Collection Development


The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. The Burlington Public Library affirms the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read, and Freedom to View documents as statements of each individual’s right to freedom of choice in information and materials use.



The staff of the Burlington Public Library chooses print, non-print and electronic resources to make available to the users of the library based on the needs and interests of the community and to balance the library’s collection.


In keeping with the American Library Association’s Diverse Collections: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights and as part of the library’s mission to create opportunities for all people, the library selects content in multiple formats and, where applicable to our community, multiple languages, and seeks content created by and representative of marginalized and underrepresented groups.


In addition to professional knowledge and experience, the library staff will use requests, staff suggestions, use patterns, community issues, review literature, special bibliographies, and reports of information trends as source data for the selection of materials to be added to and withdrawn from the library’s collection. The library staff will be impartial in materials selection and will make every effort to obtain materials to represent more than one point of view. Inclusion of material in the collection does not constitute an endorsement. The Library recognizes that certain materials are controversial and that any given item may offend some library users.


Items that are not owned by the library may be requested. An effort will be made to purchase the materials, if they meet the selection criteria as outlined in this policy, or to borrow such items using interlibrary loan.


The ultimate responsibility for materials selection rests with the Library Director, who operates under the policies determined by the Library Board. The Director may delegate this responsibility to appropriate staff.



The library does not restrict access to materials, except for the express purposes of protecting materials from mutilation or theft. Children and young adults may use both the youth and the adult collections. Parents or guardians are responsible for the reading, viewing, and listening of library materials by their children.


Removal of Materials

The library staff continually examines the collection and will withdraw materials from the collection that are worn, damaged, outdated, or no longer used. Disposal of withdrawn library materials will be determined by the Library Director.


Gifts and Memorials

Gifts of print and non-print materials are accepted and become the property of the library with the understanding that the library staff may add the materials to the collection or dispose of them using the same criteria as purchases. The library will not accept materials which are not outright gifts. It is the responsibility of the donor to provide the value of a gift for tax purposes. Memorial funds are also accepted with the understanding that the library staff will use the same criteria as other purchases for the library. If requested, the staff will do their best to fulfill requests of particular topics for memorials. If contact information is provided by the donor, donations to the library will be acknowledged with a note of thanks.


Reconsideration of Materials

Any person who wishes to object to the inclusion of a particular item in the library’s collection may discuss the concern directly with the Library Director. If the concern cannot be adequately addressed through this discussion, that person may complete a Statement of Concern Regarding Library Resources form requesting reconsideration of the item in question. The Director will review the pertinent material and notify the person of the decision within 30 days of the receipt of the form. The Director’s decision may be appealed to the Burlington Public Library Board of Trustees. The Library Board will make the final ruling on the concern at a public meeting. The item in question will remain in the collection and available during the review process.



The Burlington Public Library recognizes that media collections often require equipment that users may not own. To make these collections accessible to all, the library provides a variety of equipment for check-out. Loan periods vary with the type of equipment. The library also provides a variety of equipment that can be signed out for use in the library. The person checking out or signing out equipment is responsible for the cost of damage to or loss of equipment. Equipment must be returned in the condition it was checked out as judged by staff. The equipment may only be checked out if not in use or scheduled to be in use by Library staff.


Local History and Genealogy Collection

The purpose of the local history and genealogy collection is to preserve source material on the history of Burlington and Des Moines County and provide basic research material for area genealogists. The library will make these materials available on a restricted basis to patrons and hold the materials in trust for future generations.


The major emphasis of the collection is on the City of Burlington and Des Moines County. Local history and genealogy materials for these areas are collected on a comprehensive basis, but do not include objects better suited for museum collections. The genealogy materials, which include record indexes and abstracts, histories, census microfilms, and other sources useful to family historians, are also collected on a more limited basis for counties adjacent to Des Moines County. Genealogy materials on other areas of Iowa, other states, and other countries are collected as they pertain to areas where large groups of people who settled in Burlington originated. These materials are collected on a limited basis. Family histories are acquired as gifts and purchased only when they have a significant connection to Burlington and Des Moines County.


The local history collection also includes selected published works by Burlington and Des Moines County authors. The authors must have lived in Burlington or Des Moines County for over two years to have their works included.


The extent of duplication of copies of historical sources is based upon demand; but, in general, the library will archive no more than two copies of significant local history materials. The library does not generally discard materials in this collection unless an item does not fit the criteria set for the scope of the collection.


Since many of the items are in fragile condition and some are one-of-a-kind, the local history and genealogy materials are used in the library and may not be checked out. Attempts will be made to preserve these materials through careful storage, handling, and reproduction to insure access for future generations. When microfilm copies of specialized material are available, it is the policy of the library to encourage use of this format rather then use of the original material.



Revised and adopted: October 21, 2020, August 16, 2017; May 21, 2014; April 17, 2013; August 17, 2011; August 19, 2009; October 18, 2006; May 20, 1998; April 17, 1996; May 9, 1990; April, 1990