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Collection Development Policy

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Adopted by the Boulder Public Library Commission, June 1, 2016; revised August 3, 2016


The Boulder Public Library (BPL) Collection Development policy provides a framework for the growth and development of collections in support of the mission of the Boulder Public Library.  The library seeks to provide a collection that balances viewpoints across a broad spectrum of opinion and subject matter in formats suitable to a variety of learning and recreational interests.

Collection development at BPL is founded on the principles of intellectual freedom and equal access for all.  The Boulder Public Library has adopted the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read, and Freedom to View statements as part of its selection policy.  The library maintains that only parents and guardians have the right and responsibility to determine their minor children’s access to library resources.

Scope of Collection

Materials selected for the Boulder Public Library are intended to meet the information, cultural, educational, literacy instruction and recreational needs of Boulder Public Library patrons.  The collection is curated to contribute to the development and sustainability of an engaged community through free access to ideas and information.  The library provides access to content through print, multimedia and technology. The collection offers a choice of treatment and level of difficulty so that most individual patron needs can be met within current budget and spatial constraints.


The library makes its collections available to all.  However, not all library materials can be made immediately accessible at all locations within the Boulder Public Library system.  Selectors decide how many copies to buy and where to locate them by considering anticipated demand, the interests of local library patrons, physical space limitations and available budgets.

Budget and space limitations, as well as local needs, preclude the library from duplicating the specialized and comprehensive collections that exist elsewhere in Boulder and the greater Denver area.  Boulder Public Library participates in cooperative interlibrary loan networks, including the Flatirons Library Consortium, Prospector and Mobius* in order to expand the range of materials available to library users, while minimizing duplication of lesser used materials owned by other libraries.

Collection Formats

Boulder Public Library maintains collections in varied formats to best meet the diverse needs of its residents.  Frequent changes in electronic and digital resources necessitate continual evaluation of online resources.

Carnegie Branch for Local History Collection

The Carnegie Branch collects, preserves, and makes available for research materials relating to the history of Boulder County with a special emphasis on the city of Boulder. The collection mostly pertains to the social history of Boulder County, and it is comprised of both purchased and donated materials that focus on people, real estate and events in local history. Learn more about the Carnegie Branch’s Donations and Collection Policy.

Selection and Maintenance Guidelines

Materials within our collection are selected to support the mission of the library and its strategic goals.  The library’s collection is a vital and dynamic entity. New resources are continually added to the collection and existing items are systematically reviewed for their ongoing relevancy and value to the community.


Responsibility for materials selection for the Boulder Public Library rests with the director of the City of Boulder Library and Arts Department, who entrusts to professional staff the responsibilities of selecting and deselecting materials. Community requests and recommendations are welcomed and are subject to the same selection criteria as any other item added to the collection. Addition of any material to the Library’s collection does not represent an endorsement of any theory, idea, or policy contained therein. When developing the library collection, staff uses their training, knowledge and expertise along with the following general consideration for selecting materials for all of the Library’s collections:

  • Current and potential relevance to community needs
  • Extent of publicity, critical review and current or anticipated demand
  • Local significance of the author or subject
  • Relevance to the existing collection’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Reflection of all reading levels
  • Reputation and/or significance of author, publisher or producer
  • Suitability of format to library circulation and use
  • Price and availability within the scope of the overall budget
  • Digital licensing requirements
  • Ease of use
  • Speed, flexibility and layout/appearance of electronic resources
  • Availability of full-text articles that can be downloaded, printed and emailed

Guidelines for Authors and Publishers

Suggest a Purchase Form


Withdrawal decisions are influenced by patterns of use, the capacity of each location, and by holdings of other libraries that generally lend to the patrons of the Boulder Public Library. Staff reviews the collection regularly using the following criteria:

  • Physical condition
  • Number of copies in the collection
  • Relevance to the needs and interests of the community
  • Current demand and frequency of use
  • Accuracy and timeliness
  • Local interest
  • Availability elsewhere including other libraries and online resources

Gifts and Donations

Donated materials are subject to the library’s selection criteria. Materials donated to the library may or may not be added to the collection. Any item which is not added may be donated to another non-profit institution where it might be used, or it may be sold in the Library Book Sale. Revenues from such sales are used to benefit Boulder Public Library services and programs.

Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials

Any community member has the right to request reconsideration of materials in the library’s collection. A Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials Form shall be completed and submitted to the person-in-charge at any library location, or to library administration at the Main Library. The library director appoints a library staff committee to review the request in relation to the Library’s mission and selection criteria and makes a recommendation to the library director. A reply to the Request for Reconsideration is sent within 30 days of receipt to the requestor. The director will keep the Library Commission informed of each request for reconsideration. The Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form, and the written response, becomes part of the public record. The item in question will not be removed from the shelf during the reconsideration process. The library director’s action in response to the Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials is final.

*Interlibrary loan services are temporarily suspended in 2021 due to pandemic-related budget constraints.