The Alameda Free Library serves the community of Alameda, California, an island city of roughly 12.4 square miles in Alameda County, across the Bay from San Francisco. Alameda maintains a small town feeling in the midst of a large metropolitan area. The city was incorporated in 1884 and modern Alameda retains much of the character of its early days including old homes, buildings and streets lined with 100-year-old trees. It is a primarily a middle class community with the median family income of $68,000 and 6% of the families living below the poverty line.
Alameda is a diverse city with almost 50% of the 75,000 population reporting themselves as an ethnicity other than white: 26% Asian, 9% Hispanic, 6% African American, and 2% other ethnicity. Approximately one third of the population speaks a language other than English at home. The population is spread out in age with 21% of the population under the age of 18, 13% over the age of 65 and 66% between the ages of 19 and 64.
COMMUNITY NEEDS ASSESSMENT
In 2002, in anticipation of a new library building, community input regarding community needs was elicited through workshops, forums, focus groups, interviews, community meetings, telephone polls and questionnaire. The results showed that the most frequently used materials were adult fiction and non-fiction, followed by paperbacks, children’s materials and media.
Respondents requested staff assistance most frequently with reference materials, less frequently for Internet or catalog use. Through meetings, teens expressed a need for more and better new fiction, more videos and other media. Senior citizens expressed a desire for more large print and media materials. The most frequent request was for better resources for students, especially more up-to-date materials of all kinds.
To support the goals of the Library’s Joint Use Agreement, the Library promoted expanded access to electronic resources for teachers and students, and access to a wealth of additional databases. The library also included an Alameda Unified School District supported, donated non-circulating textbook collection.
Respondents also wanted the Alameda Collection maintained and expanded. This rich array of historical materials contains books, pamphlets and clippings relating to Alameda’s history, some more than 100-years-old.
Several surveys were returned from respondents who wanted more foreign language materials for children and adults, especially in Chinese, Hindi and Korean. Key areas for improvement included expanding the international languages, and in particular, Asian languages.
Existing circulation and service patterns showed that patrons make good use of collections of popular and high interest print, electronic and media materials, and materials and programming for children.
In general the respondents wanted more of everything: computers, books, magazines, newspapers, DVDs and CDs.
The Adult Fiction collection at the Alameda Free Library is comprised of a wide variety of both popular and critically acclaimed works, as well as classics and genre fiction. The library makes every effort to acquire fiction which is representative of the cultural and ethnic community it serves and to satisfy the diverse interests and recreational needs of its users.
The Library aims to acquire materials which provide a core of basic knowledge. The Library selects, makes accessible, and promotes the use of materials which address contemporary issues, provide self-help information, facilitate continuing education, enhance job-related knowledge and skills, increase knowledge of affairs of the community, the country and the world, support business, cultural, recreational and civic interests in the community, nourish intellectual, aesthetic, creative and spiritual growth, and present different viewpoints on issues.
The Library recognizes the responsibility of schools and universities to provide access to required textbooks for their students.
With the exception of a small collection of middle and high school textbooks, donated by the school district, the Library does not acquire textbooks required for school curricula.
The library actively provides timely, accurate and useful information for community residents by phone, e-mail, instant message, and on-site. The collection emphasizes information materials that support individual, business, government and community interests and needs. The reference collection is extensive and includes standard materials such as encyclopedias, indexes, atlases, handbooks, and directories. In addition, the reference collection includes historical back files of magazines and indexes, and Alameda city newspaper clipping files.
Magazines and Newspapers:
The Library subscribes to a broad selection of popular magazines, and back issues are kept for an average of five years. Magazine titles are selected by staff and patron recommendation. Newspaper and magazine titles are subject to the same selection criteria as the general book collection.
The Library will begin to purchase “Zines.” Zines are small magazines, and are usually self-published. The Zine collection at the Library will focus on works published by local authors. Donations will be accepted on a case by case basis.
Newspaper choices emphasize the Bay Area, specifically Alameda, Oakland, and San Francisco. The collection includes several prominent national newspapers, such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.
Public demand, indexing, and accessibility from other Bay Area libraries are factors which weigh heavily in the decision to carry back issues of either paper copy or microfilm.
The Library maintains a mass market paperback collection to provide recreational reading in popular areas of interest including classics, popular titles and authors, and genre fiction. This high turnover collection supplies multiple copies of books in demand. Paperbacks are continually replaced with fresh and attractive titles to attract browsing customers. Physical condition of the books and use by customers are bases for weeding paperbacks. Selection criteria are based on recommendations, and commercial catalogs.
Children have access to the entire collection. Limitations placed upon the reading materials of children are left to the discretion of the parents.
Materials in the Children’s Collection have been selected to provide children with library materials that meet their recreational and informational needs. Materials are chosen from reviews in journals or through book and media lists from established sources.
Because the Children’s Collection serves children from birth through eighth grade, some items may be included that might not be considered appropriate by all adults for all children. While some books are too mature for one child, other children may be ready for them. Only the child and his or her parents may decide what is suitable for that child to read.
The fiction collection consists primarily of children’s fiction from many genres. The non- fiction collection consists of practical informational books as well as books covering popular interest topics. Some teen titles of special interest to children are also included. A small collection of parenting and professional titles are available, but these are limited to special interest titles and are not meant to replace the materials in the Adult Collection.
Elementary and middle school libraries serve the curriculum needs of students. While not duplicating these resources or attempting to follow all the changes in curricula, the Alameda Free Library does recognize the need to provide a wide variety of cultural and recreational reading matter for students and to provide some basic class-related materials for students who are seeking to complete their assignments outside of school hours.
Special effort is made to continuously update the collection and to weed worn and outdated materials.
Young Adult Collection
The young adult collection is selected to respond to the recreational, educational and informational needs of teenaged library users at all library locations. It contains a variety of formats, including hardcover books, paperbacks, audio books, graphic novels and magazines. The collection contains teen fiction of high literary quality as well as popular series fiction spanning many genres; nonfiction titles on issues and biographies of interest to teenagers; some adult titles of special interest to teenagers; and textbooks supporting the curriculum at the local middle and high schools. Criteria for selecting materials for teenagers include popular demand, current usefulness and support for educational needs. Items for the collection are chosen from reviews in journals, through lists from established sources and by teen input.
The graphic novel format conveys information or tells stories through the medium of sequential art. The material can be fiction or non-fiction and be intended for adults, teens, or children. Graphic novels may contain collections of short stories, be multi- volume series, or stand alone.
There are three graphic novel collections, one in Adult, one in Teen, and one in Children’s. Materials for each collection are chosen from reviews in journals or through book lists from established sources. In accordance with the guidelines for the selection of all Library materials, the use of profanity, sexual incidents, and violence does not automatically disqualify materials from inclusion in the collection, and decisions are made on the basis of a book’s overall value, rather than on isolated parts.
The graphic novel collection includes popular and literary fiction and non-fiction. Non- fiction titles in the collection are classified in the appropriate Dewey subject number, but are shelved as part of the graphic novel collections.
The Alameda and California collections are heavily used by both residents and non- residents. The library responds to the needs of researchers, students, homeowners and interested individuals.
The Library primarily collects non-fiction reference materials which reflect the city’s historical and cultural development. Also included is fiction set in Alameda, non-fiction based in Alameda, biographies of Alamedans and materials written by Alamedans. The Library also collects and indexes local newspapers, cataloged reports of local city agencies, and files of old local city directories and local telephone books since 1943.
The library actively acquires current and past city-issued documents and materials, which are augmented with reports, agendas, and minutes from city boards and commissions.
This retrospective and current reference collection includes non-fiction books and booklets relating to California – its history, resources, economy and culture. Emphasis is placed on the immediate area; Northern California rather than Southern California; and especially on the San Francisco Bay region.
The Collection also contains such items as County histories, early guidebooks, published diaries and letters of early settlers and visitors, narratives, overland journeys to California; examples of fine printing about California. Fiction by California authors and/or about California is also included. More recently the library has concentrated on purchasing duplicate circulating copies of California Collection titles.
The Library enhances the print collection by subscribing to commercial databases. Online computerized databases extend the collection by providing timely and versatile access to information in electronic format. Databases are used by the library staff to assist patrons with reference service. Many of the databases contain specialized information beyond the scope of the library’s print collections; others have information that does not exist in print format. Some databases duplicate print sources which are carefully evaluated for retention with consideration to cost, frequency of use, and ease of access to library users.
The music collection is selected for the cultural and recreational needs of library users. It contains a wide variety of musical styles, time periods, composers and performers, both classical and popular. Music recordings are available at all locations in compact disc (CD) format. Emerging formats will be considered as available. Criteria for selecting music include public demand, current usefulness, enduring value, quality of performance, relationship of items to existing collection, relative importance in comparison with other works, physical characteristics of the item and price. Items for the collection are chosen from reviews in journals, through lists from established sources and by patron suggestion.
The library’s DVD collection supplements the print and non-print collections and provides information which may not be available in any other format. Materials are considered in terms of timeliness, demand, quality, authority, price, balance, availability, content and value measured by reviews.
Selections are made in all categories, including feature films (classics and contemporary), documentaries, and non-fiction DVDs of all types.
Patron requests and suggestions are all considered carefully. When it is determined that a request meets other standards, such an item is generally purchased. These other qualifications are:
· At least a generally favorable review from a recognized source.
· A price that is in line with available funds.
· Meeting standards of suitability, (no extreme sexual, violent or political content) need (based on items already on hand) and interest (a subjective standard based on experience, intuition, and discussion). Decisions for inclusion in the collection are made on the basis of a film’s overall value, rather than on isolated parts.
The library makes an effort to select:
· Award winning films, festival selections, and various “best” lists.
· Films that would appeal to a broad spectrum of the public, or if to a smaller group, that the appeal is relatively stronger.
· Films that fill subject gaps, not only in the media collection, but the entire library collection as well.
· Films that were well reviewed, but did not reach a broad audience upon release.
· Films that include current or important points of view or perspective.
· Older movies that are considered by a variety of sources, or perhaps just “accepted” as classics.
Video tapes are no longer actively collected as they are no longer readily available.
The Audio Book Collection is primarily in CD format and consists primarily of fiction from many genres and of popular non-fiction. Selection criteria are excellence in quality of writing, narrative voice and style, vocal characterizations, appropriateness for audio format, enhancement of text, packaging, and patron demand. Materials are chosen based on reviews in journals or through book lists from established sources. Only unabridged recordings are purchased.
Large Type Collection:
The Alameda Library focuses on titles that will be of interest to the greatest number of large print patrons, including patrons that participate in the Library’s Homebound delivery program. Since large print editions of block buster popular fiction and nonfiction titles are published almost simultaneously with regular print editions, the library strives to provide large print editions as close to publication date as possible.
The Library has a small collection of books, magazines, newspapers and videos representing the languages that reflect Alameda’s ethnic diversity. Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog are the best represented. The Chinese language collection is currently the most-used.
Selection criteria depend on budget and material availability. Items acquired are of a general nature and reflect current and popular interest, ethnic history, culture and customs. Staff members with international language skills, pertinent background and expertise recommend specific titles for purchase.
The initial responsibility for materials selection lies with the professional staff at the Library operating within the areas of service to children, young adults, and adults. All staff members and the general public may recommend material for consideration.
Ultimate responsibility for the Alameda Free Library materials collection resides with the Library Director.
Sources for selection decisions include, among others: borrower requests or recommendations; publisher or vendor catalogs; advertisements; published reviews and electronic sources.
Librarians use their subject knowledge and expertise in combination with the criteria below to select and evaluate collection items for inclusion.
The basic test for selection of any item is whether it is of proven or potential interest to the people served. Other considerations include the quality, the material’s comprehensiveness and depth of treatment, representation of important movements, subjects, genres, or trends of local, regional, or national significance, and long-term or historical significance or interest.
Also taken into account is the reputation and qualifications of the author, creator, or publisher of the work, the attention of critics, reviewers and the public, the amount of similar materials already in the collection, and the extent to which the material may be found elsewhere in the community. In addition, the cost, physical format and shelf space requirements of the material are considered.
Materials are selected both to satisfy prevalent tastes, needs and reading abilities in the community and to provide diversity in recognition of changing and minority interests. In choosing materials to suit a variety of tastes, differing viewpoints on controversial issues will be included.
The library does not serve as censor of the reading of any member of the community. The library does not endorse all opinions expressed in the materials which are stocked. It should also be recognized that some materials chosen may be offensive, shocking or boring to some readers but may be meaningful and significant to others. Works being considered should be viewed as a whole, not in isolated parts.
Responsibility for the reading of minors rests with their parents or local guardians. Selection of adult material will not be restricted by the possibility that these materials may come into the possession of minors. The library should not be expected to act in loco parentis.
The library accepts monetary gifts and bequests intended for the purchase of library materials when donors' intentions for how the gift funds are to be used are consistent with the collections goals of the Alameda Free Library. Unless otherwise specified by the donor, materials purchased as the result of bequests are given a bookplate with the name of the person honored or the occasion commemorated.
Gifts of materials for the Library are gratefully acknowledged and are subject to the same selection criteria as are purchased materials. The Library reserves the right to make final disposition of all gifts received. Gifts may be added to the collection or rejected at the discretion of the Library. Gift materials not added to the collection are not returned to the donor. Unused gifts may be donated by the Library to the Friends of the Alameda Free Library for public sale. The proceeds are used for designated projects of the Friends that enhance the Library’s programs and collections.
COLLECTION EVALUATION AND ASSESSMENT
Library collections are constantly changing. Maintenance of the collection through constant re-evaluation by the Library staff ensures its usefulness and relevancy to the community.
Condition, content, inherent value and use are the primary criteria used to determine the continued retention of materials in the collection. Many materials do not withstand the test of time and repeated handling. Likewise, many fields of knowledge are drastically altered by new discoveries and changes in culture. Updated materials can be purchased; new subject matter will be considered. Outdated materials are withdrawn.
Through the process of weeding, librarians determine which items to add, replace, repair, store, reassign to another branch or discard. Materials in reasonable physical condition that are discarded from the library are donated to the Friends of the Alameda Free Library, who determine if they will be sold at their book sale or in the Friends’ kiosk.
Weeding is the systematic removal from the collection of materials no longer useful.
Weeding is necessary to maintain the purpose and quality of the resources and to properly utilize limited space available. This process is an integral part of a collection development and maintenance. Unnecessary items remaining in a collection can weaken a library; outdated materials, discredited materials and items no longer of interest are considered for withdrawal from circulation.
Criteria for Weeding:
· Obsolescence: subject matter is no longer timely, accurate or relevant
· Damage or poor condition
· Insufficient Use
· Space limitations
Consideration of retention of materials (which otherwise would be discarded)
· Classic significance as identified in standard bibliographies
· Local interest
· Reputation of author, publisher, producer, illustrator
· Uniqueness of information for research
Replacement of materials withdrawn is not automatic. Criteria used to determine replacement:
· Number of copies already in the library system
· Adequacy of coverage in the subject area
· If the item is still available and can be replaced
· Another item or format might better serve the same purpose
· Updated, newer or revised materials will replace a given item
· The item has historical value
RECONSIDERATION OF LIBRARY MATERIALS
Library users occasionally object to titles that have been selected for the collection. Persons seeking the reconsideration of a book, videocassette, compact disc, or other item are asked to complete a Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials.
After the form is completed, it is given to the appropriate Departmental Supervisor who will forward it to the Library Director. The Library Director will evaluate the original reasons for the purchase of the material.
Items in question will be reviewed in light of the library’s overall objectives, its Collection Development Policy, the Library Bill of Rights, and ALA guidelines on intellectual freedom. The Library Director will then respond to the person making the objection. If an individual is not satisfied with the action taken, he/she may appeal to the Library Board by contacting the Library Director and asking for the item to be placed on an upcoming Library Board meeting agenda.
Materials subject to complaint shall not be removed from use pending final action.
Request for Reconsideration of Materials Form
CONFIDENTIALITY OF PATRON RECORDS
The Alameda Free Library recognizes each patron’s right to confidentiality. No information regarding any patron record, including the items circulated to that person will be divulged unless the patron’s library card is presented.