Book Selection Policy


Library patrons using the public library facilities in Avery, Mitchell, and Yancey Counties deserve the highest quality of library services available within the constraints imposed by financial limitations. The Avery-Mitchell-Yancey Regional Library system (A-M-Y) will select and preserve a comprehensive collection of print & non-print materials, and will make available Internet accessible resources to meet the informational, educational, recreational, and cultural needs of all citizens of Avery, Mitchell, and Yancey Counties.

As a public forum, the public library system will provide collections, Internet access to resources, and the availability of Inter-Library Loan service (ILL) through which an individual may explore all points of view and issues of interest. The public library system will be responsive to public demand for materials of contemporary significance and interest, while balancing this with the need to collect and preserve materials of permanent value.

Responsibility & Selection of Materials

The ultimate responsibility for selecting materials for the public library system rests with the Regional Library Director, who operates within the framework of policies determined by the Regional Library Board of Trustees. The Regional Library Director may delegate portions of this responsibility to appropriate members of the regional and local library staffs.

The public library system recognizes that many materials are controversial and that any given item may offend some library users. Selections will not be made on the basis of any anticipated approval or disapproval, but solely on the merits of the work in relation to collection building and to serving the interests of residents in the tri-county area.

Responsibility for the reading, listening, and viewing of library materials, and accessing Internet resources by children rests with their parents or legal guardians. Selection will not be inhibited by the possibility that materials may inadvertently come into possession of children.

The regional library system acknowledges a particular interest in local and state history, therefore, it will take a broad view of works by and about North Carolina. However, the library is not under any obligation to add to its collections everything about North Carolina or produced by authors, printers, or publishers with North Carolina connections.

Suggestions from the general public are encouraged and are evaluated by the library staff based on the regional library system’s criteria for material selections.

Open Access To Ideas

Public libraries are recognized as legal public forums in the communities they serve. As part of a free society, the regional library system will provide access to information in all fields and from all points of view. The regional library system, the governing regional library board of trustees, and the library staffs will not, either directly or indirectly, ban or censor any materials. The presence of an item in the public library does not indicate any endorsement of its contents by the Avery-Mitchell-Yancey Regional Library System.

The regional library system holds censorship to be a purely individual matter and declares that-while anyone is free to reject for himself books and other materials of which he does not approve-he/she cannot exercise this right of censorship to restrict the freedom of others.

The regional library system subscribes to and has adopted the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read Statement and the Freedom to View Statement. These items are included in this Policy.

Reconsideration of Materials

Should a member of the community question the place of a book or other material in the collection, this individual may submit a Request For Reconsideration of Library Materials form to the Regional Library Director. This form is available in all public library locations. The Regional Library Director will reevaluate the item to see if it meets the regional library system’s stated evaluative criteria, and will review the selection decision to see if the item falls within the Books & Materials Selection Policy. If the patron requests a written response, one will be provided by the Regional Library Director within fifteen business days from the postmark date of the request/letter. If the patron is not satisfied with the response, he/she may appeal to the Regional Library Board of Trustees.

The Regional Library Board of Trustees, with the Regional Library Director, is the final board of appeal in reference to public library materials, and must make a formal response to the complaint and/or hearing at their next regularly scheduled meeting.

Selection Criteria

There is no single standard that can be used to evaluate all the types of materials included in the public library collections. Each type of material will be evaluated in terms of its own qualities and merits for the collection.

However, there are some general criteria the public library uses to evaluate, regardless of the format. Every item must meet one or more of the following criteria as applicable for inclusion in the collection:

  • Contemporary or permanent value
  • Quality of writing, design, illustrations, or production
  • Reputation of the publisher or producer, authority and significance of the author, composer, film maker, etc.
  • Relevance to community needs, potential, and/or known demand for the material
  • Cost ($)
  • Availability of materials elsewhere in the area
  • Suitability of subject, style, and level for the intended audience
  • Availability and suitability of format
  • Evaluation of critics and reviewers (professional & general)
  • Space limitations

Further criteria for the evaluation of works of imagination such as fiction, poetry and drama are:

  • Representation of a significant trend, genre, or culture
  • Vitality and originality
  • Artistic merit and literary value
  • Authentic reflection of the human experience
  • Effective characterization
  • Authenticity of historical or social setting

Gifts Policy

The regional library system accepts gifts of materials, but reserves the right to evaluate and dispose of them in accordance with the criteria applied to purchased materials. Gift materials which are not in accord with the library’s objectives and policies will be sold and the monies used for the purchase of needed library materials and resources.

No gift materials are accepted with “strings attached”. The regional library system cannot make a commitment to keep any collection or group of books on a special shelf apart from other books in the library, and reserves the right to inter-shelve gift materials with other materials on the same subject.

Cash donations for the purchase of materials in memory or in honor of a person are always welcomed.

The regional library system receives unsolicited materials which come free from organizations or individuals whose objectives are propaganda or advertising. Those which distort facts, are biased in subject presentation, or contain misleading statements are not added.

The public library does not appraise gifts or provide evaluations of gifts for tax deductions or other purposes, but will acknowledge receipt of gifts in writing if requested by the donor.

Books & Resource Materials


Fiction collections are a major component of most library collections. Classic literature and popular best sellers make up the core of the fiction collection. Its purpose is to both entertain and enrich human understanding by presenting stories in an imaginative way rather than in a factual manner. The emphasis in the collection is on American and English authors.

Selections are based on one or more of the following criteria: quality ( determined by reviews ), potential use, and demand. Current best sellers are purchased through a book lease plan in order to provide multiple copies to meet patron demand.


The non-fiction collection emphasizes timely, accurate, and useful informational materials to support individual, business, government, and community interests. Materials are available for all ages and reading levels, and are selected to represent a continuum of opinions and viewpoints when available. As a new field emerges, the library attempts to respond with timely additions.

The regional library system does not purchase elementary, junior high, and senior high textbooks listed on the N.C. State adopted textbook list. These textbooks are provided without charge to each person enrolled in the public education program.


The public library targets preschoolers in the interest of encouraging an appreciation of the library’s resources in the formative years. To assist in this goal, the library’s purchase of Easy Books for this age child will be educational, recreational in intent, including picture books, concept books, and board books.

For school age children, the public library purchases materials for informational, recreational and cultural needs, highlighting classic literature, current young adult fiction, including the popular areas of mystery & suspense, sports, and science fiction. For both age groups, an effort is made to include all books that have won children’s literary awards ( Caldecott & Newbery Books,

Large-Print Materials

Large-print materials are purchased to meet the special visual needs of the community. They are selected by the same standards of format and content that apply to other materials purchased by the library.

Videotapes & Audio Books

Videotapes are added to the collection following the same criteria as books. The video collection consists of a mix of feature films including current high interest and old classics, non-fiction films, and films for children. Films which are rated “X” and/or have an excessive glorification of violence will not be included in the library’s film collection.

Recorded books (also known as books-on-tape) are purchased within the same guidelines as other books.

Slides, Films, Filmstrips, Record Albums, CDs

Due to limited financial resources, the regional library system makes no attempt to purchase any of these materials.


The library purchases microforms when materials are too fragile or bulky to retain in the original form. Most notable in this area are the census records and newspapers on microfilm housed in all of the libraries.

Periodicals & Newspapers

Periodicals are selected to supplement the book collection and to provide materials on current issues for research and for general reading. The public library also selects newspapers of local, state, and national interest, depending on cost, the place of publication, the breadth of coverage, and the degree of fulfillment of reference or recreational interests.

Maintaining The Collections

The public library’s collections should contain current materials that are in good condition and are in demand. Use is of paramount importance in deciding whether to retain a title. Space, the cost of replacement, and the appearance (appeal) of the collection are additional factors in making weeding decisions.

All collections need to be weeded on a continuing and scheduled basis. Regardless of use, materials should be removed if they:

  • are damaged, worn, have pages missing, etc.;
  • contain dated or obsolete information, even if some of the information is useful;
  • are unused duplicates; or
  • have been replaced by a newer edition.

Replacement/substitution of these materials reintroduces the selection process. Click below to request reconsideration of library materials.


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