Collection Development Policy
Introduction and Overview
The mission of the Smyth County Public Library is to provide access to information and resources that enrich the lives of residents and enable them to meet their personal and professional goals. The library’s collection is one of the primary means of fulfilling this mission.
This policy describes the current collection, details the criteria for selection of materials, and outlines priorities for future development of the collection. A collection development plan is a fundamental document for every library as it is used to guide decision-making about the resources to be made available to the community. It is also intended to make transparent to the community the considerations that influence the development and maintenance of the collection.
The Smyth County Public Library system embraces intellectual freedom and subscribes to the American Library Association’s statements in this regard, specifically the Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read Statement. SCPL endeavors to provide a balanced collection of materials from authoritative sources reflecting diverse perspectives and representing the interests of all members of the community.
Description of the Current Collection
The existing SCPL collection of more than 250,000 items distributed across three locations includes a wide range of materials that support the educational, cultural, professional, and recreational interests of the community. Bestsellers, children’s books, DVDs, large print books, and books on CD are in high demand by SCPL patrons. The Southwest Virginia Heritage collection is a unique asset consulted regularly by community members, visitors, genealogists, and local history enthusiasts. The overall collection includes materials in the following formats:
- Print: Books, magazines, newspapers
- DVD: Movies, television shows, documentaries
- CD: Books, music (local and Christmas only)
- Digital: e-books, e-audiobooks, databases, newspapers, photographs, documents
- Microfilm: various newspapers for the period 1862 to 2020
- Kits: birdwatching, fiber, papercrafts
- Devices: tablets pre-loaded with materials for children and adults, WiFi hotspots/tablets
- Other: seed library based at Chilhowie branch, posters in Marion Main Library
Several unique attributes of Smyth County influence SCPL acquisitions decisions. Specifically, the lack of universal access to broadband internet across the County means that print items, DVDs, and books on CD will continue to be the preferred formats for materials SCPL purchases in the near term. This situation also means that the three SCPL locations play an important role in filling the access gap for Smyth County residents by providing public computers in each library and through the loan of WiFi hotspots and tablets with embedded hotspots. Early childhood literacy to enable the children of Smyth County to succeed academically will continue to be a priority for the collection. In addition, the decision by many Smyth County families to pursue homeschooling influences selections for the Children’s and Young Adult collections at all locations to ensure SCPL offers appropriate resources to support the needs of this group. Finally, there is a significant audience in Smyth County for inspirational reading materials, both fiction and non-fiction. SCPL already acquires a variety of materials to meet this demand and will continue to do so.
The small size of the Chilhowie and Saltville branches precludes storage of comprehensive collections in those locations. The Marion Main Library serves as the central repository for the system, retaining complete collections of certain materials which can be easily transferred to the branches as needed through our regular delivery service.
Over the last two years, special attention has been paid to strengthening specific areas of the non-fiction collection to respond to the needs of Smyth County. Given relatively high levels of unemployment and low incomes, workforce development materials have been one such focus including career exploration, resume preparation, career management, and career transitions. Health literacy is another focus with emphasis on managing chronic conditions, nutrition, wellness, and healthy lifestyles. Updating the aged non-fiction collection will continue to be a consideration for several years to come.
Overall, SCPL will add approximately 4,000 new items to the collection each year spread across all audiences, genres, subjects, and formats.
English is the predominant language of the SCPL collection and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. In 2021, SCPL established a small collection of Spanish language materials for adults and children in Marion and Chilhowie to serve the Spanish-speaking members of those communities as well as English-speakers studying Spanish. We anticipate that this collection will continue to grow based on feedback from the community.
SCPL receives an annual grant from the Library of Virginia which funds more than 90 percent of the annual acquisitions budget. Funds from the Smyth County Board of Supervisors and the Towns of Marion, Chilhowie, and Saltville also support additions to the collection. SCPL also typically receives several donations from members of the community each year specifically earmarked for additions to the collection.
- Digital Collection
SCPL offers a range of materials in digital format to meet diverse patron needs and interests. The Libby and Hoopla digital platforms offer e-books and e-audiobooks; Hoopla also includes movies, TV shows, documentaries, magazines, and music. SCPL subscribes to the Ancestry and Heritage Quest databases from ProQuest to meet the needs of the genealogical community. SCPL is also a Family Search affiliate which allows SCPL patrons access to the Family Search online database from dedicated library computers. SCPL also subscribes to the NewsBank database giving patrons online access to more than 12,000 U.S. newspapers and news magazines. Through its website, SCPL facilitates patron access to the Find It Virginia collection of databases curated by the Library of Virginia for all Virginia public library card holders.
- Outreach Collection
SCPL currently serves senior citizens residing in two facilities – Francis Marion Manor in Marion and Valley Health Care in Chilhowie – as well as participants in the Friendship Café programs (sponsored by the District Three Governmental Cooperative) in Marion and Saltville. A separate collection of large print books and DVDs is maintained for this audience. SCPL will continue to add appropriate materials to this collection in response to the interests of the audience.
- Southwest Virginia Heritage Collection: The Southwest Virginia Heritage Library was established in 1990 in memory of Frederick and Eve Phillippi Copenhaver. The materials housed in the Heritage Library cover the history and culture of Southwest Virginia and include books, manuscripts, maps, newspaper clippings, oral histories, pamphlets, family histories, and photographs. The room also houses a robust collection of genealogical resources pertaining to Smyth County, the state of Virginia, and surrounding regions. Three online databases are available on computers located in and near the room—Family Search, Heritage Quest Online, and Ancestry.com. The Copenhaver Family Foundation contributes several new titles to the Southwest Virginia Heritage collection each year. SCPL also purchases relevant titles periodically to maintain the collection’s comprehensive coverage of local history and genealogy. SCPL will continue to digitize local materials such as photographs, yearbooks, funeral home records, etc. as resources allow.
- Sherwood Anderson Archive: SCPL received in 1985 a donation of papers related to the management of the literary estate of renowned American author Sherwood Anderson. The papers and other artifacts comprise the Sherwood Anderson Archive. In addition, the SCPL collection includes titles about the author and his works that complement the archive.
The SCPL Director is responsible for all collection decisions. The following factors are considered when making selections for the SCPL collection (in all formats):
- relevance to current or anticipated community needs
- suitability of subject and style to intended audience
- critical reviews
- reputation and qualifications of the author and/or publisher
- cost and availability
- relation to current collection and other materials on the subject
- local significance of the author or topic
- potential user appeal
- comprehensiveness of treatment
- currency and accuracy of the information
- long-term significance or interest
- representation of diverse points of view
- suitability of format for library circulation and use
Independently published materials will be considered for selection and are likely to be added when a title meets one or more of these criteria in addition to those listed above:
- regional connection
- relevant to the general collection
- wide audience appeal
- positive review in a library review journal or a local paper
- available for purchase through an established distributor
SCPL consults the following sources in reviewing materials for selection:
- Library Journal
- Publishers Weekly
- School Library Journal
- New York Times
- Kirkus Reviews
- Washington Post
This list is not exhaustive and other sources are consulted as necessary and appropriate.
SCPL welcomes suggestions from the community for materials to be included in the collection. All requests are evaluated according to the priorities and selection criteria contained in this policy and the availability of funding. Requests may be made in person, in writing, or via the Request form on the SCPL website.
Gifts consistent with the priorities and criteria detailed in this policy enrich the SCPL collection. SCPL will not agree to access restrictions for materials received in gift. A deed of gift may be necessary depending on the size of the contribution and should name SCPL as the sole beneficiary and relinquish all rights to the gift and its disposition. SCPL will provide written acknowledgement of all gifts. Due to IRS regulations, SCPL cannot appraise or estimate the value of donated materials.
Limited storage space, especially at the branches, and patron expectations of finding the latest popular titles at SCPL require regular withdrawal of some items from the collection. Criteria to be used in making deselection decisions include:
- factual accuracy of information
- number of past circulations
- date of most recent circulation
- condition of item
- relevance to community’s current interests
- relevance to overall collection
- widespread availability from other sources of information
Withdrawn materials in useable condition are donated to the various Friends of the Library organizations in Smyth County for use in their periodic book sales. Proceeds from those sales are used to support SCPL programs and activities.
Requests for Reconsideration
SCPL and its Board of Trustees recognize that some members of the community may question materials that do not conform to their beliefs, opinions, or tastes. The Director and members of the Board of Trustees are available to discuss such concerns and to explain the selection process.
If that process does not resolve a concern, a formal reconsideration may be requested. All requests for reconsideration must be made in writing to the Library’s Director by a resident of Smyth County who holds a valid library card. An individual requesting reconsideration must certify that s/he has read the item being questioned in its entirety and identify the specific portions of the work that give rise to the request. Request for Reconsideration forms are available at all locations. After consulting with staff members and other members of the community as appropriate, the Director will respond to the request in writing within 30 days. The Director’s decision may be appealed to the Board of Trustees.
This policy was approved by the Board of Trustees of the Smyth County Public Library at their regular business meeting on June 16, 2022, and will be reviewed in four years or earlier if circumstances require.