Materials Selection


The Huntsville-Madison County Public Library (HMCPL) works to maintain a useful, well-rounded collection to support the library’s mission and meet the needs of residents of the Library’s service area. This policy exists to guide librarians in selecting materials and to inform the public about the principles guiding collection development decisions.

Inclusion of materials in the collection does not constitute endorsement of their contents. The library recognizes that any given item may offend some patrons. However, because the library follows accepted principles of intellectual freedom, it will not remove specific titles solely because individuals or groups may find them objectionable. The library subscribes to the principles contained in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights (see Appendix A). These documents have been affirmed by the HMCPL board and are considered part of the Library’s policies.


Through this policy, the HMCPL board places ultimate authority for materials selection with the library director, to be exercised based on the precepts laid out here. The director may delegate portions of these duties to library staff as desired.

Digital Materials

When possible, digital materials are selected in accordance with this policy. However, digital materials may be provided through a content aggregator. As such, the inclusion or exclusion of specific titles in these collections are made by the vendor and may not conform to this policy’s guidelines.

Selection Guidelines

Selection of books and/or materials shall be made on the basis of the interest and information needs of all people of the communities served. Materials will not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation. Items considered for selection are evaluated as a whole, not on the basis of a particular section or sections.

Price, accuracy and timeliness of information are other factors influencing selection. The library does not typically purchase out-of-print material for the collection, and no attempt is made to purchase all the works by particular authors. As a general rule, the library will acquire only works of interest to the layperson. The library does not support educational curricula through the purchase of textbooks. Borrowing materials from other libraries through interlibrary loan is another option available to customers for older or unique materials.

Materials may be available in a variety of formats. Factors governing the choice of format include anticipated use, ease of access, and availability of technology, if applicable.

The library welcomes suggestions from the public for materials to purchase. Purchase of such requests is dependent on whether the desired item meets general selection guidelines established here.


HMCPL welcomes donations to enhance the collection. Donated items become the property of the library. All donations to the library are accepted on the condition that they may be retained and added to the collections or disposed of at its sole discretion, in accordance with this policy. Monetary donations intended for use in purchasing materials may be accompanied by a suggested subject area, but specific selection decisions will be made in accordance with this policy.

Withdrawal of Materials

Materials that are worn, damaged, outdated, duplicated, or no longer used may be removed from the collection. Materials withdrawn from the collection in this manner will be disposed of at the library’s discretion.

Statements of Concern

Should a patron of HMCPL take issue with the inclusion of a specific title in the library collection, they are encouraged to contact the library director to arrange to discuss these concerns. Should that discussion prove unfeasible or fail to address the patron’s concerns, they may complete and submit a “Statement of Concern about Library Resources” form which will be supplied by the Executive Director. For further details, please see the Statements of Concern policy.

Appendix A:

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 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.
  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 in 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.
  7. 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.

HMCPL Policy, updated July 2023