Baltimore County Public Schools

The Baltimore County Public School policy states that each office in the Department of Instruction shall establish a Materials Review and Selection Committee to determine criteria for selecting materials to ensure that all instructional materials extend the knowledge and understanding of the Essential Curriculum. The following policy was developed by the Office of Library and Information Technology.

School library media specialists are responsible for the review, evaluation, and selection of the school library media collection. They are guided by the system-level selection policy that embodies the philosophy and procedures set forth in national, state, and county documents. Library media specialists work cooperatively with administrators and teachers to provide resources which represent diverse points of view, stimulate growth in thinking skills, and promote the overall educational program. Library media collections are developed to meet both curricular and personal needs. To ensure that these needs are met, library media specialists apply selection criteria and use recommended selection tools. All purchases, including gifts, should meet the same selection standards.

This selection policy reflects the philosophy and goals of the school system and supports the principles of intellectual freedom described in Information Power: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs, the Library Bill of Rights (ALA), Students' Right to Read (NCTE), and other position statements on intellectual freedom from the American Library Association and the American Association of School Librarians. Baltimore County Public Schools compiles with federal laws regarding Internet safety and protection by requiring a filtering proxy server on its wide area network. See Baltimore County Public Schools Telecommunications Policies and Rules.

Selection Criteria for Library Media Materials

Library media materials should be accessible to students of varied abilities, and meet informational and interest needs of all students.

Library media materials should be selected on the basis of assessed curricular needs. Materials should reflect the identified learning outcomes of the instructional program.

Library media materials should present facts in an objective manner. Authority of the author, organization, publisher/producer should be a consideration in selection. Materials concerning human development and family life should contain facts which are presented in a manner appropriate to the level of the students.

Library media materials should provide a global perspective and promote diversity as a positive attribute of our society. It is important to include materials by authors and illustrators of all cultures.

Materials should reflect the basic humanity of all people and be free of stereotypes, caricatures, distorted dialect, sexual bias, and other offensive characteristics. Library materials concerning religious, social, and political content should inform rather than indoctrinate.

Students have the right to information on both sides of a controversial issue. By having access to a variety of resources students will have the knowledge base to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. The school library media center provides free and equitable access to all information.

Library media materials should be available in variety of formats, e.g., print, nonprint, electronic, multimedia, to meet the needs and learning styles of a diverse student population.

Library media materials should be assessed for currency of the information as it relates to the content and purpose of the item.

Literary quality, technical merit, physical arrangement, and aesthetic characteristics should be considered as integral components in the evaluation of all media formats.

Library media materials should be evaluated for cost effectiveness in terms of accessibility, projected use, and durability.

Library media materials should be provided to meet curricular needs and the individual needs, interests, and learning styles of all students at all levels.

Implementing the Selection Policy

The objective of the selection policy is to increase the awareness of educators of the many considerations one must apply when making decisions about information resources available to students and teachers. The rapid production of knowledge as characteristic of the "Information Age" brings with it many challenges. According to John Naisbitt, "we have for the first time an economy based on a key resource (information) that is not only renewable, but self generating. Running out of information is not a problem, but drowning in it is."

Library media specialists take leadership in communicating to the educational community the purpose and scope of the selection policy. The responsibility for coordinating the selection of library materials rests with the library media specialist who seeks faculty, student, and parent recommendations for purchase of library media materials. Favorable reviews from professional review journals and authoritative selection references should be used when developing library media collections. Wherever possible, direct examination of materials is advisable to ensure that they meet selection criteria. Library media materials listed in the Instructional Materials Catalog, the Periodicals Catalog, and the H.W. Wilson Catalog have been evaluated by school library media specialists and approved for purchase.

Essential Curriculum and Collection Development

The major emphasis of collection development should be to provide materials which meet curricular needs. To assess these needs, knowledge of the Essential Curriculum and access to these guides is important. It is recommended that a copy of each curriculum guide be housed in the library media center. The library media specialist needs to be familiar with changes and additions to the curriculum and how they effect collection development.

Teacher Recommendations
Communication with teachers to assess curriculum needs and recommendations for purchase is an important part of the selection process. Since the library media collection is an integral part of the instructional and learning process, the strength and value of the collection are ensured when teachers are actively involved in the selection process. A sample form is included at the end of this document.

Student and Parent Recommendations
Suggestions from students and parents is also an important part of the selection process. As students seek information for curricular purposes or use the library media center for personal interests, students and parents are encouraged to make recommendations of specific resources or subject areas where information is needed. A sample form is included at the end of this document.

Professional Review Journals

The following online sources are recommended as tools to locate reviews. Most are considered professional review journals, e.g. Booklist, Booklinks, Multicultural Book Reviews, and School Library Journal; however, some are considered general popular review sources. Keep this in mind when using these sources. Many of the sources listed below are available for purchase on the Periodicals Catalog.
Review Resources

Core Collection Tools

Core collection tools are authoritatative selection references to help assess the quality of the media collection and the availability of resources from various publishers/producers. Unlike review journals which are published monthly/bi-monthly, core collection references are updated annually. The following core selection references are available from the LAMS Professional library or may be purchased locally:

Online Collection Development and Acquisitions

Using technology to work effectively and efficiently is a goal of the Office of Library Information Services . During the 2000-2001 school year, a most successful 10.529 million online collection development, fund tracking, and acquisitions pilot revolutionized the way in which library media specialists do business. In addition, we piloted the same process with elementary school libraries using the S.A.F.E. Grant funding.

Online ordering greatly reduces the volume of paperwork and ensures more timely delivery of goods, as well is a savings to the school system by reducing the costs incurred with the preparation of Purchase Requisitions. This process will be our "preferred" method of collection development and acquisitions. The Office of Library Information Services will continue to work with vendors and library media specialists to develop selection guides using the online ordering system and coordinate the process with the Business and Finance and Purchasing Departments of the Baltimore County Public Schools. For a description of the process, see the School Library Facts website created for the 10.529 million secondary library collection project.

Vendor Catalogs

Publisher and jobber catalogs can be useful in preparing orders and determining the availability of materials. The library media specialist should keep in mind that these are marketing tools, not selection tools. It is recommended that a Publisher & Producer file be kept only for those catalogs which are most useful and appropriate for the collection. Some catalogs list review sources, but they may not necessarily be positive ones. Also, some jobbers will prepare upon request subject specific bibliographies of materials, e.g., multicultural with reference to reviews. These lists can be used to facilitate preparation of purchase requisitions.


There are general selection criteria which apply to all library media materials. The following media formats require additional considerations.


Due to the high cost of materials, it is important to examine books with the following additional criteria in mind before purchasing:


Paperbacks are an inexpensive way to supplement the library media collection for duplication of titles, in-depth studies, special projects, and leisure reading. It is recommended that first copies of picture books be hardbacks.

When deciding whether to purchase paperback books or hardbound books consider the following:


Periodicals support the curriculum and provide leisure reading for students. Professional review journals and library periodicals for instruction may be considered for purchase. Consider access to full text online periodical databases, e.g., ASAP1 from Dialog Information Services.


Newspapers may be ordered as needed. Consider access to full text online newspaper databases, e.g., Baltimore Sun, New York Times from Dialog Information Services and the limited editions of the same titles on the World Wide Web.


Pamphlets that support the curriculum may be added to the collection. It is recommended that they be organized in an information file by subject rather than fully cataloged. Apply general selection criteria.


Reference materials in both print and electronic formats provide comprehensive information in both general and subject-specific areas. They also serve as access tools to information from other sources including school, public, academic, and electronic collections.

The following points need to be considered:


Each curricular office is responsible for establishing an Instructional Materials Evaluation Committee as set forth in the Baltimore County Public School's selection policy statement. As part of the review process, an annual Instructional Materials and Technology Exhibit is held to showcase instructional materials for sale by various publishers/producers. The exhibit is open to all teachers, students, and citizens interested in previewing instructional materials.

The Office of Library and Information Technology establishes a Nonprint Evaluation Committee to preview and evaluate instructional materials which are being considered for inclusion in the Library Instructional Media Catalog. All materials listed in this catalog are approved for purchase. Library media specialists who wish to suggest titles for preview and evaluation should request these materials through the Office of Library and Information Technology Review and Evaluation Center.

Considerations for Selection of Nonprint Materials

The criteria for selection of nonprint materials are essentially the same as for print materials. The quality of auditory and visual presentation should be considered as well as accuracy of information and the appropriateness of format.

Nonprint materials should:

Considerations for Selection of Electronic Resources

The criteria for selection of electronic resources are essentially the same as for print materials. Electronic resources such as CD-ROM, computer software, and online services provide greater access to information. Access to these fee-based database services should be 24-hours a day with remote access from home. Availability of network versions and site license agreements are also factors in selection. See the evaluation form for detailed evaluation criteria developed for the K-12 Maryland Digital Library Project, an initiative of the Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Library Development and Services and chaired by Della Curtis, Coordinator, Office of Library Information Services.

Electronic resources should:

Access to Internet Resources
Access to the Internet is a right and privilege granted to all students by the Baltimore County Public Schools. Through the annual notification process of the Baltimore County Public School Discipline Code, parents or guardians will receive a booklet of all behavior expectations, including appropriate and safe use of the Interent. Parents or guardians who DO NOT want their child to have access to Internet resources must submit a letter the school principal. The Telecommunications Policy defines use of the Internet for "educational purposes," outlines expectations for appropriate and acceptable use. guidelines for school and office web publishing, and copyright compliance. Go to the Baltimore County Public Schools Telecommunications Policy and Rules.


The school library media program is an integral part of the instructional process. As part of the instructional process, the collection development is based upon the belief that all students, teachers, administrators, and support staff should have open access to all forms of information relevant to learning and teaching the curriculum. To ensure access to quality library media collections, a systematic process for assessing and building library media collections is essential.

Collection development is the ongoing process of identifying strengths and weaknesses of library media collections in terms of student needs. Collection development demonstrates that funds are being spent wisely and that library media collections meet the informational needs of the curriculum as well as independent reading and viewing needs of students. The three components involved in the collection development process are:

Analysis of the School Community

In order to be responsive to the unique needs of each school, a collection development process must be based upon an analysis of student needs at that particular school. There will be some similarities among library media collections across the county, but the profile provided by this analysis will ensure that the specific needs of each school are addressed.

Assessment of the Library Media Collection

Collection assessment is needed to determine the quality of the existing library media collection. It is an organized method for collecting statistics on the age of the collection, the number of titles in the collection, and the ability of the collection to meet curricular needs.

Selection and Acquisition of Materials

The selection and acquisition of new library media materials will be based upon the needs of each library media center as determined by the collection assessment process and upon the availability of funding The Baltimore County Board of Education policy should be followed when selecting all library media materials.


The Annotated Code of Maryland (COMAR 13A 05 04) and the Maryland State Standards for School Library Media Programs specify that students and staff shall have access to "an organized and centrally managed collection of instructional materials and technologies." The Baltimore County Public Schools ensures this regulation by its policy that all materials will be cataloged and processed, U.S. MARC Records are made for all holdings, and these digital records are imported in school library automated catalogs and circulation systems. Go to Automation and Media Processing Center website for vision, policies, and procedures.


An essential step in collection development is assessment of the needs of the curriculum and student population with regard to library media resources. Library media specialists will develop yearly and long-range plans to assist in ongoing assessment.

Assessment of the collection includes taking inventory of existing materials, assessing materials in relation to needs of instructional units, and weeding outdated and inappropriate materials.

The inventory is a process by which holdings are checked against the automated cataloging system and the actual item to determine if the resource is still part of the collection and still meets selection criteria. The objective of this inventory is to ensure that the automated cataloging system accurately reflects the collection which is the key access point for students and teachers to locate information within the library. This procedure should not disrupt the library media program as automation of school library holdings greatly speed up the process using the barcode scanning feature. An annual inventory is recommended as the data is critical to making collection development decisions about the quality and quantity of the collection in meeting the needs of students and staff.


Weeding Library Media Materials

A good collection development plan must include weeding. The process of weeding is a key part of assessing the collection. It helps keep collections relevant, accurate, and useful; and it facilitates more effective use of space in the library media center.

Library media materials should be weeded if they:

Withdrawing Library Media Materials

Although the final decision to withdraw materials from the library media collection is one which is made by the library media specialist, subject area, grade level teachers, and other faculty members may be invited to review the items marked for withdrawal. All withdrawn materials must be sent to the Pulaski Warehouse /Distribution Center for recycling. Withdrawn materials should not be sent to classrooms; the same standard of quality applies to all other instructional materials within the school.


Library media specialists should maintain a CONSIDERATION FILE for future purchases. This file should reflect school needs, staff recommendations, and reviews. Technology has greatly enhanced the efficiency of creating consideration files, e.g., Follett's Titlewave. For items not available book jobbers who have online ordering and collection development, create a database to input ordering information for resources which are recommended for purchase and to output a list of resources to order. Some suggested database fields are: Title, author, publisher, copyright, review source, price.

Rebinding Procedures

Some books can be easily repaired by the library media specialist.
If a book cannot be repaired locally, a decision must be made to rebind or reorder the book.

Rebinding is usually not an attractive or cost efficient option. Books that are rebound will have plain cloth covers without printed titles, illustrations, or book jackets. The best candidates for rebinding are expensive reference books and textbooks which are updated and expected to stay in the collection. Out of print books should be carefully evaluated as to their merit before rebinding. Books which have dirty, torn or brittle pages should be reordered and not sent for rebinding.

The cost of rebinding will be billed to the local school library. The total expenditure must be deducted from the next year's library materials allotment. Although the cost of rebinding varies yearly according to the bid price, an average book can be estimated at 25% of the replacement cost.
The REBOUND BOOK form is issued yearly in late spring along with updated price list and instructions. Follow these procedures for books that need rebinding:


When a concern is expressed about instructional materials or library media resources, the library media specialist needs to consider both the citizen's "right" to express a opinion and the principles of Intellectual Freedom. School library media specialists support the right of students, parents, or legal guardians to reject the appropriateness of materials for themselves or their child/ward.
The Citizen's Request for Reconsideration of Instructional Materials form is used to notify the Department of Curriculum and Instruction of an objection to information resources available in the library media center.

Responding to a Reconsideration Request

The library media specialist and complainant will be informed of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction's committee action concerning the controversial material.

BCPS Citizen's Request for Reconsideration of Library Media Center Materials Form

Faculty Recommendations for Library Media Center Materials Form

Student and Parent Recommendations for Materials Form