Collection Development Policy


The purpose of this policy is to provide staff with the necessary guidelines to assist them in the development of collections to meet library goals and to inform the public about the principles by which materials are selected for inclusion in the library collections.


Free access to information and ideas is a democratic right of every citizen. Public libraries ensure this right by providing the public with opportunities to participate fully in a changing society through access to a wide range of humanity's thoughts, ideas, information and expressions of the creative imagination.

Collection Development Statement

The public library exists to open a window on the world, reflecting international, national and local trends, interests and events. Collections are developed to meet the needs and interests of the communities which the library serves.

To determine community needs and interests, the library periodically undertakes to study its communities. The library regularly assesses the use made of its collections as well as the depth and breadth of their coverage. The library attempts to make available, the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those which may be regarded as unorthodox or unpopular with the majority. To accomplish this, the library will purchase controversial materials in order to ensure public access to all sides of an issue. Materials are acquired to foster interest and to anticipate demand as well as to sustain demonstrated interest and demand. The purposes and resources of other libraries are recognized and through cooperative agreements, the resources of these libraries may be available to Halifax Regional Library patrons.

The Halifax Public Libraries supports the Statement on Intellectual Freedom and Libraries of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations, opens a new window.

Philosophy of Collection Development

The public library is a primary resource for life-long learning, offering a window on the wider world by providing a wide range of relevant and timely materials. The library provides free access to all materials by all patrons regardless of age, race, religion, familial belief, gender or political affiliation. Some library materials may be controversial or offensive to some people.

To ensure ease of access for patrons across the library system, multiple copies of popular or useful titles and items dealing with sensitive topics are routinely included in the library collections. While the library supports self-directed learning, it does not collect materials that support solely the specific curriculum needs of formal educational classes.

The discretion in the choice of materials by adults rests with the individual; guide in the choice of materials for children rests with their parent or guardian solely.

Criteria for Selection

Librarians judge impartially and evaluate critically. Selection is made by use of authoritative book reviews, knowledge of the reputation and reliability of the author, selection aids such as authoritative discussions of the literature of the subject, pertinent bibliographical publications, publishers' advertising media and requests of library patrons. At times, the librarians may consult with subject area specialists outside the institution to obtain advice about certain fields.

Materials are selected according to the needs and demands of the community, access to other library resources, the present library collection and the budget. The overall value of the material is the chief criterion of selection. Material is judged on the basis of the work as a whole not by a part taken out of context. No criteria are absolute and totally satisfactory and during the selection procedure, rarely is every specific principle applied. Therefore, an item need not meet all the criteria in order to be acceptable.

General Criteria for Selection

  • Opportunity to widen horizons, stimulate imagination and reflection, and enlarge experiences;
  • Meets the international, national and local needs and interests of the community in a timely manner;
  • Subject, style and formats suitable for intended audience and use;
  • Competency and reputation of the author and/or publisher;
  • Enduring value as a classic;
  • Popular demand, both existing and anticipated;
  • Canadian content;
  • Presentation of all sides of controversial issues, where possible;
  • Balancing special group interests with general demand;
  • Represent challenging, though extreme or minority, points of view in order to provide insight into human and social conditions;
  • Relevance to existing collections;
  • Within space and budgetary limitations.


The Halifax Regional Library encourages gifts of money and bequests to the library. The library is a registered charity under the Canadian Income Tax Act: Individuals and groups may thus receive income tax benefits for financial contributions. These contributions will be used for library materials, programming or equipment.

If the donor wishes to specify the use to which money is to be put, a special agreement with the library is necessary at the time that the donation is made.

The library is pleased to accept gifts of print and non-print materials which can be integrated into existing collections and which fit collection development policies. Classifications, shelving, access, location and disposal will be determined by the library. The library reserves the right to dispose of gifts not added to its collection. The library does not evaluate materials for tax receipt purposes.

Suggestions for Purchase

The public are encouraged to suggest titles for addition to the library collection. These suggestions will be considered in light of established collections development criteria. Persons making suggestions are asked to complete the form Suggestions for Purchase.

Patrons requesting materials not added to the collection may be referred to other local libraries or the materials may be requested on interlibrary loan.

Collection Maintenance - Weeding:

Weeding is the continuous systematic withdrawal of materials to maintain the integrity of the library's collection. Professional staff determine when unused items, unnecessary duplicates, outdated, worn or damaged materials are to be discarded using the same criteria that are applied to acquisitions.

Weeding is done to:

  • have a collection which reflects the current and anticipated needs of the community;
  • ensure that the collection is attractively and appealingly displayed;
  • utilize in the most economical way the available space in the library.
  • remove outdated materials from the collection.
  • When appropriate, last copies of important titles will be retained. The Halifax Regional Library recognizes its responsibility in cooperating with other libraries in the region. Collection maintenance policies reflect this responsibility.

Book Sales and Recycling of Discarded Items

In general, discarded materials and donated materials not added to the collection are sold in a book sale, donated to another institution or organization or, if unsuitable for sale or donation, sent to be recycled. Materials that remain unsold after a public books sale may be sold to a dealer. Profits from the sale of these materials are used to supplement the Library's collection budget.

In the public interest, certain materials will not be sold in a library sponsored book sale. These materials include such items as out of date drug information, superseded legal materials and inaccurate or superseded children's non-fiction materials. More detailed guidelines are included in the collection's policies for specific collection areas.

Discards are only made available to the public and staff through Book sales. Staff may purchase discarded materials for personal use only. Purchase may not be made with intent for direct resale.


Withdrawn or missing materials are not automatically replaced. In general, replacements are purchased following the general collections criteria. Several additional factors are, however, considered.

  • importance of title to collection;
  • extent of the present library collection on the subject;
  • availability of new titles on the subject;
  • historical value of the material;
  • indexing or listing in a standard library tool;
  • public interest in the subject.


While professional staff are always willing to discuss the make-up of the collection, the library is obliged to withdraw only that material judged illegal by the higher courts in Canada. The Library Board subscribes to the Statement on Intellectual Freedom and Libraries of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations, opens a new window.

Discretion in the choice of material to be borrowed or used will be left to the adult patron; guidance in the choice of materials for children is the sole responsibility of the child's parent or guardian.

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