Collection Development Policy


The purpose of a collection development policy is to provide a framework for acquisition and retention of library materials. The policy supports the library mission ensuring appropriate materials are available to the public. This policy is reviewed on a five-year cycle in compliance with the Standards for Florida Public Libraries and is approved by the Library Advisory Committee.

Patrons Right to Read

The Safety Harbor Public Library supports the Library Bill of Rights of the American Library Association and their Freedom to Read statement.

The Safety Harbor Public Library staff selects and maintains library resources in all formats, including but not limited to books, magazines, electronic resources, eBooks, audio books, DVDs, and music CDs.  Material selection responds to the educational, informational, and recreational needs of our library community, focusing on reviewed, best-selling popular materials. The library evaluates its collection on an ongoing basis to determine strengths and weaknesses and acts on that information to make improvements. Our materials include a comprehensive collection of multi-format materials for children, tweens, teens, and adults featuring a wide array of characters, subjects, authors, and illustrators with diverse and differing perspectives.

 Core Collections:

  • Popular Materials: Popular best-selling fiction and non-fiction in multiple formats for all ages.  
  • Youth & Teen: Broad coverage of fiction and non-fiction resources for infants through high school supporting homework assignments, test preparation, current subject resources, Sunshine State titles and fiction for recreational and cultural enrichment.
  • Lifelong Learning: A broad core collection of relevant resources in a broad range of subjects for all ages. 
  • Literacy and ESOL Collection: A collection of materials for students and tutors to learn English.
  • Spanish Language Collection: Books and audiovisual materials for Spanish speaking youth and adults 
  • eBooks: Access to downloadable fiction and non-fiction e-books through PPLC cooperative purchasing via OverDrive and other online resources including hoopla.

Criteria for Material Selection

The following criteria are taken into consideration in the selection of library materials:

  1. Merit of the individual item
  2. Popular appeal and demand
  3. Currency, timeliness, and accuracy for non-fiction items
  4. Suitability of material for the library community
  5. Existing library resources 
  6. Annual amount budgeted for the collection category
  7. Availability from standard publishers and vendors
  8. Availability in PPLC libraries
  9. Reviews from reputable professional sources
  10. Number of pending hold requests
  11. Diversity of opinions and viewpoints


Library materials are purchased from an approved library vendor for reasons of economy, consistency, and expediency. Library vendors are evaluated bi-annually to ensure best practices and cost effectiveness.


The library accepts donations of materials but may not always accept donations due to limited storage space. Donated items may be added to the library collection if these conditions are met:

  1. Satisfies materials selection criteria of items purchased for the library
  2. Excellent condition
  3. Enhances the collection or fills collection gaps

Donated items not added to the library collection are sold at Friends of the Library book sales or discarded.  The library does not accept textbooks, National Geographic collections, moldy or damaged materials, VHS tapes, encyclopedias or any garage or attic stored items. Items published with the past five years are preferred. Donated gift items are reviewed by professional staff.   A complete list of acceptable items can be found on the Friends of the Library website

Self-Published Books

The library receives requests from local authors to add books they have self- published or published at their own expense. Although this type of publishing is experiencing rapid growth, the books often do not meet the requirements outlined in the Criteria for Material Selection to be included in permanent collections. They typically have not received reviews in standard published sources and do not meet the criteria that the library normally sets for inclusion. While the Library supports local authors, it needs to maintain standards for permanent collections. Due to the volume of self-published and print-on-demand titles available, the library does not purchase or add donated self-published books. Chapbooks and pamphlets without an ISBN are also not considered for addition. 

Material Selection Procedures 

The library relies on professional review sources for each subject area and format within the collection.  

Selection Guidelines for Specific Collections


The library provides the following:

  1. An extensive collection of popular best-sellers for all ages in all genres
  2. Core classics and broad contemporary curriculum collection

Guiding Factors:

  • Wide variety of popular fiction in all genres
  • Award winning titles and best sellers 
  • Titles of local interest
  • Positive reviews and recommendations from professional review resources
  • Multicultural, diversity of opinions and viewpoints


The library collects non-fiction materials of general interest for all ages to meet the informational and leisure needs of the community. When there is a noticeable public demand for a certain topic, the library will strive to provide additional subject materials.

The non-fiction collection provides, but is not limited to the following:

  1. Current medical, health, legal, test preparation, travel, business, politics, and technology 
  2. Popular biographies, general history, music, and the arts
  3. General self-help resources, parenting, cooking, and crafts
  4. Florida related materials (gardening, travel, history, etc.)

Guiding Factors:

  • Currency, timeliness, and accuracy
  • Multicultural, diversity of opinions and viewpoints
  • Award winning and bestselling titles
  • Positive reviews and recommendations from professional review sources


The library houses an extensive collection of fiction and non-fiction materials for youth, including board and picture books, easy readers, chapter books, and graphic novels for all grade levels. 

Guiding Factors:

  • Award winning books, including Caldecott, Newbery, and other ALA recognized award winners
  • Positive reviews and recommendations from professional review sources, including the Children’s Core Collection. 
  • Best-selling titles and popular children’s series and authors
  • Multicultural, diversity of opinions and viewpoints
  • Non-fiction titles to support arts, science, nature, history, biographies, and school projects

Young Adult

The library provides materials for teens, including fiction, graphic novels, manga, and non-fiction for young adults.

Guiding Factors:

  • Award winning books, including Printz Award, Morris Award, and other YALSA and ALA recognized award winners.
  • Positive reviews and recommendations from professional review sources
  • Best-selling titles
  • Multicultural, diversity of opinions and viewpoints


The library provides print and online access to a selection of popular magazines and newspapers for informational and recreational needs of the community.

Guiding Factors:

  • Print or online subscription or both, depending on cost, customer use patterns, and availability 
  • Selected based on annual circulation statistics, patron requests, and community needs assessments
  • Print items are limited by available display and storage space


The library provides a broad general collection of music CDs. Music is also available online via hoopla. 

Guiding Factors:

  • Selection from all music styles, with a balance of new releases and traditional classics 
  • Popular and bestselling artists of all genres 
  • Cost (Note: With availability to stream music at no cost, the budget for music CDs has reduced over the years.)


The library collects audiobooks for the recreational and educational enjoyment of patrons of all ages in CD and MP3 format and downloadable audio through the PPLC sponsored Libby by OverDrive collection and hoopla. Note: Selection of downloadable audiobooks from Libby by OverDrive are selected cooperatively by area library representatives. 

Guiding Factors:

  • Current releases in fiction and non-fiction
  • Language learning materials
  • Reputation of the narrator
  • Print version located in the fiction or non-fiction collections
  • Unabridged versions
  • Cost
  • Quality of vendor packaging and replacement disc policy

Audiovisual Resources

The library has a large collection of movies, television series, and documentaries on DVD and Blu-Ray for adults and youth. Movies and TV series are also available online through hoopla.  

Collection coverage includes but is not limited to the following:

  1. Award-winning feature films and popular new releases
  2. Selected documentary films
  3. Titles from “best of” and “recommended for public library” lists
  4. Non-fiction subjects such as exercise, travel, concerts, home improvement, and cooking
  5. Highly rated series programs from various platforms

Guiding Factors:

  • Ratings and age recommendations provided by the filmmaker determine whether the film is cataloged in the adult, family, or youth areas of the library.
  • Cost

Reference Materials

A limited selection of current reference material is available. Print reference materials are intended in-library use only but may be circulated with approval. Reference materials include the following:

  1. Encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases, and almanacs
  2. Community information and referral resources
  3. Current books and pamphlets on Pinellas County and State resources 
  4. Local history collection documenting the history of the city, including the Safety Harbor Herald Newspaper in print and electronic formats.

Electronic Resources

The library provides access to the electronic resources to support needs of the public including:

  1. Florida Electronic Library (state funded)
  2. PPLC subscription databases (cooperatively purchased)
  3. City funded electronic resources selected to enhance local collections

Guiding Factors:

  • Scope and coverage, including remote or in-house usage 
  • Ease of use by public and evaluation of usage statistics
  • Quality of content
  • Licensing restrictions
  • Cost and sustainability

Adult Literacy and (ESOL) English as a Second Language

The library provides adult literacy, basic adult education resources, pre-GED, GED, TOEFL, and English as a Second Language materials in all formats for adult literacy, ESOL student and literacy tutors. 

Guiding Factors:

  • Materials to enhance reading and writing abilities
  • Select instructional materials to enhance and supplement the literacy collection at the Literacy Council of Upper Pinellas 
  • Select easy vocabulary materials for adults covering daily life, general health, citizenship, consumer issues, parenting, employment, and safety
  • Contemporary stories for developing readers

Spanish Language Collection

The library maintains a small collection of Spanish materials in all multiple formats for all ages.  

Guiding Factors:

  • Current, popular materials


The library provides a downloadable eBook collection through the PPLC through OverDrive. Selection of eBooks for the Libby by OverDrive collection are cooperatively purchased by area library representatives. eBooks are also available on hoopla.

Guiding Factors:

  • Popular and bestselling nonfiction and fiction titles
  • Budget constraints
  • Number of hold requests on popular items

Tool Library

The library houses a tool library with popular tools for home renovation projects. Tools are added and replacement parts are purchased as needed to maintain working items. Funds are budgeted annually for new and, replacement tools and repair. 

Seed Library

The library houses a seed library for community enjoyment. Seeds are obtained by requesting annual donations from seed companies. Funds are also budgeted annually to purchase directly. 

Miscellaneous Collections

The library has several miscellaneous collections including games, Wi-Fi hotspots, STEAM Kits, backpacks, ukuleles, museum passes, bike locks, recreational equipment, and more. Library staff will continue to add collections of unique items to keep the library relevant and attract new patrons.  

Deaf Literacy Collection

The library houses a Deaf Literacy Collection sponsored by PPLC supporting the deaf community and deaf literacy programs. Material selection is the responsibility of the Deaf Literacy Coordinator.

Removal and Weeding of Library Materials

As the technology changes, information takes on many different forms, including electronic resources and eBooks. Public libraries today are still very much about print materials. Physical books become outdated and worn and sometimes the information contained is no longer relevant and the book is “weeded” or removed from the collection. Outdated books or those that are tattered or irrelevant may be sold in the Friends of the Library quarterly book sales or disposed. Book disposal can be misinterpreted by taxpayers. Shelf space is one of a public library’s most valuable assets and must be used for books that are factually correct, current, in good condition, and used by the community. The public library’s role is to provide our community with the best possible current collections. This means that some of our collections are discarded. Library staff makes disposal decisions as stewards of the public dollar, using reporting methods to ensure our collections are relevant, clean, and up to date.

Guiding Factors:

  • Physical condition
  • Relevancy
  • Frequency of use, last date of circulation
  • Number of copies available in other PPLC libraries and duplicate copies at SHPL
  • Accuracy of material and timeliness

Requests for Review and Reconsideration of Materials: 

The library believes in freedom of information for all and does not restrict a patron’s right to read, view, or listen to library materials. Some patrons may find offensive or inappropriate material in the collection.  

Pinellas County residents with a valid Pinellas Public Library Cooperative (PPLC) card may request a review of library materials they believe are inappropriate by completing a Request for Review of Library Materials form. The form is available at all services desks upon request. 

Prior to submitting the form, the requestor must read in its entirety, the item requested for review. The form must be filled out, signed, and dated to be accepted. The form and item(s) are reviewed by the Library Director and the Library Advisory Committee. A copy of the reviewed form and decision reached by the committee is sent to the requestor and the City Manager. 

After a decision is made, the library will not review subsequent requests for the same material for a period of three years. 


Revised/Approved February 2021. Amended by LAC July 2023.