Collections Development Policy

I. Overview

a. Purpose of this Policy

This collection development policy is meant to guide the decisions of the librarians of the John Trigg Ester Library (JTEL) in selection, weeding, and access to library materials. For the purposes of this policy, the term “librarian” shall designate a person, hired or volunteer, in whom the JTEL Board of Directors has entrusted responsibility for the collection development of the JTEL. This may or may not be a person professionally trained in the library sciences.

b. Policy Approval and Review

The library is managed by the John Trigg Ester Library, Inc., a nonprofit corporation. A volunteer Board of Directors oversees library business and operations. The board shall designate a responsible party to act as a librarian.

This policy shall be developed and/or amended by a specially convened committee of JTEL members headed by the librarian. At least two members of the board of the JTEL must participate on this committee. The policy shall be brought for approval by the committee to the board. Professional librarians may be consulted for advice should the committee so decide.

The policy will be reviewed every three years by the committee and board. It will be approved, with any necessary revisions, by the board on or before the board meeting setting the agenda for the Annual Meeting. So that the board may have time to review any proposed changes, suggestions must be made on or before the September monthly board meeting.

c. Purpose of the Collection

While membership at the John Trigg Ester Library is open to any person, it is meant primarily to serve those living in the Ester Fire Service District in their pursuits of education, information, light research, and leisure. With a circulating collection, a historical archive, and a non-circulating reference collection, it is meant as a convenient, local alternative to the major public and university libraries of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, and as a community gathering place. The JTEL provides materials specific to the history, culture, and literature of Ester, some of which are unavailable at other locations.

d. Patron Needs and Library Services

While the Fairbanks North Star Borough hosts a medium-sized public library, a law library, two university research libraries, and many smaller, specialized libraries, they are all at least 15-20 minutes’ drive from Ester (about an hour by bicycle), and there is no public transportation to them from Ester, which discourages residents from regular library use. The JTEL attempts to provide for some of the information and leisure needs for the area by being within walking distance, or only a few minutes’ drive, of most residents.

In particular, children have no other local library to which they can turn: Ester’s schoolchildren are bused into Fairbanks. The JTEL makes a special attempt to provide for their needs, at present with a Young Readers and Young Adults collection that is approximately one-quarter of the JTEL’s holdings.

The JTEL will provide inter-library loan with the Calypso Farm & Ecology Center Resource Library and will cooperate with the Fairbanks North Star Borough’s library van service, although for the time being inter-library loan with the state and borough systems is not possible, due to different cataloging systems.

II. Selection and Weeding Decisions

a. Collection Responsibility

Operating within the policy set by the board and with the input and assistance of the board and librarian, the librarian has final responsibility for the management of the collection. The librarian may be a volunteer, a board member, or an employee of the JTEL.

b. Description of Collection

The JTEL is in a period of transition. Items in its collections have almost all been donated and reflect the reading interests of the local population. A rough estimate puts the collection at 8,000 volumes, with stored items at an additional 10,000 volumes. The collection is eclectic. Historically, everything except for textbooks and periodicals have been accepted, with good condition being the only other criterion for inclusion.

The JTEL collection is divided into:

  • Alaska and Polar Regions nonfiction (including a reference and periodical section specific to Ester)
  • Art and illustration
  • Children’s books, both fiction and nonfiction
  • General fiction
  • General nonfiction
  • Graphic novels and illustrated humor
  • Maps and atlases
  • Video (VHS and DVD, subdivided into children’s, nonfiction, and fiction sections)
  • Audio books (cassette and CD)
  • Music
  • Periodicals (locally produced or donated periodicals)
  • Puzzles & games
  • Reference (includes books on crafts and trades; travel and geography; gardening; art instruction; foreign-language dictionaries and English dictionaries, grammars, and stylebooks; the Arctic Bibliography; natural history; and an encyclopedia)

c. General Selection Tools

Donated items make up the majority of the current collection and are expected to be a large part of the collection in the future. Donations are subject to the criteria in section d, below.

For purchased items, major selection tools include the reviews in professional and popular sources and the catalogs of Alaska publishing houses. Other sources may include standard bibliographies, the award-winners of special groups (e.g., the Lambda Literary Foundation and the Before Columbus Foundation), coverage in local publications, the expertise of the staff and community, the suggestions of library members or patrons, and the need to complete series or sets already in the collection. Items may be purchased with the JTEL’s used book credit account at Gulliver’s Books, or, in special circumstances and with prior approval by the Board of Directors (per the board’s purchase policies), by direct purchase by cash or check.

d. Collection Priorities and Criteria

The primary current concern is one of space: the library cannot expand its collection, only hone it. The basic criteria are: need (as in completion of series or request of members); price (the cheaper the better); and condition of item. The subject and quality of content may be used to determine which of comparative works should be selected for inclusion.

No one standard can be applied in the evaluation of all possible materials: some may be judged on their factual authority, while others may be judged on the artistry of their expression or their popular appeal to the Ester community. For reference on this matter, S.R. Ranganathan’s Five Laws are of use:

  • Books are for use.
  • Every reader his [or her] book.
  • Every book its reader.
  • Save the time of the user.
  • The library is a growing organism.

The library attempts to provide a minimal level of coverage on most topics, plus some basic reference works such as an encyclopedia, dictionaries, atlases, biographical dictionaries, and style guides. A higher, basic information level of coverage is collected in the areas specified in this section where relevant. (For example, there is no established collection level for board games or banned works, which do not represent subjects.)

Library materials (print and non-print) shall be chosen on the basis of their value in terms of interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of our community. No library material shall be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

The Ester library features many books that have been banned or have suffered attempts at banning in libraries and schools. Ideas are revolutionary things and upset the status quo, expand the minds of their thinkers, and generally cause a ruckus. The board feels that this is a good thing, spurring civic debate and exposing the public to a wide range of viewpoints and knowledge.

Specific Criteria for Works of Information and Opinion

Works of information and opinion will be judged on one or more of the following criteria:

  • Authority of author;
  • Comprehensiveness and depth of treatment;
  • Objectivity and integrity;
  • Currency;
  • Clarity, accuracy, and logic of presentation;
  • Representation of challenging ideas, including extreme and/or minority points of view; and
  • Contribution to subject balance of the collection.

Specific Criteria for Works of Imagination

Works of imagination will be judged on one or more of the following criteria:

  • Representation of important movement, genre, trend, or national culture;
  • Representation of viewpoints and cultures of minority, disenfranchised, and non-Euro-American peoples;
  • Vitality and originality;
  • Artistic expression and experimentation;
  • Enduring value; and
  • Effective characterization.

While an item’s inclusion in current bestseller lists may warrant its inclusion in the collection, the library attempts not to collect ephemera.

Specific Theme or Subject Goals

While the library carries a broad variety of material of general interest, certain themes and subjects will be collected with greater intensity. The library puts special emphasis on the following kinds of materials, within the criteria specified above:

  • Fiction of minority groups (particularly women) and non-Euro-American cultures;
  • Alaska history, especially exploration, mining, and the history of the Interior and Ester;
  • Science fiction;
  • Science and natural history;
  • Sustainability (such as in architecture, food systems, energy supply, or economics);
  • Do-it-yourself books, especially carpentry, agriculture and gardening, and homesteading and survival skills;
  • Local authors and locally published materials, especially from Ester; and
  • Banned or controversial works, especially those not included in other local collections.

Certain subject areas reflect the tastes of the library’s namesake, John Trigg, and the books from his personal library that have been donated by the Trigg family (science and technology, science fiction, and nautical history). Others reflect the interests and concerns of current or past, historically significant, Ester residents (for example, Ida Lane Clausen: music, horticulture). Lack of inclusion on this list does not exclude a title or subject from consideration. Materials are to be judged in their entirety, not on the basis of specific illustrations, words, or passages that some may find offensive.

While the library has no cooperative collection agreements with nearby libraries, selectors will also attempt to choose materials that complement, rather than copy, other local collections, seeking material that the borough and university libraries would not. Calypso Farm’s Resource Library focuses on agriculture, food systems, ecology, water issues, education, and homesteading. The JTEL will endeavor to choose materials that complement but do not duplicate this collection, with the exception of those publications produced by Calypso and are thus Ester-specific. Periodicals (with the exception of those produced in Ester) and textbooks are not collected.

The JTEL’s budget, and its mission of providing recreational and light research materials, do not support participation in an Interlibrary Loan program for the time being. Patrons are encouraged to use the ILL programs of the FNSB Public Library and of the University of Alaska Fairbanks libraries for a broader range of materials until ILL can be established.

e. Format of Materials

Because of space and budget constraints, the JTEL cannot collect all types of materials. The library will collect:

  • Hardback and paperback books;
  • Audio books;
  • Recorded music;
  • Bound sheet music;
  • US Supreme Court decisions of note;
  • Videos in VHS and DVD format;
  • Puzzles and games;
  • Maps;
  • Original works of local art (as space allows).

The JTEL does not collect:

  • Newspapers, magazines, or journals (with the exception of those published in Ester and a very few to be selected in the future);
  • Comic books;
  • Software;
  • Microforms;
  • Tools or instruments;
  • Textbooks (Providing textbooks and curriculum material is generally held to be the responsibility of the schools. Textbooks may be purchased for the collection when they supply the best or only information on a specific subject.);
  • Realia;
  • Fragile and valuable materials requiring proper archiving (until such time as the new building is complete and archive space available).

Electronic materials (e-books, etc.) may be collected in future.

f. Duplicates

The JTEL will not acquire multiple copies of materials, unless in different formats (for example, Harry Potter books on CD and in print). Donations that duplicate materials already in the collection may be sold to raise funds for the library, donated to the Alaska Literacy Council, or placed at the Ester Post Office book exchange shelf at the librarian’s discretion.

g. Patron Requests

Library members in good standing may request that an item be purchased for the collection. If that item meets the collection development guidelines, and if enough money is available, the item will be purchased and added to the collection.

h. Requests for Reconsideration

Comments from community members about the collection often provide the librarians with valuable insights into interests or needs that may not be adequately addressed. The JTEL welcomes these comments, but will ultimately be guided by this policy in decisions about adding items to, or withdrawing items from, the collection.

Requests for reconsideration may be made only by library members in good standing. Associate members may not make requests for reconsideration. A member who objects to the JTEL’s inclusion of an item may meet with the librarian to discuss his/her concerns.

If the member then does not feel that those concerns have been addressed, he/she may fill out a “Request for Reconsideration” form, explaining why the work, considered as a whole, should be withdrawn from the collection, detailing his/her concerns about the material, and with specific reference to the criteria in sections d and e, above.

The librarian will read, view, or listen to the work in its entirety and re-evaluate it with regard to its strengths, its circulation history, the selection criteria detailed in this policy, and the library’s mission. He/she will notify the patron as soon as possible, in writing, of his/her decision and will give a full explanation of that decision.

If the member is not satisfied with the librarian’s decision, he/she may bring the matter before the full Board of Directors at their next regular meeting. The board must be supplied with the patron’s “Request for Reconsideration” form and the librarian’s written response at least 14 days before this meeting. Both the member and the librarian will be given a chance to explain further why the material should or should not be in the collection. The board will read, view, or listen to the work in its entirety, review the comments of the patron and the librarian, and make a decision at the next regular board meeting. The votes of five of the seven board members are required to withdraw an item. The board’s decision shall be final.

Challenged items will remain in the collection and accessible while they are being reconsidered.

i. Donations

The JTEL happily accepts donated materials if they are in good condition: they are not torn, stained, drawn in, warped, burned, insecurely bound, or in any other way so damaged that the completeness of their content is compromised or that they lack ordinary durability. When a choice exists between a hardback and a paperback edition of the same book, and both are in acceptable condition, the hardback will be preferred.

All donated items become the property of the John Trigg Ester Library and will be evaluated for inclusion in the collection by the criteria above. No condition or restriction on their use can be honored. Materials not retained for the collection will be sold in a JTEL book sale or other fundraiser, given to other nonprofit institutions (such as the Alaska Literacy Council or Calypso Farm), or provided to the book exchange at the Ester post office.

If asked, the JTEL can supply a receipt describing the date, the number and formats of items donated, and the name of the donor. The JTEL cannot provide a monetary valuation of donations for tax purposes.

j. Preservation Goals

The JTEL attempts to preserve its materials for their ordinary, expected duration. All materials circulated are regularly cleaned and repaired when damage is minimal. Damaged or worn paperback books may be reinforced at the librarian’s discretion using the library’s book tape binder.

Long-term preservation is not a goal of the library, except in certain limited cases. The budget does not support building a controlled environment for archival preservation or to buy archiving storage materials (like boxes, special paper). Residents of Ester have opportunity to find archival materials at the Fairbanks North Star Borough Library and at the Rasmuson Library of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Where an item is of special significance to Ester history, measures may be taken to preserve it for the long term. Items or special collections donated to the library that may qualify shall be considered for archival preservation by the librarian and the Board of Directors on a case-by-case basis. (For example, original and historic sheet music owned and played by Ida Lane Clausen; original diaries, letters, or photographs of early Ester miners; music recordings, films, or documentaries by local artists; and so forth.) Items shall be evaluated on criteria such as: cost of archiving; whether a suitable and nearby alternative library will archive them and keep them available; whether the JTEL has the capacity to archive them; and on the significance to Ester history and culture of the item under consideration.

k. Collection Assessment

The collection requires continuous evaluation to determine whether the JTEL is fulfilling its mission. The collection in each subject area will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Percentage of holdings from the subject area compared to the percentage of circulation from that area;
  • Comparison to standard title lists;
  • Proportion of the subject area in circulation at any given time;
  • Median age of publication;
  • Representation of diverse viewpoints;
  • Completeness of sets or series;
  • Percentage of annual growth or decline of the subject area collection; and
  • Projected space requirements compared to total shelf space available.

l. Withdrawal of Materials

Deselection Criteria

When library materials lose the value for which they were originally selected, they should be withdrawn. Items will be evaluated on the criteria given in the “Specific Criteria” sections above. Materials may also be withdrawn if they:

  • Have, since acquisition, been shown to be largely misleading or inaccurate;
  • Have been replaced by a significantly new edition or better work on the subject;
  • Are worn beyond mending; or
  • Have not circulated in three years and future use is not expected.


Withdrawn items will be disposed of as follows:

  • Items may be offered to other programs supported by the Ester Community Association, the Ester Volunteer Fire Department or Firefighters’ Auxiliary, Calypso Farm & Ecology Center, or the Literacy Council of Alaska.
  • Items may be sold through library-sponsored sales.
  • Items may be deposited at the Ester Post Office book exchange shelf.
  • Items not distributed or sold will be destroyed or taken to the nearest transfer site.

III. Intellectual Freedom and Intellectual Property

a. Intellectual Freedom

The John Trigg Ester Library supports the freedom of every person to seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. The library endorses no particular beliefs or views, and the selection of an item does not imply endorsement of its views.

The JTEL subscribes to and supports the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read Statement, and Freedom to View Statement (see attachments). Basic principles include:

  • Books and other resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all members and the Ester community. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues.
  • Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information.
  • Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgement of free expression and free access to ideas.
  • A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, views, or disabilities. Nonmembers may use the library freely; members may check out items, vote at membership meetings, or run for the Board of Directors. (See also the JTEL Membership Policy.)
  • Public meeting rooms should be available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

The JTEL recognizes and affirms that children have First Amendment rights. (See attachment, “Free Access to Libraries for Minors.”)

A copy of the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Manual will be used as a reference on matters relating to intellectual freedom.

b. Access to Materials

All materials are kept on open shelves, easily accessible to the public. Children are not limited to items in the children’s collection, though certain materials may be kept on higher shelves to prevent children’s accidental exposure to them, at the librarian’s discretion (this does not mean that a child may not view these materials). Responsibility for a child’s reading or computer use must rest with the parents or guardians, not the JTEL, and we strongly encourage parents and guardians to be closely involved in their children’s selection and use of library materials.

It is the job of librarians, when asked, to instruct patrons about the quality or authority of information found in the library. However, as the JTEL endorses no particular views, the librarian will not recommend or criticize materials based on their personal viewpoints; nor will they privilege or de-privilege materials they find personally objectionable by placement or labeling.

c. Copyright Law

The John Trigg Ester Library complies with Title 17 of the United States Code, “Copyrights,” and other federal regulations regarding the duplication and use of copyrighted materials. Patrons using library materials are responsible for the legal use of those materials.

collections item estimate updated 9/24/2016 dh