Collection Development

With budgetary and space constraints, the Library can only acquire a limited number of the thousands of books published annually. Selection is done carefully and is based upon true principal rather than personal opinion, reason rather than prejudice and judgment rather than censorship.

Responsibility for Selection

Selection is the administrative responsibility of the Director in cooperation with staff and public input. The Library Board is the final authority in determination of policy to guide the selection of materials.


TCPLS’s goal is to purchase the best materials available which meet the needs of the community and in the confines of the budget.

Each resource must be considered for its value, its format, and the audience for which it is intended. No single criterion is applicable to all purchase and access decisions. Some resources may be judged primarily for their artistic merit, scholarship or value to humanity; others are chosen to satisfy the informational, recreational or educational interests of the community.

Librarians apply their judgment and experience in selecting materials according to the criteria listed below. All criteria do not apply to each item. Works of imagination are judged by different standards than are works of information and opinion. Works that present an aspect of life honestly are not necessarily excluded because of frankness of expression. Materials are judges as a whole rather than on isolated passages. In considering titles, librarians consult reviews, bibliographies and other respected evaluative sources. The Library generally purchases current best sellers, giving priority to demand than to reviews or other relevant criteria. The criteria includes:

  • suitability of physical form for Library use
  • suitability of subject and style for intended audience
  • present and potential relevance to local interests and needs
  • appropriateness and effectiveness of medium to content
  • number and nature of requests from Library users
  • historical significance
  • importance as a document of the times
  • relation to existing collection, alternative formats, and other materials on subject
  • reputation and/or significance of the author/artist and publisher/producer
  • authority, competence and purpose of the author/artist
  • attention of critics, reviewers and public
  • comprehensiveness and depth of treatment
  • objectivity
  • clarity, accuracy, logic of presentation
  • representation of a minority point of view
  • relevance to the experiences and contributions of diverse populations
  • quality of illustrations
  • originality
  • vitality, readability or ability to sustain interest
  • effective characterization
  • authenticity of historical or social setting
  • value of resource in relation to cost


TCPLS welcomes donations with the understanding that the materials will be subject to the same selection criteria as stated. Materials not added to the collection will be sold, exchanged, donated to other organizations or discarded. (See Gift and Donation Guidelines)

TCPLS does not appraise donations for tax purposes. It will issue a statement indicating the number and type of materials but it is the owner’s responsibility to determine the appraised value.

Controversial Materials

TCPLS subscribes to the ALA Library’s Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read Statements. (See ALA Library Bill of Rights and Freedom to Read)

Complaints from a Library patron concerning having or not having a selected item is handled using proper procedures. (See Reconsideration of Library Materials)

Weeding and Discarding Library Materials

To maintain the vitality of the collection, materials are regularly weeded. This is the process of withdrawing materials which no longer meet the criteria for inclusion in the Library’s collection and is an integral part of collection management.

Factors involved in the decision to weed materials are:

  • Poor physical condition
  • Superfluous because of duplicate titles or because demand no longer exists
  • Obsolete, superseded edition, no longer accurate- this does not sanction the removal of materials because of controversy

If suitable, discarded materials will be sold in Library book sales, by Library staff and Friends of the Library.

Collection Development – Extended

(Approved 20 March 2023)


The Board of Trustees of the Thomas County Public Library System holds ultimate responsibility for the selection of materials for the Library collections. [Refer to Georgia Code Ann.20-5-43(4) and 20-5-45(5)]. The Board of Trustees delegates this responsibility to the Library Director and designated staff members chosen by the Director. Regional staff members select, purchase, and catalog the collection throughout the six library locations of the Region. Staff members at all six locations are encouraged to participate in the selection of materials for their respective libraries within their assigned spending allocations.

Funds allocated for purchasing books and other reading materials for the Library Collection of the Thomas County Public Library System include state grant funding, local funds contributed by the Regional budget, and occasional Federal grant funds (LSTA Summer Reading program funding, for example.)


The mission of the Thomas County Public Library System is to provide full and convenient access to the Library’s available resources for all citizens in their quest for knowledge and information. The Library’s resources comprise both traditional print-based materials and advanced technology providing access to the Internet for our citizens. In addition, the Library provides resources from other libraries in Georgia and elsewhere using Interlibrary Loan capabilities. As a public library, the Thomas County Public Library System in south Georgia strives to meet the educational, cultural, economic and recreational information needs for all citizens of our area.


Any material considered for inclusion in Thomas County Public Library System collections shall be evaluated in terms of its intrinsic value and intended audience. No single criterion should be applied to the selection of materials. Some titles may be selected based solely on their artistic merit, while others may meet the educational, cultural, recreational and economic information needs of patrons as defined in the TCPLS mission statement.

Several sources are used to select collection materials. These sources include book reviews in established library resources (Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, Booklist, Horn Book, etc.), bestseller lists, awards lists, publisher catalogs, staff subject specialists, other professional recommendations and patron suggestions when possible.

The TCPLS Collection Development policy provides guidelines for staff to select material that:
• Meets the current and future information needs of library patrons in all age groups
• Reflects the patron’s desire for popular and high-demand materials, delivered in a timely manner
• Ensures the accuracy and currency of Nonfiction material
• Represents regional interests by including materials in genealogy, school reading lists, local history and local authors
• Has contemporary significance or permanent value
• Includes material that represents diverse points of view
• Is relevant to the contributions and experiences of a diverse population

Budget and space limitations, as well as local needs, preclude TCPLS from duplicating the specialized and comprehensive collections that may exist in area colleges and technical schools.

As the TCPLS service community changes, the Collection Development Policy may require reevaluation and revision to reflect new and differing areas of interest and concern.


All TCPLS collections, whether Adult, Young Adult or Juvenile, should meet certain selection criteria standards such as
• Cost and availability of the material
• Popular interest
• Readability
• Treatment of subject to age of intended audience
• Format and ease of use
• Relationship to existing materials in the collection

Adult Fiction:

This collection includes a variety of contemporary and “bestselling” fiction, as well as award winners and works of local, regional and Georgia authors. Titles considered “classic” literature, as well as books in different genres, will also be selected. Every effort will be made to reflect the reading interests and tastes of a diverse population. It is the stated aim of the Thomas County Public Library System to seek and purchase works by local authors and additional works related to the Library’s service area (the six towns and communities of Thomas County) for inclusion in the collection.

Adult Non-Fiction:

This collection includes a core of basic knowledge in Dewey subject areas. Because of the dynamic nature of Non-Fiction, emphasis is placed on currency and accuracy. Some titles are selected for their capacity to provide self-help information or facilitate continuing education, while others entertain and nourish intellectual or spiritual growth. Material should present different viewpoints and varying perspectives on issues.

Young Adult Fiction:

This collection supports the educational and recreational needs of 13 to 18 year-olds. Selected material appeals to the special interests of Young Adults, and should be age-appropriate. Special emphasis will be given to titles on school reading lists and in popular series and formats, for example, graphic novels.

Young Adult Non-Fiction:

This collection includes a core of basic knowledge in Dewey subject areas, with an emphasis on material relevant to teen culture. The collection should be current, timely and accurate. YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) booklists and award lists should be used as professional review sources for material selected for Young Adult collections, in addition to the standard evaluation aids.

Juvenile Fiction:

This collection supports the educational and recreational needs of infants to 12 year-olds. Publications featuring children’s literature (School Library Journal, VOYA, Kirkus Reviews, etc.), should be used as professional review sources for material selected for Juvenile collections. Special emphasis should be placed on award winners, as well as popular titles, series, and books on recommended reading lists. Titles on the Newbery Medal list are priority additions to this collection, and the Library strives to have a complete collection of these award-winning titles.

Juvenile Non-Fiction:

This collection includes a core of basic knowledge in Dewey subject areas. Emphasis is placed on currency and accuracy when evaluating material. The reputation of the publisher, ease of use, suitability for the intended audience and relationship of the material to other items in the collection, should also be considered when making selections. Although textbooks and items that correlate with specific curricula are not purchased generally, specific titles that support the general educational needs of elementary school-aged students will be considered for selection.

Easy/Picture Books:

This collection includes books for beginning readers, may be concept-oriented, and usually focuses on illustrated works with limited text. Board books, more suitable for infants and pre-school children, will also be selected. The quality of the illustrations, reputation of the author and illustrator, suitability of the material for the intended audience and durability of the item, should be considered when making selections. Works by award winners, and on recommended reading lists, will be given special emphasis. Titles on the Caldecott Medal list are priority additions to this collection.


This collection includes “Ready Reference” (almanacs, dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc.) material, as well as titles that are subject-oriented (general legal, health, literature, etc.). Reference sources typically contain comprehensive and complex information, and may be expensive to purchase. For these reasons, they cannot be checked-out, so as to remain available to all patrons. Reference books are found in the adult and (to a smaller extent) juvenile collections. Selection factors include ease-of-use, authority, indexing, cost, and duplication of online resources. The availability of GALILEO (Georgia Library Learning Online), a World-Wide-Web-based virtual library, has reduced the need for large numbers of Reference titles. Examples of Reference include encyclopedia sets, literary reference resources and similar material.


This collection includes works of local, regional and state history. It may also contain bound copies of newspaper clippings, family histories, cemetery records and obituaries. Factors such as cost, relevancy of the material to area patrons, duplication of online sources (, U.S. Census records, etc.) and authority of the author, should be considered when making selections. All Genealogy titles are for reference, and permanently housed in the owning facility. Patrons may make copies of material they need.

Large Print:

This collection supports the needs of the visually impaired and senior citizen patrons. As is the case with the regular print Adult Fiction collection, special emphasis will be given to popular and bestselling works in different genres. The Non-Fiction Large Print collection is less comprehensive than its regular print counterpart, and should focus on high-interest subjects such as health, biographies and other popular titles.


This collection is uncataloged and supports the recreational reading needs of adult, young adult and juvenile patrons. Titles may duplicate cataloged works of general fiction, romance, classics, series and perennially popular authors. Because of their high-turnover, paperback gifts are an especially appropriate collection source.

Foreign Language:

This collection currently consists of some Juvenile Fiction and Non-Fiction titles written in Spanish. Additional foreign language titles may be added to the juvenile, young adult and adult collections, to reflect demographic changes in the Regional Library’s user community.

Audio Books:

This collection currently includes titles suitable for adults, but may be expanded to include ones appropriate for young adults and juveniles. Only titles available in CD (compact disc) format will be selected. Selection standards used to evaluate and purchase “print” Adult Fiction and Non-Fiction titles (bestsellers, classics, popular titles of general interest, etc.) also apply to the development of audio book collections.


This collection includes periodicals selected to support the educational, recreational and informational needs of the TCPLS patrons. They should reflect the reading tastes of a diverse population, and include popular magazines of general interest (sports, entertainment, business, family/home life, etc.) that are appropriate for adults, young adults and children. Professional magazines, supporting the needs of library staff, may also be selected. Back issues of some magazines may be kept for patrons to check-out.

The Newspaper collection should include local, regional and national selections.

The Periodical and Newspaper collections should be evaluated annually, and additions/deletions made to reflect patron need and preference.

Electronic Resources:

The Thomas County Public Library System’s six locations provide Internet access within the Library to all patrons. Resources available online include many resources, among them GALILEO (Georgia Library Learning Online) which offers access to over 100 databases. Thousands of scholarly journals and periodicals are indexed, with a multitude of articles available in full-text. Dictionaries, encyclopedias, government publications and business directories, are also available to patrons and staff. These online databases are essential, often providing information beyond the scope of the library’s print collection.


The Thomas County Public Library System and all of its affiliated county Libraries welcome donations of books and materials. All donations are reviewed according to the library’s collection development policy. These gifts must meet standard criteria. The Library reserves the following rights for donated material: any books or materials received may be added to the collection, exchanged, given to other libraries within the Library System, discarded or sold at Library book sales. The Library receiving the donations is not responsible for listing the books donated nor can the Library establish a value for the donated items. Staff members can confirm by signature that a list of books has been donated if that list is provided by the person or persons donating the items.

We welcome the following:
• Fiction (Hardcover)- current or former bestsellers
• Nonfiction (Hardcover)
• Paperbacks- fiction and non-fiction in good condition
• Classics- paperback or hardcover in good condition
• Children’s Books- hardcover or paperback in good condition
• DVD’s- purchased (not copied)
• Audio Books (CD only)- abridged or unabridged

We are unable to accept the following:
• Magazines
• Textbooks
• Reader’s Digest Condensed Books
• Dated computer books
• Water damaged, mildewed or books in poor condition
• Videotapes
• Pamphlets
• Old encyclopedia sets
• Music- LP or CD

Please check with the Acquisitions Librarian before bringing donations to the Library. Due to space restrictions, we must follow the guidelines listed above. Please do not leave books outside of the library, as they will be subject to the weather. Library staff members are not able to pick up donations.
The Library does not place a value on donated items for tax purposes or any other reason. Donors may request a letter describing the items donated and their total number (though not a listing of the items), with the letter to be used at the discretion of the person donating the materials.


Weeding Guidelines by Dewey Class

Age = Years since copyright date

Unused = Years since last use (circulation)

M = Misleading and/or factually inaccurate
U = Ugly (badly worn, dirty)
S = Superseded (by a new edition or by a much better book on the subject)
T – Trivial (of no discernible literary or scientific merit)
Y = Your collection has no use for this item (irrelevant to patron needs and interests)

X = not applicable

Generally, remove items if older than the specified Age, if Unused for the specified period, or if MUSTY.

Class Age Unused MUSTY Notes
000 General Knowledge
020 Library Science 10 3 MUSTY
030 Encyclopedias 5 X MUSTY Stagger replacement sets
Other 000’s 5 X MUSTY
105 Psychology 10 3 MUSTY
Other 100’s 10 3 MUSTY Value determined mainly by use
100 Religion - Try to have something up to date on each religion represented by a church, synagogue, or other assembly in the community
Most 10 3 MUSTY
Areas of rapid change 5 3 MUSTY
300 Social Sciences – See that controversial issues are represented from all views and that information is current, accurate, and fair.
310 Almanacs, Yearbooks 2 X MUSTY Seldom of much use after two years. Add one, discard one each year, keeping only the last three years in the collection.
320 Political Science – Topical 5 3 MUSTY Emphasis on age
320 Political Science – Historical 10 3 MUSTY Emphasis on use
340 Law 10 3 MUSTY
350 Government 10 X MUSTY
370 Education 10 3 MUSTY Keep historical materials only if used. Discard outdated theories.
390 Etiquette 5 3 MUSTY Keep only basic, up to date titles
390 Folklore, Customs 10 3 MUSTY
Class Age Unused MUSTY Notes
400 Linguistics and Languages
All 10 3 MUSTY Discard old unappealing textbooks and school grammars. Stock dictionaries only for languages spoken or studied in your community.
500 Pure Sciences
510 Mathematics 10 3 MUSTY
570 Biology, Natural History 10 3 MUSTY
580 Botany 10 3 MUSTY
Other 500’s 5 3 MUSTY But keep classic works of significant historical or literary value, such as Darwin’s Origin of Species
600 Applied Sciences
610 Medicine 5 3 MUSTY Except anatomy and physiology which change very little. These are X/3/MUSTY
630 Agriculture 5 3 MUSTY Keep up to date. Be sure to collect information on newest techniques, if you serve farmers or ranchers.
640 Home Economics 5 3 MUSTY Be strict with old sewing and grooming books; however, keep cookbooks unless not used
690 Manufactures 10 3 MUSTY Keep books on old clocks, guns, toys, other collectibles
Other 600’s 5 3 MUSTY Technology changes rapidly. One exception – keep repair manuals for cars and appliances as long as such items are generally kept in your community
700 Arts and Recreation
745 Crafts X 3 MUSTY Retain basic technique books if well illustrated.
770 Photography 5 3 MUSTY Technology changes rapidly
Other 700’s X X MUSTY Keep all basic materials until worn and unattractive
800 Literature
All X X MUSTY Keep basic materials, especially criticism of classic writers. Discard minor writers no longer read in local schools unless there is an established demand among non-students.

Class Age Unused MUSTY Notes
900 History and Geography
910 Travel and Geography 5 3 MUSTY For guidebooks and descriptive or scientific geography
910 Travel and Geography 10 3 MUSTY For personal travel narratives, unless of high literary or historical value
Other 900’s 15 3 MUSTY Main factors are demand, accuracy of facts.
All X 3 MUSTY Emphasis on use. Unless the person is of permanent interest or importance, such as a U.S. president, discard a biography when demand lessens. This rule applies especially to biographies of faddish celebrities.
All X 2 MUSTY Discard works no longer popular, especially second or third copies of old bestsellers. But retain works of durable demand and/or high literary merit, or if written by a local author.
YA, Juvenile and Easy Fiction
All X 3 MUSTY Discard children’s and young adult fiction if the format and reading level are no longer appropriate to the current interest level of the book. Discard topical fiction on dated subjects. Favor originals over abridged or simplified classics.
Juvenile and Easy Nonfiction – Use adult criteria, but look especially for inaccuracy or triviality of treatment.
Periodicals including newspapers
Not on Galileo 3 X X Keep only those in constant use and indexed.
Available full text on Galileo 1 X X Magazines that are available on Galileo should be kept for one year maximum. Discard earlier if appropriate.
Audiovisual Materials – WORST – Discard if: Worn out; Out of date; Rarely used; System headquarters can supply; or Trivial and faddish.
Local History – Retain: all books on local history and geography; all local newspapers on microfilm; all travel accounts about the area; all memoirs of local figures; all city directories; all genealogies of local families; most books by local authors.


Appendix 1: Electronic Access to Materials and Online Information

A primary goal of the Thomas County Public Library System is to offer advanced technological tools for the library patrons of our Region. Each facility offers high-speed connection to the Internet and public access computers to utilize this resource. Library staff members are trained to assist patrons in using the Internet, utilizing software productivity resources (word processing, spreadsheets and other), and general uses of the computer facilities.

The Library System emphasizes the availability of GALILEO, a collection of online databases containing reference material and full-text articles of all varieties. This resource is invaluable in aiding students from primary, secondary, high school and college levels to locate appropriate reference and research material for their studies and other projects.

Online access also includes downloadable books (ebooks) and additional content databases furnished by the state and by the local library system.

PINES is the statewide online library collection database that enables circulation of library materials from libraries throughout Georgia. Patrons can access

PINES from home to search for items and to place them on hold to be delivered to their local library.