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Purpose and Goals

The Thomas Memorial Library acquires and makes available materials that inform, educate, entertain and enrich persons as individuals and as members of society. Since no library can possibly acquire all print and non-print materials, every library must, out of necessity, employ a policy of selectivity in acquisitions. It is the goal of the Thomas Memorial Library to provide a high quality collection of books and other materials in a variety of formats for all ages that is responsive to the needs and interests of the community. 

The Cape Elizabeth community is made up of people with a wide range of backgrounds, tastes, interests, and attitudes, and the collection must reflect the diversity therein. The purpose of this policy is to guide librarians and to inform the public about the principles upon which selection and retention decisions are made.

Freedom of Access

To support an informed public, the library’s collections are intended to represent diverse points of view, and may include materials that some members of the public consider to be controversial in nature. The library will provide free and equitable access to library collections to all users, despite individual or group prejudice or offense about a particular item or type of material.

The library neither approves nor disapproves of the views expressed in materials included in the collection. The inclusion of an item is not to be considered an endorsement, official or otherwise, by the library.

The Thomas Memorial Library adheres to and supports the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read, and Freedom to View statements  as official library policy. This means that our librarians are obliged to oppose the efforts of anyone to abridge the public’s right to read. The library staff believes that the right to read is an important part of the intellectual freedom that is basic to democracy. We are committed to the idea that inclusion and diversity, along with equitable access to resources, creates a stronger community.

Children are not limited to the children’s collection, although this collection is located in a separate part of the library to facilitate use. Parents or guardians are responsible for a child’s reading and library use –this is not the library’s responsibility.

Misinformation and Disinformation

Disinformation* is defined as the creation and spreading of false information with the intent to deceive. Misinformation* is defined as the creation and spreading of false or inaccurate information without malicious intent. The spread of disinformation and/or misinformation can have disastrous results. As the ALA and Institute of Museum and Library Services states, “combined, mis/disinformation can have an alarming impact on public opinion, our trust of the media, and our understanding of democracy.”  The Thomas Memorial Library makes every effort to ensure that the materials it purchases for its collections do not promote false or inaccurate information of any kind.

*Definitions provided by Media Literacy in the Library: A Guide for Library Practitioners (ALA, 2020)

The Library’s Collections

The Thomas Memorial Library serves a patron base that represents all ages and they possess a wide range of interests and tastes, educational and career attainments, economic backgrounds, and technological sophistication. The library provides print collections in the form of circulating fiction and nonfiction books, large-print books, reference books, and periodicals; non-print collections comprised visual media, audiobooks, and physical items, which may include kits made up of multiple related items, and other tools and equipment the public might not be able to acquire on their own. The library also provides access to an electronic resource collection in the form of databases, e-books, e-audiobooks, streaming video, and various other services made available online through contracted services.

Special Collections

The Thomas Memorial Library maintains several special collections of circulating items that have their own selection criteria:

  • The Maine Collection: The library retains materials related to local and Maine history even though they may be factually out-of-date, provided they offer some historical significance or interest.
  • The Gabriel A. Zimpritch Poetry & Writing Collection: This memorial collection features print and non-print materials focusing on poetry, writing, and publishing. 
  • Local Authors Collection: The purpose of the local author collection is to support and encourage content creation, entrepreneurial achievement, and community prosperity, and to encourage local authors to meet and share their work and experiences. If accepted, a single copy of the work will be added to the collection and retained for a minimum of one year. Acceptance of an author’s work does not guarantee that we will buy additional copies, nor purchase them directly through the author. Cape Elizabeth residents of all ages are encouraged to submit their books for consideration. Materials will be selected based on the guidelines below. 
    • Author must be a current resident of Cape Elizabeth
    • Book submissions must be professionally printed and bound (no spiral binding). Thomas Memorial Library generally does not add books to the general collection that have been self-printed. Books with pages designed to be filled in by the reader or torn out are not appropriate.
    • Submissions must be donated to the library and will become the property of the Thomas Memorial Library.
    • The collection is intended to contribute to the education and enjoyment of the community. Criteria for selection may include:
      • Presence of an important movement, style, trend, or culture
      • Vitality and originality
      • Artistic presentation and quality
      • Overall entertainment or educational value
      • Appropriateness for readers of different tastes, interests, and reading abilities.
    • Materials that are accepted and added to the collection will be subject to the same standards as any other library material and may be reconsidered, weeded and withdrawn in the course of time. Items that are withdrawn will be donated to other non-profit agencies, or recycled where appropriate. No items can be held for or returned to individuals. Titles that are discarded, lost, or withdrawn are not automatically replaced or reordered. 
    • Local Materials that are not accepted for addition into the library’s collection will be donated to other non-profit agencies, or recycled where appropriate.   
    • The library is under no obligation to promote individual books or authors, nor provide authors with a programming platform. 
    • A completed submission form must accompany each item. 

Resource Sharing

Budget and space limitations preclude the library from duplicating the specialized and comprehensive collections that exist elsewhere in the state. Instead, the library offers its patrons access to a greatly expanded collection via the interlibrary services of the Minerva Consortium and MaineCat. Minerva is a consortium of over 60 public, school, college, and special libraries in Maine that allows patrons of the member libraries to search a joint catalog of member library holdings, borrow and return books at any library in the system, and use other joint library services. MaineCat is a consortium of public and academic libraries whose members loan one another available items from their collections.

Responsibility for Collection Development

The responsibility for selecting, acquiring, and organizing materials rests with professional staff librarians.


“Selection” refers to the act of identifying and evaluating specific items for addition to the library’s collection. Selectors are responsible for choosing titles which fit in with the evaluation criteria in this plan, and help the library fulfill its mission. Selection is a discerning and interpretive process, involving a general knowledge of the subject and its important literature, a familiarity with the materials in the collection, and a recognition of the needs of the community. Staff members selecting library materials are assisted by reviews from established industry sources, authoritative discussions of the subject, popular demand, requests of library patrons, and circulation statistics and trends.

The library selects resources based upon the principle of open access to materials for all; materials are not excluded due to frank or controversial content, or due to the personal preferences of the selectors. Decisions are made solely on critical reviews and the merits of the work in relation to the building of the collection. 

Evaluation Criteria

All materials, whether purchased or donated, are considered in terms of the following criteria, which are applied as appropriate across all subjects, languages, material types, and formats:

  • Accuracy of information and depth of content
  • Clarity, originality of thought, literary merit or artistic excellence
  • Reviews in professional or popular media
  • Popular interest and community demand
  • Cost and availability
  • Suitability of physical format and durability for heavy library use
  • Skill, competence, and purpose of the author
  • Relationship to materials in other area libraries
  • The work’s presence in standard bibliographies or indexes
  • Contemporary significance or permanent value
  • Ability to meet the needs of the community; appropriateness to interests and skills of intended audience
  • Relation to existing collections and other material on the subject
  • Material’s contribution to a diversity of viewpoints and cultural perspectives
  • Material’s local, historical, or literary significance

The library does not regularly purchase the following materials:

  • Costly books of little demand
  • Textbooks (unless they are of general interest and the best in the subject field)
  • Family genealogies
  • Books that are not professionally bound
  • Books that are self-published
  • Highly obscure or specialized works
  • Rare books
  • Items that require original cataloging
  • Vanity press publications
  • Obsolete formats such as cassettes, vinyl records, and VHS tapes

The library collects a range of general interest materials. Owing to budgetary and space constraints, the library is unable to maintain a collection used for academic research or the pursuit of highly specialized and professional interests. The Thomas Memorial Library’s collection is non-archival, but does contain Cape Elizabeth documents that are required by law to be on display to the public for specific periods of time.

Materials are acquired in multiple formats when appropriate, including print, audiovisual, and digital resources. For any given work, the determination of which format(s) is acquired is based — in part– on factors such as the work’s intended audience and its intended purpose. When all other factors are equal, ease of access by and broadness of appeal to the public should be the primary consideration in choosing formats.

New formats shall be considered for the circulating collection when a significant portion of

the community’ population has the necessary technology to make use of the format. User demand, cost per item, ease of use, equipment requirements, storage requirements, staff requirements for processing, maintenance, and training, and availability of items in the format are also factors that are considered in the adoption of a new format.

Staff will also consider items in terms of their ability to provide balance to the collection and their availability via the statewide resource-sharing consortia.

The library recognizes the importance of acquiring materials in formats that can be utilized by Cape Elizabeth residents with disabilities. The library will seek to match community demand with the existing collections of such materials.

Multiple copies of items may be purchased in response to user demand as evidenced by number of holds, anticipated popularity, and repeated requests. Thomas Memorial Library will only add items to its collection that conform to U.S. Laws (e.g. copyright, trade laws.).

Generally, the library is limited to selecting works that are currently in print and available through customary domestic trade suppliers.

Purchase Suggestions

Purchase suggestions from Cape Elizabeth library users are always welcome and given serious consideration. Suggestions are subject to the same selection criteria as other materials, and suggested titles are not automatically added to the collection. Review or solicitation copies submitted for consideration as potential acquisitions are accepted under the same terms as those for donated items.

Donations of Books and Other Materials

Occasionally, gifts of books and other library materials in good condition may be accepted by the library and evaluated for inclusion in the collection using the same criteria that are used for materials acquired by purchase. Gifts which do not meet the library’s evaluation criteria and policies may be refused. Donated books that are not added to the library’s circulating collection may be returned to the donor, or, alternatively, the books may be given away. The library is under no obligation to add a donated item to the collection or to notify the donor of the disposition of that item. Donors cannot impose conditions relating to any gift either before or after the library accepts the gift.

Donation-receipt forms are available upon request at the time of donation and are completed by donors. Values are assigned by donors, not by library staff. 

Monetary Donations

The library accepts tax-deductible monetary donations, lifetime gifts and bequests. While the library welcomes gifts designating funds for specific audiences or types of materials in the collection, the designation of funds for specific titles may not be accommodated if such titles are inconsistent with the library’s selection criteria.

Collection Maintenance

The library’s collections are regularly evaluated to ensure that the materials they contain remain current and in good condition, and that they continue to reflect the interests and needs of the library’s patrons. Collection maintenance is undertaken with as much care and consistency as the initial selection of materials. Maintenance is critical to keeping the collections current, attractive, responsive, diverse, and useful to the needs of the community.

In the pursuit of maintaining an up-to-date, useful collection, statistical tools such as circulation reports, collection turnover rates, and hold fill rates are studied to determine how the collection is being used and how it should change to answer patron needs. Periodic visual inspections of the collections themselves also help selectors determine how and to what extent individual items and categories of works are being used and which materials are candidates for withdrawal, minimal repair, or replacement.

Withdrawing Materials

Material withdrawal is an important part of collection development. Systematic deselection is required to keep the collection responsive to patron needs, to ensure its vitality and usefulness to the community, and to make room for newer materials or newer formats. Items are withdrawn from the collection with the same degree of attention as initial selection. Withdrawal of library materials is vested in the Library Director who authorizes qualified staff to perform this process. Librarians must use their professional judgement when determining which items to deselect.

The staff will evaluate the library’s collection for discarding of materials that are one or more of the following:

  • Obsolete: outdated, factually inaccurate, or misleading, or superseded by new information
  • In poor physical condition: worn, damaged, or lost
  • No longer relevant to the needs and interests of the community: not in high demand, low circulation frequency

Other factors influencing the withdrawal of an item may include space limitations, altered scope of the collection, ease of access to materials through Minerva or MaineCat, and holding a higher number of copies of a particular item than are necessary. Withdrawn items may be offered to local charitable organizations for resale, given away, donated, or recycled.

Repurchasing Materials

Materials that have been lost or damaged may be replaced using the same criteria as for initial selection. Replacement of lost, stolen, or withdrawn materials is not automatic. The decision to replace is influenced by:

  • The number of copies the library owns
  • The availability of newer materials on the subject
  • Existence of adequate coverage of the subject
  • Item circulation numbers
  • Popular demand for the title
  • Availability of space
  • Cost and availability of replacement copy
  • If the item is a core collection title, or significant in its subject area

Requests for Reconsideration

The library welcomes expression of opinion about its collection.  In the event of a concern about the inclusion materials in the collection, the following procedure will be followed:

  1. Residents of Cape Elizabeth raising an objection to a book or other materials in the library will be asked to fill out and submit a Request for Reconsideration Form with a written explanation of their objections, citing specifics from the material in question. 
  2. The Library Director will then appoint a committee to review the challenge and make recommendations. This committee will be comprised of the staff member who selected the item (or the staff member who currently selects in the item’s area), a professional librarian not on TML staff, a Thomas Memorial Library Committee member, and two members from the community at large (Reconsideration Committee.) The Director will provide appropriate resources to the committee for their evaluation of the challenge. The committee is advisory only, and will report its findings to the Library Director within four weeks of receipt of a signed Request for Reconsideration form.
  3. In considering Requests for Reconsideration, staff, the Director and the Reconsideration Committee will consider each work as a whole, and individual passages will not be treated out of context.
  4. The Reconsideration Committee will base their recommendation on the evaluation criteria outlined in the Collection Development Policy.
  5. The Library Director will carefully weigh the recommendations of the committee and make a decision on the disposition of the material, and will communicate the decision in writing to the selector, the Thomas Memorial Library Committee, the review committee, the Town Manager and the complainant no later than one week after receiving the findings from the committee.
  6. If the complainant is not satisfied with the response from the Director, they may appeal to the Thomas Memorial Library Committee at a regularly scheduled meeting within sixty days. The complainant is to notify the Director at least ten days prior to the Committee meeting in order to be placed on the meeting’s agenda. The complainant will be given up to ten minutes to present an appeal and five minutes will be allowed for clarifying questions from the Committee. The Committee will have two months to respond to the appeal and will do so in writing. The decision by the Committee will be final. 

Please note: Even though the above Reconsideration of Library Materials process could take several months, no materials challenged will be removed from public use during the process.

Revised: October, 2021
Voted for recommendation of approval by the TML Committee on: November 18, 2021
Amended by the Town Council Effective Date: January 10, 2022
Adopted by the Town Council Effective Date: January 10, 2022
Policy Review: This policy shall be reviewed at least every five (5) years