The purpose of this policy is to define the criteria used for adding to and maintaining the materials in the Lyme Library’s collections. The goal of the library’s collection development is to reflect the library’s mission, vision, and strategic initiatives. To fully serve the community, the library staff strive to provide physical and digital materials in multiple formats for patrons of all ages and have the library serve as a center of lifelong education, cultural and recreational advancement and to meet the evolving informational need of the community.
The Library Board of Trustees and the Library staff stand behind the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement and the Library Bill of Rights (see: Appendix A and Appendix B) when overseeing and building the library’s collection of materials.
Standards of Selection
- Responsibility for the selection of materials is allocated to the Library Director and the Children’s Librarian with the final approval being the responsibility of the Library Director.
- Sources used for collection development research include professional literary reviews, educational references, recommendations from standard bibliographies and patron/staff requests.
- The library strives to include a broad range of fiction and nonfiction materials intended for the use of the general public. The selection of any given item for addition to the library’s collection should not be interpreted as an endorsement of any particular viewpoint.
- Items associated with presentations and programs that the library has sponsored are frequently added to the collection to promote access to additional materials on a subject to foster the library’s commitment to lifelong learning.
- Items added to the collection are intended to offer opportunities for intellectual engagement and discovery. Items are collected based on their authority and accuracy, artistic value, diversity, literary value, historic interest/importance, relation to the existing collection, societal importance, usefulness for research, patron interest, creativity, and creative experimentation.
The library’s collections are designed to engage the general reader and the collection is not developed exclusively for the use of specialists or professionals. In cases where more specialized materials might be needed attempts will be made by library staff to borrow materials for the requesting patron by interlibrary loan from local universities or other sources to benefit the continued research in areas not adequately covered in the library’s general collection.
Gifts and Donations
The library accepts gifts of books and other materials, but reserves the right to evaluate and to dispose of them in accordance with the criteria applied to purchased materials. Since the Library has limited facilities, not all gifts will be maintained, but the library will see to it that they are used for the library’s benefit whenever possible. No conditions may be imposed relating to any gift after its acceptance by the library.
Unsolicited self-published materials will not be accepted unless they have received positive reviews by professional literary sources and have been professionally edited. The addition of unsolicited materials to the collection is not guaranteed even to local authors.
At the present time the Lyme Library acquires digital materials from a number of sources each of which have collection development policies intended to respond to the lifelong learning and recreational needs of library communities. These resources are in place to allow Lyme library patrons to access materials remotely and due to space restrictions at the main location they allow for a digital expansion of the overall collection. Items in the digital collections correspond closely with the library’s physical collections and are added to using similar resources such as published reviews, patron requests and the suitability of the materials to meet the needs of patrons in a general library community. Considering that these digital vendors supply materials to American library’s they make every effort to align their collections to support the ALA’s Freedom to Read and Library Bill of Rights statements.
Maintaining the collection
Collection maintenance and review is done by the library staff on an ongoing basis with the target of having 5% of the total collection withdrawn annually due to lack of circulation, duplication, poor physical condition, or accuracy of subject matter. All materials that are being reviewed for withdrawal due to lack of recent circulation are checked against the Wilson Core Collection suggestions and/or checked to see if the book is available via interlibrary loan from any of the other consortium libraries before the final decision for withdrawal is made. Withdrawing library materials allows the library staff to purchase new materials that better meet the evolving needs of its patrons. Due to space restrictions, the collections maintenance is critical to ensuring that the Lyme library’s patrons have easy access to the materials and that the materials available meet the needs of the community it serves.
The library recognizes that some materials may not be considered appropriate for all patrons. The selection of materials will not be made based upon anticipated approval or disapproval of groups or individuals within the community, but solely with the purpose of building a collection that provides a wide range of materials to represent the interests and needs of the overall library patron community.
The library strives to maintain several age-appropriate collections for children and teens and develops those collections based on professional expertise and based on information obtained from professional organizations and reviews with the goal of the age appropriateness of the content. As professionals we encourage caregivers to talk to their own children and, based on their own family’s values take responsibility for what they wish their children to read and watch. The selection of adult material will not be inhibited by the possibility that materials may inadvertently come into the possession of children or will materials be reassigned to areas within the library or withdrawn from the collection based on pressure from groups or individuals who maintain that the subject matter contained within does not align with their individual viewpoint.
Library materials will not be marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of the contents, and no catalogued book or library item will be removed from the shelves except for the express purpose of protecting it from damage or theft.
Reconsideration of Library Materials
The Lyme Library develops its collection in compliance with State and Federal laws and regulations and no materials will be withdrawn from the collection unless they are in violation of said laws. The library maintains a reconsideration procedure, policy and form which can be used by Lyme residents (see: Appendix C and Appendix D). This form and procedures can be found online at Form and Procedures.
As per State of CT General Statures, Volume 3, Title 11, Chapter 190, section 11-24b-“No principal public library shall be eligible to receive a state grant in accordance with the provisions of subsections (b), (c) and (d) of this section if such principal public library prohibits or otherwise limits the availability of any book or related library materials by banning, censoring or challenging such book or related library materials at such library.”
Voted on and approved by Lyme Library Board of Directors 10/25/2023
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
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
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.
I. Books and other 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.
II. 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.
III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
VI. 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.
VII. All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use. Libraries should advocate for, educate about, and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information.
Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; January 29, 2019.
Inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.
Although the Articles of the Library Bill of Rights are unambiguous statements of basic principles that should govern the service of all libraries, questions do arise concerning application of these principles to specific library practices. See the documents designated by the Intellectual Freedom Committee as Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights.
Lyme Public Library Reconsideration Request Form
Voted on and approved by the Lyme Library Board 3/29/2023
The trustees of the Lyme Public Library have established a Materials Selection Policy. Completion of this form is the first step in that procedure for reconsideration of an item in the Lyme Library’s collection. If you wish to request reconsideration of a resource, please return the completed form to the library director.
Lyme Public Library, 482 Hamburg Road, Lyme, CT, 06371 – 860-434-2272
Do you represent self? ____ Or an organization? ____ Name of Organization ___________________________
1. Resource on which you are commenting:
___ Book (e-book) ___ Magazine ___ Digital Resource ___ Newspaper
___ Movie ___ Audio Recording ___ Game ___ Other
2. What brought this resource to your attention?
3. Have you examined the entire resource? If not, what sections did you review?
What concerns you about the resource?
5. Are there resource(s) you suggest to provide additional information and/or other viewpoints on this topic?
6. What action are you requesting the committee consider?
Guidelines for reconsideration:
- Please review the Lyme Public Library’s Materials Selection Policy before submitting this
Reconsideration Request Form.
- Please review a copy of the Lyme Library’s Procedures for Formal Complaints and Reconsideration of Library Materials before submitting a Reconsideration Request Form.
- The individual submitting is form must be a current resident of Lyme.
- Please note any library material will be subject to reconsideration for withdrawal from the collection if it is in violation of current State and Federal laws and guidelines.
- There is a limit of three (3) submissions for reconsideration of an item in the Lyme Library’s collection.
For a printable PDF
Procedures for Formal Complaints for Reconsideration of Materials
(Voted on and approved by the Lyme Library Board on 3/29/2023)
The following steps will be used when an individual feels that further action is necessary to address concerns about a library resource. For the duration of this process, the material in question will remain in circulation in the library collection.
- A concerned patron who is dissatisfied with earlier informal discussions will be offered a packet of materials that includes the library’s mission statement, Materials Selection Policy, Reconsideration Form, and the Library Bill of Rights.
- Patrons are required to complete and submit a Reconsideration Request Form to the Library Director.
- The Director, with appropriate professional staff, will review the Reconsideration Form and the material in question, to consider whether its selection follows the criteria stated in the Collection Development Policy.
- Within 15 business days, the Director will make a decision and send a letter to the concerned person who requested the reconsideration, stating the reasons for the decision.
- If the individual is not satisfied with the decision, a written appeal may be submitted within 10 business days to the Board of Trustees.
- If the board plans to address the appeal at their board meeting, the individual will be notified of when and where the meeting will be held.
- The Board of Trustees reserves the right to limit the length of public comments.
- The decision of the board is final.