Collection Management at OPL

The Oakland Public Library (OPL) has recently fielded a number of inquiries from concerned patrons and community members regarding our collection practices. We would like to reinforce our commitment to providing an equitable collection that reflects Oakland’s communities.

We thank you for using and loving your Oakland Public Library. 

The City of Oakland's official statement on Collection Management is:

Recently, several books titles from the Oakland Public Library were brought to our attention as being inappropriately discarded. Upon research, these particular books, in addition to others, were withdrawn from the Elmhurst Branch Library, having been published between 1990-2007, about 11-28 years ago. These particular books were not from the African-American Museum and Library of Oakland (AAMLO) collection. All of the book titles referenced are still available to the public through the Oakland Public Library at multiple branches and through the Library online LINK+ system.

The development and management of library collections is guided by the American Library Association and is a necessary function of libraries across the globe. In effectively managing the Oakland Public Library collection, the Library follows the guidelines of the American Library Association. The Library acts to fulfill its mission and core values by selecting and providing access to a collection of materials and electronic resources that address the needs of Oakland’s diverse communities in a timely manner. Oakland librarians are professionals that receive formal training in the care and management of the OPL collection. Decisions about what to have in the collection are made by subject specialists at each location based on the needs and interests of the community. The OPL Collection Development Policy is available on the library website. Click here (or go to to view the policy.

OPL spends approximately $2 million per year in the purchase of new additions to its collection. Books are officially withdrawn periodically to keep the collection responsive to patron needs, to ensure its vitality and usefulness to the community, and to make room for newer materials or newer formats. When OPL discards a book, it is typically donated to the local branch of the Friends of the Oakland Public Library. In this way, the Friends of the Oakland Public Library can sell the book at a discounted price and keep the book in the local community.

The Oakland Public Library encourages involvement by the community in the selection process of bringing new items into its collection. Several mechanisms are provided for this purpose, including analysis of pending reserve requests, purchase suggestions submitted by library users, and questionnaires and surveys administered by the library. User suggestions for purchase are evaluated in accordance with the standards for selection.

You can see the printable pdf version of the statement here.

Community members who would like to suggest an item for purchase can submit suggestions here. User suggestions are evaluated in accordance with the Collection Development Policy.

 Please do reach out if you have any questions.


I would like to suggest that

I would like to suggest that when the OPL is giving away books that there be a notification placed on the website, SPECIFICALLY, if they are African American history books.

Also, concerns for me are:
What are these books being REPLACED WITH?
Will the replacements be a sugar coated or white-washed text that perpetuates white supremacy?

My concerns are: 1.) How many

My concerns are:

1.) How many times have African Americans books just been discarded in this manner?

2.) What will the discarded books be replaced with? (Request for copy of replacement list)

3.) Will the replacements be a sugar coated or white washed version of Black History to perpetuate white supremacy?

I would appreciate a response to this

Thank you so much for

Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your concerns and questions.

Our collection is constantly being updated. There isn't a single month where we aren't adding a plethora of new content to replace the books we withdraw. Each month this content includes new books by African-American authors. We are committed to purchasing books that we call "own voices" that are books that have authors or illustrators who are people of color.

We aren't actually able to give away books, what we do is donate them to our Friends of the Library groups who then are able to sell and gift them as they choose. This is generally happening all the time at branches around the system with books of all types.

Instead of tearing down the

Instead of tearing down the libraries, how about endorsing them and supporting their mission. Measure D is one way. The branch libraries will not survive in the least advantaged of our neighborhoods without sustainable funding. Also, we need readers to come in and read the books! Borrow them, and return them...In addition, each branch evolves as the demographics surrounding that library evolves. In some East Oakland areas, there are twice as many Spanish speakers as there are African-Americans in the population, and that is according to census numbers from almost 10 years ago. The materials need to be what the people want. But I've found that the librarians are very responsive to suggestions as well as respectful to legacy collections. See "Suggest a purchase" on our website.

How about instead of dumpster

How about instead of dumpster diving and looking through the trash for outdated books you actually walk into a library and take a look at what is on the shelves? Or is your library card full of fines and you are too scared to walk in the building?

What do you think?

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