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Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Resource Guide Collection

Collection Development Policies

General Information on Collection Development Policies

Welcome! This guide has been developed by MBLC and MLS to provide Massachusetts public libraries with a toolkit to adopting and approving a collection development policy and a reconsideration plan. This guide will provide a timeline, samples to modify, talking points and more to help bring your library into compliance with state law. 

That's right- state law! Having a collection  development policy is required by Massachusetts General Law Chapter 78 Section 33. 

Section 33: Policy for selection and use of library materials and facilities
Section 33. The board of trustees of a free public library in any city or town, or in the absence of such board, the city or town official possessing the appointive powers of such board, shall establish a written policy for the selection of library materials and the use of materials and facilities in accordance with standards adopted by the American Library Association. No employee shall be dismissed for the selection of library materials when the selection is made in good faith and in accordance with the approved policy adopted pursuant to the provisions of this section.


Why the urgency?

We have seen record number of material challenges in Massachusetts. Policies are essential because they provide the framework for library operations and uphold legal standards and statutes. A collection development policy explains to the public how materials are added to the collection, the evaluation criteria, scope and breadth of a collection, and the principles for building a collection for the entire community,  The reconsideration policy or section will provide a standard framework for any requests to ensure they are handled objectively and without bias to the submitter. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does MBLC approve collection development policies?

No.  We do not approve collection development policies. If requested, we will review them and provide comments and suggestions. 


How often should the library review and revise policies? 
We recommend an ongoing review every 3-5 years, or when the need arises. Recently, many libraries in Massachusetts updated the reconsideration section in collection development plans to limit who can issue a challenge. 
If your current collection development plan is older than five years, we recommend prioritizing a review this year (2023).