Collection Development

The Collection Development Policy is intended to provide guidance, within budgetary and space limitations, for the selection and evaluation of materials which anticipate and meet the needs of the communities of Vancouver Island Regional Library. It directly relates the collection to the library’s mission statement, and defines the scope and standards of various collections.

As the community changes Vancouver Island Regional Library will reassess and adapt its collections to reflect the needs and expectations the communities served. The policy is intended to familiarize the library customer with the philosophy by which selection decisions are made at Vancouver Island Regional Library.

Selection Philosophy

The Vancouver Island Regional Library Board endorses the Statement on Intellectual Freedom of the Canadian Library Association, which states:

"All persons in Canada have the fundamental rights, as embodied in the nation’s Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to have access to all expressions of knowledge, reality and intellectual activity, and to express their thoughts publicly. This right to intellectual freedom, under the law, is essential to the health and development of Canadian society.

Libraries have a basic responsibility for the development and maintenance of intellectual freedom. It is the responsibility of libraries to guarantee and facilitate access to all expressions of knowledge and intellectual activity, including those which some elements of society may consider to be unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable. To this end, libraries shall acquire and make available the widest variety of materials. It is the responsibility of libraries to guarantee the right of free expression by making available all of the library’s public facilities and services to all individuals and groups who need them. Libraries should resist all efforts to limit the exercise of these responsibilities while recognizing the right to criticism by individuals and groups. Both employees and employers in libraries have a duty, in addition to their institutional responsibilities, to uphold these principles."

(Ratified by the Board of Directors and Council, Canadian Library Association, at the 29th Annual Conference in Winnipeg, June 1974 and amended November 17, 1983 and November 18, 1984)

In accordance with this statement, the staff of Vancouver Island Regional Library develop collections to represent as many viewpoints as possible within constraints of budget, space and availability of resources. The presence of materials in the library does not constitute endorsement of their contents by the Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees does not purchase, retain, or make accessible in its collections resources in violation of the statutes of Canada or British Columbia.

Selection Responsibility

The responsibility for selection and retaining materials is delegated to qualified and knowledgeable staff who employ the criteria outlined in this policy. The final responsibility for material selection and retention resides with the Executive Director.

Responsibility of the Customer

Vancouver Island Regional Library realizes that some materials are controversial and that any given item may offend some customers. While library staff is available to assist individuals and groups to select material, the ultimate responsibility for the choice of materials lies with the customer.

Responsibility for Children’s Reading

Vancouver Island Regional Library provides access to its materials to all customers. Responsibility for children’s use of the library materials rests with parents and or legal guardians.


Vancouver Island Regional Library accepts donations for the library’s collections that fall within the needed subject categories, as determined by the Executive Director and the staff. Donations are subject to the following limitations:

  • Vancouver Island Regional Library retains unconditional ownership of the gift;
  • Vancouver Island Regional Library makes the final decision on the use or disposition of the gift;
  • Vancouver Island Regional Library reserves the right to decide the conditions of display, housing and access to the materials;
  • Monetary gifts to the collection are welcome and may be designated as memorials;
  • Donations of money designated for the periodicals and newspapers collection are accepted in lieu of actual subscriptions. These contributions offset the high cost of subscriptions and maintain the continuity of subscriptions from year to year;
  • Donors of funds may suggest subjects or titles to be acquired with their donation, but Vancouver Island Regional Library reserves the right of the final decision.

Scope of Urban Library Hub

The urban library hub offers a comprehensive collection that supports the in-depth information needs of the designated zone. Collections offer broad choice of primary and secondary sources in circulating print and non-print formats. Hub collections are developed collaboratively to minimize duplication and maximize the budget.

Scope of Community Libraries Within Designated Zone

Community libraries serve designated communities within the designated zone. Budget and space limit the branch collection to materials of high interest to local customers. However, customers have access to materials housed in any Vancouver Island Regional Library location.

General Selection Criteria

Materials selected will meet high standards in quality, content, expression and format.

Whether purchased or donated, materials shall be considered according to the following criteria:

  • Comprehensiveness of treatment, including breadth and depth of material;
  • The extent to which the item supplements, expands upon, or supports the existing collection, rather than duplicates it;
  • Cost relative to the value the item contributes to the collection;
  • Suitability of subject and style for intended users;
  • Strengths and weaknesses of existing collection;
  • Timeliness and accuracy of the information;
  • Contribution to balance of treatment of a controversial subject;
  • Contemporary significance or permanent value;
  • Reputation and qualifications of the author, creator, or publisher of the work as established through evaluation in professional journals;
  • Local significance of the author or creator of the work.

Electronic Format Criteria

  • Ease of use of the product;
  • Accessibility to multiple users;
  • Access to necessary hardware and software;
  • Enhancement of the print equivalent (if any) in terms of speed, flexibility, combinations of search terms or general utility;
  • Continued access to retrospective information when necessary or desirable;
  • Reduction of space requirements over print products;
  • Reduction in the number of copies of a print source when purchased for multiple locations.

Customer Suggestions

Library users may place a formal request for the purchase of collections materials by completing a Suggest an Item form. All suggestions are reviewed by library staff, who applies to the customer’s suggestion the same selection criteria that are applied to all materials purchased by the library. The customer will be notified of the library’s selection decision.

Resource Sharing / Interlibrary Loan Service

Items that fall outside of the selection criteria of Vancouver Island Regional Library, or that are “out of print” or temporarily unavailable, can be requested by library customers from other library systems. Vancouver Island Regional Library has the authority to limit the number of Interlibrary Loan requests.

Collection Maintenance: Withdrawing Library Materials

Maintenance of the library’s collection through constant re-evaluation by the library staff ensures its usefulness and relevancy to the community. This evaluation depends heavily on the staff’s professional expertise in assessing the needs of the community and the content of the collection. Those materials determined to no longer be of value are withdrawn from the collection.

Materials are withdrawn for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Obsolescence: subject matter is no longer timely, accurate or relevant;
  • Damage or poor condition;
  • Space limitation;
  • Insufficient use.

Reconsideration of Materials

Customers from the Vancouver Island Regional Library communities wishing to recommend the removal of a particular item in the library collections may submit a Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials, which will be reviewed by the Executive Director, the Director of Public Services and Planning, and staff in relation to the Library’s mission statement and the selection criteria of this Collection Development Policy. Decisions made about the challenged materials will be communicated to the originator following the staff review.


Revised: November 2009

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