Materials Selection Policy

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library will select and preserve, without bias or limitation on the right to know, a comprehensive collection of print, non-print and electronically accessed materials to meet the informational, educational, recreational and cultural needs of all citizens of Mecklenburg County. Further, the Library will offer wide-ranging collections to meet the various ages, interests, educational and reading levels and cultural backgrounds of its citizens. The Library will provide collections through which an individual may explore all points of view and issues of interest. The Library will be responsive to public demand for materials of contemporary significance and interest, while balancing this with the need to collect and preserve materials of permanent value.

Responsibility for the Selection of Materials

The ultimate responsibility for selecting materials for the Library rests with the Executive Director, who in turn, delegates selection responsibilities to appropriate professional staff members. Suggestions from the general public are encouraged and are evaluated by the staff based on the Library’s criteria for selection.

Selectors first evaluate or judge the intrinsic merits and quality of the materials available for selection using rigorous evaluative criteria. They select, from the available options, those items that best meet the needs of the community and that are consistent with the Library’s goals and mission, while weighing fiscal and spatial limitations with the availability of the material elsewhere in the community.

Nature of Materials

The types of materials in the Library's collections include print, non-print and electronically accessed components, so that citizens may:

  • educate themselves throughout their lives both independently and as a supplement to their formal study;
  • meet their general and job-related informational needs with timely, reliable, accurate and useful information;
  • develop and discover their creative capacities and form an appreciation of arts and letters;
  • stimulate thoughtful participation in the affairs of the community, the nation and the world;
  • encourage freedom of expression and develop or possess inquiring attitudes toward public issues;
  • enrich their personal lives; and
  • use their leisure time in the enjoyment of reading.

Open Access to Ideas

As ours is a free society, the Library will provide access to information in all fields and from all points of view. The Library, in collecting and acquiring publications and related materials representing the widest diversity of views, will include items which reflect controversial, unorthodox or even unpopular ideas. The Library, the Library Board, and Library personnel will not, either directly or indirectly, ban or censor any material. The presence of an item in the Library does not indicate any endorsement of its content by the Library. 

The Library subscribes to and has adopted the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read Statement and Freedom to View Statement. These are included in this Policy.

Reconsideration of Materials

Should a member of the community question the place of a book or other material in the collection, he or she may submit a “Statement of Concern About Library Resources” form to the Executive Director. This form is available in all Library locations. The patron will receive a written response to their concern. The library only accepts requests from Mecklenburg County residents for the review, relocation, or exclusion of purchased library material.

Evaluation Criteria

There is no single standard that can be used to evaluate all the types of materials included in the Library’s collections. Each type of material will be evaluated in terms of its own qualities and merit for the collections. 

However, there are some general criteria that selectors use to evaluate, regardless of the format. These are the:

  • authority or significance of the author/producer/publisher of the work (training, competence, reputation, other contributions);
  • content of the work (objectivity, accuracy and timeliness of information and data);
  • suitability of the subject format and style for the intended audience (relevance, purpose);
  • style (clarity, readability, manner of presentation);
  • insight into the human and social condition and/or importance as a document of the times;
  • value (permanent, current, temporary, educational, recreational);
  • comparison with titles in the existing collection and other materials available;
  • suitability of format for Library use (size, paper, print, binding);
  • evaluation of critics and reviewers;
  • public demand and its nature;
  • scarcity of materials on the subject and the importance of the subject matter to the collection;
  • potential local use; and
  • compatibility with Library’s computer platforms.

Further criteria for the evaluation of works of imagination such as fiction, poetry and drama are:

  • representation of a significant trend, genre or culture;
  • vitality and originality;
  • artistic merit and literary value;
  • authentic reflection of the human experience;
  • effective characterization; and
  • authenticity of historical or social setting.

Further criteria for the selection of digital materials are:

  • technical quality of the reproduction;
  • print versus digital cost considerations; and
  • ease of access.

Gift Policy

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library accepts gifts of hardcover books, magazines or audiovisual materials if there is a demand for those titles. The Library accepts gifts of historical materials. Gifts must meet the same guidelines as selected material. 

Person can give cash donations for the purchase of materials in memory or in honor of someone.

Materials and Resources


Fiction collections are a major component of most library collections. These popular reading collections of authors of current interest are geared to the variety of reading interests and needs in each community. Selections are based on the quality (determined by reviews), potential use and demand of these materials.

Young Adult Fiction

The Young Adult (YA) fiction collection contains novels written specifically for youth age 13-17. Emphasis is on books which widen the boundaries of the adolescent's thinking, enrich his/her life and help fulfill recreational or emotional needs. Plot, characterization, theme, writing style and appropriateness for the YA reader are taken into account.


The Main Library’s nonfiction collections are larger and contain a greater depth of information and variety of materials than any of the other locations. The Main Library offers unique in-depth reference coverage for the system in the areas of business, economics, finance and pure and technical sciences. 

The Library makes purchases of materials in languages other than English. 

The Library does not purchase elementary, junior high or senior high textbooks listed on the N.C. State adopted textbook list. These textbooks are provided without charge to each person enrolled in the public education program.

Children’s Materials

Books are purchased for children from infancy to age 12. The emphasis of selection is on children’s recreational and general information needs. Efforts are made to supplement and extend the school curriculum.

Historical Materials

The Robinson-Spangler North Carolina Room collects, preserves and makes available to the public for research use, materials contributing to the knowledge of the social, economic and political development, past and present, of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, South Carolina and the Southeast region of the United States. The collection supports the research needs of a varied group of patrons, including local officials, genealogists, historians, students, businesses, etc., for both current and historical information. It also addresses the need for a permanent and centralized depository for the preservation of materials of local interest, including works by local authors, works dealing with local subjects and locally published works. 

For Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, the collection is inclusive and exhaustive and includes both current and historical materials in all subject areas. For North Carolina, the collection includes materials dealing with the state as a whole and with individual cities, towns and counties. Current information as well as historical treatments are collected. For the Southeast region, materials primarily of interest for historic interpretation are collected, with an emphasis on South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee.

Genealogical Materials

The Carolina Room staff selects, arranges and makes available for research, materials which aid in tracing family relationships, especially those families who played a role in the settling and developing of this area. Although the branches will provide guides to genealogical research, genealogical materials are collected and maintained only in the Carolina Room of Main Library. 

The genealogical collection aims to be most thorough and inclusive for those families who have lived in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, and the surrounding counties. Emphasis is also given to the State of North Carolina as a whole, eastern Tennessee and South Carolina. A good range of material is also provided for the Southeast region and for major migratory routes into and out of this area.

Rare Books

It is not the scope of the Main Library to develop a general rare book collection. The Carolina Room at Main Library does identify and preserve for future generations, rare and valuable materials, which serve to illustrate the social, economic and political development of the local community. The collection addresses the need for a safe and permanent repository for those local interest items considered especially valuable, either because of scarcity or exceptional quality.

As the public library for the community, the Library has prime responsibility for preserving rare materials of local authors and subjects. Rare books from outside Mecklenburg County may be received as gifts if they fall within the general collection development guidelines for historical materials.

State Government Documents

The Carolina Room of Main Library is responsible for collecting, arranging and providing access to all North Carolina State documents. The reference collection addresses the patron’s need as a citizen for government publications.

Local Government Documents

City and County governmental practices require that one copy of each public document generated from City and County government be forwarded to the Carolina Room collection at no cost to the Library. The Carolina Room provides easy access to citizens for current and historical local government publications, and a repository for these materials so that they may be preserved for future research and use.

Federal Government Documents

The Library selects approximately 35% of all depository items and maintains these holdings for five (5) years. Special collection emphasis is in the areas of law, legislation, population, economics, business and trade, technology, social, educational, scientific, consumer, historical and statistical topics.

Library Archives

The Carolina Room has the responsibility for preserving the historically valuable records of the Library. The aim is to preserve all materials of historical value concerning the Library system including, but not limited to: board minutes, statistical reports, monthly reports, directories, studies, newsletters, publications, public relations materials, photographs, etc.

Group Services Collection

Group Services serves the economically and educationally disadvantaged, aged, institutionalized and those unable to access library services by traditional means. This clientele includes readers as well as non-readers.


Periodicals are selected and evaluated annually to supplement the book collection and to provide materials on current issues, for research, and for general reading. The Library selects newspapers of local, state and national interest, depending on the place of publication, the breadth of coverage, and the degree of fulfillment of reference or recreational needs. Newspapers representing special groups, such as associations, religious, philosophical and political groups or organizations, may be added sparingly, taking into consideration public demand and collection balance. 

The Main Library maintains periodicals in hard copy and in microformat. Retention decisions are based on whether materials are indexed, the availability of the materials and their use.

Free Magazines and Newspapers 

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library provides space in some of its buildings for free, non-library publications to be placed for library customers to peruse and pick up. This is done as a community service at branches in the interest of providing customers with useful information from many sources. 

A vendor or publisher who wishes to make a free publication available at a library building must obtain prior approval from Materials Management before placing the publication in the Library. Those interested in having free materials considered for distribution can contact the Library through this form. Decisions about adding new publications of free materials will be done on a bi-annual basis. The final decision to accept a publication is the prerogative of the manager of the facility, based on space availability. 

Distribution of materials does not constitute Library endorsement of their content. 

It is the responsibility of all individuals or groups to deliver their materials to various library locations. The Library will not accept responsibility for delivering or distributing materials to various library locations. 

Due to space limitations, each branch has the right to limit the number of copies of a publication for distribution. 

The branch is solely responsible for agreeing to distribute, the appearance and placement of materials within their building. 

The Library has the right to dispose of materials that are no longer current, are beyond their publication cycle, or have been in the Library for distribution more than one month.


Browsing paperback collections consist of popular fiction and nonfiction titles. These collections consist of newly published titles rather than retrospective materials. 

Young Adult and Children’s titles are also purchased. Both modern classics and light, ephemeral fiction are included. A collection of classic paperbacks to supplement requests for homework related titles is also maintained.

Collection Maintenance

Library collections should contain current materials that are in good condition and are in demand. Main Library’s collection contains a greater variety of materials because it serves as a resource for further information and as a storehouse for materials for the entire Library system. Use is of paramount importance in deciding whether to retain a title. Space, the cost of replacement and the appearance of the collection are additional factors in making de-selection decisions. 

All collections need to be weeded on a continuing and scheduled basis. Regardless of use, materials should be removed if they:

  • are damaged, worn, have pages missing, etc.;
  • contain dated or obsolete information, even if some of the information is useful;
  • are unused duplicates; or
  • have been replaced by a newer edition.

Media and Electronic Resources

The Library is committed to collecting material and offering access to a variety of media and resources. Because people communicate and learn in different ways, the Library does not limit itself to the print medium. 

The Library’s evaluation of priorities in choosing informational, educational and recreational materials applies to all media. 

The Library recognizes that the technologies of sound, image and information databases continue to evolve. It will monitor and evaluate new formats and measure their practical use by individuals and community organizations.