Collection Development Policy

Mission Statement

The Des Moines Public Library is the bridge to a world of information and ideas for personal enjoyment and community growth.


This policy guides staff and informs the public of the principles upon which collection development and collection management decisions are based. Collection development is the ongoing process of assessing the materials available for purchase or licensing and deciding on their inclusion or their retention. This policy also describes the role of collection development and collection management in achieving the Library's mission and strategic objectives. It defines the scope of the collection, provides a plan for the continued development of resources, and identifies collection strengths. The Library Bill of Rights and the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read and Freedom to View are essential components of this policy.

Responsibility for Collection Development

Daily responsibility for collection development lies with librarians who apply professional knowledge, experience, and this policy in making decisions, as well as the catalogers who determine where an item is placed within the collection. Ultimate responsibility for collection development lies with the Director.

Criteria for Selection

Des Moines Public Library is a popular materials library and maintains a varied and up-to-date collection. It attempts to acquire materials of both current and lasting value. Since one library cannot afford all the available materials, it must employ a policy of selectivity. Materials are selected to meet patron needs and reflect a variety of viewpoints and opinions. General criteria for consideration are listed below. An item need not meet all criteria in order to be acceptable.

  • Public demand, interest or need;
  • Enduring value, literary merit or local interest;
  • Prominence, accuracy and authoritativeness of author, creator or publisher;
  • Social significance, timeliness or cost of the material;
  • Importance of subject matter to the existing collection or scarcity of information on the subject;
  • Quality and suitability of format.

Collection Management

To ensure that the library's collection is up-to-date and relevant to the community's needs, the usefulness of materials previously added to the collection is reevaluated on a regular basis. Materials will be withdrawn if they are out-of-date, badly worn, damaged, or no longer being used. Space, the cost of replacement, and the appearance of the collection are also factors. Locally significant materials may be retained. Withdrawn items may be recycled, discarded, or sold at public sale. Library staff will not contact patrons regarding items being withdrawn from the collection or any upcoming book sales. Staff will not hold withdrawn items for patrons.

Request for Reconsideration of Selections

A patron who objects to specific books or other library materials in the collection is requested to complete the form, Statement of Concern About Library Resources, available at information desks in all library agencies. This form should be submitted to the department head or librarian in charge of the agency receiving the statement of concern, or to the Deputy Director. The material will be reviewed by the Deputy Director who will respond in writing to the person submitting the statement of concern. Decisions regarding the questioned materials may be appealed to the Library Director and the Library Board of Trustees.


Books and other items may be accepted as gifts in any department or branch of the library by the approval of the director, deputy director, branch manager or their designeé. No gift materials may be added to any branch or department without approval. The donor of any gift should understand that the library reserves the right to assign gifts wherever the need is greatest or to dispose of them in some other way if, they are not needed.

Monetary gifts, bequests, and endowments to the library may be made through the library director, deputy director, or branch manager, or to the Des Moines Public Library Foundation by consulting the Foundation’s executive director.

A policy for the acceptance of books and related materials as Living Memorials is described in Appendix I.

The gift of funds to purchase library materials for any special occasion (such as birthday, anniversary, thank you, etc.) may be arranged through the executive director of the Des Moines Public Library Foundation.

It is the policy of the library not to accept special collections of books to be kept together as a separate entity. Gifts donated with special conditions or restrictions are generally not accepted. Historically significant items may be accepted with restrictions, approved by the library director, and specified in the Deed of Gift form (Appendix II). Patrons or organizations who wish to give gifts of significant size to the library are referred to the library director or the executive director of the Foundation. Gift collections may be accepted with the understanding that they will be integrated into the general collection, the only form of donor identification being a bookplate.

Books, or other materials, donated to the library become property of the Des Moines Public Library system. Books, or other materials, that are donated to the library may be used to replace titles or items in the present collection of any library facility in the system. If the book or any other donated item given to the library cannot be used in the collection of the library, the item may be placed in the library’s book sale to generate revenue for the library, or the items may be disposed of as the library deems appropriate.

Books advocating the principles and practices of a specific religious denomination are not purchased, but may be accepted as gifts if they otherwise fit within library collection guidelines.

The library does not assume responsibility for replacing worn or lost copies of donated titles nor for purchasing new or revised editions of titles which were originally donated as gifts.

Approved by the Board of Trustees
September 14, 1999
Revised June 15, 2010
Revised September 18, 2012
Revised November 20, 2018.

Appendix I and Appendix II: PDF