Materials Selection Policy


The selection of materials is driven by the principles defined in Idea Exchange's Mission, Vision, Values and Goals. The purpose of this policy is to:

a. Guide Idea Exchange staff in the selection of materials
b. Inform the public about the principles upon which selections are made

1. Definitions

Selection: Refers to the decision that must be made either to add materials to the collection or to retain material already in the collection. This policy refers to print, non-print, and electronic materials. The same principles and criteria apply to the selection of all materials. 

2. Goals of Material Selection

The role of Idea Exchange in the City of Cambridge is to inspire our community in the exploration of reading, arts, innovation and learning. To accomplish this, Idea Exchange will:

1. Acquire, maintain and make readily available to the greatest number of residents, well-balanced and timely collections of the most sought after material.
2. Ensure the collection of materials includes the works of universally recognized as having a significant influence on the development of our society.
3. Safeguard the community's right to intellectual freedom through the selection of a wide variety of materials representing different viewpoints in a variety of formats.
4. Provide resources for information, reference and research as well as recreation and leisure.
5. Acquire and provide opportunities to discover cutting edge technologies and innovations of interest to the community.
6. Encourage the community in their cultural development and increase their knowledge of and appreciation for the arts.

3. Responsibility for Selection

The ultimate responsibility for selection rests with the Chief Executive Officer of Idea Exchange who operates within the framework of policies determined by the Library Board of Trustees. This responsibility may be delegated to other members of the staff.

4. General Principles

4.1 Selection is based on the merits of a work in relation to the needs, interests and demands of the residents of Cambridge. The Canadian Library Association Statement on Intellectual Freedom and Libraries (Appendix A), as amended September 17, 2015 and accepted by Idea Exchange without reservation is integral to this selection policy. It states in part that:

... all persons in Canada have a fundamental right, subject only to the Constitution and the law, to have access to the full range of knowledge, imagination, ideas, and opinion, and to express their thoughts publicly. Only the courts may abridge free expression in Canada.

Libraries have a core responsibility to safeguard and facilitate access to constitutionally protected expressions of knowledge, imagination, ideas, and opinion, including those which some individuals and groups consider unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable. To this end, in accordance with their mandates and professional values and standards, libraries provide, defend and promote equitable access to the widest possible variety of expressive content and resist calls for censorship and the adoption of systems that deny or restrict access to resources.

4.2 Idea Exchange does not promulgate particular beliefs or views, nor is the provision of access to a particular belief or view equivalent to an endorsement.

4.3 Idea Exchange believes in the freedom of the individual, and the right and obligation of parents and guardians to develop, interpret and instill their values upon their own household. The responsibility for what children under the age of 13 read or view rests with their parents and legal guardians.

While children under the age of 13 are encouraged to use the juvenile collections, as well as the electronic resources and web sites recommended on the Idea Exchange web site for children, selection of materials for the adult collection and provision of Internet services is not restricted by the possibility that children may obtain access to information their parents consider inappropriate.

4.4 Idea Exchange provides access to information in a wide variety of formats, including access to electronic information through unfiltered access to the Internet. (See Idea Exchange Internet Access Policy, Appendix B.) Provision of access to the Internet allows Idea Exchange to provide a window onto a world of ideas, information and commentary well beyond that which can be made available through its own collections. Unfiltered Internet access ensures that members can exercise their right to choose from the widest range of information available.

4.5 Materials with an emphasis on sex, violence, or containing profane language should not be automatically rejected.

4.6 Idea Exchange selects materials that support our goals. Materials are not restricted to print but encompass anything that fosters the education, enlightenment or recreation of the community.

Materials selected according to these principles shall not be prescribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval by groups or individuals.

5. Criteria for Selection

The following principles will guide selection:

1. Contemporary significance or permanent value
2. Accuracy
3. Authority of author/artist/creator
4. Relation of work to existing collection
5. Scarcity of information in subject area
6. Format and ease of use
7. Budget limitations
8. Availability of materials elsewhere in the region - holdings of other institutions within the region are considered when developing Idea Exchange's collections
9. Popular Demand - Idea Exchange recognizes the importance of member demand and to that end will purchase or acquire materials with an anticipated popularity
10. A representative sampling of innovative, experimental or short lived material may be purchased
11. Materials promoting all aspects of literacy - print literacy, numeracy and digital literacy - will be considered
12. Positive reviews from authoritative sources recognized by the greater library community
13. Acceptable ratings from authoritative rating agencies recognized as industry standards

All or a majority of these criteria need not apply to the selection of a particular item. By the same token, the failure of a potential acquisition to meet the requirements of an individual criterion would not justify its elimination from selection consideration.

6. Electronic Databases

Electronic databases are subscription products that provide access to publications, literary works, courses or collections of information, usually via the Internet. These electronic databases complement our physical collections and provide access to a core collection of electronic reference materials both from inside our buildings or remotely. While selection for these materials is guided by the same criteria that govern all selection, due to their nature, additional factors and selection criteria must be considered.

Additional selection criteria to consider when selecting databases are:

1. The value and performance of the database in comparison to any print counterparts;
2. The product's ease of use by its target audience;
3. The time span covered by the product and its frequency of updates;
4. The ability of the product to allow for continuous access for multiple users;
5. Vendor reliability, support and documentation;
6. Compatibility with Idea Exchange's current equipment and software;
7. Ease of installation and maintenance.

7. Website Links

Idea Exchange provides links to free, authoritative Internet web sites for children, young adults and adults from its web site. It also provides links through its online catalogue to publications available on the Internet that are not easily available in other formats. These electronic links augment our physical collections and provide access to materials from inside our buildings or remotely on a 24/7 basis. While selections for these links is guided by the same criteria that govern all selection, due to their nature, additional factors and selection criteria must be considered.

Additional selection criteria to consider when selecting web site links are:

1. The site is updated in such a way as to keep it current and accurate;
2. The site's author is clearly defined;
3. Printing from the site is allowed;
4. The site is easily navigated;
5. Advertising does not overshadow the content or create a bias;
6. Fee for service sites will not be selected;
7. E-commerce sites will not be selected except where they provide the best coverage of a subject;
8. Sites requiring registration with personal information that becomes the property of an organization will not be selected.

8. Electronic Gaming

Computer gaming has a place in a modern learning environment. Just as reading games promote literacy, computer games promote digital literacy. We live in a world where digital literacy skill are imperative and public libraries are providing opportunities to grow these skills.

Additional selection criteria to consider when selecting electronic games are:

1. Audience or potential audience.
2. Ratings. As with literature, not all games are appropriate for all ages. In situations where games could be viewed in our buildings by all audiences, no games rated higher than Teen will be selected.
3. Platform. A selection of the most popular gaming platforms will be considered; not all platforms can be represented.

9. Textbooks

Providing textbooks and curriculum material is generally held to be the responsibility of the schools. Textbooks should be purchased for the collection when they supply the information in areas in which they may be the best, or the only, source of information on the subject.

10. Gifts and Donations

Selection of gifts and donations should be governed by the same principles and criteria applied to the selection of an item for purchase. No conditions may be imposed relating to any gift or donation after its acceptance by Idea Exchange.

11. One System, One Collection

Collections at all Idea Exchange locations are available to all residents wherever they reside in the city. Member requests placed through the catalogue will be transferred between locations for member pickup and return.

12. Member Selection and Reconsideration

Idea Exchange gives members the opportunity to suggest additional materials to the collection or to the inclusion of particular items in the collection. Requests for the addition or withdrawal of materials must be made in writing using Idea Exchange's Request for Purchase or Reserve (see Appendix C) and Request for Reconsideration of Materials (see Appendix D) forms. The item will be evaluated or re-evaluated using Idea Exchange's approved selection policy.

March 24, 1993
Revised Policy:  Approved October 23, 2003
Revised Policy:  Approved February 24, 2016 (Board Motion 16.15)

Appendix A: Intellectual Freedom Statement

Appendix B: Internet Access Policy

Appendix C: Request for Purchase or Reserve

Appendix D: Request for Reconsideration of Materials [PDF] (Print copies also available at our service desks)

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1 North Square, Cambridge, ON N1S 2K6
Phone: 519-621-0460

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