The Materials Selection policy provides direction to library staff that select material for the collection as well as to inform the public of how decisions are made with regard to the collection. This extends to how the Library addresses challenges to materials, the handling of donations of materials and de-selection practices.


This policy and related procedures apply to:

  • all library collections; and
  • all materials acquired, whether through purchase, consortia agreements or donation.

Responsibility for Selection

It is the ultimate responsibility of the Library Board to establish all major policies for the operation and management of the Peterborough Public Library. The guidelines set forth below for selection by professional staff have been adopted as the policy of the Library Board.

The selection and discarding of books and other library materials are vested in the Library CEO and, under the Library CEO's direction, in the members of the professional staff. Staff members select materials based upon their training and experience with assistance from the general guidelines set forth in this document.

Library Profile

Each library branch has a unique profile and its collection will reflect that profile.

  • The Main Library branch is a full-service library with circulating and reference collections.
  • The DelaFosse branch is a small neighbourhood library with primarily a recreational collection.
  • The library website is a “virtual” third branch providing access to digital resources that can be either used online or downloaded to personal devices.

Controversial Materials

The library's collection is free and open to all. Parents and legal guardians are responsible for monitoring and limiting the use of library materials by their children.

The library recognizes that many materials are controversial and that any given item may offend some patrons. Selection of materials is made solely on the evaluation of the item in accordance with the criteria set forth within this policy. In the case of controversial issues, an effort is made to see that all points of view are represented. The presence of any item in the library does not indicate an endorsement of its contents by the library.

Materials are selected on the basis of the content as a whole and without regard to the author or creator's race, religion, national origin or his or her sexual, social or political views.

The library does not affix labels of approval or disapproval on its material. Film classification labels are affixed to DVDs, where available, in accordance with Ontario Regulation 452/05 under the Film Classification Act, 2005.

Exclusions from the Collection

Materials that are prohibited under Canadian law and/or by court order will not be held in the collection or knowingly be acquired by the library.

Institutions that provide formal education are responsible for providing materials to support their curricula. The library may acquire items that assist with school projects and learning. As a matter of course, the library does not acquire textbooks or professional material. Occasionally an item will be included if it is introductory in nature and/or provides the best coverage of a subject.

Review Process

Individuals may request that a selection decision be reconsidered. A Request for Reconsideration of Material may be made.

Criteria for Selection of Library Materials

Library staff selects materials, whether through purchase or donation impartially and with a critical eye. This is achieved through the use of reviews, bibliographies, publishers' catalogues, and patron suggestions for purchase. Where necessary, staff may consult with other specialists outside the library to make informed acquisition decisions.

An item is judged as a whole and not in part. The library will use the following criteria to develop its collection. An item does not have to meet all the criteria in order to be included in the collection:

  • Author/publisher's reputation or significance
  • Considers the clarity, accuracy and style of the writing, illustrations or production
  • Fits within the limitations of the library's budget and physical space
  • Provides adequate subject coverage and is intended for a general audience
  • Considers how the item and its subject fits with the existing collection
  • Meets either existing or anticipated popular demand
  • Is relevant to the local community needs and interests
  • Availability of materials in other library collections
  • Is in a suitable format for library use -- considering durability, size, and other physical factors
  • Recommendations of critical reviewers and the general public
  • Provides a balance of viewpoints


In accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005), Integrated Accessibility Standards, the Library provides access to materials in alternate formats where they exist, using the selection criteria outlined in this policy. Access to the collection is also available through the use of equipment available in the library and for loan.

Special Collections

Materials in Languages other than English

  • Material will be available in French language as warranted by the community.
  • Books in other languages are provided in accordance with the community needs. The library shall endeavour to meet the needs of clients who require materials in languages other than English through Interlibrary Loan.

Peterborough Collection

  • The Peterborough Collection consists mainly of secondary print materials relating to the history of Peterborough City and County. It also includes primary material of interest to genealogists such as census records; land records indices, cemetery indices, city directories and early local newspapers. The collection excludes any type of material that would otherwise be held in archives at other institutions in the region.

Healthy Families Collection

  • The Healthy Families Collection is composed of a range of material on a wide variety of parenting subjects.

Adult Literacy

  • The library holds a small collection of books and book and CD kits for beginning to advanced readers. These range from graded readers to materials that support writing development.

English as a Second Language

  • The library holds a variety of materials to assist beginning to advanced learners of English.

Local Authors Collection

  • The Local Authors Collection consists of locally-produced, self-published, and independent press works of fiction, non-fiction, music and film for all ages. It is a contemporary, circulating collection (i.e. non-archival).

Resource Sharing

Items that fall outside the selection criteria of the Library, are out of print, or are temporarily unavailable can be requested through Interlibrary Loan services. Fees for the service may apply.

The Library, where possible, may participate in consortia purchasing agreements.

Gifts and Donations

All unsolicited items become the property of the Peterborough Public Library. Most donations are sold by the Friends of the Library for the benefit of the library. Some items may be added to the collection, using the selection criteria outlined within this policy. No condition may be imposed on the Library relating to any donated item.

The library does not accept donations of items in lieu of payment for lost or damaged items.

The library does not provide tax receipts for material donations. The library cannot perform valuations for such material.

Suggestions for the Collection

Patrons wishing to suggest titles for purchase by the library may complete a Suggest a Title form. All items for possible inclusion are considered using the selection criteria outlined within this policy. Authors or vendors wishing the library to consider purchasing their material should contact the Collections Development Librarian before leaving any materials at the library.


Deselection of materials is an ongoing process, which maintains and improves the currency, accuracy, appearance, and efficiency of the collection. Materials will be withdrawn from the collection when:

  • They are no longer used by the community
  • They are worn-out, damaged, or cannot be repaired
  • They are out-dated, unreliable or misleading
  • More current materials on a subject become available
  • Public demand no longer requires multiple copies, or
  • Space is required for new materials

Withdrawals may be given to the Friends of the Library, other libraries and organizations, sold or recycled at the discretion of the Library CEO. Funds that are raised from the sale of withdrawn items will be used for the benefit of the Library.


Library materials that are lost or damaged may be replaced, according to the same selection criteria that apply to new materials.

Library materials that have been damaged by patrons will be disposed of or recycled – they will not be returned to patrons. 

Approved by the Library Board November 2017

To view additional related information and related policies, please contact the library.