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Materials Selection Policy

Guidelines for the use, selection, and management of the Library's materials collection.

This policy relates to the Use, Selection, and Management of the Materials Collection Policies of the Indianapolis Public Library ("Library"). These policies reflect the philosophy of the Library Board in regard to the use, selection, and management of the materials collection policies of the Library and its facilities.

Intellectual Freedom

The Library enables all individuals in the Indianapolis community to exercise their right to access constitutionally protected information as guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which protects the freedom of expression and the corollary freedom of access to information. The Library selection policy is guided by the Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read Statement, and the Freedom to View Statement adopted by the American Library Association.

Material Collection Selection

Library materials are purchased for use by Library cardholders to meet their information, education, recreation, and entertainment needs as inclusively as the library budget allows.

Selection of Materials for Adults

The library maintains a diverse collection of materials designed to satisfy the needs and interests of a wide audience of adults in the Indianapolis community. Material of a scholarly, academic, or highly specialized nature may not meet selection criteria. Selection of adult materials is not inhibited by the possibility that materials may inadvertently fall into the hands of children. Library materials are not sequestered except for the express purpose of protecting them from damage or theft. The library does not advocate labels or rating systems for Library materials except for the use of directional labels for ease of finding items in the collection. The library affirms the rights of individuals to form their own opinions about resources they choose to read or view.

Selection of Materials for Minors

The Library selects materials for children and teens with the intent to foster reading, to support recreational interests, and to provide materials on a wide range of topics to spark natural curiosity and broaden interests. Selection of children’s and teen material is subject to the Library’s Selection Criteria as well as review of appropriateness of content and suitability of subject and style for the minor audience. The children and teen collections at all library locations will be shelved in age appropriate sections designated for them. Lists of recommended titles, links on the Library website and staff guidance are provided to help children and teens select age appropriate materials.

Responsibility of Use of the Collection by Minors

Only parents or legal guardians have the authority and responsibility to decide the reading, viewing, or listening use of library materials for their own minor children.

Selection of Materials for Students

The Library supports student learning at all academic levels with supplementary materials for reading or reference use by individuals. Materials for curriculum support are provided according to selection criteria and are intended to be secondary materials for classroom curriculum. Multiples of a single title for classroom use is not guaranteed.

Selection of Materials for Caregivers, Homeschoolers, Educators, or Youth Leaders

The Library encourages and supports all adults who foster reading in children and teens through collection development and by providing lists of recommended titles, links on the Library website, staff guidance, and other resources for these adults.

Collaborative Collection Development for the Shared System

The Library supports Shared System and collaborative collection development through student, faculty, and member use of the collection by delivering materials to these schools and museums.

Selection of Materials for those with Special Needs

The Library seeks to provide materials for patrons with a variety of special needs. These materials include special formats, world languages, and customized reading levels. Materials in world languages are provided in all formats, in commonly spoken world languages of the community.

Selection of Diverse and Inclusive Materials

The Library endeavors to create a balanced collection that embraces and promotes diversity and inclusion. The collection will serve to preserve, promote, highlight and give voice to individuals and groups with varying backgrounds, experiences, styles, perceptions, values and beliefs.

Selection Criteria for Materials

The library is inclusive rather than exclusive when purchasing materials for the collection and uses the “CRITERIA FOR SELECTION” guidelines to make collection content decisions.

Criteria: Current and anticipated needs and interests of the public

The library purchases the materials users want, when they want them. These materials include best sellers, information on timely topics, and titles of specific local interest.

Criteria: Review Media Evaluations

Critical reviews in a wide variety of library review journals and the popular press are used to determine the potential popularity of materials in Indianapolis.

Criteria: Accuracy and timeliness of content

The Library provides an overall collection that is up to date with attention paid to rapidly changing subject areas.

Criteria: Author/Publisher credibility

Works by best-selling and well-known authors, directors, or musicians are selected. Self-published works or those from small presses warrant closer evaluation and are added if they feature regional connections, have wide audience appeal or have received a positive review in a local paper or national review publications.

Criteria: Contribution to diversity or breadth of collections

The breadth and depth of the collection reflects the interests of the diverse and ever-changing Indianapolis community and diversity is a priority for building the collection. The library may limit the number of copies within a subject area to maintain breadth of collection.

Criteria: Presentation of unique or controversial point of view

Material on a controversial subject is chosen to represent different points of view. The Library may exclude materials it deems ultra-sensational or inflammatory. Selection is made solely on the merits of the work in relation to building the collection and to serving the interests of patrons. No library materials will be removed from the Library because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval. The overall purpose of the material is the chief criterion of selection. The Library excludes material that it judges to have been created purely to appeal to a taste for sensationalism, obscenity, and/or prurient interests. However, material that illuminates some issue or aspect of life will not be excluded because its language or subject matter may be offensive to some patrons. Material is judged for its strength and value as a whole and not in part.

Criteria: Nominations for awards or prizes

Materials that are nominated or receive regional, state, or national recognition are purchased.

Criteria: Quality and packaging of production

The physical quality and technical caliber of illustrations, covers, bindings, recording, printing, or packaging are factors in the selection of library materials. Materials must be durable under multiple uses by many users. Flimsy paperback covers, spiral bindings or items with numerous pieces may be considered inappropriate for the library collection.

Criteria: Price

In combination with other criteria or alone, items with significantly high prices are scrutinized to ensure the demand for the item is worth the price.

Selection of Electronic Resources

Electronic resources, including online databases and internet links from the Library's home page, are selected to complement the Library's physical collection using criteria established for print sources. Electronic resources are selected according to the material selection policy, and by the following selection criteria:

  • Comprehensiveness
  • Authority, accuracy, and currency of the database
  • Frequency of updates
  • Ease of use
  • Platform
  • Minimum technology requirements for the general public
  • Remote access and licensing restrictions
  • Overlap and comparison with other print and electronic sources
  • Past usage


The library objects to censorship in the fulfillment of its responsibility to provide information and enlightenment. Library material meeting the selection criteria is not excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to its creation. Therefore, if material is not chosen for the Library's collection it has been excluded for one of these reasons:

  • it does not meet the Library's selection criteria
  • the Library already has adequate coverage
  • the budget will not permit the expenditure

Managing the Collection

An assessment of community needs and a clear understanding of the intended audience are used to build the Library collection. Purchases are guided by the Library’s strategic plan with intent to accomplish the strategies and actions set forth.

Organizing the Collection

The collection will be organized for optimum access and retrieval of materials.

Distribution of the Collection

The Library maintains one materials collection which is shared by all Library locations. The Library provides a sufficient number of copies of each title purchased to minimize the wait time for users.

Display of the Collection

Timely displays of library and related materials, correlating with community interests and current events, will be used both within the Library, and at pop-up points outside to attract new and returning patrons to the Library, to increase reading interests and to share information about library services, events and activities. Care will be taken for displays to follow the materials selection criteria when the subject matter is considered controversial.

Evaluation of the Collection

The library maintains a high quality, fresh, and current collection through selection, as well as aggressive and judicious weeding. Therefore, the library discards items that are outdated, no longer in demand, physically worn out, or whose purpose is better served by online resources. Weeding is an ongoing process at all library locations.

Maintenance of the Collection

Appropriate evaluation and effective weeding make materials easier for users to locate on library shelves. Collection maintenance ensures ample room for new materials, returns, and merchandizing opportunities. Turnover goals are accomplished for specific formats and subjects.

Discards from the Collection

Discarded Library materials and public donations are given to the Library Foundation for dispensation as in accordance IC 36-12-3-5 and IndyPL policy.

Indianapolis Collection

The Library maintains a collection of materials with themes germane to Indianapolis and Marion County, its culture, history, and character. The collection is limited in size and is not intended to be all-inclusive.

Gifts and Donations of Materials

Donations of materials are accepted by the Library and are considered for inclusion in the collection in the same manner as materials that are purchased. Donations and gifts of materials are accepted by the Library with the explicit understanding that they are not necessarily to be added to the collection. Gifts not selected for the collection are given to the Library Foundation for disposition.

Requests for Purchase

The Library enthusiastically encourages and responds to public suggestions of items and subjects to be included in the library collection. Recommendations by the public for adding materials not in the collection are judged by the same selection criteria standards used for all library materials.

Requests for Reconsideration

The Library accepts public requests for reconsideration for the review, relocation, or exclusion of any library material. Requests and items are reviewed and judged according to the selection criteria standards used for all library materials. Print and submit a request for reconsideration form.

Approved October 22, 2018

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