Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District
Library Materials Selection Guidelines,
Policies and Procedures
The mission of the Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District libraries is to advance the educational development of students by supporting the curricula and instruction of the classroom teachers, providing up-to-date quality resources for students, teaching library usage and research skills, and promoting students' love of literature and learning. The objectives of the libraries' selection guidelines and policies reflect this mission and specifically seek to:
- provide school library media that will enrich and support the curriculum, taking into consideration individual needs, and the varied interests, abilities, socioeconomic backgrounds and maturity levels of the students served;
- provide school library media that stimulate the growth in factual knowledge, literary appreciation, aesthetic values, and ethical standards;
- provide a background of information enabling students to make intelligent judgments in their daily lives;
- provide materials on opposing sides of controversial issues so that students may develop, under guidance, the practice of critical thinking and critical analysis of all media;
- provide materials representative of the many religious, ethnic, and cultural groups in our nation and the contribution of these groups to our American heritage;
- place principle above personal opinion and reason above prejudice in selecting school library media of the highest quality in order to assure a comprehensive collection appropriate for the uses of the library.
Responsibility for Selection
The Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District School Committee is legally responsible for the policies of the District Schools. The responsibility for the selection of instructional materials is delegated to the professionally trained employees of the schools' libraries, and while the selection of materials may involve input from administrators, teachers, parents, the School Council, and students, the final responsibility for coordinating the selection and making recommendations for purchase of library materials rests with the librarians.
Criteria for Selection
In selecting materials for the school libraries, authenticity, appropriateness, interest, content, and circumstances of use are of fundamental importance. The following criteria shall guide the selection process:
- Educational significance
- Contribution the subject matter makes to the curriculum and to the interests of students
- Favorable reviews found in standard selection sources
- Favorable recommendations based on preview and examination of materials
- Reputation and significance of the author, producer, and publisher
- Validity, currency, and appropriateness of the material
- Contribution the material makes to breadth of representative viewpoints on controversial issues
- High degree of potential use appeal
- High artistic quality and/or literary style
- Quality and variety of format
- Value commensurate with cost and/or need
- Timeliness or permanence
The school librarians, in consultation with teachers, administrators, the School Council, and students, will be responsible for the selection of materials. In coordinating this process, the librarians will:
- gather requests, suggestions, and reactions for the purchase of library materials from teachers to the greatest extent possible, and from students when appropriate;
- seek reviews of potential and proposed acquisitions in the literature of reputable professional organizations and other reviewing sources recognized for their objectivity and wide experience;
- arrange, when possible, for firsthand examination of items to be purchased;
- judge gift items by standard selection criteria and, upon acceptance of such items, reserve the right to incorporate into the collection only those meeting these specified criteria;
- purchase duplicates of extensively used materials;
- weed continuously from the collection worn, obsolete, and inoperable items;
- purchase replacements for worn, damaged, or missing material basic to the collection.
The purpose of the school libraries' collections is to meet the needs of its current users, not maintain an archival record of the past. Thus, weeding out materials that are no longer useful is as important as the initial selection of materials, and should be carried out in accordance with an eye to the same criteria and procedures that govern the selection process.
Library items which contain outdated and/or inaccurate information or are in poor physical condition should be weeded out of the collection. Also materials which no longer serve the curricular and/or student interest needs should be considered for weeding. Worn out items should be replaced, except when they no longer measure up to the selection criteria. Weeding should be done on a systematic and ongoing basis, with special attention given to those areas of the collection which are being developed/reinforced to meet emerging curricular needs.
Reconsideration of materials
The Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District School Committee subscribes in principle to the statements of policy on library philosophy as expressed in the American Library Association Library Bill of Rights.
However, occasional objections to some materials may be expressed despite the quality of the selection process. If a complaint is made, the following procedures should be observed:
- The school librarian should meet with the complainant in an initial effort to clarify and resolve the concerns. During this initial meeting, the selection criteria and procedures should be explained to the complainant.
- If this initial meeting does not resolve the objection, the complainant will be invited to file his or her objections in writing using the Request for Reconsideration of School Library Materials form.
- The school principal shall form an ad hoc committee comprised of the principal, the librarian, one or more subject area teachers, and others relevant to the materials questioned to:
- reexamine the challenged material;
- survey appraisals of the material in professional reviewing sources;
- evaluate the extent to which the material supports the curriculum;
- weigh merits against alleged faults to form a judgment based on the material as a whole and not on passages isolated from context;
- prepare a written report with recommendations, and communicate this to the complainant.
- If the complainant is not satisfied with the committee's decision, he/she may appeal to the Superintendent and then to the School Committee.
- After considering all aspects of the complaint as they have been addressed to this point, and any other information which it deems relevant, the School Committee will make a final decision, and deliver this in writing to the complainant and the ad hoc committee.