Collection Development Policy



This document describes the purpose and nature of the library’s collection and gives guidance to library staff for collection development and maintenance. The Collection Development Policy will be evaluated and revised as necessary by OPL Collection Management librarians and Library Management.


The mission statement of the Oakland Public Library is: "Your Oakland Public Library empowers all people to explore, connect, and grow." The Library acts to fulfill its mission by selecting, acquiring, organizing, preserving, maintaining, and providing access to a collection of materials and electronic resources for Oakland’s diverse and complex communities.

The Library’s collections provide general reference resources as well as information and entertainment. The collections affirm and uphold the public’s rights to intellectual freedom and access to a full range of information and ideas. The Library seeks to be responsive to the expressed needs and concerns of the community.

Oakland Public Library is committed to collecting material representing the diversity of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer/questioning, Asexual (LGBTQIA+) communities and identities, and to aid in preservation, discoverability, and accessibility of those materials.


The Oakland Public Library is made up of a Main Library, 16 neighborhood branches, an adult literacy program, an outreach team, a Tool Lending Library, and the African American Museum and Library of Oakland. The Library’s primary service areas are the cities of Oakland, Emeryville, and Piedmont.


The Oakland Public Library’s collection includes books, CDs, DVDs, periodicals, microforms, online materials, tools, internet Hot Spots, laptops, toys, musical instruments, and more. The Library collects in multiple languages. Current collections emphasize popular works, basic reference, and local scholastic support. The Library’s collection is nonarchival, with the exception of the Main Library’s Oakland History Center, Magazines & Newspapers department, Government Documents Repository, and the African American Museum and Library at Oakland. Individual branch collections reflect the interests and needs of local communities. The Main Library houses the largest collection of books, DVDs, CDs, audiobooks, magazines and newspapers, as well as maps, music scores, and government documents that are unique to Main’s collection. The Library offers its patrons access to a greatly expanded collection via our interlibrary loan service, and through Link+: a statewide, resource-sharing service. The Library also provides service electronically through its online catalog, website, subscription databases, and collection of e-media that currently includes e-books, e-audiobooks, videos, music, and periodicals. The Library’s e-resources are available to anyone present in the library, and, with limited exceptions, offsite to the Library’s cardholders through the library’s website, vendor websites, and apps.



Collection development decisions are made based on selector expertise and knowledge of what is already in the collection, by evaluating reviews in library journals (online and in print) and other library selection tools. The Library selects materials on a variety of criteria including:

• Demonstrated or perceived community interest, need, or demand by Library users or potential users

• Contemporary or local significance and/or permanent value

• Relevance to the experience and contributions of diverse populations

• Quality, including durability, clarity, accuracy and usability

• Significance and/or reputation of the author and/or any other contributors

• Relation to existing collections

• Format, including maintainability, ease of purchase, cost, storage, and obsolescence

• Value of resource in relation to its cost

These criteria are applied as appropriate across all subjects, languages, and material types/formats. In each case, the material is judged on the volume as a whole, not by detached excerpts. Each type of work is considered in terms of its own merit and intended audience. There is no single standard that can be applied in all cases. Works are not excluded because of frankness or coarse language. On controversial questions upon which there are divergent points of view, the Library policy is to provide material representing all sides of the discussion as far as availability permits.

Some works may contain views, opinions, and concepts that are outdated, offensive, or harmful, or may be created by people who are offensive or controversial. All materials in the collection are selected and regularly evaluated using the standards above as needs change over time, and in pursuit of an overall collection that is inclusive and responsive to the diversity of viewpoints and experiences in the community.


Donated materials are evaluated with the same criteria as purchased materials. Acceptance of donated items is subject to the discretion of the selector in consideration of library collection standards. Materials not added to the collection cannot be returned to the donor. Unused donations may be offered to the Friends of the Oakland Public Library (Friends of the OPL) for public sale, given away to the general public, recycled, or otherwise repurposed. The Library cannot be responsible for the appraisal of donated material for income tax or any other purpose, although a receipt stating the number and types of materials may be given to the donor, if requested.

Monetary donations are handled by The Friends of the Oakland Public Library.


Persons raising an objection to a book or other materials in the library will be asked to provide a written explanation of their objections, citing specifics from the material in question, through the Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form. Staff receiving the complaint will refer it to the Collection Development Senior Librarian, who will appoint a committee composed of three selectors whose expertise or reading background is related to the material in question. The committee will evaluate the material, document their discussions, and make a recommendation to the Library Director. If requested by the patron, the Director will send a written response. Anyone who resides in Oakland, Piedmont, or Emeryville (OPL’s service areas), may submit a Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials.


The Library neither approves nor disapproves of the views expressed in materials included in its collection. The purchase, or inclusion, of an item is not to be considered an endorsement, official or otherwise, by the library; it is merely an expression of community interest. Selections for the library will not be made on the basis of anticipated approval or disapproval, but solely on the merits of the material in relation to building the collection, serving the needs and interests of users, and in accordance with the selection criteria in this policy.

The Library endorses the principles of the Freedom to Read and Freedom to View Statements, the Library Bill of Rights and related documents adopted by the American Library Association (ALA):


The ultimate responsibility for materials selection resides with the Library Director. Under the Director, selection is delegated to the professional staff. Staff collection management decisions reflect the Library’s mission statement and the standards and principles in this document. The collection receives continuous evaluation in order to be sure that the Library is fulfilling its mission to provide material in a timely manner to meet patrons’ interests and needs. Statistical tools, such as circulation reports and turnover rates, are studied to determine how the collection is being used and how it should change to answer patron need. The Library encourages involvement by community members in the selection process. Several mechanisms are provided for this purpose, including 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.


Systematic withdrawal of circulating materials is required to keep the Library’s collection responsive to patron needs, to ensure its vitality and usefulness to the community, and to make room for newer materials or newer formats. The withdrawal process identifies materials that are damaged, out of date, or no longer used. Withdrawing materials also helps the Library evaluate the collection by identifying areas or titles where additional materials are needed, and the subjects, titles, formats, or authors that are no longer of interest to the community. A racial equity analysis is applied to the withdrawal process in order to ensure the collections’ overall responsiveness to the community.


Materials that have been lost or damaged may be replaced using the same criteria as for selection. Other factors considered when deciding on replacements include the number of copies the Library system owns, the availability of newer materials on the subject, existence of adequate coverage of a field, demand for a specific title, and obsolescence of the format or media type.

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