Selection Philosophy and Criteria


King County Library System creates and maintains information collections to serve our communities in support of our Mission, Vision, and Values. The purpose of the Selection Philosophy and Criteria is to outline the approach used by Collection Management Services to select, curate and maintain physical and digital collections.

Selection Philosophy

We uphold the right of every person the freedom to access legal information as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. We endorse the American Library Association Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read Statement.

The goal of all KCLS materials selection is to support our mission of inspiring the people of King County to succeed through ideas, interaction, and information. We envision our collections creating and supporting a world where knowledge allows diverse communities to grow and prosper. To achieve this goal, we support the freedom to read, view and hear, and safeguard access to information and ideas.

We develop a broad collection that meets the expressed and perceived needs and interests of the diverse communities that we serve. Inclusion of materials by the library is not endorsement of those materials or their creators. Through professional ethics, stewardship and a service mindset, we balance the demands of a changeable market and society. We strive to meet the current demands of our patrons while also building collections that will be of enduring value.

KCLS provides materials in print, audio-visual and digital formats for multiple languages. The choice of format is governed by availability, cost-effectiveness, timeliness, and necessity of equipment.

All KCLS materials are part of one collection, which is physically distributed among community libraries, outreach services or shared digitally by all. We provide community libraries with items suited to their size and interests, while at the same time strengthening the larger system collection and reflecting a wide representation of identities, perspectives and experiences across all communities.

We are particularly interested in collecting materials that pertain to the Pacific Northwest. This includes the contributions and experiences of Indigenous peoples, local communities and histories.

We believe that a high-quality library collection must be kept fresh by intentional weeding, which removes dated and worn-out items, while preserving or replacing items of lasting value.

We endeavor to steward our resources carefully throughout this cycle of collection development and maintenance, a process which includes continual evaluation of formats and markets, and conversation with communities.

Selection Criteria

The eight-point Selection Criteria form a framework to use as we pursue the charge of the Selection Philosophy. The criteria guide our good-faith efforts to build a collection that demonstrates our values: knowledge; intellectual freedom; diversity, equity, and inclusion; professional ethics; stewardship and service mindset. The criteria are intended to be inclusive rather than exclusive and are deliberately flexible. They prompt us to consider the interplay of multiple factors and outline the scope of our collection. Items are not required to meet all criteria, but all criteria will be considered in the purchase decision.

The Selection Criteria are:

  • Current and anticipated needs and interests of the public
  • Evaluations in review media
  • Accuracy and timeliness of content
  • Author's, artist's, or publisher's qualifications and/or reputation
  • Contribution to diversity, equity, inclusion, and breadth of collections
  • Presentation of unique or controversial points of view
  • Receipt of or nominations for major awards or prizes or inclusion in standard bibliographies
  • Stewardship of resources, quality of production and suitability for library use

These criteria and professional standards dictate our selection practices without consideration for individual opinions. A patron's reasons for accessing resources found in the library collection are considered private and confidential. Below are some specifics of how we interpret these guidelines.

1. Current and anticipated needs and interests of the public

We follow current events and draw upon professional knowledge and community input, including patron recommendations, to make purchase decisions. We use data analysis to ensure that selection and maintenance of the collection aligns with patron demand and usage.

2. Evaluations in review media

Reviews in library journals, the press and popular forums frequently inform purchase decisions. We prefer library review media as these resources assess how well an item serves a particular audience and help hold us accountable to professional standards and practices.

3. Accuracy and timeliness of content

We look for accuracy within context of the overall work and timeliness in relation to the norms for that subject. We rely on professional knowledge, reviews, and vendors to assess accuracy and currency.

4. Author's, artist's, or publisher's qualifications

Works by bestselling and well-known creators and producers are prioritized. Purchase decisions for lesser-known creators will require more evaluation.

5. Contribution to diversity, equity, inclusion, and breadth of collections

We cultivate broad cultural and subject coverage to draw strength from differences and remove barriers to opportunities, including materials in languages commonly spoken in our communities.

6. Presentation of unique or controversial points of view

We endeavor to provide patrons access to a wide range of viewpoints and information to encourage the open exchange of ideas on which a free society depends. A balanced collection contains materials that some patrons may find objectionable. Inclusion into the collection doesn’t imply endorsement of the content by KCLS.

7. Receipt of or nominations for major awards or prizes or inclusion in standard bibliographies

We consider regional and national awards in all formats.

8. Stewardship of resources, quality of production and suitability for library use

We evaluate an item’s cost-effectiveness and suitability for library circulation. Presentation, format and physical or technical caliber may affect our decision.

See Also

Policy Owner: Director of Collection Management Services

Last revised: July 2023

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