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In order to provide quality resources for information, education, and leisure to Greenville County residents, the Greenville County Library System (hereinafter the "Library") has established this policy for the ongoing process of development and maintenance of the Library collection. This policy provides direction to Library staff in the collection development and maintenance process as well as information for the public on the philosophy and rationale used to make collection development and maintenance decisions.

Overview and Authority

Collection development and maintenance is the ongoing process of evaluating materials available for purchase or licensing and making decisions about adding, deleting, and retaining materials in the Library collections. The Library Board delegates responsibility for collection development and maintenance to the Executive Director and Library staff. Primary responsibility rests with the Collection Development Coordinator who ensures continuity and relevance in the Library's collections through an organized structure for planning, budgeting, selecting, and managing library materials.

In addition to the librarians employed as collection development specialists, staff in each Library location participate in collection development and maintenance. Staff identify the needs of Library users and systematically relay that information to the Collection Development Coordinator. Staff also continuously evaluate the collections for condition, currency, and continued use.

The Library Board determines the Collection Development and Maintenance Policy and is the final authority in matters concerning its application. The Board may authorize the Executive Director to make adjustments to the policy based on budget, physical space, or other special concerns.

Materials Selection

Selection refers to the act of identifying and evaluating specific items for addition to the Library's collections or the decision to provide access electronically. Staff involved in selection have wide reading backgrounds and interests and keep current in their assessments of user needs. In addition to responding to the demands of Library users, staff consult a variety of reviewing sources and community members with expertise in certain areas.

Effective collection development and maintenance is best achieved through the participatory efforts of staff and users. Recommendations for acquiring materials are welcomed from all members of the Library's community. It is the responsibility of staff to communicate users' requests and needs to Collection Development staff or to assist users in submitting requests directly. Users may submit their requests for purchase by completing the Suggest to Purchase form available on the Library's website. The Collection Development staff evaluate these requests according to the "Factors Considered in Material Selection" listed in this policy. Therefore, items requested may not be purchased.

Patrons also have the right to request that material in the Library's collections be reconsidered. The Library provides procedures for handling these requests and outlines the steps to be followed. Request for Reconsideration of Library Material forms are available at all library locations.

Philosophy of Selection and Maintenance

Through its collections, the Library strives to support an informed community by providing access to the world of ideas and information. The Library's collection is developed and managed to meet the informational, educational, cultural and recreational needs of the residents of Greenville County. The Library's responsibility is to provide circulating and reference material for the general public. Unless otherwise designated, materials are circulated according to the Circulation Policy. Special collections are maintained only when indicated by the demonstrated needs of the community and if funding is available.

The Library recognizes the need to balance budget, staffing and space limitations when making its decisions. The Library has an efficient request and courier system which allows patrons to request materials from other locations for delivery to a more convenient location.

The Library attempts to acquire or provide access to materials and information in a variety of formats. Staff evaluate new formats as they become available or as the public requests them.

The Library places priority on filling contemporary needs rather than building historical and rare book collections, except for the acquisition of materials of both past and current significance to the Greenville area.

Collection decisions are based on the merit of the work as it relates to the Library's mission and the work's ability to meet the expressed or anticipated needs and interests of the community. It is the Library's responsibility to acquire, as available, material presenting a wide variety of views and opinions on current and historical issues. The Library will neither promote nor censor any particular religious, moral, philosophical or political conviction or opinion. Material will not be excluded because of the race or nationality or the religious, social, or political views of the author, publisher, or creator. The inclusion of an item in the collection does not represent an endorsement of its contents.

The Library recognizes that many materials are controversial and that any given item may offend some. Only individuals can determine what is most appropriate for their needs. The Library will not label materials to indicate appropriateness or acceptability of contents. The Library will retain labeling provided by the publisher or manufacturer. These labels include the ratings of the Motion Picture Association of American and the advisory labels music publishers place on musical recordings. The Library will not expurgate or allow expurgation (e.g. the deletion, excision, alteration, editing or obliteration) of any Library material; these actions could result in copyright violations.

Although the Library recognizes the need to be sensitive to the categorization of material that may be deemed inappropriate for some ages of children, parents and legal guardians have the responsibility for their children's use of library materials and are encouraged to define what material or information is consistent with their personal and family beliefs; only they can apply those values for themselves and their children.

Maintenance of the collection is a fundamental responsibility of Library staff. Staff continuously evaluate materials, replacing or repairing those which are worn or damaged and removing items no longer current or in demand or of ongoing value as part of a core collection.

Factors Considered in Materials Selection

These factors are applicable to most selection decisions. Others may be taken into consideration, and the importance or weight of a particular factor will vary from one acquisition to another.

General Critera:

  • Reputation and qualifications of the creators, publisher or producer
  • Community needs, interests, demands, and standards
  • Importance as a document of the times
  • Literary, artistic, and technical values
  • Relationship to the existing collection
  • Availability in other area libraries
  • Suitability of physical form for library use
  • Recommendations in reviews
  • Durability
  • Price
  • Suitability of subject and style for intended audience
  • Judgment of work as a whole
  • Availability of equipment required for examination and use
  • Publication date
  • Availability for purchase

Content Criteria:

  • Comprehensiveness and depth of treatment
  • Accuracy of content
  • Authority, skill, competence, and purpose of author/producer
  • Objectivity
  • Clarity
  • Technical quality
  • Vitality and originality
  • Artistic presentation
  • Effective characterization
  • Sustained interest
  • Relevance and use of the information
  • Authenticity of history of social setting

Special considerations regarding electronic resources or format:

  • Ease of use of the product
  • Availability of the information to multiple simultaneous users
  • Equipment needed to provide access to the information
  • Technical support and training
  • Availability of physical space needed to house and store information or equipment
  • Conformance with the Library's Internet Use Policy


The Library accepts donations of print and non-print materials (e.g. books, DVDs, CDs, etc.). All donated materials received at any Library location become the absolute property of the Library with no right of ownership from any other entity. Donated materials will not be returned to the donor. Using the selection evaluation factors delineated in this policy along with consideration of cataloging and processing costs, Library staff will determine if donated material is added to the Library's collections. The Library disposes of donated items in accordance with the Library's Procurement Policy for the Purchase and Disposal of Library Materials.

Withdrawal of Materials

The process of removing items from the Library's collections is an integral part of collection maintenance. Materials are withdrawn in order to maintain a particular collection's usefulness, currency, and relevance. Materials may be moved from one Library location to another. Criteria for removal of material include, but are not limited to, condition, currency, and popularity of material. Special consideration is given to retaining last copies of fiction and biography titles. Some fiction titles are sent to the State Library for the Last Copy Fiction Collection.

The Library disposes of withdrawn materials in accordance with the Library's Procurement Policy for the Purchase and Disposal of Library Materials.

Adult Collection

The Library purchases a wide range of material reflecting the diverse interests of a public that varies greatly in education, taste, and reading ability. While supplying entertainment and information resources for the general public, the Library also makes an effort to support the basic needs of the local adult student population. Highly specialized and esoteric materials are not normally acquired.

The adult fiction collection is maintained as a resource of recreational reading for the community and is aimed at serving patrons age 18 and above. The Library is unable to acquire all of the many fiction titles published each year but an attempt is made to purchase books representing a wide variety of fiction categories.

Although all of the selection factors listed above apply to fiction, public demand and published reviews are particularly relevant. The Library is very aware of public demand and will often purchase fiction titles that are not notable for literary quality or artistic merit but have substantial popular appeal. Popular titles are also duplicated as necessary to meet demand. Because of the abundance of available fiction titles, the Library staff makes extensive use of book reviews. Occasionally, staff members critique individual works when it is necessary to resolve disagreement among the reviewing sources or when an authoritative review cannot be found.

The adult non-fiction collection includes material on almost any topic that might be of interest or concern to Library's users age 13 and above. Popular items and subjects are sometimes duplicated. Unusually expensive materials and those with an extremely narrow or highly specialized focus are not normally acquired. The Library does not normally acquire textbooks but some textbooks may be purchased if necessary to provide coverage of certain subject areas.

Although accuracy of content and authority of a work's creators are important criteria in the selection of non-fiction materials, the Library does not assume responsibility for inaccuracies or errors in the works included in its collections. Opinion, hypothesis, and theory are as important to the Library's non-fiction collection as proven facts.

Audiovisual Materials

The Library provides materials in a variety of audiovisual formats for all ages. In addition to the selection criteria used for print materials, the Library also considers quality of production, reputation of performer, and the ability of the public to access the format.

From time to time new forms of audiovisual media are introduced into the market place. Often these new products enjoy only brief popularity before losing their market to newer forms of audiovisual media. Library staff studies media forms to assess their suitability for public library use.

The Library cannot be held responsible for manufacturing defects or errors in the product that may result in damage to personal equipment or other inconvenience to the user.

Musical Sound Recordings
The Library selects, acquires and maintains a diversified collection of musical sound recordings. Review and selection decisions are based primarily upon popular demand and on published reviews. The Library attempts to collect recordings representing a wide range of musical genres.

Spoken Word Recordings
The Library selects, acquires and maintains a collection of spoken word recordings. This collection primarily contains popular fiction and non-fiction titles in unabridged versions. Abridged versions of titles may be acquired under special circumstances. Selection decisions are made based on demand, quality of recording and production, cost, shelving space, durability of materials, and ease of obtaining replacement discs.

Video Recordings
The Library selects, acquires and maintains a diversified collection of video recordings. This collection consists of informational, how-to, and popular entertainment video recordings. The collection includes feature length movies intended for home use and other private showings that do not constitute public performances. Review and selection decisions are based primarily on awards lists and published reviews. The Library purchases some popular feature films but places most of its effort in collecting informational, instructional and other video recordings not readily available from rental outlets. The Library is unable to acquire all of the many television series released on DVD; however, an attempt is made to purchase television series representing a wide variety of categories. Video recordings produced specifically for instructional use in the classroom are generally not purchased.

Bookmobile Collection

The bookmobile carries a changing collection, relying heavily on the use of leased books. The bookmobile collection consists of a wide variety of popular materials for all ages in print and audiovisual formats. Patrons may request specific materials be brought to them at their bookmobile stop.

Braille and Talking Books

The South Carolina State Library provides free Talking Book and Braille services to eligible patrons via free mail service. Due to relatively easy access to these specialized materials, the Library does not purchase Talking Book materials and buys only a few Braille items, primarily to teach or to demonstrate the use of Braille.

Branch Libraries

The branches of the Library provide a general collection of materials that meet the basic recreational and informational needs of the communities in which they are located. Branch library collections are not intended for in-depth research or scholarly work but include a selection of basic reference works and circulating materials in major fields of knowledge. Branch collections include materials intended for adults, teens and children. The circulating collections include current and popular bestsellers and popular titles in large print.

The branches provide a selection of popular general interest periodicals for adults, teens and children. Periodicals circulate and are generally kept for one year. Each branch library contains a small collection of audiovisual material available for circulation. These materials include video and musical recordings, spoken word recordings, and electronic resources.

Electronic Resources

The Library also provides electronic resources which may include online databases, eBooks, downloadable video recordings, downloadable eAudiobooks, music and links to selected websites. These materials can be accessed using a computer at home and/or in any Library location.

eBooks, eAudiobooks and Music
The Library provides access to downloadable eBooks, eAudiobooks, and music. Availability of particular titles, loan periods, renewals and reserves of downloadable items are configured within the options offered by vendors. Restrictions imposed by individual vendors or by the terms of the Library’s purchase agreements often determine the number of items allowed for download, duration of loan periods, request list functionality, and/or the number of renewals.

The Internet provides access to ungoverned and unregulated sources of information. The Library's Internet Use Policy is intended to augment the Library's Collection Development and Maintenance Policy, determining the content offered by the Library via the Internet.

Online Databases
The Library provides free access to subscription-based electronic databases of information that are subject to formal publication or editorial procedures/criteria to ensure accuracy and timeliness. Some databases are available only from within a Library location. Remote access is provided to library card holders when permitted by the supplier and when financially feasible.

Foreign Language Collection

The Foreign Language Collection serves students and native speakers of foreign languages. This collection contains titles in various formats for recreational reading, listening, and viewing and for increasing fluency in a language.

Community demographics, circulation statistics and patron requests determine in which languages the Library purchases materials. Circulation and requests indicate the subjects and genres patrons prefer. Educational topics of interest to native speakers (GED study materials in Spanish, for example) may be purchased. For the juvenile collection, foreign language translations of English works are preferred.

Foreign language newspapers are not usually carried and only a few foreign language periodicals are acquired by the library. These are located at the Hughes Main Library unless community demand dictates that a title be located in a branch. Branch libraries may carry locally published Spanish language periodicals.

Government Publications

Federal Documents
As a selective depository, the Library receives federal documents through the Federal Depository Library Program. The Library also collects non-depository government materials to support its reference collection and provides and promotes electronic access to government information. Selection of federal documents is based on use and interest to the general public. Most of the items in the Library’s federal documents collection are discarded after five years. The discarding process is regulated by the South Carolina Federal Regional Depository Library at the University of South Carolina.

South Carolina State Documents
The Library receives South Carolina government publications from the South Carolina State Library and local government documents from Greenville County agencies and municipalities. Items considered useful for the Local History collection are transferred to the South Carolina Room Collection. Key legal publications of continuing value are retained in the documents collection. State and local documents are usually discarded after five years.

Interlibrary Loan

The Library supplements its collections through resource sharing agreements with other libraries. Patrons may request that items not included in the Library's collections be borrowed from other libraries. (See the Library's Interlibrary Loan Policy.)

Juvenile Collection

Materials for children are selected to provide a balanced collection that encourages the love of reading and provides information in all areas of knowledge. The Library supplements school curricula when possible. Materials may be selected in a wide range of formats. Selection criteria include suitability and durability of a particular format for the age of the target audience.

The Library is very aware of public demand and will often purchase fiction titles that are not notable for literary quality or artistic merit but have substantial popular appeal. Popular titles are also duplicated as necessary to meet demand. Because of the abundance of available fiction titles, selectors make extensive use of book reviews. Staff members may critique individual works when an authoritative review cannot be found.

The Juvenile Collection's target audience is infancy through 12 years of age. Variations in reading levels of children, best available source of usable information, and expanded target audience of a particular work may call for the inclusion of material whose primary audience is teens or adults. Materials may be subdivided into areas according to interest, format and/or reading level; however, the Library makes no attempt to have separate subdivisions for every reading or interest level. Any restriction desired by parents and/or legal guardians on their own children’s use of material is the parents' and/or legal guardians' responsibility.

Juvenile Programming Collection
The Juvenile Programming Collection is a collection of books, recorded music, puppets, felt board figures, and other items used in the creation and/or presentation of Library programs. These items are for Library staff use only and do not circulate to the general public. Most titles in this collection, however, are also purchased for the juvenile circulating collection.

Juvenile Reference Collection
The Juvenile Reference Collection contains both material to be used directly by children and material intended for use by adults assisting and/or working with children.

Parenting and Early Childhood (PEC) Collection
The Parenting and Early Childhood (PEC) Collection consists of child development, parenting, and teacher resource material as well as material intended for bibliotherapy or instructional use with children.

Play and Literacy Center Collection
The Play and Literacy Center Collection contains board books that are designated for use in the Play and Literacy (PAL) Center at the Hughes Main Library.

Quik-Kits are themed materials that circulate as a single unit. A kit may contain a variety of material formats. These kits are for use by adults working with children.


The Library provides themed materials for adults that circulate as a single unit. A kit may contain a variety of formats. These kits are intended for use as programming aids, with some specifically designed for book discussions.

Large Print Collection

Large print books are made available to serve persons who cannot read regular print. Patron interest and the availability of titles dictate the composition of the collection which is 80-90% fiction. The majority of large print books are titles found in the Library in regular print. The most important factors in the selection of large print books are: popularity of author and/or genre, size of print, size of the volume, quality of paper and binding, and cost. Patron interest and availability of materials are also factors in determining the purchase of other large print items such as periodicals and newspapers.

Leased Books

The Library leases copies of high demand books in order to fill multiple requests for the same title more quickly. These materials are returned to the supplier when the Library no longer needs them.

Local Authors' Works

The Library may accept one donated copy of a local author’s work and place it in the Local Author section at the Hughes Main Library. The Local Author must live in Greenville County. Donated works must be aimed at the general reader and may not be a textbook. The material must be sturdily bound and large enough to stand up on its own, not falling easily behind a shelf. It must be in a format that the Library currently collects. All donated works are subject to the same criteria for removal as other materials as stated in the Withdrawal of Materials Section of this policy.

Local History and Genealogy

Historical and rare materials of past and current significance to the Greenville area are stored in the South Carolina Room (SC Room) and its climate-controlled staff workroom and archives at the Hughes Main Library. Many of these materials are irreplaceable and precise humidity and temperature controls along with the use of special conservation techniques are necessary for their preservation. To ensure these items are available to researchers and the general public, they are designated for use only within the SC Room.

Genealogy Collection
The SC Room houses the major collection of genealogical research materials in the Western Carolinas which are of interest to researchers from throughout the region and other parts of the United States.

The collection's primary focus is on Upstate South Carolina as well as states along the migration route from the north (New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina) into the Upstate and the states along the migration routes westward (Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Arkansas, Texas) and southward (Georgia, Florida) out of the Upstate.

The collection includes manuals and handbooks on how to do genealogical research, family histories, census schedules, probates and wills, land records, county histories, cemetery and religious records, immigration and naturalization records, military records, newspapers, vital records and indexes to these materials. Formats include many of those contained in the Library's other collections. Subscriptions to online genealogical databases are used to supplement the collection.

Local History Collection
The purpose of the Local History Collection is to preserve materials that document the history of Greenville County and Upstate South Carolina and to make these materials available to researchers and the general public. The major emphasis of the collection is information about Greenville County. Secondary emphasis is placed on information about the Upstate. Some materials on the state of South Carolina are also included.

Subject areas include early settlers, ethnic groups, businesses, arts and entertainment, and prominent individuals and events. The collection includes books, periodicals, pamphlets, maps, microform, photographs, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, video and sound recordings, ledgers, aerial photos and Library related realia.

The collection also includes the works of some local authors. Local authors are defined as writers who have spent a significant part of their lives in the Greenville County area. Works by notable South Carolina authors may also be included. Works by these authors are collected if the work is relevant to the study of the history and culture of the Greenville area. Works of local imprint are added only when they contribute directly to the social, political, or cultural history of the region.

Books and papers originally owned and used by local residents are not added to the collection unless they contain local information otherwise unavailable or had a significant historical influence on the local population.


The Library maintains a representative collection of magazines intended to supplement the book collection. The focus of the magazine collection is on publications that will provide current information on a variety of popular and practical topics.

The main criteria used to determine whether a magazine title will be added are: demonstrated or perceived demand by current or potential Library users, the title's inclusion in indexes received by the Library, an examination of a sample copy, reviews of the publication, cost, the availability of the magazine at other area libraries and coverage of the publication's subject area in the Library's existing collections.

The Hughes Main Library maintains a small selection of magazines and journals in its Reference Collection to ensure that these materials are readily available as reference resources. Back files of some titles are available in bound volumes or on microfilm at the Hughes Main Library. Titles selected for retention include titles that are indexed and are useful for basic research on a variety of topics. Titles are retained in print format if the illustrations are deemed to be a significant part of the publication. Other titles are retained on microfilm. Magazines and journals that are not kept in the collection permanently are retained for one year.

Separate collections comprised of general interest titles for adults, teens and children are available for circulation at the Hughes Main Library. Branch libraries have small magazine collections that are also available for circulation.


The Hughes Main Library's newspaper collection consists of current issues of local papers and papers from larger cities in South Carolina and major cities in the United States as well as select international papers. Microfilmed copies of back issues of The Greenville News, Greenville Piedmont and other newspapers published in Greenville dating back to 1874 have been acquired and are available for viewing as part of the South Carolina Room Collection. Other local papers also may be considered for permanent retention.

Most newspapers are retained for one week. Print issues of a selection of regional and national newspapers are retained for three months as part of the Reference Collection. Microfilmed copies of back issues of select major newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post are also part of the Reference Collection.

Branch libraries acquire The Greenville News, other local community newspapers and notable national newspapers when community interest warrants. Issues are generally retained for one week.

Paperback Books

Due to the popularity of the paperback format and because many titles are not otherwise available, the Library maintains a large collection of mass market paperback books. Because of their relatively low cost and ephemeral nature, these paperbacks are not fully cataloged but are searchable in the catalog by author and title.

The Library is very much aware of public demand and often purchases or accepts donations of paperback titles which are not notable for their content, literary quality or artistic merit but which have substantial popular appeal. Series and genres for which there is established demand are emphasized. Paperback editions of cataloged titles are purchased to help meet temporary demand. The Library also may purchase paperback titles in a new genre to establish demand for that genre.

Rare Books

Although the South Carolina Room contains some rare items in its collections and provides for their special handling and housing, the Library does not intentionally collect rare material.


Reference materials are those designed to be consulted for specific items of information rather than read in their entirety. Reference works typically include encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, atlases, indexes, directories, bibliographies and similar informational resources. These materials are used frequently by the public and the Library staff and are designated for use within the Library. Virtually any item in the collection may be designated for the Reference Collection if staff determines that it is desirable to have the item consistently available. Duplicate copies of reference materials may by purchased for the circulating collection if the price is not prohibitive.

Reference materials are selected with the goal of providing current information on a wide variety of subjects and historical information in subject areas where experience indicates a demand. Factors to be used in selecting reference materials are as follows: demonstrated or perceived demand by Library users or potential users, favorable reviews, inclusion in basic collection guides, reputation of the author, currency of information, cost, format, durability, ease of use, and relation to the existing collection. In selecting electronic reference sources, additional factors include the ability to make these sources available at all Library locations and to Library patrons by remote access.

The Reference Collection is intended to yield information useful for basic research in most fields of knowledge and to vary in depth from an introductory level to a beginning research level. Highly specialized and esoteric materials are not normally acquired.

The Hughes Main Library serves as the primary resource and reference center for the Library. Branch library reference collections provide staff and users with basic, generalized research tools. Patrons with in-depth reference needs are referred to the Hughes Main Library.

Young Adult Collection

The Young Adult Collection consists of material considered of particular interest to teens aged 13 through 18 or eighth through twelfth grade. Because of the wide range of maturity and reading levels among individual teens, the suitability of any particular item for a teen must be determined on an individual basis by the parent/legal guardian of that teen.

Fiction material is classified as Young Adult (YA) when its target audience falls within the 13 to 18 age range. Typically, the novel has teen protagonists and deals with such subjects as school, dating, peer-pressure, and coming-of-age issues as teens transition into adulthood. Emphasis is on material that widens the boundaries of teens' thinking, enriches their lives, and helps fulfill their recreational or emotional needs.

The Hughes Main Library provides a browsing YA nonfiction collection of materials suitable for this age group. Branch libraries also provide some YA nonfiction materials.



Approved by the Board of Trustees on May 24, 1999
Revised May 20, 2002; September 25, 2006
October 26, 2009; December 10, 2012