Collection Development Plan

Mission Statement

The Wissahickon Valley Public Library serves as an anchor for community and civic life, providing opportunities for life-long learning and cultural engagement for all community members.

Goal of Collection Development

The Wissahickon Valley Public Library (WVPL) will select, organize, and maintain a quality collection that supports the mission of the library.

Document Purpose

The purpose of this document is to provide guidance to the library staff for the development and maintenance of the library collection.  This document can also further the public understanding of the purpose and nature of the library collection.

Community Analysis

The Wissahickon Valley Public Library serves the residents of Whitpain Township, Lower Gwynedd Township and Ambler Borough. According to the 2000 census, the population is 35,410.  The library serves persons of every socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical ability, language and religion. Both libraries are compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act. 

The Wissahickon Valley Public Library serves the families within the Wissahickon Valley School District and collects materials to supplement their students’ educational needs. The library belongs to Montgomery County Library & Information Network Consortium (MCLINC), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose members cooperatively purchase and operate automation services, in order to provide the best possible public service to the residents of Montgomery County through the sharing of resources.

WVPL provides large print and audio materials for those who are visually impaired.  The library also provides home access to the library’s online card catalog, electronic newspaper and magazine databases, and the patron’s record through the library webpage (  Children’s books are the library’s highest circulating materials so a special focus is placed on ordering for the children’s section.  Montgomery County Community College is nearby so the library will not attempt to duplicate materials and services on the college level.  

Selection Criteria

The Wissahickon Valley Public Library uses professionally accepted guidelines to select materials for its collection.  The library will attempt to represent all approaches to public issues and does not sanction any particular viewpoint.  A higher priority may be given to purchasing items in areas where a scarcity of materials exist.


The library acquires materials of both long-term and current interest in all subjects, based upon the needs and interests of the community and the professional knowledge of staff.  The following selection criteria are applied:

  • authoritativeness of writer or publisher
  • accuracy 
  • impartiality
  • timeliness
  • breadth and depth
  • relevancy
  • popular demand
  • historical value (emphasis on local)
  • organization and style
  • illustrations
  • features:  bibliography, index
  • durable binding
  • availability in other libraries
  • cost


Contemporary fiction and classic works are added to the collection based on the following selection criteria:

  • popular demand
  • reputation of author or publisher
  • appropriateness
  • importance
  • relationship to collection (part of existing series, collect author)
  • plot interest and originality
  • development of characters
  • style
  • literary merit
  • bibliography inclusion
  • availability in other libraries
  • cost


Reference materials are designed, by the arrangement, treatment or subject matter to be consulted for specific items of information rather than to be read successively. They are intended to provide quick, concise and current information.  Print reference is designated for use within the library. Online reference can be accessed via the Internet at The following selection criteria are applied:

  • community needs
  • format
  • content
  • currency
  • ease of use
  • reviews
  • collection guide inclusion
  • reputation of author or publisher
  • cost (especially with serials)

Additional copies of reference materials may be purchased to be placed in the non-fiction collection depending on cost and community needs.  Occasionally, high-demand non-fiction may be placed in reference to allow availability to all users during library hours.


Audiovisuals include:  digital videodiscs (DVDs), compact discs (CDs), and downloadable audiobooks (available at The library’s goal is to provide a collection of instructional, educational, entertaining and literature based materials that will enhance the library’s existing non-fiction and fiction collections. Preference will be given to requests for materials, not readily available in commercial outlets, that are culturally, historically and aesthetically significant. The following selection criteria are applied:

  • good reviews
  • appropriateness 
  • technical quality
  • artistic merit
  • reputation of performers
  • authoritativeness
  • competency of producer
  • quality of interpretation
  • packaging
  • availability in other libraries
  • cost

Recorded Books are purchased only in an unabridged format.  Recorded Music is not purchased due to increased availability on the Internet.  However, the collection is increased through donations.


Serial publications are issued in successive parts bearing numeric or chronological designations and intended to be continued indefinitely.  This format includes periodicals, such as magazines and newspapers, and annuals or continuations retained in the reference collection.  They include print and computer-based formats.  The following selection criteria are applied:

  • index inclusion
  • requests by community or staff
  • local or regional interest
  • subject area expansion
  • cost

Due to usage rates, shelf space and that availability of titles in an electronic format, the library can only retain periodicals on a limited basis.  The library retains newspapers for one month only.  The library retains magazines 1 year.  

Online Resources

Online resources include searchable databases, downloadable audiobooks and eBooks.  Online resources are available on the library’s webpage  The following selection criteria are applied:

  • ease of use
  • compatibility with equipment and operating system
  • searching capabilities
  • cost of print vs. electronic
  • authority 
  • accuracy
  • frequency of updating
  • anticipated community demand
  • impact on staff (training, staff time)
  • remote access capability
  • licensing fees
  • usage restrictions

Selection Process


The ultimate responsibility for materials selection rests with the library director and the library board.  The library director and branch manager purchase AV materials.  The cataloguing librarian and branch manager purchase adult fiction.  The reference librarian and branch manager purchase adult non-fiction and reference materials. The youth services librarian and children’s librarian purchase all young adult materials and children’s materials.  The community is encouraged to participate in the selection process through the Material Request form (ILL form) and purchase suggestions retrieved from the suggestion box.  Patron suggestions will be evaluated in accordance with the Collection Development Plan.  Selection tools used by librarians include:  professional library journals, trade publications, subject bibliographies, and other reviews from reputable sources in national newspapers, magazines and the Internet.

Collections for different age groups

  • Board Books are designed for ages birth through 3 years and have very sturdy construction.
  • Easy Books, otherwise known as Picture Books, illustrations are the predominate feature.  Because of this they are generally designed for adults to read to children. 
  • Beginning Readers are intended for kindergarten through early third grade readers.  These books are characterized by a controlled vocabulary, large print, heavy use of illustrations and a limited number of pages.  
  • Juvenile Fiction serves students from late third-grade through sixth-grade.  The books feature age appropriate vocabulary and subject matter, a limited number of pages and very few illustrations.  
  • Juvenile Non-fiction includes materials to serve the information needs of preschoolers, elementary-age, and middle school students.  The subject matter, vocabulary, organization and scope must be age-appropriate.
  • Young Adult Fiction is comprised of popular fiction for students in seventh through twelfth grades.  Other determining factors for inclusion are: good reviews, characters in high school or college, theme or subject of interest to and appropriate for young adults.
  • Young Adult Non-Fiction includes materials that serve the information needs of students in seventh through twelfth grades.

Material Formats

Books are primarily purchased in print format.  As funds allow, more eBooks will be purchased.  Hardcover editions are purchased unless a trade paperback (comparable in size to the hardcover edition) is the only edition available.  The library purchases a smaller amount of popular titles in the form of mass market paperbacks (smaller in size than the trade paperback).  

Material Replacement

While the library attempts to maintain copies of standard and important works, it does not automatically replace all lost, missing or damaged materials.  In making a decision as to whether or not to replace an item, staff will consider whether:

  • the item is available for purchase
  • another item or format might better serve the purpose
  • there is sufficient demand to replace the item
  • newer, updated, or revised materials might better serve the purpose
  • the item has historic value
  • another library can provide that item (interlibrary loan)
  • the number of copies in collection
  • existing coverage of the subject within the collection
  • cost of mending versus replacement

Material Deselection

Materials no longer suitable for or useful in the collection are weeded out.  Materials should be reviewed if they:

  • are in poor physical condition
  • are not local history (archival)
  • have not circulated in 2 years
  • are outdated in content (reference)
  • have been superseded by a new or revised edition (reference)

For further information about weeding, consult the Weeding Plan.  Materials that are weeded out of the collection are given to the Friends of the Library to sell, give away or recycle.

Reconsideration of library materials

A patron who wants the library to reconsider keeping a material in the collection may fill out the Material Reconsideration Form.  Once the form is submitted to the library, the director will meet with all librarians to address the concern and review the material and the selection process.  The patron will be informed of the decision in writing within 4 weeks.  If the patron is not satisfied with the response, he/she will be invited to the next committee meeting of the board of trustees.  The library board will make the final decision and the patron will be informed in writing.  If needed, please call the director of the library to request a Materials Reconsideration Form.

Special Collections

  • Regional documents and historical books
  • Rental books (high demand fiction titles that are rented for a nominal fee)

Materials not collected

Due to cost and space issues, rare books, genealogy histories and textbooks are not collected.