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All in the community have free access to relevant, accurate, and diverse collections that may educate, inform, inspire, entertain, and enhance growth, well-being, and quality of life.


A public library offers collections that entice readers, inform the community, and inspire exploration, learning, and creativity.

The collection requires thoughtful and continuous materials procurement to meet the changing needs and interests of the diverse community. Materials are selected in anticipation of, as well as in response to, requests from library users. Purchasing decisions also consider the budget, use, and turnover of various materials. To increase access, public libraries offer displays and remote access that encourage community members to discover new materials in various ways.

When public libraries participate in regional and/or statewide resource sharing, the community gains expanded access to physical and digital materials. All libraries benefit, for example, from being members of the Colorado Library Consortium, to participate in courier service, benefit from discounts on library materials, and increase effectiveness through collaboration. Libraries may also expand access to rare, local collections by digitizing collections and making them available through the Colorado Virtual Library and its partner systems.

Cake pan collection at Lamar Public Library

Checklists as PDF

Collections Essentials

Checklist for all public libraries

  • Establish and follow policies and procedures to effectively manage a balanced collection that reflects the library’s strategic plan and community needs and interests. The Collection Management Plan includes policies and procedures for:
    • Selection and deselection
    • Conservation/preservation
    • Receiving gifts and donations
    • Circulating and non-circulating items
    • Public requests for collection additions
    • Public requests for reconsideration of materials, displays, etc.
  • Maintain and revise policies and procedures to ensure ease of access, the freedom to read for all, privacy of library collection use, and fair use within copyright law.
  • Allocate funds for purchasing materials based on a plan for library circulation, services, and programs.
  • Use measures, such as materials expenditures per capita, to determine collection development goals and advocate for the materials budget.
  • Collect materials that provide access to a wide variety of community needs, interests, and viewpoints that represent the diversity of the local community.
    • Use community demographics to identify and build a collection for all.
    • Consider various age levels, reading levels, and developmental stages.
    • Include materials of various cultural, ethnic, political, and socio-economic groups and in various languages so that all residents both see something that mirrors them and provides a window to others.
    • Provide electronic materials in various formats, including eBooks, audio, and video materials in streaming and/or downloadable formats. (Use multi-factor authentication, when feasible, to help secure the user’s account.)
    • Provide materials in formats appropriate to the needs of all population groups, including large print, Braille, and/or other materials for those who cannot read standard print. When relevant, direct library users to the services of the Colorado Talking Book Library.
    • Expand local collections through resource sharing and services such as free book club sets and other kits from the Colorado State Library.
  • Organize and display materials to facilitate browsing and retrieval both in-library and online. Showcase unique and diverse areas of the collection that expand discovery and learning. Maintain a vibrant and relevant collection with frequent de-selection activities that remove damaged, outdated, and unused items while making space available for other materials.
  • Place orders at regular intervals throughout the year to ensure a steady flow of new materials for the public.
  • Provide processes for community members to recommend items for purchase and request items from other libraries.
  • Maintain an integrated library system (ILS) to support the management and development of the library’s collection and allow the public to search the collection electronically.
  • Maintain the patron database on a consistent basis, including purging library cardholders from the ILS patron database after three years of non-use.
  • Ensure that current cataloging standards are used for all materials to facilitate public access and resource sharing.
  • Maintain protection of personal information of library users in accordance with C.R.S. § 24-73-101 et seq and privacy of library user records in accordance with C.R.S. § 24-90-119.
  • Remove late fines and damaged/replacement fees on children’s and teen materials to make the collection accessible and reduce barriers for youth, families, and other caregivers.

Collections Essentials +

Checklist for larger libraries

  • Use circulation, holds ratios, and other material use data to inform collection management decisions.
  • Offer public access to self-check items, including after hours at community locations that increase public access to the collection.
  • Audit the collection to identify areas to add materials for all populations, using a collection diversity audit, community demographic data, and other tools. These activities may be conducted annually or ongoing by sections depending on local capacity.
  • Review the collection management plan within each three-year period.
  • Track and report statistics on various collections and circulation statistics, including per capita and turnover rates, circulation by age level and interest, as well as what is needed for collection management, reporting, and planning.
  • Collect materials produced by local content creators as appropriate and when they align with the collection development policies and procedures.
  • Maintain appropriately sized physical and digital collections based on the needs, interests, and use of community residents. Use data to analyze and make these decisions.
  • Include unique items that, when loaned through the library, make it economically feasible for community members to “try before they buy” and facilitate shared resources at a community level. Some Colorado examples include maker spaces with equipment for idea exploration, creation, and experimentation; non-book/non-media, recreational material (e.g., bicycles, musical instruments, fishing poles, cake pans); educational equipment (telescopes, robots, microscopes); home tools (electricity use monitors, seeds, garden tools), and locally created content (e-books, zines, music, audio stories, art). Scan trends, gain input, and use evaluation to make strategic decisions on these offerings over time.
  • Remove late fines, damage/replacement fees, and other costs associated with library collection use for all residents to increase access for people disproportionately affected by financial barriers to library service.
  • Digitize local, historical, and/or special collections for greater public access as needed and/or in partnership with other local organizations. 
  • Contribute local materials to the Colorado Historical Newspaper Collection Plains to Peaks Collective, and the Digital Public Library of America.
  • Follow the best practices of the Society of American Archivists, if the library houses local history/archival collections.

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