The purpose of this policy is to define the underlying principles which direct the development and management of the library’s collection. This policy guides the selection, acquisition, accessibility, maintenance, preservation and scope of the Hennepin County Library collection. It establishes roles, responsibilities, and defines a process for addressing patron questions and concerns.

This policy further defines the work necessary to achieve the following key result as stated in the Hennepin County Library’s Strategic Plan 2011-2025:

Hennepin County Library is a leader in engaging readers and learners of all ages by:

  • Building and maintaining our collections
  • Ensuring easy access to all collections
  • Embracing new technologies
  • Building confident, self-reliant library users 


The Library’s collection is one of Hennepin County Library's major assets. It is developed and managed to meet the cultural, informational, educational, and recreational needs of residents of Hennepin County. The collection is:

  • fundamental to the library’s ability to achieve its mission, vision, and overarching goal
  • responsive to the changing nature of how information is created, disseminated, accessed and used
  • of interest to the residents of Hennepin County
  • accessible and used
  • preserved to reflect the cultural heritage of our community for patrons to access now and in the future

We recognize and embrace the role Hennepin County Library’s collection plays to serve a regional, statewide, and national audience.

We follow professional standards defined by the American Library Association including Intellectual Freedom.

Roles and Responsibilities

The community is encouraged to participate in the collection development process through suggestions and feedback they provide via the public homepage or directly to staff. Hennepin County owns the Library’s collection. The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approves Library funding, which includes funding for the collection.

The Library Board is responsible for the Collection Development & Management Policy which guides the selection, acquisition, accessibility, maintenance, preservation and scope of the Hennepin County Library collection. The final decision regarding Request for Reconsideration appeals rests with the Library Board.

The Library Director operates under the direction of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners and within the framework of the Library Board's Collection Development and Management Policy. The Library Director delegates to staff the authority to interpret and apply this policy in daily operation.

Staff in a centralized collection development unit provide continuity in collections through an organized structure for planning, budgeting, selecting, acquiring, and managing library materials.

Staff in each library participate in collection development and management either individually or in groups. Staff contribute to the development of a collection driven by patron needs and expectations by:

  • Engaging in open, continuous two-way communication with patrons and other staff
    Handling all requests equitably
  • Working in partnership with one another to understand and respond to patron’s needs
  • Understanding and responding to rapidly changing demographics, as well as societal and technological changes
  • Recognizing that materials of varying complexity and format are necessary to serve all members of the community
  • Balancing individual and community needs
  • Seeking continuous improvement through ongoing measurement


The Library provides a system-wide collection in a variety of environments: library buildings throughout Hennepin County, a public website, and Outreach Services.

Library staff build and maintain a patron-focused collection by anticipating and responding to needs and expectations.

Target Audience

The collection, one of Hennepin County Library's major assets, is developed and managed to meet the cultural, informational, educational, and recreational needs of residents of Hennepin County.

Hennepin County Library also participates in both regional and national networks that coordinate efforts to share collections via interlibrary loan. As a participant in these networks, Hennepin County Library serves residents beyond its county borders, from the Twin Cities metropolitan area to the state of Minnesota, the upper Midwest region and beyond.

Scope of Collection

The collection offers materials in choices of format, treatment, language and level of difficulty. "Materials" has the widest possible meaning and includes but is not limited to print, audiovisual, digital, and electronic formats. "Collection" is defined as materials that are selected for the Hennepin County Library system; those selected materials may be owned, housed or leased by Hennepin County Library, made accessible via download, or may be accessed via the Library’s website. "Selection" refers to the decision that must be made to add a given item to the Hennepin County Library collection and made accessible either in a physical location or via the Library’s website. Library selected web-based resources accessed via the Library’s website using the criteria outlined in this policy are considered a part of the Library’s collection. Not all materials and information found via the Internet are part of the collection.

Hennepin County Library collects, organizes, and makes available materials of contemporary, historic, and archival significance. The collection is reviewed and revised on an ongoing basis to meet present-day needs.

Materials are de-accessioned from the collection to maintain the collection's usefulness, currency, and relevance. De-accessioned materials may be sold or used in collaboration with other government agencies.

Access & Resource Sharing

All Hennepin County Library materials are available for use by all patrons. Access to materials is ensured by the way materials are organized, managed, and displayed. The Library uses standards-based cataloging and classification systems. The collection is accessed through the Library’s catalog, the Library’s website, and patron/staff interaction.

Materials have use limitations to ensure equitable and efficient access. Access to some materials may be limited by their rarity, value, uniqueness, fragile physical condition, or a combination of these factors. In-house and remote access to digital and electronic resources is provided within technical, budgetary, and licensing constraints.

The Library participates in interlibrary loan networks to make materials not in the collection available for patrons. Collection development and management is a participative effort within the larger community of libraries throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area, state, and nation. Local collaboration includes organizations such as: Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA), the Minneapolis Athenaeum, and the Minnesota Library Access Center (MLAC).

Funding Statement

Library funding, which includes funding for the collection, is allocated annually by the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners. Additional support for the Library’s collection is provided by the Library Foundation of Hennepin County, Friends groups of Hennepin County libraries, trusts, and other donations.

Evaluative Criteria

Collection development staff rely on a set of criteria to guide selection decisions. Hennepin County Library evaluates materials according to one or more of the following criteria. Not all criteria will be applied to each selection decision.

General criteria for selection:

  • Present and potential relevance to community needs
  • Suitability of format or physical form for library use
  • Suitability of subject and style for intended audience
  • Relevance of the item as an artifact
  • Relevance of item for its historic significance
  • Availability in multiple formats
  • Cost
  • Relevance to current trends and events
  • Relation to the existing collection
  • Attention by critics and reviewers
  • Potential user appeal
  • Requests from patrons

Content criteria for selection:

  • Comprehensiveness
  • Skill, competence and purpose of author or publisher
  • Reputation and qualifications of the author or publisher
  • Consideration of the work as a whole
  • Currency
  • Objectivity
  • Clarity
  • Technical quality
  • Representation of diverse points of view
  • Representation of movements, subjects, genres or trends of lasting patron interest
  • Artistic presentation and/or experimentation
  • Sustained interest/demand
  • Relevance and use of the information
  • Relevance to local history collections
  • Provides unique contribution to a field of study

Additional Criteria for Electronic Formats

  • Ease of use of the product
  • Availability of the product to multiple, concurrent users
  • Technical and support requirements needed for access to the product
  • Availability of print equivalent


The Library recognizes and respects intellectual property rights and conforms to legislative mandates regarding copyright protections.

Government Publications

Hennepin County Library is a member of the Federal Depository Library Program, a network of over 1200 libraries throughout the U.S. designed to make federal information available to the public. The Library maintains a collection of federal documents from 1777 to the present. Physical materials in the federal depository collection are primarily designated as reference and are located at the Minneapolis Central Library. Some specialized databases are available only at the Minneapolis Central Library. Other materials in the depository collection may be accessed online through the Library’s catalog.

Special Collections

Minneapolis Central Library houses a number of special collections. These special collections include a retrospective and an archival collection of books, local historic documents and digital material. Some materials may circulate while other material may be used only in the library. In addition, access to some materials may be limited by their rarity, value, uniqueness, fragile physical condition, or a combination of these factors.

Selection for these special collections is on-going and is based on the criteria outlined in this policy.

Additional collections may be considered based on Hennepin County Library’s mission, vision, and overarching goals as well as the availability of Library resources to house, manage and maintain the collections.

Once determined to be a special collection, the collection as a whole is considered to be a permanent part of the Hennepin County Library collection. De-accessioning of a special collection will be considered if Hennepin County Library’s mission, vision, and overarching goal change or if the Library no longer has the resources to house, manage and maintain the collection. Before the de-accessioning of a special collection the Library Board would make a recommendation for its de-accession subject to the approval of the County Board.

Collection Maintenance

Staff relies on a set of criteria to guide on-going collection maintenance decisions. Based on the evaluation, materials may either be kept, replacement copies may be purchased, materials may be preserved to ensure long term retention, or materials may be permanently withdrawn from the collection. Materials of long-standing value are retained, preserved and housed primarily at Minneapolis Central Library. Not all criteria will be applied to each de-selection decision.

General criteria for de-selection:

  • Format or physical condition is no longer suitable for library use
  • Content is available in multiple formats
  • Age and condition of the item is unsuitable for library circulation
  • Obsolescence – information that is no longer timely, accurate or relevant
  • Insufficient use or lack of patron demand
  • Little or no relevance to current trends and events
  • No long-term or historical significance
  • Space limitations
  • Sufficient number of copies in the collection
  • Easy availability in other collections locally or nationally


The library uses a variety of means to preserve collections of long-standing value. Preservation methods used include the following: preservation photocopying, encapsulation, digitization, replacement of content through the purchase of another edition, rebinding, repair and use restrictions.

Intellectual Freedom

The Library provides an impartial environment in which individuals and their interests are brought together with the universe of ideas and information spanning the spectrum of knowledge and opinions. The American Library Association's Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read and Freedom to View statements are included in this policy and guide acquiring and managing collections.

Collection development and management decisions are based on the merit of the work as it relates to the Library's mission and its ability to meet the expressed or anticipated needs and interests of the community; decisions are not made on the basis of any anticipated approval or disapproval of the material. The inclusion of an item in the library collection in no way represents an endorsement of its contents. Library materials are not marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of the contents, nor are materials sequestered except for the purpose of protecting them from damage or theft.

The Library recognizes that many materials may be controversial and that any given item may offend some. Only individuals can determine what is most appropriate for their needs and can define what material or information is consistent with their personal or family values. Individuals can apply those values to the use of library materials only for themselves. Parents and legal guardians have the responsibility for their children's use of library materials.

Reconsideration of Library Materials

Individuals may request reconsideration of a selection decision of library material by submitting a written request for reconsideration to any Hennepin County Library using established Library procedures and guidelines, available at any Library Services desk. Library administration responds in writing to an individual's written request.

The Library Board, upon request, hears appeals of the Director's written response. Appeals must be presented in writing to the Library Board at least ten days in advance of the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board. Decisions on appeals are based on careful review of the objection, the material, and Library Board policies including: this policy, the Library Bill of Rights, the Right to Read and the Right to View and the American Library Association's guidelines on intellectual freedom. The final decision on appeals rest with the Library Board and will be taken up at publically held Board meetings.

Associated Policies

This policy is subject to all Federal state and local laws and associated Hennepin County policies.


This policy is reviewed by the Library Director (or designee) every four years and makes recommendations to the Library Board Program/Policy Committee. The Committee reviews and revises as necessary, endorses and advances to the full Library Board for approval.

Policy History

Next Review Date: 08/2015
Date Approved: 08/24/2011
Previous Policy Dated: 11/29/2006

(Replaces MPL Collection Development Policy, 05/17/2006)