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I. Mission of the Library and of Collection Development

Mission Statement
The Mansfield/Richland County Public Library will provide library materials, services, programs and initiatives that create and support a vibrant quality of life in Richland County.

Purpose of the Collection Within the Context of the Mission
A library is identified and defined principally by its holdings of materials and information resources. The Library acts to fulfill its mission by selecting, acquiring, organizing, preserving, maintaining and providing access to a collection of materials (both print and nonprint) and electronic resources that address the interests and needs of the members of the community.

II. Purpose of the Collection Development Policy

This formal policy serves several vital purposes:

  • Guides staff in making decisions about the selection, management, and preservation of library materials and in allocating library budgets;
  • Informs the public of the principles that govern collection development at Mansfield/Richland County Public Library (M/RCPL)
  • Constitutes a public declaration of the Library’s commitment to the principles of free access to ideas and information and to providing collections that reflect a variety of viewpoints.


III. General Principles of Collection Development

Collection development at Mansfield/Richland County Public Library is founded on the principles of intellectual freedom, equal access for all and the preservation of a documentary record of culture. The Library provides a collection that balances viewpoints across a broad spectrum of opinion and subject matter in formats suitable to a variety of learning and recreational interests and skills. Using selection practices that are flexible and responsive to the changing needs of the community, the Library builds and maintains collections for the general public while recognizing the needs of special population groups.

Intellectual Freedom
The Library makes available a wide diversity of ideas and viewpoints in support of an informed citizenry and a democratic society. The Library supports the individual choice and judgment of its users in seeking information, and upholds the freedom of library users to read, view and listen.

Decisions to select or retain an item are based on the merits of each work or information source as it relates to the goals and coverage of the collection. The Library considers the value of each item in its entirety and within the context of the collection, not on specific passages or sections in the item itself. Materials are not marked, labeled or set apart in such a way as to show approval or disapproval of content. Materials are not excluded, removed, banned or suppressed because of their creators’ origin, background or views, or because they represent a particular aspect of life, frankness of expression or controversial subject matter. Selection of materials for adults is not constrained by possible exposure to children or teens. Responsibility for children’s use of library collections rests with their parents, guardians and/or caregivers.

Inclusion of an item does not constitute endorsement of its content by the Library Board.

The Library makes its collections available to all. However, not all library materials can be made immediately accessible at all locations within the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library system. Selectors decide how many copies to buy and where to locate them by considering anticipated demand, the interests of local library users, physical space limitations and available budgets. Main Library, with its larger collection and retrospective and specialized holdings, serves as a resource for the branches.

M/RCPL is committed to the expeditious delivery of materials and information to its users. Some library materials, however, may be subject to use limitations due to consideration of rarity, exceptional levels of demand, cost, physical condition and permanent value of their information content. Immediate availability may also be affected by storage limitations. Efforts will be made to provide access to materials and information beyond the immediate premises of a library agency or beyond the holdings of its collection, by means of regularly scheduled delivery of materials systemwide, holds/reserves, referrals, statewide resource sharing, SearchOhio (interlibrary loans), online searching, provision of licensed electronic resources and access to the Internet. In all these efforts, M/RCPL will operate within the provisions of United States copyright law.

The advent and expansion of electronic and Internet information resources pose challenges for the future of library collections and the information needs of the public. Many materials once available in print are now also being produced in electronic format. Some are now available solely through the Internet or proprietary database products. Providing access to electronic resources is an integral part of the Library’s collection development efforts.

The Library recognizes the importance of a collection that reflects the past as well as the present. To achieve this, M/RCPL strives to preserve items of permanent or long-standing value. Working within financial limitations and the challenges posed by deterioration of materials, the Library develops programs and procedures to insure the preservation of the documentary memory of the community.

IV. Responsibility for Collection Development

Collection development is a process guided through all its stages by the expertise and judgment of librarians. Ultimate responsibility for the direction, purpose and scope of collection development rests with the Board of the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library. The Library Director is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the policy and delegates this professional responsibility through the Collection Development Coordinator and designated selectors.

V. Audience and Roles

The Library’s community is diverse, consisting of individuals of various ages, races, faiths, levels of education, incomes, sexual orientations, political viewpoints, ethnic backgrounds and languages spoken. As a county district library, Mansfield/Richland County Public Library’s primary service area is Richland County, exclusive of the Shelby School District. Since Mansfield is the largest city in a 50-mile radius, M/RCPL attracts a secondary clientele from the five surrounding counties and the City of Shelby. Any resident of the State of Ohio may borrow materials from Mansfield/Richland County Public Library. Use of the collection within the Library is not limited by place of residence. M/RCPL is an active participant in statewide resource sharing and in interlibrary loan in accordance with OCLC and ALA standard practices.

The Mansfield/Richland County Public Library meets the needs of its diverse community with physical collections, electronic resources and referrals that emphasize:

  • Early literacy and other initiatives for young children
  • Supplemental resources to support students at all levels of formal education
  • Lifelong learning for adults
  • Recreational reading, listening and viewing for all ages
  • General research, especially in areas of local or regional interest or subjects in high demand
  • Artistic and creative resources
  • Occupational and professional development materials
  • The particular or specific needs of identified populations of users

The focus of each library location varies depending upon the needs of its local community. All locations support the operations of the library system with their services and collections.

VI. Content and Scope of Collection Development at M/RCPL

Mansfield/Richland County Public Library’s main and branch libraries plus interagency partnerships at the local and state level contribute to a rich mixture of resources and information for library users.

Main Library serves as headquarters for the county system and as a community library for people who live and/or work in downtown Mansfield. Main houses the core collection and offers the most comprehensive array of both circulating and non-circulating materials. It has the system’s most in-depth reference collection, including books, microforms and databases. Main’s collection also supports services to individuals with vision or hearing impairments, delivery services to homebound individuals, and outreach to assisted living centers and nursing homes.

The Sherman Room at Main focuses on the history of the City of Mansfield, Richland County and the State of Ohio. Its collection of local newspaper backfiles, school yearbooks, city and county directories, local government and census data, cemetery records, genealogical resources and works by local authors, including the papers of John Sherman, define its role as the collective memory of the community.

Branch library collections are designed primarily to serve users in the community that directly surrounds each library. Branch library collections contain chiefly current, general interest materials on a variety of subjects for all ages. Each community’s branch collection varies in size, scope and depth according to its patterns of use, the expressed needs of the community and the space limitations of the facility.

The Library participates in cooperative agreements to further expand the range of its resources. Locally M/RCPL provides First Call 211 partnership with Richland County Job & Family Services.

State and national affiliations also enhance service to library users. Mansfield/Richland County Public Library is a depository library for municipal, county and state government documents as well as federal census documents. The Grant Center within Main Library’s reference collection is one of ten Foundation Center cooperative collections in Ohio providing information and educational services about philanthropic resources to grant-seeking individuals and nonprofit organizations. M/RCPL is a sublending agency for the Library of Congress Talking Book Program. The library website connects local users to statewide library resources including Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN) electronic resources and KnowItNow, the 24/7 live reference service that is a joint project of The State Library of Ohio and libraries around the state.

VII. Collection Management

Selection Sources
A wide variety of sources may be consulted when making selection decisions, for example: customer recommendations or requests; critical reviews; awards and honors lists; publisher or vendor catalogs; and promotional information.

Selection Criteria
Librarians/selectors use their subject knowledge and expertise in combination with criteria including, but not limited to those listed below (not in priority order) to select and evaluate collection items. Gifts and purchases are held to the same standard. An item need not meet all criteria to be selected.

General Criteria

  • Format or physical form suitable for library use and reflecting customer preferences
  • Cost relative to the value the item contributes to the collection
  • Space required relative to the value the item contributes to the collection
  • The extent to which the item supplements, expands on, or supports the existing collection, rather than duplicates it
  • Relevance to observed and anticipated community needs and desires
  • Reputation and qualifications of the author, creator or publisher of the work
  • Local significance of the author or creator of the work

Content Criteria

  • Comprehensiveness of treatment, including breadth and depth
  • Skill and purpose of the author or creator
  • Consideration of the work as a whole, rather than a specific passage or passages
  • Evaluation of the currency and accuracy of the information contained, to the extent that is possible
  • Representation of diverse points of view
  • Representation of important movements, subjects, genres or trends of local, regional or national significance
  • Long-term or historical significance or interest
  • Relevance of the information to immediate local requirements

Electronic Format Criteria

Additional considerations may apply to the selection of electronic resources.

  • Ease of use of the product
  • Accessibility to multiple users
  • Access to needed equipment
  • Enhancement of the print equivalent (if any), in terms of speed, flexibility, combinations of search terms, or general utility
  • Continued access to retrospective information when necessary or desirable
  • Reduction of space requirements over print products
  • Reduction in number of copies of a print source when purchased for multiple locations


The Library gratefully accepts gifts of money and materials under the circumstances outlined below.

The Library accepts donations of materials that are in good condition if deemed valuable to the collection. The Library reserves the right to make final disposition of all gifts received. Gifts may be added to the collection or rejected at the discretion of the Library. Gift materials not added to the collection are not returned to the donor. Unused gifts may be given to the Friends of the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library for public sale or disposed of in some other way.

The Library will, if requested, provide a written acknowledgement of the receipt of gift, but in accordance with income tax regulations, will leave the determination of the value of the material to the donor.

Gift collections will be accepted only by the Director, with the counsel of the Collection Development Coordinator as appropriate, with the understanding that the collection may not be kept intact or retained forever.

The Library accepts monetary gifts intended for the purchase of library materials. Consideration will be given to the interests of the donor or honoree. The Library reserves the right to make the ultimate selection decision based on its needs and consistent with the criteria in this policy.

Substantial cash offerings, securities, endowments and bequests will be handled by the Director, who, with the Board of Trustees, will work out terms of acceptance that are in agreement with the Library’s needs and policies, the donor’s intent and applicable laws.

Retention and Preservation Criteria
The Library views any decision to retain or preserve as another type of selection choice. Applying the same criteria used to select new materials, the Library retains or preserves materials of long-standing value to its mission and collections.

Retention and preservation decisions regarding items in the collection are the responsibility of the Director and delegated to the Collection Development Coordinator and designated professional staff.

Condition, content, inherent value and use are the primary criteria used to determine the continued retention of materials in the collection. Many materials do not withstand the test of time and repeated handling. Likewise, many fields of knowledge are drastically altered by new discoveries and changes in culture. As demand declines, the Library selectively removes multiple copies, making exceptions for areas of special importance to the overall collection. The Library also removes worn, damaged and obsolete materials that cannot be repaired and are no longer usable. An item that is damaged or lost may be replaced if it is deemed still useful and is still available for purchase.

The Library takes appropriate action to preserve those materials that cannot be replaced, but that continue to have long-standing or permanent significance to the overall collection. The Library may use a variety of means to preserve such materials, including but not limited to replacement of content through purchase of another edition, rebinding and use restriction. The Library also encourages preservation of materials by educating the public and staff about care of materials and by instituting procedures for proper handling and storage of materials.

Evaluation Criteria
Evaluation techniques are used to measure collection usefulness in terms of scope and depth, as well as strengths and weaknesses. Measures and evaluation techniques used by library staff may include, but are not limited to:

  • Age and condition of items in the collection
  • Comparison of the collection with accepted core collection lists
  • Frequency of holds and interlibrary loan requests
  • Circulation Relevance to observed and anticipated community needs and desires
  • Long-term or historical significance or interest
  • Compliance with collection-related Standards for Public Library Service in Ohio

Statements of Concern

Library users occasionally express concern about titles that have been selected for or omitted from the collection. Persons registering strong concern regarding a book, dvd, compact disc, or another item may download and complete the form “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials” found at the bottom below. The Library, upon receipt of the completed form, reviews the item for inclusion in the collection in light of the Library’s mission and overall objectives, its Collection Development Policy, the Library Bill of Rights, and ALA guidelines on intellectual freedom.

Local Author Inquiries to Purchase Work
The Library will consider donations of self-published or traditionally published material written/created by local (Richland County, OH or the surrounding counties) authors, pending staff review. If a local author chooses to donate their work to the Library, one copy will be placed in a “Local Authors” collection at the Main Library and, if the author desires, one additional donated copy will be placed in the collection of whatever Branch Library has significance to that author. The donated items will have a “Donated by Author” label added to the inside front cover.

The Library will not purchase a local author’s work (self-published or otherwise) unless that work has been positively reviewed in a professional publication or it has a particular value to the Library’s collection.

Authors with questions about this policy or with a request for us to purchase their work can be directed to the Collection Resources Administrator.

Donations can be accepted at any location and sent to the Collection Resources Administrator. Please include the author’s contact information.

This Collection Development Policy is subject to change without notice.

Revised 2/23/2016, Library Board of Trustees.