Materials Selection Policy

The selection of materials is driven by the Region of Waterloo Library’s Mission, and Vision, and by the Region of Waterloo’s Values. The Materials Selection Policy guides library staff, and informs the public, about the principles upon which selection, and de-selection, of library resources is made.

The library’s function is to assemble, preserve, and make easily and freely available to all residents to the Region of Waterloo, printed and other materials that will assist them in meeting their informational and recreational needs.

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, and the Statement on Intellectual Freedom and Libraries adopted by the Canadian Federation of Library Associations.

 Collection Scope

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

In general, Region of Waterloo Library collections will:

  • Provide a breadth of materials, representing varying points of view, and including materials that not all individuals will agree with.
  • Prioritize works of broad popular appeal, which meet the needs of the independent learner over those which are specialized, scholarly, or primarily for professional use.
  • Include materials written in the English language. Collections will be developed in other languages as required to meet changing community needs, and if that language is sustainable as a collection with quality material, demand and usage.
  • Include material in multiple formats, (i.e., print, non-print, physical and online resources) both to meet patron needs, preferences, and learning styles, and to ensure accessibility for those with disabilities.
  • Include resources for all ages and literacy levels.
  • Support access to resources beyond the Region of Waterloo Library’s collection through the interlibrary loan service.
  • Include alternative collections (e.g., mobile hotspots, games) that address patrons’ educational and/or recreational needs and interests, or provide access to other cultural/non-profit institutions (e.g., museums, galleries, parks).

Selection Criteria

Library staff are responsible for selecting material to meet the needs of patrons as defined above, while also judiciously de-selecting material in order to keep the collection current, relevant and appealing. Material purchased for, and removed from, the collection is guided by the following criteria:

  • Accuracy
  • Artistic/literacy merits
  • Authority of the creator and/or publisher
  • Availability of items
  • Availability of material elsewhere
  • Community interest, demand or relevance
  • Content by Canadian authors and/or about experiences relating to Canada
  • Currency and timeliness
  • Cost of the item relative to budgetary constraints
  • Diversity of content
  • Patron needs for a specific format
  • Physical condition
  • Recommendations from professional reviewers and/or in popular media (e.g., CBC, The Globe and Mail, etc.)
  • Titles on established, and recognized, literary awards lists (e.g., The Booker Prize, The John Newberry Medal, OLA Forest of Reading, etc.)
  • Relative cost, and availability, of items in competing formats
  • Space requirements
  • Suitability for lending and use by multiple individuals

Recommendations for Purchase

The Region of Waterloo Library welcomes recommendations from patrons, for titles not included in our catalogue. Suggested titles are evaluated according to the Selection Criteria outlined above. Additional factors include:

  • Publication date within the past two years.
  • Similar holdings in the collection.
  • Available funds for the desired material type.
  • Being of local interest or significance.

While staff will consider all suggestions, not every title will be purchased for the collection. 

 Controversial Material

The Region of Waterloo Library is a resource where many points of view and modes of expression can be examined without hindrance.  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

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 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 Statement on Intellectual Rights of the Individual passed by the Ontario Library Association, and the Statement on Intellectual Freedom and Libraries adopted by the Canadian Federation of Library Associations.

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 ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, political views, or other personal characteristics, 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.

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

Physical access to materials will not be restricted except for the express purpose of protecting an item from damage or theft. Parents/guardians are responsible for the reading/listening/viewing choices of their child(ren). Selection of materials for the library collection is not restricted by the possibility that children may obtain materials their parents/guardians consider inappropriate.  The library believes in the freedom of the individual and the right and obligation of parents/guardians to develop, interpret, and enforce their own code of acceptable conduct upon their own household.

 Request for Reconsideration

In the event of objection or complaint by a resident, the steps for resolution are as follows:

  • The resident is requested to put their 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 requestor is provided with a written explanation for the decision. The decision will reflect the principles outlined in the Library's Materials Selection Procedure.
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 that are applied to purchases are applied to gifts.

 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.


Contact Us