Collection Development Plan

Collection Development Plan


Tompkins County Public Library and the Community

Tompkins County is a mix of city and country, rural, urban, and suburban. About 49% of the residents live within the City and Town of Ithaca, while the remaining population resides in the surrounding towns and villages of Caroline, Danby, Dryden, Enfield, Groton, Lansing, Newfield, Trumansburg, and Ulysses.

The presence of Cornell University, Ithaca College, and Tompkins Cortland Community College results in a highly educated, informed, and mobile user population. Their faculty, students, staff, and family members are frequent users of this Library.

Tompkins County Public Library was founded in 1864 as the Cornell Free Library, a gift from Ezra Cornell to the citizens of Ithaca, and now serves all residents of Tompkins County. As the Central Library for the Finger Lakes Library System, Tompkins County Public Library also serves libraries in the counties of Cayuga, Cortland, Tioga, and Seneca.

The Library is the largest and busiest public library within the five county regions. Resource sharing through interlibrary loan enables virtually unlimited access to other library collections in the System and across the country.


Objectives of the Collection

The Library is responsible for providing materials to patrons of all ages, backgrounds and opinions. The collection also serves the general educational interest, recreational, and entertainment needs of the public, and reflects the racial, ethnic and cultural diversity of the community.

Widespread interest and usage are the most powerful influence on the Library’s collection. The collection is presented to provide individual access to information and materials in various formats, and to serve a wide variety of needs:

  • To encourage and enhance personal, artistic, and intellectual growth
  • To educate and to inform
  • To promote the joy and fun of reading
  • To encourage lifelong learning

The Library neither encourages nor discourages any particular viewpoint. No material will be excluded because of the race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political or social views of the author. Selection of the materials by the Library does not mean the Library endorses the content or the views expressed in those materials.



Collection management decisions are the responsibility of the professional staff.  Collection development supports the Library’s mission statement and strategic plan.

Selection of materials is based primarily on generally positive reviews in credible sources, such as trade and popular journals and magazines, subject bibliographies, annual lists of recommended titles, catalogs and websites. All collection materials are evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Appeal to community needs and interests
  • Appropriate for intended audience
  • Support or enhance library collections, programs and services
  • Literary and artistic merit
  • Authority, accuracy, clarity and integrity of content
  • Author/publisher reputation and significance to a wide audience
  • Persistent and/or timely value
  • Suitable and generally accessible format for library and/or home use
  • Quality and suitability of the physical format and medium
  • Cost proportionate to expected use and ability to collect on item loss
  • Availability from member libraries in the Finger Lakes Library System

Individual items may be selected if their inclusion will contribute to the range of viewpoints in the collection as a whole and the effectiveness of the Library’s ability to serve its community.

The Library encourages public suggestion of items and subjects to be considered for the collection. Serious consideration will be given to purchasing patron-requested materials when these requests meet collection objectives. Remaining requests may be met through resource sharing with other libraries, electronic retrieval or other means. Suggestions can be made through the library’s website or by visiting a service desk.

New York State Library Central Book Aid (CBA) expenditures should strengthen services to the entire library system rather than services that are primarily for the central library’s local service area. CBA Funds are used by Tompkins County Public Library to purchase databases and non-fiction materials, regardless of format.


Gifts and Donations for TCPL’s Collection

Members of the public give, bequeath, or donate books and materials to the Friends of the Tompkins County Public Library, in accordance with the Friends’ donation guidelines, at the Friends’ warehouse at 509 Esty Street, Ithaca. The Library freely selects from materials donated to the Friends according to the Library’s selection criteria. All materials selected by the Library become Library property. Materials left at the Tompkins County Public Library also become the property of the Library.

Direct gift subscriptions of periodicals and/or gifts of individual periodicals are not accepted.

Monetary gifts and bequests to benefit the Library’s collections are directed to the Tompkins County Public Library Foundation and are subject to the Foundation’s gift acceptance policy.



The Library considers reading, listening, and viewing to be individual, private matters.  The Library believes that full, confidential, and unrestricted access to information is essential.  While anyone is free to select or reject materials for themselves or their own minor child(ren), the freedom of others to read or inquire will not be restricted.  Only parents and guardians have the right and responsibility to guide and direct the choices of their own minor child(ren).  The Library does not stand in the place of parents (in loco parentis).


Collection Review

Materials reflecting the diversity of values and viewpoints present in our society are included in the collection. The library is a forum for information and ideas. TCPL provides books and other library resources for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community.

TCPL will not remove an item unless it can be shown to be in violation of the collection policy. In order to have an item be considered for removal, a patron must submit a completed Request for Reconsideration form to the Director. If the item is deemed to have been properly selected by the terms of the collection policy, public use of it shall not be denied, restricted, or abridged in any way, nor shall an item be relocated. An item is evaluated as a whole work, not by excerpts.


Withdrawal of Materials

The Library recognizes that withdrawing materials from the collection is an important part of maintaining the Library collection. Withdrawal of Library materials is a responsibility of professional staff, who may authorize qualified staff members to assist. The Library’s withdrawal policy shall be based upon the same factors as the selection policy.


Approved by the Tompkins County Public Library Board of Trustees on September 24, 2019.

PDF Version of the Policy