Collection Strategy Statement

Library Board approved July 21, 2015. Revised June 27, 2023. This related resolution was approved by the Board on October 6, 2022.


  • The Collection Strategy Statement reflects the diverse needs of the Oak Park community and the library’s strategic plan to facilitate anti-racism, engagement, learning, and stewardship.
  • The library believes that collections are part of the broader content of a library: its experiences, spaces, materials, and collaborations. We seek to respond to our community’s needs and aspirations through this content.
  • Through our collections – in all available formats – we work to facilitate equitable experiences for engagement, education, and inspiration. It is our intention that collections – as curated content – have measurable impact on the community.


  • The library advocates for broad and meaningful participation in the library, including the sustained use of materials. It does not promote all of the ideas found in its collections or the discussions those ideas may inspire but provides the spaces and opportunities for those ideas and discussions.
  • The library upholds the American Library Association’s Freedom to View, Freedom to Read, and Library Bill of Rights. The following statements from the Library Bill of Rights pertain specifically to materials and information.
    • Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
    • Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
    • Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
  • The library protects the right of the individual to access information, even when the content may be controversial or unacceptable to others. Privacy and confidentiality are key tenets. It is the decision of the library not to filter Internet access.
  • The library recognizes and respects intellectual property rights, and follows existing copyright laws.
  • The library supports open access as defined by the American Library Association. “Open access” refers to materials made publicly and freely available via digital repositories and archives, or research made available via peer-reviewed, open-access journals.
  • We are committed to resource sharing at local, state, and national levels as demonstrated by our membership and participation in Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) and System Wide Automated Network (SWAN), ILLINET (Illinois Library and Information Network) and WorldShare Interlibrary Loan. Our membership in consortia demonstrates our beliefs that engagement, supportive learning, and responsible stewardship are collaborative endeavors.
  • We are committed to being good stewards of the community’s tax dollars and community assets.


The library develops a meaningful, evidence-based collection that is positioned to meet the needs of the community and supports equity, diversity, and inclusion. Evidence-based methods include traditional metrics (circulation, usage analytics such as downloads and website visits, and usage ratios); qualitative metrics (formal data such as customer feedback, program and services evaluations, and library-wide institutional assessment); and less formal inputs via conversations with the community and professional insights in the course of community engagement. Tools include collection analysis software to monitor collections according to use and provisioning; an ILS (Integrated Library System) to make meaning from the use and circulation of materials; and other software to assist required reporting for the Secretary of State’s Illinois Public Library Annual Report (IPLAR). All of these methods are ways the library identifies and monitors the impact of materials in the community. We recognize and celebrate that Oak Park is unique, with broad and diverse interests. Each library location (Main Library, Maze Branch, and Dole Branch) is provisioned based on its purpose, space, and use patterns. We curate specific cultural and heritage collections that reflect the unique history and characteristics of Oak Park, including Special Collections, Art Collection, Local History, Multicultural, Transgender, and Oak Park Creates. We strive to be “format neutral”, defining physical and digital collections and content as materials to which we facilitate access for and with our community.


Selection is curation at its core. Material selection is defined by staff professional expertise and informed by equity, diversity, and inclusion; national and international news and events and publishing and social trends. Community recommendations are welcomed and are subject to the same criteria as any other material. The library does not collect textbooks, academic, or technical materials unless they are considered useful generally or supportive to the library strategic plan. The library adopts “digital curation” as an umbrella term for actions and strategies to provide stewardship of our digital assets. Digital assets include electronic resources, software and hardware, and devices. Digital curation takes into account the lifespan of the item, the product, and the product version to maintain currency, relevance, and sustainability.

As stewards of content, we carefully consider materials relative to cost, space, maintenance, safety, and customer interest. We ask such questions as: “Does the item have proven or potential interest to our community? Does it meet known or potential demand? Has it earned the attention of critics, reviewers, and the public to an extent that has created that demand? Are there similar materials already in the collection? To what extent are the materials available elsewhere in the community and library consortium? Can we anticipate, based on our ongoing conversations and engagement, those items and experiences that delight and inspire our community members?” Selection means identifying – and measuring – the impact of collections in the community.

The Library acquires contemporary art by diverse artists. Once pieces become part of the library’s Art Collection, the library has full responsibility for their physical maintenance and further development. The Curator of Special Collections is the person chiefly responsible for selecting and acquiring such materials, as well as deaccessioning materials as appropriate. The continued growth and development of the collections depends upon purchases and gifts.


To maintain relevant collections and content in all formats, the library must continuously evaluate and deselect materials. Criteria for withdrawing items include, but are not limited to: declining interest, poor condition, unnecessary duplication, or inaccurate or outdated information. Deselected materials may be donated to non-profit organizations, educational institutions, or discarded. These decisions are made to align with the library’s strategic priorities of engagement, learning, and stewardship and final decisions are the responsibility of the Executive Director.

The library will focus its collections in support of its purpose and enhance its public service through responsible disposal of unrelated items. The manner of disposition must be in the best interest of the library, the public it serves, the public trust it represents in owning the collections, and the scholarly and cultural community it represents.

Gifts and Donations

The library accepts donations of materials or monetary gifts for purchase of items, equipment, or digital content for the library collection. The library maintains established funds for monetary donations. Donations may be tax deductible and that determination is not made by the library.

Material donations are accepted to specific curated collections including Oak Park Creates, Multicultural Collection, and Special Collections. Any material donations become the property of the library and may or may not be accepted into the library collection, based on library curation criteria. Once the library takes possession of an item, the library is free to make all decisions in accordance with its established policies and procedures with respect to the retention, storage, processing, use, and deaccessioning of that item.

Patron Statement of Concern

The library offers a wide range of materials to meet the diverse needs of patrons throughout the community. Library patrons with concerns about a particular item are asked to complete, in its entirety, the Patron Statement of Concern form. The form will be reviewed by professional staff using the guidelines established by our selection criteria. We are committed to maintaining A Library for Everyone and a collection that serves the varying interests, needs, concerns, and perspectives of our wide range of patrons. Final decisions are the responsibility of the executive director.

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