bill of Rights
Washington State Constitution, Article I