Materials Selection Policy


The purpose of the McKinley Memorial Library is to provide full, open and equal access to ideas, and to that end, the Library selects, maintains and makes available to the public a wide array of ideas in a variety of formats. These ideas serve the public’s educational, informational, recreational and cultural needs. The purpose of this policy is to guide Library staff in decision-making regarding the selection and management of the collection and to inform the public of the principles guiding our selection of materials. The Library is committed to promoting intellectual freedom and to providing information expressing a variety of viewpoints.


The McKinley Memorial Library is a public library that primarily serves the residents of Niles. To meet the needs of its residents, a core collection will be maintained. This core collection includes a broad range of materials, both circulating and non-circulating, in a variety of formats, for all ages.

The public library is the institution that provides free access to different points of view and ideas. Consequently, it is the responsibility of the Library to select materials which reflect diversity of ideas and may contain controversial points of view.

Materials are selected to meet the educational, cultural and intellectual needs of the Library's patrons. These materials are in different formats (print and non-print) and reflect current technology, budget and space.


The word "materials" is used for specific forms of media and has a broad meaning; it may include print (books, magazines, comic books, newspapers, etc.), and digital formats (audiobooks, CDs, DVDs, research databases, video games and e-media).

The Director of the Library (appointed by the Board of Trustees) delegates to Library personnel the authority to select materials on behalf of the Library. Every employee is responsible for communicating patron requests and needs to Library personnel responsible for selecting materials.

Due to the divergent points of view represented in the Library, there might come a time when a patron disagrees with the Library’s selection decision(s). At that time, the patron can utilize the "Request for Reconsideration of Material" form. This completed form initiates a material review process. The ultimate decision concerning the item rests with the McKinley Memorial Library Board of Trustees.

The McKinley Memorial Library recognizes that it cannot have every item that a patron requests, due to budget, space or rarity of the item. As a member of CLEVNET, the range of materials available to the Library’s patrons is expanded to include materials owned by CLEVNET libraries.


A public library has historically been understood to be an unbiased depository for the expression of human thought, controversial or not. It is the duty of the public library to provide free access to all points of view. However, the addition of an item (print or digital) to the collection in no way represents an endorsement by the Library of any theory, idea or policy contained in it.

In the materials of the McKinley Memorial Library, all sides of controversial issues will be represented to the extent that budget constraints, space limitations and availability of materials allow. Selection will not be made on the basis of any assumed approval or disapproval; rather, they will be made solely on the merit of the work as it relates to the Library's mission, vision and values and serves the expressed or anticipated needs and interests of the community. Selection will be based upon the criteria given throughout this policy statement.

Parents, or legal guardians, are responsible for what minors read and view; therefore, the overall selection of materials will not be limited by the possibility that these materials might become available to children.

The McKinley Memorial Library subscribes to the principles of the Freedom to Read Statement (Appendix I) and the Freedom to View Statement (Appendix II) of the American Library Association.


To build collections of merit and significance, materials (print and digital) are evaluated according to the following standards.

A. General Criteria:

  1. Suitability of physical form for Library use.
  2. Suitability of subject and style for intended audience.
  3. Accuracy, significance, purpose and quality of content.
  4. Present and potential relevance to community needs.
  5. Insight into the human and social conditions.
  6. Importance as a document of the times.
  7. Relation to existing collection and other materials on the subject.
  8. Reputation or significance of author/performer.
  9. Skill, competence and purpose of author/performer.
  10. Attention of critics and reviewers.
  11. Requests by the public.

B. Material Selection for Youth Services

  • The principles stated above for the general collection are applicable to the selection materials for children and young adults.
  • In selecting materials for children and young adults, an attempt will be made to select developmentally appropriate materials for users at all ages.
  • The Library seeks to cooperate with school libraries so that the services of the two agencies may complement each other. The major function of the school library is to furnish curriculum-related material while the public library seeks to provide a more comprehensive collection.

C. Guidelines for Selection

  1. The Library acknowledges a particular interest in William McKinley; therefore, it will seek to acquire materials by and about William McKinley.
  2. The Library takes cognizance of the purposes and resources of other libraries and shall not needlessly duplicate functions and materials.
  3. Legal and medical works will be acquired only to the extent that they are useful to the layman.
  4. Because the Library serves a public embracing a wide range of ages, educational backgrounds and reading abilities, it will always seek to select materials of varying complexity.
  5. In selecting materials for the collection, the Library will pay due regard to the special, commercial, industrial, cultural and civic enterprises of the community.
  6. Additional consideration affecting materials selection includes: budget, space, the need to replace worn-out standard titles and duplication of materials.


The Library has an online collection to expand its resources beyond the physical building. This online collection includes online research databases and e-media collections (digital materials, including books, audiobooks, music, movies, magazines and comic books) and is available to patrons through the Library's website.

Online research databases, are available patrons through the Library’s website and are subscribed to by the Library, OPLIN (Ohio Public Library Information Network), or CLEVNET. E-media collections are subscribed to or selected by the Library or CLEVNET and are available to patrons online with their Library card credentials. Databases and e-media collections are selected using the following criteria: compatibility with existing operating systems; ease of use; price and space requirement of print vs. electronic; accuracy; authority; demand by Library patrons; remote access capability; and cost and usage restrictions.

Online resources and e-media collections will be deselected from the collection if any of the reasons for selecting that online resource changes.


The Library accepts donations of print and audiovisual materials with the provision that Library personnel will decide on the disposition of the items. Donated materials may or may not be added to collection based on existing selection criteria and condition of the items. An item will not be added to the collection solely because it is a gift. Once given, donated materials cannot be returned to the donor.

Library personnel may select items from donated materials to be added to the Library collection. Materials not added to the collection will be offered to the Friends of the Library for a book sale or otherwise disposed of at the discretion of the Library staff.

A large number of gifts, which would comprise a special collection, will be evaluated not only by existing selection criteria but also in terms of probable use, physical space requirements, and the cost of processing, cataloging, and maintenance. The Library does not accept donations such as periodical gift subscriptions or other materials that require an extended commitment of shelving space or financial resources.

Persons wishing to have verification of their donation for tax purposes are responsible for submitting written documentation indicating the type and number of items donated along with their name and address. A form letter verifying this information will be sent to the donor; however, the items will not be appraised or assigned a monetary value by Library staff.


The Library is pleased to accept financial contributions for the purchase of books in memory or honor of a person or event. Donors are encouraged to suggest the type and subject that would be appropriate. Library staff will choose specific titles based on donor request and existing selection criteria for the collection.

After the memorial books are purchased, the donor (and other individuals specified by the donor) will receive a letter acknowledging donation of the specific book(s). A book plate is placed in the front of the book listing the name of the honored person and the donor(s).

Under certain conditions, a book presented by a donor may be accepted as a memorial or honor item, particularly if the book has historical value and/or pertains to President McKinley. Prospective donors should consult the Public Services Manager regarding this type of gift.


Once materials have been added to the Library’s collection, they are managed through an assessment and evaluation process to ensure that ongoing collection priorities are met; that collections remain up-to-date, balanced, and attractive; and that space limitations are minimized. This process identifies items for replacement, retention, or de-selection. Library staff use professional judgment and expertise in deciding which materials to retain, replace, repair, or deselect. Factors considered in deselecting an item include, but are not limited to: physical condition; frequency of circulation/use; currency and accuracy of content; purchase of newer editions or similar items; duplication of material; current relevancy and demand; and age of publication.

Adopted by the McKinley Memorial Library Board of Trustees on November 13, 2006, revised on April 11, 2022

Appendix I
The Freedom to Read Statement

The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label "controversial" views, to distribute lists of "objectionable" books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.

Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be "protected" against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression.

These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet. The problem is not only one of actual censorship. The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy or unwelcome scrutiny by government officials.

Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change. And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension. Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain. Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.

Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections.

We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture. We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend. We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings.

The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights.

We therefore affirm these propositions:

1. It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority.

  • Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different. The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested. Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy. The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process. Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these. We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.

2. Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.

  • Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought. The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.

3. It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.

  • No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.

4. There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.

  • To some, much of modern expression is shocking. But is not much of life itself shocking? We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers from dealing with the stuff of life. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves. These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared. In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others.

5. It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous.

  • The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for others. It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.

6. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people's freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.

  • It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group. In a free society individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read, and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive. Further, democratic societies are more safe, free, and creative when the free flow of public information is not restricted by governmental prerogative or self-censorship.

7. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a "bad" book is a good one, the answer to a "bad" idea is a good one.

  • The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader's purpose. What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has been thought and said. Books are the major channel by which the intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth. The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all Americans the fullest of their support.
  • We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.

This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers. Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.
A Joint Statement by:
American Library Association
Association of American Publishers
Subsequently endorsed by:
American Booksellers for Free Expression
The Association of American University Presses
The Children's Book Council
Freedom to Read Foundation
National Association of College Stores
National Coalition Against Censorship
National Council of Teachers of English
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression

Appendix II
The Freedom to View Statement

The FREEDOM TO VIEW, along with the freedom to speak, to hear, and to read, is protected by the  First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In a free society, there is no place for censorship of any medium of expression. Therefore these principles are affirmed:

  1. To provide the broadest access to film, video, and other audiovisual materials because they are a means for the communication of ideas. Liberty of circulation is essential to insure the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.
  2. To protect the confidentiality of all individuals and institutions using film, video, and other audiovisual materials.
  3. To provide film, video, and other audiovisual materials which represent a diversity of views and expression. Selection of a work does not constitute or imply agreement with or approval of the content.
  4. To provide a diversity of viewpoints without the constraint of labeling or prejudging film, video, or other audiovisual materials on the basis of the moral, religious, or political beliefs of the producer or filmmaker or on the basis of controversial content.
  5. To contest vigorously, by all lawful means, every encroachment upon the public's freedom to view.

This statement was originally drafted by the Freedom to View Committee of the American Film and Video Association (formerly the Educational Film Library Association) and was adopted by the AFVA Board of Directors in February 1979. This statement was updated and approved by the AFVA Board of Directors in 1989. Endorsed January 10, 1990, by the ALA Council