Library policy - resources

This document describes the countywide approach to the selection and development of stock within the authority that aims to ensure the efficient and effective use of resources and consistency in stock management.

1.1 Range of stock

The library service in Surrey makes available for loan a collection of over 2 million books, some in large print, maps, spoken word material on cassette and compact disc, CD Roms, language courses, and DVDs.

1.2 Objectives of provision

Stock provision aims to satisfy the evolving educational, informational, cultural and recreational needs of the community in Surrey and support where appropriate the corporate policies and priorities of the County Council. The service recognises reading as a stimulating form of relaxation, promotes a range of stock formats to encourage the creative use of leisure time and supports individuals who are learning on an informal basis or searching for information. Stock aims to provide for all levels of ability and for varying levels of interest and to meet the needs of all ages by covering relevant areas of literature and knowledge with materials in the most appropriate formats available.

The service aims to make the most effective use of resources by viewing it as one county resource that is available to all service points in the network through the request service. This is supplemented by the County Reserve Store that holds a stock of older out of print titles and the national inter library loan service.

The library service aims to provide as wide a range of titles as possible. Multiple copies are purchased to meet demand where possible without compromising the range of titles purchased.

Adult non fiction lending provision aims to support the needs of the community for education, lifelong learning, recreation and leisure, promote local economic development and employment opportunities, and encourage the positive use of leisure.

Developments in technology are offering increased opportunities for improving reference and information provision. Provision is made in the most appropriate format available in terms of the currency, accuracy and accessibility of the content. There is no policy of passing on previous editions of reference material.

Adult fiction provision aims to cater for a broad spectrum of reading tastes by providing a varied stock through a range of titles in appropriate formats, including first novels of new authors, new novels by established authors, novels by established authors still available in print, including classic titles, novels published only in paperback, graphic novels and English translations of novels in other languages.

Foreign language material is provided to meet the needs of residents of Surrey whose first language is not English and promote economic and cultural development. Large libraries hold a shelf stock in the major European languages. In order to respond to the needs of the local communities stock in over 40 other languages is available on demand through the library network.

Stock is provided to support literacy and adult basic education.

Provision is made for children up to the age of 14 within a designated area. Designated teenage areas have been established in some libraries. Provision aims to help children in expanding their knowledge, coming to terms with new experiences, extending their imagination, pursuing their interests, encouraging reading for pleasure and understanding their own and other people's situations. It also aims to support a child's emotional and intellectual development, cultivate and extend the child's use and understanding of language by supporting and promoting literacy, further children's awareness and understanding of their own and other cultural groups and help those with special needs develop a love of books.

2. Strategy

There are two key strategies for the effective deployment of stock.


An emphasis on the principle that the lending stock should be viewed as one complete stock which is made available to users through the network of service points, rather than as a series of separate collections. The amount of stock held in each library varies according to its size and catchment population but all are part of the network and none are expected to be self-sufficient. It is regarded as a county resource that is exploited through interlibrary lending and stock circulation schemes.


A countywide collaborative approach to resource selection which aims to reduce staff costs by avoiding duplication of effort and expenditure on travel. It aims to make better use of resources by avoiding unnecessary duplication of stock and repetition in the ordering processes. Resource selection is managed by members of the Property, Environment & Stock Team. The Property, Environment & Stock Manager for this team has a countywide strategic role for resources, co-ordinating the allocation of the Library Resources Budget and monitoring its expenditure.

3. Banding

A tiering strategy is used in Surrey to indicate the range of stock users can expect to find at a particular library. Tiering influences the range of lending services provided in a particular community but the network provides access to the whole range.

Provision of material aims to be appropriate to libraries in each group. By placing libraries in groups for the purposes of stock management we can work towards a statement of the standards of provision in each grouping. This helps make clear to staff and users what can realistically be expected from libraries in terms of the resources that we can sustain within the budget.

An indication of the provision for each band is given below.

Group A

A comprehensive selection, covering both popular and high level stock, with a wide range of titles and a wide range of authors. Together the specialist materials held by Group A libraries aim to maintain the quality and breadth of lending stock.

Group B

A broad selection, covering popular stock and a wide range of subjects with a wide range of titles, by a wide range of authors.

Group C

A general but not specialised selection with a range of titles by a range of authors.

The libraries within each band are listed below:

Group A

Camberley, Dorking, Epsom, Farnham, Guildford, Godalming, Redhill, Staines, Walton, Woking.

Group B

Addlestone, Ashford, Banstead, Cranleigh, Caterham Valley, Dittons, Egham, Esher, Ewell, Haslemere, Horley, Leatherhead, Molesey, Oxted, Weybridge.

Group C

Ash, Bagshot, Byfleet, Bramley, Ashtead, Bookham, Caterham Hill, Cobham, Chertsey, Ewell Court, Frimley Green, Hersham, Horsley, Knaphill, New Haw, Lightwater, Lingfield, Merstham, Reigate, Shepperton, Stanwell, Stoneleigh, Sunbury, Tattenhams, Virginia Water, West Byfleet, Warlingham.

4. Selection policy

Legislation on library provision must be adhered to and compliance with the law is an overriding factor in the stock selection process. The following statutes can have a bearing on stock provision:

  • The Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964
  • Race Relations Act 1976
  • Obscene Publications Act 1959, amended 1964
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1975
  • Video Recordings Act 1984
  • Local Government Act 1988. Sec.29.
  • Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988
  • The Children Act 1989
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995

The library service aims to be neutral; it does not censor or promote particular views. Library stock must represent, responsibly and within the financial limits, all shades of opinion, including controversial and experimental literature. This policy was embodied in a statement by the Library Association, now the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, in 2001 that Surrey supports.

"The function of a library service is to provide, so far as resources allow; all books or periodicals. other than the trivial, in which its readers claim legitimate interest. In determining what is a legitimate interest the librarian can safely rely upon one guide only - the law of the land. If the publication of such matter has not incurred penalties under the law it should not be excluded from libraries on any moral, political, religious or racial ground alone, to satisfy any sectional interest.

The public are entitled to rely upon libraries for access to information and enlightenment upon every field of human experience and activity. Those who provide library services should not restrict this access except by standards which are endorsed by law."

Therefore, publications which are legally available are not excluded merely because they are controversial but are evaluated and judged by the usual selection standards and criteria.

The significant selection criteria that are applied are

  • Content - the educational and/or recreational value, currency, scope, authority of the author, reputation of the publisher and the availability of the information elsewhere.
  • Format and presentation - the design of the cover, quality of production and durability in terms of library lending.
  • Price - whether the item represents good value for money in terms of its content and format.

5. Donations

Donated materials are always welcome on the understanding that they are subject to the same selection criteria that apply to purchased stock. The library service reserves the right to use donated materials to the best advantage of the service as a whole and decide on the most suitable location for donated stock and to dispose of any materials not required as it sees fit. The library service also reserves the right not to accept any donations which are considered unsuitable.

The Library service does not accept any donations of videos and DVDs. Most of the major film distribution companies no longer permit libraries to rent out their retail film titles. Our suppliers only sell to us on the understanding that we abide by this ruling. If donated retail copies find their way onto the library shelves and are borrowed, criminal proceedings could follow.

6. Requests

Requests for the purchase of books are a useful source for selection. Their acquisition depends on cost, subject matter, the availability of alternative titles, physical format and whether the item can still be purchased. Some requests not purchased for stock may be fulfilled in a more appropriate and cost effective way through use of the regional and national inter-library lending network.

7. Stock circulation

A systematic programme of stock circulation aims to improve the choice of titles on the shelves for readers and increase the use made of particular titles. The use in a number of areas of stock of the facility offered by the library computer system to use pre-determined rotation plans to trigger relocation to the next library on the rota reduces the staffing effort in identifying suitable stock for circulation. In addition local circulation arrangements supplement the automatic rotation to meet local customer requirements.

8. Disposal of stock

Items no longer required through lack of issues, condition or currency are withdrawn from stock. Items of potential interest to subject specialisation schemes may be offered to the relevant organisations. Items of potential value may be offered for sale through reputable book dealers. Other items are offered for sale in booksales in libraries. The price of items in booksales may be reduced at the discretion of Library Managers.

9. Non book materials

The primary purpose of stocking DVDs is to cover the cost and raise the maximum possible surplus income.

The main criterion for the selection of this stock will be that the item selected has the highest potential to make issues and thus recover its cost as quickly as possible and make the maximum surplus income.

All libraries collaborate to ensure that the stock performs as well as it can, to maximise the benefit to the service as a whole. Stock management policy is systematised, and designed to be consistent across the County. Stocks are constantly refreshed and regularly weeded to ensure the best performance. The sale of items no longer meeting their issue potential is managed to bring the best return. There is no policy of retention of worthwhile but low issuing items in branch collections.

The range of DVDs purchased aims to reflect the educational, informational, cultural and leisure interests of the community.

The purchasing targets that are set for this stock are based on the issue performance and profitability of individual branches.

The range of the lending stock of CD ROM's is limited by copyright clearance agreements which allow them to be borrowed from public libraries.

Spoken word provision aims to provide entertainment and relaxation and allow access to services to those unable to read through age and disability. The range of material purchased is as broad as possible incorporating both abridged and unabridged titles. All libraries have spoken word on cassette. Those in Groups A and B and C have collections of spoken word on CD.

10. Stock maintenance

Staff time is committed to a regular programme of stock maintenance to inform the stock profiling process and ensure the stock on the shelves is in good physical condition, contains up to date information and has current appeal.

In addition a framework for organising stock management activity in libraries to ensure that stock levels are sustainable has been established through close communication between the Property, Environment and Stock Team and Library Managers on the maintenance of stock.

April 2009.

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