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Materials Selection Policy

The OC Public Libraries' fundamental responsibility is to provide materials that satisfy the increasingly varied information needs and interests of the clientele it serves. Serving individuals and groups in Orange County, the Library selects materials to reflect the wide diversity that exists within the County. Special collections are maintained in areas where particular needs have been identified, such as government documents, languages and ethnic cultures.


As a public institution disseminating information in a democratic society, the Library has an obligation to create an environment in which all individuals have the freedom to explore ideas without fear of judgment or censure. This includes providing materials that represent unpopular as well as popular points of view, including political, social and religious opinions that some may consider controversial or objectionable. Library patrons have the right to determine for themselves which library materials they will or will not use. The Library cannot champion any group that seeks to make these decisions for the community; each library user has the right to determine what they and their children will read.

Criteria for Selection

The Library contains a wide variety of materials selected for the enlightenment, cultural enrichment and the enjoyment of its public. Declining budgets and growing space shortages prevent purchase of all titles that might be appropriate for a public library, so qualitative selection standards have been developed to ensure that the best and most useful materials are selected, reflecting -- and anticipating -- changing currents of thought and opinion. Materials evaluators selecting fiction and literature study professional review sources looking for stories with plausible plots, vitality and consistency in characterization, effectiveness in sustaining the reader's interest, and clarity of style. Non-fiction is selected on the basis of subject need, accuracy, currency, social significance, lasting value and effective presentation. Selection criteria also include whether the information is appropriately handled for the age of the intended audience, availability of the material elsewhere, reputation of the author and popular demand. Recommendations from library users are taken into account as well.

Materials are selected from among available formats according to their suitability to public library use and cost effectiveness; for instance, textbooks are purchased only when the subject material is not available in any other form.

As a forum for information and ideas, the OC Public Libraries affirms the principle of the individual's freedom to read, view and hear. All materials selected for inclusion in the OC Public Libraries' collection are considered constitutionally protected under the First Amendment. The OC Public Libraries supports the Library Bill of Rights as adopted by the American Library Association.