ImagineIF Libraries

Collection Development

The purpose of the Collection Development and Management Policy is:

  • To document collection management procedures;
  • To guide staff in the selection, retention, and withdrawal of library materials;
  • To inform the public of the philosophy of collection development and the policies involved; and
  • To establish a framework for continuous collection evaluation and improvement.

Collection Objective

The ImagineIF Libraries’ collection is developed based upon community interests and needs, the composition and use of the existing collection, and input from customers, staff, and the Library Board of Trustees.

ImagineIF’s primary service commitment is to the people within its service area. ImagineIF’s collections fairly serve people of every age, education, background, personal philosophy, religious belief, occupation, economic level, ethnic origin and human condition. The collection is organized to provide unrestricted and easy access within the limitations of space and budget. All ImagineIF materials are intended for public use and, with the exception of selected special or reference collections, all materials are available for check-out.

Collection Responsibility

The Board of Trustees vests responsibility for selection of library materials in the Library Director under guidelines established by the Board. Members of the staff, qualified by reason of education and/or experience, serve on the Collection Development Team and are assigned to assist with the selection of materials.

General Collection Description

The library collections are comprised primarily of popular materials directed toward the general public and an effort is made to have the most current information available. There is a special collection of materials that focuses on the history of Flathead County and surrounding areas. Older general material is held only if it has local historical significance.

Collection Philosophy

The presence of materials in the Library collection does not reflect endorsement or approval of its contents by the ImagineIF Libraries Board of Trustees, ImagineIF Libraries Staff, or its funding agencies.

Selection Criteria

Selectors acquire materials based on the following criteria:

  • Customer demand and interest
  • Critical reviews
  • Presentation and readability
  • To provide alternative or opposing perspective on a topic or issue
  • Author’s reputation and significance as a writer
  • Reputation and standing of the publisher
  • Local or national significance
  • Availability of the material or information elsewhere
  • Quality of the physical format
  • Reasonable cost
  • Avoidance of any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct that is or appears to be a minor
  • Avoidance of materials which contains explicit or detailed descriptions or narrative accounts of sexual excitement or sexual conduct which is obscene (as defined in MCA 45-8-201) or otherwise harmful to minors (as defined in the Children’s Internet Protection Act) 47 U.S.C.§ 254 (h)(7) that are shelved in areas designated to include minors under the age of 18.

The criteria for selection, acquisition, customer requests, duplication, replacement, and withdrawal (weeding) are the same for all materials and formats. Selection of materials is driven by customer demand in all formats for all ages. Items do not need to meet all criteria to be selected, nor does fulfilment of criteria necessarily guarantee selection.

Selectors may use a number of selection aids at their disposal to assist with selection decisions and selection tools may change over time.

In most cases, the library will not purchase or accept as gifts self-published materials that are not reviewed in established review journals.

EElectronic collections available through MontanaLibrary2Go are part of a statewide consortium. These materials are selected and withdrawn by a cooperative committee, not by ImagineIF staff, and are subject to separate collection development policies and procedures. MontanaLibrary2Go is administered by Montana State Library and by two committees: an elected Executive Committee and a volunteer Selection Committee.

MontanaLibrary2Go Policies and Procedures

User Requests

ImagineIF values community input on our collections. As such, all user requests are considered for purchase. Items requested must meet the selection criteria described in this policy, and ImagineIF is not obligated to purchase items requested.

Generally requested titles are purchased if:

  • The title was published in the last 5 years
  • The cost is less than $35
  • The subject has strong local interest

Titles outside these parameters may be purchased after the Library Director’s review. If requested items are not selected for purchase, every reasonable effort will be made to secure requested items via the Partners Sharing Group or Inter Library Loan.

Duplicate Purchasing

ImagineIF selectors may purchase multiple copies of items in order to meet the demand of local users. However, every effort is made to ensure that purchasing of duplicates does not occur at the expense of less popular, though equally important, collections.

In order to achieve this balance, ImagineIF maintains a 5:1 hold ratio for all collections. This calculation is made using only holds placed by ImagineIF cardholders, and does not include holds placed at Partner Libraries. Downloadable materials through MontanaLibrary2Go are part of a state-wide consortium. The holds ratio for these items is set and overseen by an outside selection team.

Replacement Of Materials

Selectors are responsible for reviewing withdrawn items, and consider replacement based on the same criteria for original purchase, as well as ongoing demand for that item. There is no limitation on how many times a given title may be replaced, assuming there is sufficient availability and demand for that title.

Withdrawal Of Materials

Staff shall review the collection on an ongoing basis with the goal of maintaining the quality and vitality of the library collections. Collection management involves continuous collection evaluation through the use of circulation reports and analysis of collection use. Worn, damaged, and dated materials shall be removed from the collection on a regular basis. Materials may also be withdrawn if they are not used or are superseded by a new edition or a more authoritative work on the same subject. Other criteria that may be applied include the changing demands of users, replacement of materials with other formats, space, and collection balance.

Disposition Of Withdrawn Materials

All withdrawn materials shall be removed from the MT Shared Catalog, visibly marked as withdrawn and all ImagineIF identification destroyed. Withdrawn materials will be disposed of in the manner deemed most appropriate for that item. Methods of disposal may include:

  • Distribution to Library support Organizations and/or vendors for resale;
  • Distribution to local entities to support community literacy efforts;
  • Freely distributed from the Libraries’ Free Shelf

In rare circumstances, library materials may be recycled. This method of disposal is reserved for items that are heavily damaged or remain after other disposition methods fail.

Special Collection

The Special Collection exists to collect, preserve, and make available for research primary and secondary archival materials relating to Flathead County. The Special Collection is a repository for materials primarily concerned with Flathead County, Montana. Less extensively collected are materials related to northwest Montana and to the State of Montana as a whole. Materials with no connection to these geographic regions may occasionally be included based on local interest and demand.

Since materials in the Special Collection are intended to provide a persistent source of information on Flathead County, they are for use only in the library. Customers may use items from the Special Collection in any ImagineIF location. When a customer requests that an item from the Special Collection be sent to a satellite location, the item will be transported there by the library courier and will remain available for a limited number of days. Items judged to be irreplaceable or too fragile to transport may be used only at ImagineIF Kalispell.


All such gifts, grants, donations, devises, or bequests must be received or accepted by the Library Director or proxy on behalf of the Board of Trustees. See also Policy 1004 Donations.

Donation Of Physical Materials

Donated and memorial materials are subject to the same standards as the rest of the library collection. Once a gift is accepted, it becomes the property of ImagineIF Libraries, to be used or disposed of in accordance with ImagineIF library policy.

Upon request, ImagineIF Libraries will provide the donor a receipt, but will not appraise the value of donated items.

Whenever possible, ImagineIF Libraries will honor a donor’s wishes to house materials at a particular branch. However, at the discretion of library staff, the library reserves the right to relocate materials to its other branches.

ImagineIF Libraries will not return unsolicited materials, nor will it be responsible for payment of costs incurred when unsolicited materials are sent.

Monetary Donations

Monetary gifts, grants, donations, and bequests intended for the purchase of library materials shall be placed in Fund 7055 (Gift Fund).

Whenever possible, ImagineIF Libraries will honor a donor’s wishes when purchasing library materials with donor funds. As with any purchase, the Collection Management Policy will be followed in order to ensure balanced collection.

At the request of the donor, library materials purchased with donated funds may be designated by a bookplate or other appropriate identification.

Censorship And Selection

ImagineIF Libraries believes in freedom of information for all, and does not practice censorship. The selection of library materials is based on a person’s right to read, listen, and view and the freedom from censorship by others. Attempting to meet the needs and interests of a diverse population requires a wide range of materials. Inevitably, there will be something in a balanced collection that may be unacceptable or disturbing to someone.

The function of materials selection is to obtain print and non-print materials suited to meet the diverse needs of Flathead County citizens. As professional librarians, selectors are conscious to not allow personal biases, pressure from outside individuals or groups, or fear of such pressure to influence selection decisions. Following the democratic principles under which it operates, the Library is obligated to fairly represent all sides of controversial topics, wherever possible.

ImagineIF Libraries holds censorship to be a purely individual matter and declares that while anyone is free to personally reject materials of which he or she does not approve, he or she may not exercise censorship to restrict the freedom of others. For this reason, selection decisions are not influenced by the possibility that materials may be accessible to minors. Cataloging and classification should in no way represent a value judgment of the material, and as such items are not labeled to show approval or disapproval, nor to subjectively identify certain philosophies. No items are sequestered except to protect them from damage or theft.

ImagineIF Libraries does not act In Loco Parentis, and as such, responsibility for materials selected and read by children and adolescents rests with their parent or legal guardians.

ImagineIF Libraries does not collect materials that fall within the U.S. Supreme Court’s definition of Obscenity and asserts that the definition and application of obscenity is the responsibility of the judiciary.

Request For Reconsideration Procedure

Criticism and comment on material selected for inclusion in or exclusion from the collections is an essential right of community members and a valuable part of the ImagineIF Libraries’ selection process. This process provides an opportunity for staff members to review and transparently account for selection choices and reasoning.

The Library Board of Trustees acknowledges that occasional objections to resources will be made despite the care taken and the procedures followed in their selection. The Library Board and library staff are prepared to defend the principles of freedom to read and access information. Objections to particular language or point of view of material cannot be used as justification for the exclusion of materials, but material may be relocated to a different collection if housed in a minor designated area.

Selectors will gladly respond to any concern from users about library materials. If users are not satisfied with this response, they will be referred to the Library Director. If a complaint cannot be resolved informally, the complainant may complete and return a written and signed Citizen Comment on Library Materials Form. This form may be obtained from any ImagineIF staff member. In the absence of a fully completed form there is no formal complaint and no action will be taken. Completed Reconsideration forms will be considered only if reasonable attempts for informal resolution have been made.

When a fully completed written complaint is received, a formal review process begins. During the formal review process, all existing copies of the challenged material shall remain in circulation and are subject to the same management described in this policy. The investigation process is as follows, and should be completed within 45 days of receipt of the formal complaint:

  • The Library Director establishes a review committee to investigate the complaint, consisting of members of the Collection Development Team and other professional library staff;
  • The challenged title is reviewed in full by the committee;
  • The review committee meets to discuss the title. Discussion should include, but is not limited to:
  • An accounting of how the material was acquired,
  • The objective legality of the material in question,
  • Analysis of circulation data,
  • Critical reviews of the title, its author(s), publisher, etc.
  • The application of ImagineIF selection criteria
  • Consideration of whether the challenged material should be relocated to a different collection.
  • A recommendation is written and presented to the Library Board of Trustees for a final decision, following established voting procedure.

Appendix: Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials

Titles may be reconsidered more than once at the discretion of the Board of Trustees

Adopted: 4/09/2008

Revised: 9/22/2011

Revised: 10/22/2014

Revised: 10/25/2017

Revised: 5/26/2022

Revised: 10/27/2022

Revised: 01/25/2024

Dave Ingram, Chair
Library Board of Trustees

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