Brownell Library

Collection Development Policy


Mission Statement

Brownell Library: expanding horizons since 1926. A place to connect, learn, and discover.


The Collection Development Policy directs Library staff in the maintenance and development of the physical and online collections. The policy also defines collection development practices, and provides continuity to selection, purchasing and retention decisions.The library’s materials collection is developed and managed to meet the cultural, informational, educational, and recreational needs of the library’s service area, as the materials budget allows. Collection development staff build and maintain a patron-oriented collection by anticipating and responding to needs and expectations.

Collection decisions are made in conjunction with the strategic initiatives, especially the following:

  • Positioning the library as the preferred partner for lifelong learning
  • Reflecting the diversity of our community and the broader world that community members interact with 
  • Developing library services that incorporate both physical and virtual collections
  • Committing to excellence in service to improve effectiveness and reduce barriers to access to information 

Scope of the Collection

  1. The Library attempts to acquire authoritative material that represents all points of view, and all sides of controversial issues. The library does not promote particular beliefs or views, but instead presents quality materials containing opposing views for examination by the public. The presence of an item in the library does not indicate endorsement of its content by the library.
  2. The library will resist efforts to force inclusion of proselytizing works representing political, economic, moral, religious or other vested positions, when these materials do not conform to the selection policies.
  3. Material will not be excluded from the collection due to any particular view of the author, including, but not limited to, the following: race, nationality, political or religious views, gender, age, disability status, sexual orientation. In addition, effort will be made to include creators and content that express the stories, ideas, information, and experiences of historically underrepresented groups.
  4. Works of fiction and non-fiction should meet the literary standards of the period in which they were written. The language and style should be suitable to the content and the author’s purpose. Current novels which might be considered experimental, or which might be considered sensational or objectionable by some members of the community, should nevertheless be included in the collection if they meet the general criteria.
  5. Textbooks are not generally purchased unless suitable material is not readily available in other forms. The Brownell Library collection should complement the resources already available to students, and should enrich students’ resources for personal interest or individual projects.
  6. The library does not attempt to develop a comprehensive research collection in any single field, with the one exception of local history. Highly technical or specialized books are inappropriate to the general needs of the library community. Brownell Library selections in the areas of law, medicine and related subjects are restricted to those of interest to the layperson.
  7. The Brownell Library makes a special effort to select and dispose of materials with an eye to sustainability, meeting the social, economic and environmental standards of our community.  

Intellectual Freedom

The Brownell Library defends and protects the First Amendment rights of each of its users by providing access to the widest possible range of materials, which in some cases may include unpopular points of view. While individuals are free to personally reject materials of which they do not approve, individuals or groups may not restrict or exercise censorship over anyone else’s freedom to read or inquire. The Library will also challenge attempts to add to the collection material that does not meet its criteria for inclusion.


The Brownell Library adheres to the principles of the American Library Association’s “Library Bill of Rights,” along with ALA’s “Freedom to Read” and “Freedom to View” statements and their interpretations. Freedom to read/view requires all materials be equally accessible to all library users regardless of age, race, sex, creed, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, ability, religion or ideology. Parents or guardians have the primary responsibility to guide and direct the reading and viewing of their own minor children. The library does not stand in loco parentis.


The primary purpose of the Library’s collection is to serve its patrons; therefore our collection development welcomes requests from patrons within our community. The Library makes every effort to accommodate these requests when the materials meet the criteria for inclusion in the collection. Library members who are residents of Essex Junction may express concerns about materials by filling out a “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials” form). All forms must be signed by the complainant. Anonymous complaints will not be considered.

Selection of Materials

All materials, whether purchased or donated, are considered in terms of the criteria listed below. An item need not meet all of these standards in order to be added to the collection.

General Criteria

  • Contribution to the diversity and scope of the collection
  • Suitability of subject and style for intended audience
  • Requests by library users
  • Effectiveness and suitability of format in communicating the content
  • Relevance of format and content to the intended audience
  • Impact on materials expenditure plan
  • Public demand and anticipated demand
  • Associated processing, conservation, and/or storage requirements
  • Attention by critics and reviewers
  • Contemporary significance
  • Relevance to the needs and interests of the public
  • Accessibility of material
  • Physical format
  • Quality of production

Content Criteria

  • Authority
  • Objectivity
  • Clarity
  • Currency
  • Representation of diverse points of view
  • Receipt or nomination for awards
  • Reputation or significance of one of the creators of the work
  • Published evaluations or reviews
  • Literary merit and contribution to the field of knowledge
  • Accuracy and timeliness
  • Consideration of the work as a whole
  • Sustained interest
  • Relevance and use of the information
  • Effective characterization
  • Authenticity of history or social setting

New or Emerging Formats

Brownell Library develops collections that include a comprehensive range of formats utilizing the unique capabilities and advantages of alternative, new and evolving technologies in delivering information and expressing creativity and ideas. Before adding new formats, the following criteria should be considered:

  • Impact on equipment, staff, storage, and space
  • Demand for format in community
  • Durability of format for library use
  • Technical quality of production or reproduction
  • Compliance with industry standards and specifications
  • Availability of adequate startup and continuing funding
  • Licensing requirements
  • Capability for networked distribution, download and printing
  • Long term availability and perpetual access rights
  • Suitability to be circulated or housed in a sturdy, safe and convenient manner
  • Availability of technical support and staff training
  • Accessibility of material
  • Ease of use by customers and staff
  • Ownership of product


As new formats emerge, steps will be taken to phase-out duplicated, obsolete mediums. These include discontinuation of ordering new or replacement copies, redistribution, and removal of existing collection from within the system. The time frame and need for implementation of each of these steps will vary based on customer demand for the product (as demonstrated by circulation statistics and customer requests), affordability, and availability of product from vendors.

Independently Published Material

Brownell Library is often asked to include items in our libraries that are written and/or published independently. This can include materials that are self-published/produced or items published through a vanity press company. Brownell Library looks for material with regional connections and collection relevance that will appeal to a wide audience. The best way to bring an item to the Library’s attention is through reviews. Review sources that specialize in independently published material include the following:

  • Foreword
  • Small Press Review
  • Independent Publisher


A positive review in one or more of the library review journals, such as Library Journal, School Library Journal, Horn, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, Publisher's Weekly or in the Sunday edition of the local daily paper will give an independently published book an improved chance for selection by Brownell Library. 


Information regarding the material should be sent to the Brownell Library Director. The following information should be included:

  • A brief summary of the material
  • Any professional reviews
  • Intended audience
  • Author background and contact information
  • Publisher information
  • Item description (price, ISBN, date of publication)
  • Distributor(s)
  • OCLC World Cat Record


Preview copies will be treated as a donation and their disposition will be covered under our Gifts and Donations Policy.

Suggestions for Purchase

Brownell Library strongly encourages members of the community to recommend items for consideration. The Library’s  suggestion for purchase procedure enables Essex Junction citizens to request that a particular item or subject be purchased. All suggestions for purchase are subject to the same selection criteria as other materials and are not automatically added to the collection. It is the Library's intent that suggestions for purchase be used to help Brownell Library in developing collections which serve the interests and needs of the community. You can make a materials suggestion at the circulation desk.

Youth Materials

The youth services department of the Brownell Library maintains collections for

youth from infancy through eighteen years of age. These collections include print, video and audio in both physical and digital formats, as well as circulating games and educational kits. The department attempts to purchase materials in formats that are compatible with heavy use and that employ equipment that is widely available. This practice necessitates the continual replacement of standard titles.


Recognizing the broad developmental range of children and teens served, the youth services staff makes a special effort to include in the collection materials for children of every reading ability and comprehension level. 


The library maintains a distinct collection of teen fiction, designed to meet the recreational needs and interests of adolescents ages 12 to 18. Due to space limitations, informational materials for adolescents are included in the general youth non-fiction collection, and marked as such with labeling.


The criteria used in the selection process for materials in the youth services department are fundamentally identical to those used for adult materials. Youth selectors intentionally develop collections that provide youth with materials that mirror aspects of their own identities and materials that provide windows into less familiar experiences, thereby providing opportunities for youth to expand their understanding of the diversity of the community and world around them. Final selection is based on favorable reviews in professional journals, inclusion in professional bibliographies, and examination by youth service librarians.


Parents and guardians have the primary responsibility to guide their own minor children’s use of the library’s collection. The Brownell Library does not stand in loco parentis (that is, in place of a parent, or charged with a parent's rights, duties, and responsibilities). Parents and guardians who do not want their children to have access to specific library materials should so advise their own children.

Adult Collections

The Brownell Library is committed to the entertainment, reference, and research needs of the community. From best-sellers to debut authors to audiovisual items to e-content, the Library strives to provide a broad range of materials in a variety of formats for the public to enjoy. Every effort is made to anticipate demand, review wait lists and purchase sufficient copies.

Reference Print Collection

The Library maintains a non-circulating print reference collection that covers a wide range of subject areas. This collection is intended to support both brief factual questions and more detailed research. Selection of reference titles is curated by the Library Director and every effort is made to keep this collection updated with the most recent editions when not available elsewhere. Examples of the print reference collection materials include dictionaries, directories, handbooks, atlases, as well as specialized materials of local interest that directly support the information needs of patrons.

Online Resources

The Library curates a selection of online resources, though it is unable to curate all the content included within these online resources, including research databases, to assist with research and recreational pursuits. Databases are vetted yearly by staff librarians and are continually evaluated based on their usage, cost, relevancy to the mission of public libraries and demand. The Library recognizes the continued and growing interest in e-resources such as e-books, e-audiobooks, streaming music, movies and television shows. The Library remains committed to leveraging available budgets to maximize access to these services, be it through decreasing wait times, increasing available content within a platform, and/or the addition of new products. 


In addition to those databases curated by the Brownell Library, additional database support is provided via the Vermont Online Library and the Green Mountain Library Consortium. 


An extensive and wide-ranging periodicals collection serves as a major resource for providing up-to-date information for our patrons. In addition to print newspapers and magazines, several periodicals are available in digital formats for enhanced patron access. Magazines and newspapers are reviewed annually at which time decisions are made to renew or discontinue. In some cases, magazines may become defunct and unavailable during the duration of the Library’s subscription.


In keeping with the scope of public library collections, the Brownell Library does not collect textbooks, archival materials or items considered more appropriate for educational or academic institutions. Additionally, limited retrospective purchasing is conducted, with purchasing focused on forthcoming items or items published within the past twelve months. The Library is happy to assist in meeting the information needs of our patrons seeking out more specific items outside the Library’s scope by using the resources of other libraries and agencies. 

Collection Maintenance

Philosophy of Collection Management

The Library’s collection is a continually evolving, changing entity. As items are added, others are reviewed for their ongoing value and sometimes withdrawn from the collection. Great care is taken to retain or replace items that have enduring value to the community. Decisions are influenced by patterns of use, the capacity of each location and the holdings of other libraries that may specialize in a given subject matter. Staff review the collection regularly to maintain its vitality and usefulness to the community.

Responsibility for Collection Management

The final authority for the Library collection rests with the Library Trustees.

Implementation of collection development policy and management of the collection is assigned to Library staff. The Brownell Library disposes of materials that have been withdrawn according to the criteria for weeding and withdrawal outlined below. The Brownell Library Foundation serves as an instrument for the Library, reselling and redistributing Library materials that are withdrawn from the collection or donated to the Library and designated by the Library for resale.

Criteria for Weeding and Withdrawal

The following criteria are used in selecting materials for withdrawal:

  • Item is worn or damaged
  • Item is no longer relevant to the needs and interest of the community
  • Item is infrequently used and requested
  • Information is out of date
  • Materials in the format are no longer collected
  • Item is available elsewhere including other libraries and online


In addition, staff use the following guidelines for the withdrawal and sale of items from

special collections:

  • Curatorial or environmental requirements exceed the resources of the Library
  • Legal restrictions, possession of valid title and the donor’s intent
  • Relevance to the scope of the special collections


Sale of withdrawn items will be carried out in the manner most advantageous to the Library.

Gifts and Donations


  1. The library will accept donations of materials with the understanding that the material will be added to the collection only when needed: if the donated material is not added to the collection, the library reserves for itself the right to dispose of such material and may sell, give away or discard the item(s) at its discretion. Because of its status as a municipal library, the Brownell Library is able to accept monetary donations only if designated for a specific revenue fund. Otherwise any monetary donations must be made to the Brownell Library Foundation.
  2. The Library cannot afford to integrate into the collection any material it wouldn’t buy, if money were available. The library will screen gifts of periodicals, pamphlets, newspapers, books and audio-visual materials, etc., using the same selection policies as are used for purchases. 
  3. The library will not accept as a gift any item or object if the condition of acceptance requires permanent exhibition of the item or object, or requires that the material be kept together as a separate physical entity. The library is not a museum, and will rarely accept objects. Except for purposes of temporary exhibition, the library will not accept storage responsibilities for historical documents or objects owned or controlled by groups or individuals.


Memorial Gifts

Memorial materials are accepted by the library; however, persons wishing to make such a gift should consult with the Library Director or Youth Librarian before making a choice. Gift materials can be added to or weeded from the collection in accordance with the selection policy.


Only challenges from residents of the City of Essex Junction will be taken into consideration.

  1. A challenge is the questioning by a patron or patrons as to the contents of the library’s collection.
  2. At all stages of the challenge process, the complaint should be treated in a respectful and non-confrontational manner. Care should be taken to avoid escalation of the complaint and to satisfy the complainant that the issue is being handled in a serious and timely fashion.
  3. Process
    1. The patrons will address their concern with the appropriate librarian who is responsible for the area of the collection under consideration.
    2. If unsatisfied, the patron will complete the Library’s Materials Reconsideration Form. Forms incompletely filled out will not be further considered. 
    3. The Library Director will respond either orally or in writing addressing why the decision regarding the challenged material was made and the policies governing the ordering of materials that were used in making the decision, including the following:
      1. The Selection Policies of the Library
      2. The American Library Association Bill of Rights and Freedom to Read Statements
      3. Supporting documents, such as book reviews, newspaper articles, etc. which may have been taken into consideration when first ordering or adding materials.
    4. If the patron is not satisfied with the explanation, an ad hoc committee of at least three Library Trustees will be chosen by lottery at the next regular meeting of the Library Trustees and will consider the following:
  1. The basis for the patron’s complaint
  2. The issues addressed and considered in c above. A copy of the materials in question, and copies of all policies and supporting documents will be made available to the committee.
  1. At the following regularly scheduled meeting of the Library Trustees, the committee will make its report, and a vote will be taken to either approve the committee’s findings or ask the committee to reconsider its decision. The committee can only be asked to reconsider its decision based on a majority of the Board present finding that the committee, in reaching its decision, did not take into account all of the areas required to be considered and addressed in sections c and d above.
  2. If the patron is still dissatisfied, the patron may request a public hearing to be held at the next regularly scheduled Library Trustees meeting. The hearing will be conducted as follows:
    1. Written copies of relevant policies and the complaint form will be made available by prior request to all those attending.
    2. A specific length of time will be allotted for the public hearing.
    3. Adequate space will be made available for all interested parties to attend the meeting.
    4. The complainant and interested parties will be allotted reasonable amounts of time in which to speak. Interested parties will indicate their desire to speak at the beginning of the meeting by signing a list.
    5. The Board of Trustees will listen to all speakers and will issue its decision at the next regularly scheduled meeting.
    6. Once the decision has been announced, a written copy, including the reasons for the decision, will be sent to the complainant.

Brownell Library Materials Reconsideration Form

American Library Assocition Bill of Rights

American Library Assoction Freedom to Read Statement



Approved by the Brownell Library Trustees on 11/21/2023