Materials Selection Policy

The Woodbridge Public Library Board of Trustees affirms the American Library Association (ALA) Library Bill of Rights, The Freedom to Read Statement, and the Freedom to View Statement as cornerstones of its materials' selection policies. These statements emphasize the library's role in providing its community with the broadest range of information possible by the most accessible means possible.

Because the public library provides people with access to larger collections of materials than they would have if they were limited to their own resources, materials selection for these collections is based upon the larger community served and the library goals established to implement its philosophy of service. Materials selection addressing popular demand is guided by accurate evaluation of the greatest needs of the community and the most significant ways in which the library can meet these needs.

The library acquires materials reflecting the full diversity of points of view on topics of interest to the public. Selection of a title does not constitute endorsement of its contents. The collection will reflect various positions on important issues, including unpopular and unorthodox positions. A balanced collection reflects a diversity of materials, not necessarily in equal quantity. Among the factors considered in selecting library materials are:

  • Significant groups within the community
  • Population using the collections
  • Total size of each collection and available physical space for each
  • Budget (i.e., allocation among age groups, audiences, and media formats)
  • Public access to special collections in nearby localities
  • Availability of material via interlibrary loan
  • Relevance to the community
  • Suitability of formats

Materials selection is the responsibility of the library director and employees assigned this task by the director. The library welcomes public comment on its collection, but the ultimate determination of what materials are selected for the collection rests with the director and designated staff who serve the needs and interests of the community as a whole.

Selection Tools

The library identifies potential collection purchases through professional review media (e.g., magazines, publisher catalogs, and bibliographies), staff and public purchase recommendations, and discussion among the personnel assigned responsibility for purchase selection.

Selection Criteria - All Materials

All acquisitions are considered in terms of the following criteria. Items need not meet all of the criteria in order to be acquired for the collection. Depending on the type of item, some selection criteria (e.g., artistic merit, scholarship, ability to satisfy community recreational and entertainment needs) may apply more than others.

The general selection criteria covering all materials include:

  • Existing collection needs
  • Appeal to the general-interest reader
  • Relevance to community needs
  • Customer demand
  • Significant/reputable author or publisher
  • Attention of critics or reviewers
  • Important human or social insight
  • Representation of current events, ideas or mores
  • Availability
  • Space available for housing materials
  • Price and format
  • Physical compatibility for library use (e.g., library binding, size)
  • Availability of low-demand materials from other libraries' collections



Main Library
The Main Library provides materials for patrons of Woodbridge Township and acts as a resource center for the Fords, Henry Inman (Colonia), and Iselin library branches.

The branch libraries develop and maintain collections that meet the general needs of their local communities. They are not required to maintain balanced collections; their collections reflect the demographic characteristics of their particular communities served.


To the extent possible, the collection contains the best and most enduring works published in the English language.

Best seller purchase is based upon demand and potential usefulness to the agency. Best sellers are purchased in quantities necessary to fill holds within a reasonable time. A minimum ratio of 1 copy for every 10 holds is maintained. Not every agency will purchase every title on a best seller list.

Duplicate copies of other materials are purchased based upon demand and budgetary factors. Guided by standard bibliographies, the library adds and/or replaces significant collection titles on a regular basis. The Main Library retains these works whether or not there is current demand for them. The branches retain titles that are in continual demand.

User demand determines the number of readily available copies of a title on the shelves.

Criteria used in selecting material genres and formats include:

Print / Non-Print Fiction

  • Literary merit
  • Author popularity
  • Writing quality
  • Representation of important genre or trend
  • Local demand

Print / Non-Print Nonfiction

  • Subject matter
  • Scope and authority
  • Treatment (e.g., style, organization, approach)
  • Physical features and format
  • Date of publication / timeliness
  • Intended audience

Non-Print Media

  • Technical production quality
  • Sound/image quality
  • Performance quality
  • Presentation effectively delivered by specific format
  • Licensing/copyright compatibility with library use


Materials are purchased for use by parents and for children through the age of 12 or through the 7th grade. The primary objective of the collection is to inculcate in children an enjoyment and appreciation of literature and knowledge. Each library agency maintains fiction and nonfiction collections of quality materials to satisfy a child's recreational reading needs and natural curiosity.

Abridged versions of children's classics are not purchased, but popularized versions of them (e.g., movie tie-ins) may be purchased to meet demand. Abridged adult classics are not purchased for the children's collection except where the abridgements are accepted literary works such as Pilgrim's Progress, Robinson Crusoe, and Gulliver's Travels.

The criteria used in selecting adult material genres and formats (above) apply to the children's collection.


The library maintains a parent collection highlighting books for a parent to use with her/his child and a limited number of books on parenting and child development. The collection is housed in the Children's Room at the Main Library.


The library acquires standard reference sources and other books and materials on a wide variety of subjects to provide for the information needs of the community. All agency reference collections contain the current information available; incorrect information is worse than no information at all. The library discards outdated materials whether or not they can be replaced. Earlier editions of reference books such as dictionaries are evaluated to determine if they contain valid information not appearing in newer editions that would merit the earlier editions' retention.

Criteria considered in selecting reference materials include:

  • Demand
  • Cost
  • Referral frequency by staff
  • Source material validity
  • Factual material's currency
  • Professional reviews

Standing Orders

Reference and circulating titles necessary to the collection and updated by publishers annually or with regular frequency are put on standing order. The list of standing orders is reviewed and revised on a yearly basis.

Databases / Electronic Resources

The library subscribes to databases and other electronic resources available through direct purchase or access via a consortium or the New Jersey State Library. The information needs of the entire community are considered in the resource acquisition.


A collection of magazines and newspapers is maintained for browsing purposes and as a supplement to the book collection. Requests for periodicals outside the scope of the collection may be filled through interlibrary loan. The collection is reviewed on an annual basis, and selections for the collection are based on their:

  • Appeal to the general-interest reader
  • Accessibility of titles' contents via online indices
  • Patron requests
  • Preservation of balanced viewpoint within the collection
  • Content access via online databases
  • Local interest

Government Documents

The Woodbridge Public Library has been a selective depository for federal documents since 1965, for the then New Jersey Seventh Congressional District, and now for the New Jersey Sixth Congressional District. As a designated depository, the library is legally mandated to acquire, maintain, and provide free access to federal government materials, in accordance with the requirements of Title 44, Chapter 19 of the United States Code and of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).

The primary mission of the depository is to support the general collection activities of the Main Library and to meet the government information needs of all residents of the Sixth Congressional District. The complete collection development policy, with a community analysis, selection profile, and withdrawal/weeding procedure, is available as an appendix to this document.

Local History

The library strives to acquire items that enhance its position as a resource for Woodbridge Township local history.

Other Materials

New Formats
New formats are added and withdrawn from the collection based on:

  • Their representation of current events, ideas or mores
  • Cost
  • National surveys/industry reports indicating interest
  • Local requests indicating interest
  • Ownership of technology supporting a format
  • Library ability to acquire and manage items

School Assignments
The library provides supportive services to existing educational institutions. Level of support depends upon library agency size and resources. All agencies acquire materials supporting elementary school assignments. The Main Library acquires materials that support most high school and some college level courses. Branches support most middle school and some high school materials needs. Individual agencies try to respond to high-demand or specialized assignments particular to schools in their area.

The library does not support demand for large numbers of individual titles used in school assignments; it stocks only a small fraction of the number of copies of a specific title that may be required on a given date for school assignments.

The library system may not be able to provide appropriate materials (e.g., sufficient quantities, specific grade levels) for some assignments. In these cases, the teacher notification form should be used to alert the school regarding this lack of availability.

Materials used by schools that are also necessary to support independent study projects are purchased in accordance with the materials selection factors cited above.

The library does not acquire textbooks simply because they are in use by the public school system, nor does this status preclude the purchase of textbooks.

The library may purchase college textbooks because of their academic or informational value to the general community. These acquisitions are not intended as a substitute for the purchase of textbooks by individual college students.

Materials Exclusions

The library does not purchase:

  • Rare books unless through a special grant, and then at the discretion of the director and trustees
  • Books of religious instruction for particular faiths unless such books are the most useful or informative source on a given religion
  • Other special materials that may be found in more comprehensive collections of other local institutions or in nearby public or special libraries

Withdrawal of Items from the Collection

The library collection is maintained by a continual process of repairing, discarding, and replacing items. Materials may be withdrawn from the collection after consideration of their:

  • Physical condition
  • Information currency
  • Information accuracy
  • Lack of use
  • Relevance/accuracy as per NJ State Guidelines and Curriculum Standards
  • Redundancy
  • Supersedence by a newer edition or better work on the same subject
  • National surveys/industry reports indicating lack of interest
  • Waning local requests indicating lack of interest
  • Lack of ownership of technology supporting a format
  • Library inability to acquire and manage items

Materials withdrawn from the collection may be given to the Friends of the Library for their book sale or be disposed of by other means. Individual withdrawn items may not be saved for specific individuals.

Approval Dates

  • Approved - Board of Library Trustees - May 21, 2015
  • Revised - Board of Library Trustees - February 21, 2019