Collection Development Policy

Mission and Goals

In service to the Mount Vernon Community, it is the mission of the Russell D. Cole Library to foster and support citizens’ exploration of ideas, use of information and opportunities for recreational reading, viewing and listening.

In pursuit of this mission, we

  • provide access to resources for information and recreation;
  • organize resources systematically;
  • create a welcoming and orderly environment;
  • enrich the lives of citizens through educational programs for children and adults;
  • cooperate with local schools in providing resources for their students;
  • uphold a service ethic; and
  • manage operations to support service, e.g., circulation, acquisitions, inter-library loan.

Intellectual Freedom Statement

In order to support the high ideals of education at Cornell College and in recognition of the importance of an informed people in a democracy, the Library adheres to the ALA Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read. The library is a place to learn about different points of view, to broaden one’s perspective, and to examine issues and ideas in depth. Therefore, the library collects a wide range of materials, ideas, forms of expression, and points of view.

Designation of Responsibility for Materials Selection

The library adheres to a client-centered policy wherein librarians, faculty, students and citizens all have roles in collection development. Specifically, librarians make decisions with the advice and counsel of faculty, students and citizens. Librarians take into account the current collection’s strengths and weaknesses, the demands of library users, and the quality of materials recommended in finally deciding what should be added and deleted. Communication between librarians and library users is crucial to the success of such a process. Responsibility for initiating such communication lies with librarians.

Criteria for Selection

Librarians shall consider the following criteria in making collection development decisions:

  • A primary consideration for academic acquisitions shall be support of the teaching curriculum of the College.
  • A primary consideration for public acquisitions shall be to provide authoritative information as well as recreational materials.
  • Materials will meet high standards of quality in factual content and presentation.
  • Materials will realistically represent our diverse society.
  • Materials will be selected to motivate library users to examine their own attitudes and behaviors and to comprehend their own duties, responsibilities, rights, and privileges as participating citizens in a diverse society.
  • Materials will be selected for their strengths rather than rejected for their weaknesses.
  • Biased materials may be provided to meet specific curricular objectives or to stimulate intellectual exploration.
  • Materials will represent a variety of viewpoints.
  • Critical reviews and recommendations based on examination of materials will be considered.


Gifts are accepted only when they add strength to the collection and when the donor places no significant limitations on housing, handling, or disposition of duplicate, damaged or unwanted items. Monetary evaluations are not the responsibility of the library. All donated items become library property and will be judged by the same criteria as other acquisitions. Unneeded items will be disposed of through established and recognized procedures, which include offering materials to other institutions and/or selling items with proceeds returning to the acquisitions funds of the library.

Deaccession, Retention and Duplication

The library follows a systematic weeding procedure. Its purpose is to maintain an active, useful and current collection. Items of limited use are eliminated to make room for more useful materials. At least once every five years, librarians review the areas of the collection for which they make purchasing decisions. They may enlist faculty specialists to provide expertise.

The basic criteria for considering an item for withdrawal are as follows:


Use: Items that have not circulated in a specified number of years (roughly ten years for sciences, fifteen years for social sciences, and twenty years for humanities) may be considered for withdrawal.
Subject coverage: The relation of the item to others on the same subject is considered.
Superseded editions: Older editions will not be retained unless they have unique value.
Duplicate copies: Duplicates are retained where demand calls for them.
Value to the college: An item that is dated and obsolete, of low priority, or readily available elsewhere may be considered for withdrawal.
Availability: Consideration will be given to whether an item is the last copy available in a library in Iowa.
Contribution to a well-rounded collection: Retention is considered for items representing subjects of new or renewed interest and classics or items of historical value significant to the college or community. Particularly careful consideration will be given to materials in literature, history and the arts.
Condition: Materials in poor condition are considered for repair or replacement.


Reconsideration of Materials

When a library patron requests that an item be removed from the collection, the librarian will first ascertain whether the item challenged represents a college or public acquisition. Materials challenges from a patron whose library card is issued as a public patron may only challenge those materials purchased from public funds or those materials received as gifts. In addition, the librarian will inform the patron of the collection development policy and the criteria for acquisitions. The following points will be made in discussion with the patron:

  • The collection includes a range of opinions.
  • The library supports the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read Statement.
  • If the patron wishes to make a formal complaint, the librarian will provide a form to be completed or this online form (PDF) may be completed. Only formal and written requests will be considered.

If a formal request for reconsideration is presented,

  • All material will remain in the collection pending review.
  • The College Librarian and a Consulting Librarian will review the material and the request and render a decision whether or not to retain the material.
  • The patron will be notified of the decision within two weeks of receipt of the form.
  • If the patron is dissatisfied with the response, he/she may, within two weeks of receipt of the decision, submit to the College Librarian a written request for appointment of an appeal committee to consider the request.

Upon receipt of a request for committee consideration, the College Librarian will convene an appeal committee of five members:

  • a faculty member appointed by the Dean,
  • a librarian, appointed by the College Librarian
  • a student, appointed by the President of the Student Senate,
  • a citizen who is a library card holder and selected by the Mayor, and
  • a member of the Public Library Board of Trustees or Faculty Library Advisory Committee, as appropriate to the reqeust.

The College Librarian shall appoint a librarian to serve as the non-voting chair of the committee. This committee will meet within a month of receiving the appeal. The complainant is entitled to explain his/her viewpoint before the committee. The committee has essentially two alternatives: 1) not to remove the challenged material, or 2) to remove all or part of the challenged material; 3) to acquire additions to the collection to balance perspecitives in the case of controversies or biased material. The committee will communicate the results of its deliberation, including a recommendation, to the College Librarian for action. The College Librarian will convey the committee’s recommendation as well as a decision on the matter to the complainant within two weeks of receipt of the committee’s recommendation. Further appeal will proceed to the Library Board of Trustees along with the Academic Dean of the College or his/her designee.

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