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Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Resource Guide Collection

Collection Development Policies

Steps to Take for Trustee Approval

If the library does not have a collection development plan, plan for 4-6 months for the library to officially adopt a policy. These steps will guide you through the process, provide information on supporting documents, create an action plan. 


  1. Prepare a draft collection development policy for the trustees to review. Need a place to start? Use the Sample Collection Policy linked in Sample Policies to Modify. 
  2. Prepare for the trustee board meeting with information about the statutory requirements and a draft for their review.

    Some sample talking points: 
    • Advise the board that a collection development policy is required in statute and they are the governing authority to approve it. 
    • MBLC and MLS recommend policy creation and revision is done through a partnership with the library director, staff and board of trustees. 
    • Establishing a reconsideration policy in advance of a challenge ensures there is a standard framework for requests to be handled objectively and without bias. Much like libraries have other policies that govern operations, this one is there in the event a patron challenges a book or other library material. 
    • It is best to be proactive and ready for a material challenge. With the unprecedented rise of challenges, we want to make our libraries in MA are prepared with the basics- a policy and procedure on how to handle requests. The best time to do this is now- when you aren’t facing a challenge. 
  3. Trustees should attend or view an MBLC Deep Dive on Collection Development to understand the statutory requirements and principles that guide an Collection Development Policy. 

Sample Timeline for Approval

This is a sample timeline of what steps and actions need to be taken at board meetings up until approval by the board of trustees. Please ensure all Open Meeting Laws are followed when applicable. 

  • Month One: Review the Sample Policy and begin to update it to reflect the mission and needs of the community. Work with key staff if needed to include Information on collections for youth. Include in Director's Report that MBLC has reached out to the library regarding a collection development plan and the library director is working with MBLC to bring the library into compliance. 
  • Month Two: Bring policy draft to trustee meeting for review. Ensure it is listed as an agenda item. Library Director can send draft  to Trustees in advance of meeting. Discussion of policy, revisions could be suggested. 
    Discussion should also include the Reconsideration Policy and process. 
  • Month Three: Library Director bring draft with revisions to meeting for further discussion or revision. If no further discussion or edits are needed, it is recommended to have the policy reviewed by legal council if available. 
  • Month Four: Approval of Collection Development Policy can be listed as an agenda item and the trustees can make a motion to approve the collection development policy.


Following the meeting, it is recommended that approved policy be posted on the library website.