Materials Selection Policy

The Region of Waterloo Library's function is to assemble, preserve, and make easily and freely available to all people printed and other materials that will assist them to "thrive by providing resources for learning, enjoyment and discovery."

The goals of the materials selection procedure are:

  • to maintain a well-balanced and broad collection of materials for information, reference and research
  • to provide materials for the education and enlightenment of the community

Intellectual Freedom

Basic to the library's materials selection procedure is the Statement on Intellectual Rights of the Individual passed by the Ontario Library Association, November 1998, and the Canadian Library Association's Principles of Intellectual Freedom.

Materials Selection Procedure Standards

The responsibility of the Library to the community in its materials selection is two-fold. It must meet the needs of the community, yet being supported by these same people, it must temper its selection with judgment.

The collection should be extensive and comprehensive, serving the needs of the entire community. The selection is based on literary, educational, informational and recreational value.

 General Collection Priorities
In general, collection priority is given to:
  1. Currency. Collection emphasis is on up-to-date information. Older materials which remain accurate will be retained and replaced according to user demand.
  2. General treatments over those which are specialized, scholarly, or primarily for professional use.
  3. Breadth over depth. In general, the Region of Waterloo Library will purchase single copies of a wide range of titles rather than multiple copies of the same title. Multiple copies may be purchased when they are warranted by public demand, or when the title is of local interest and may go out of print, or if it is the definitive title on a particular subject.
  4. Single-volume overviews over multi-volume works.
  5. Works of broad popular appeal which meet the needs of the independent learner over textbooks or other materials which meet curriculum requirements of the formal student.
  6. Materials written in the English language. Collections will be developed in other languages as required to meet community needs.
  7. Unabridged editions over abridgments. Abridgments will be considered only if they retain the flavour and quality of the original.
  8. Format[s] which best meet current user needs and preferences. For example, audio versions of print titles may be purchased to accommodate user needs. Additional print copies of publications available digitally may be bought if user demand warrants.
  9. Balancing the needs of adults and children. Materials selection, and collections spending, will reflect current community needs, and will be adjusted to meet changing demographics and demand. Materials covering a range of literacy levels will be purchased.
  10. Building collections which will meet the majority of user demands. InterLibrary Loan service will be used to request items outside the scope of this collection procedure, or which are of limited local interest. In deciding whether to purchase or interloan titles or request them from other libraries, Region of Waterloo Library (RWL) staff will strive for cost-effectiveness, taking into account staff time, purchase price, and user service. RWL will adhere to the Southern Ontario Library Service's INFO Participation Policies and Procedures, and will share its resources with other libraries.
 Controversial Material
The Region of Waterloo Library is a resource where many points of view and modes of expression can be examined without hindrance. No ideas and opinions have universal acceptance or condemnation in a pluralistic society. The use of language, either descriptive or expressive, can in itself stimulate controversy.

The Region of Waterloo Library, therefore, recognizes the right of individuals to express opposition to authors' ideas or to their creative exercise of language, in materials selected for the library. The presence of an item in the collection does not indicate an endorsement of its contents by the Region of Waterloo Library, but rather is an affirmation of the principle of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Canadian Library Association Statement on Intellectual Freedom.

The Region of Waterloo Library complies with any law enacted at the federal, provincial or municipal level, and therefore does not collect or maintain material which has been adjudged obscene or pornographic, or has been banned by the courts. The relevant sections of the Criminal Code of Canada are: sedition, hate propaganda and obscenity.

The following will not cause an item to be automatically included or excluded from the collection:

  • race, religion, nationality or political views of an author;
  • frankness or coarseness of language;
  • controversial content;
  • endorsement or disapproval of an individual or group;
  • language of the text.
  • Selection of material cannot be influenced by any anticipated approval or disapproval of its intellectual content by sectors of the community.

The Library will neither undertake to mark items to show approval or disapproval nor expurgate any materials.

Physical access to materials will not be restricted except for the express purpose of protecting an item from damage or theft.

All library users have open access to all the Library's collections with certain limited exceptions.

 Handling Challenged Materials
In the event of objection or complaint by a citizen, the steps for resolution are as follows:

The citizen is requested to put his or her objections in writing, using a Request for Reconsideration form. The written complaint is forwarded to the Manager, Library Services who will read, review or listen to the material, discuss the complaint with the appropriate library staff person and, when necessary, check with outside review sources. When the review is completed, the customer is provided with a written explanation for the decision. The decision will reflect the principles outlined in the Library's Materials Selection Procedure.

The library does not cater to nor discriminate against any religious group. The selection is broad, tolerant, without partisanship or propaganda, and chosen on the basis of authority, timeliness and good literary quality. The library's collection will not duplicate that of church libraries.
 Legal, medical and health works
Materials are chosen on the basis of proven scientific and medical authority, common sense and up-to-date information. Legal and medical works will be acquired only to the extent that they are useful to the layperson.
 Responsibility for children's reading
Responsibility for the reading of children rests with their parents and legal guardians. Selection of materials for the adult collection is not restricted by the possibility that children obtain materials their parents consider inappropriate. The library believes in the freedom of the individual and the right and obligation of parents to develop, interpret, and enforce their own code of acceptable conduct upon their own household.
 Service to Students
The responsibility of the public library, as distinct from the school authorities, is to provide materials for cultural and practical interests. Materials related to the curriculum and needed for an effective school program are the responsibility of the Boards of Education or private schools or educators. Basic, frequently-used material should be provided in quantity in school libraries. No attempt is made to supply textbooks used in the schools and colleges of this area, except as such materials also serve the general public.
 Canadian Content
The library recognizes its responsibility to provide current and up-to-date Canadian material to serve the cultural, information, and recreational needs of the clientele. Therefore, in selecting materials for the library collection priority will be given to materials of Canadian content. Furthermore, the library will endeavour wherever possible, to purchase the materials for its collection through Canadian publishers and suppliers.
 Gifts and Donations
The Region of Waterloo Library does not accept unsolicited donations of books or other items. Books donated by local authors, or items of local historical significance must be approved by the Manager, Library Services and may be accepted if judged by the library to be useful additions to the collection. The same principles of selection which are applied to purchases are applied to gifts.

Gifts of books and other materials are accepted on the understanding that the library retains unconditional ownership of the gifts, and that if it cannot use them, the library may discard them at any time and in any way it sees fits. No condition may be imposed relating to any book or other item after its acceptance. The library is not responsible for informing the donor of such disposition.

Donations of money are accepted by the Library. Library staff will do their best to honour the donor's wishes, while following the library's materials selection procedure. Charitable tax receipts will be issued for cash donations of $10.00 or more. In memoriam gifts will be acknowledged with bookplates and receipts unless otherwise specified.

The Region of Waterloo Library will provide material in a variety of formats, both print and non-print, both online and physical items, to meet the needs of its users and accommodate a range of learning styles. The Library will keep up with market trends in formats, but will not be the first, nor the last, library to introduce new media.

Factors influencing when to switch formats will be:

  • availability (or lack of availability) of wide choice of titles in a given format
  • user demands
  • widespread or affordable availability of equipment needed to use a given format
  • relative cost of items in the competing formats
  • advantages or disadvantages for users
  • relative currency of titles in the different formats
  • user needs for a specific format e.g. Large Print
 Audiovisual Materials
All audiovisual materials considered for purchase will be measured by the following criteria:
  • Authenticity: faithful retelling, accuracy, non-biased, good translation, current.
  • Utilization: stimulating, useful and appropriate for intended audience, with achievement of stated purpose.
  • Content: well written, well organized, timely appropriate treatment of subject matter, unique presentation of stated purpose.
  • Technical qualities: satisfactory visuals, acceptable sound, satisfactory editing, good narration, convincing acting.
  • Children's materials will focus on material that is meaningful, entertaining, and stimulating to the imagination and intellect.
  • Adult materials will support and expand the print collection, providing depth, variety, and an alternate format.
  • Copyright: The library will abide by existing copyright laws.
  • Public performance rights, although not a prime selection criteria, will be purchased in special circumstances, subject to price, need, and quality. The core collection, however, will be developed for home/individual use.
 Local History Collection

The purpose of the Region of Waterloo Library Local History Collection is to contribute to the understanding of our local heritage by providing provide convenient local access to materials which document, describe, or illustrate the ongoing history of the Townships of North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich.

Collection Focus

Local History is a geographically based collection, of selected items relating to the rural areas of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, viz. the Townships of Wilmot, Wellesley, Woolwich, and North Dumfries.

Collection Guidelines

The collection may include:

  • local histories - published and unpublished
  • local genealogies (family histories of persons who had a part of rural Waterloo Region's past) - published and unpublished
  • local newspapers - on microfilm and/or in electronic format
  • indexes and bibliographies which include the Townships of North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich
  • indexes to Ontario birth, marriage and death registrations
  • access to census data for Waterloo County and Region - on microfilm and/or in electronic format

In branches without special security, storage, conservation and preservation facilities, the focus will be on bound monographs and reprint editions. Microforms and microfilm may be purchased if safe, secure storage exists.

Clippings, photographs, maps and manuscripts can be accommodated to a limited extent due to special handling and shelving requirements. Generally these will be transferred or donated to local or regional archives or museums which have proper storage, conservation and preservation facilities and staff.

Artifacts, fragile original manuscripts, documents, memorabilia and photographs will generally be transferred or donated to other, properly equipped, local or regional museums or archives.

All monographs will be catalogued and classified, and appear in the public online catalogue as Local History materials.

The first, or original copy of any publication will remain in the Local History area. Reproduction or duplicate copies of the item may be borrowed under normal circulation rules for nonfiction books or materials.


The Manager, Library Services will interpret and apply the selection guidelines for both purchases and gifts. All donations must be obtained free and clear without restrictions as to use of future disposition. Monetary donations will be accepted.


Donations shall be retained in the collections as long as they retain their physical integrity, identity, and authenticity, and as long as they remain relevant and useful to the purposes and activities of the Library. Deaccessioning of donations may be considered when these conditions no longer prevail or if the Library should receive similar items in better condition.

The elimination of duplicate, irrelevant or damaged materials will be done by the Manager, Library Services in consultation with staff of local and regional museums, archives and other libraries.

 Collection Maintenance
In order to maintain a current and relevant collection, it is necessary to de-select or weed material systematically. The following criteria are considered when weeding:
  • Accuracy
  • Timeliness
  • Physical condition
  • Frequency of circulation
  • Availability of other copies
  • Relevance to needs and interests of the community


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