Collection Development Policy

Last Updated Date



  • “Selection” refers to the decision to add, retain, or withdraw materials in the library’s collection.

  • “Library materials” include all items in the library’s collection regardless of format.

  • “Access” is the availability of materials in a variety of formats for users of all ages and abilities.

General Guidelines for Selection 

The Waterloo Public Library is primarily a popular materials library. Emphasis will be placed on selecting current materials likely to be in high demand in our service area. Items in the Library’s circulating collections will be reviewed regularly and may be removed from the collection if they are worn, outdated, or no longer in demand.

The Library does hold and maintain a small archival collection of materials relevant to the history of Waterloo and the surrounding area. The Library actively acquires works that would fit the scope of this collection. These items do not circulate, but may be viewed at the library or, in some cases, online.

Although the bulk of the Waterloo Public Library’s collections are in English, the Library may collect items in other languages which have a significant number of speakers living in the community, or to support local world language educational programs.

The Waterloo Public Library provides services and materials to all and does not knowingly discriminate in its materials selection with regard to nationality, age, race, creed, gender, religion, political views, occupation, or socio-economic status. All librarians have a professional responsibility to be inclusive, not exclusive, in developing collections. Efforts will be made to provide materials representing diverse viewpoints.

Waterloo Public Library adheres to the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights and its interpretations, and The Freedom to Read and Freedom to View statements. Inclusion of material in the collection does not imply the library’s endorsement of it or its contents. The Library recognizes that any given item may offend some patrons, but because the Library follows accepted principles of intellectual freedom, it will not remove specific titles solely because individuals or groups may find them objectionable.

The library user’s choice of materials for personal use is an individual matter. Responsibility for the use of materials by children and adolescents rests with their parents or legal guardians. While a person may reject materials for themselves and for their child(ren), they may not exercise censorship to restrict access to the materials by others.

Any library user who objects to the presence or absence of a work may do so by completing a Statement of Concern About Library Resources form, which may be obtained at the library. The professional staff and the Library Trustees will review challenges. The user who submitted the statement will be informed of the Trustees’ decision.

Criteria for Selection

All materials are evaluated using the following criteria:


  • Content fits within the mission and strategic plan of the Waterloo Public Library

  • Popular demand

  • Cost

  • Timeliness

  • Availability of materials from designated vendors and/or terms of licensing agreements

  • Scarcity of material on the subject and availability elsewhere

  • Suitability of form for library use

  • Quality and sustainability of the format

  • Representation of diverse points of view and broad knowledge base

  • Relevance to community needs

  • Consideration of the work as a whole

  • Technical quality

An item need not meet all of these criteria in order to be acceptable. Other considerations may be applicable in specific subject areas. 

Self-Published Works


The Waterloo Public Library will consider author and patron donations of self-published works on an individual basis. Materials that are donated become the property of the Waterloo Public Library, and as such cannot be returned to the donor. The donor of the material should understand that the Library reserves the right to add the title to the collection or to dispose of it if it is not needed.

Authors or patrons donating works will increase their chance of having the item added to the collection if 

  • it fits within the scope of our collections.

  • it has been written by a local author or has an Iowa connection.

  • it is suitable for circulation and is professionally bound.

  • the item has positive reviews in professional journals.

  • there is local demand for the item.

Once added to the collection, self-published works will be treated the same as titles from professional publishers. If they become worn or outdated, or if they are not circulating, they will be withdrawn.

Due to staffing and time constraints, librarians are not able to meet with authors on an individual basis. If the work is accepted, the title will appear in the library catalog within 60 days. 

Responsibility for Selection 

Daily responsibility for collection development lies with librarians who apply professional knowledge, experience, and this policy in making decisions. Ultimate responsibility for collection development lies with the Director.


Customer Requests

Waterloo Public Library users are encouraged to recommend items of interest to library staff for possible purchase. Requests may be made in person or via the user’s online library account. Recommended items will be evaluated based on selection criteria listed in this policy. If an item is not purchased, library staff will work with users to see if the item may be obtained for them through interlibrary loan.

Monetary Gifts and Donations of Materials

Please see the Waterloo Public Library’s Gift and Donation Policy.



Amended by Board of Trustees.  11/14/19

Reviewed by Board of Trustees.  3/12/13 

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