Materials Selection Policy


The Santa Clara County Library District provides a free marketplace of ideas and affirms each individual's freedom to read and to use all library materials.

The Library's guidelines for the selection and placement of books and materials are based on principles set forth in the "Library Bill of Rights" as adopted by the Santa Clara County Library District Joint Powers Authority on October 26, 1995.

Library Bill of Rights

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas and that the following basic policies should guide their services:

  1. Books and library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
  3. Libraries should challenge censorship of the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
  4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
  5. A person's right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
  6. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

Policy Clarification

The Santa Clara County Free Library provides public library services to people in a variety of communities of differing interests and concerns.

Following are some of the key points from the Library's Selection Policy.


  1. The basic test for selection of any item is whether it is of proven or potential interest to the people served. Other considerations include the quality, cost, format, reviews, public demand, and availability of the information. These decisions are all professional in nature.
  2. Materials are selected to satisfy the prevalent tastes and needs of the community and to recognize changing and minority interests and differing viewpoints on controversial issues.
  3. Selected materials may be offensive, shocking, or boring to some individuals, but may be meaningful and significant to others. Works chosen are viewed as a whole, not in isolated parts.
  4. Gift additions must meet the same selection criteria as purchased materials. The right to accept or refuse conditions placed upon gifts of materials or funds is reserved to the County Librarian. The Library welcomes donations of gifts of materials or funds to enrich the library collection.


The public, regardless of age, has free access to all library materials. The only limitations are for those items which need protection because of rarity, cost, or susceptibility to loss or damage.


  1. Responsibility for the reading of minors rests with their parents or legal guardians. Selection of adult material is not restricted by the possibility that these materials may come into the possession of minors. The library does not act in loco parentis.
  2. The responsibility for materials selection lies with the professional librarians. All staff members and general public may recommend material for consideration. The decision is professional in nature and is based upon principle rather than personal opinion, reason rather than prejudice, and judgment rather than censorship. The ultimate responsibility for selection rests by law with the County Librarian. (Education Code 27206)

Approved by the Santa Clara County Library Joint Powers Authority Board October 26, 1995.

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