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Library Policies

The goal of Library policy is to ensure all community members may enjoy Library services equally.

Collection Development

Mission Statement
The mission of the Department of Library and Recreation Services is to inspire a healthy community by fostering lifelong learning and play through progressive services and programs for all.

To meet this mission, the Sunnyvale Public Library provides a wide range of materials that will appeal to all ages, backgrounds and educational levels.

Purpose of the Collection Development Policy
This formal policy serves five vital purposes:

  • Acts as a blueprint for our collection, guiding staff in decision-making regarding the selection, management, and preservation of the collection.
  • Identifies responsibilities for developing collections.
  • Establishes parameters and priorities, guiding staff in developing budgets and allocating resources.
  • Informs the public of the principles guiding our collection development.
  • States the Library’s commitment to intellectual freedom and to providing information expressing a variety of viewpoints.

Intellectual Freedom
As a public institution committed to the principles of intellectual freedom, the Library supports each patron’s fundamental right of access to all expressions of knowledge, creativity and intellectual activity and recognizes its obligation to provide as wide a spectrum of materials as possible. The Library believes that the use of library materials is an individual and private matter. All customers are free to select or reject materials for themselves; they may not restrict the freedom of others to read or inquire. Parents have the primary responsibility to guide and direct the use of library materials by their own minor children. Responsibility for what minors read rests with their parents or legal guardians. Selection of adult material is not restricted by the possibility that these materials may come into the possession of minors. The library does not act in loco parentis.

On April 8, 2003, the Sunnyvale City Council and Board of Library Trustees, on behalf of the Library and the community, adopted and declared support for the following:

Collection Description
The Sunnyvale Public Library provides a contemporary, relevant collection of resources in a wide range of formats to meet the informational, educational and recreational needs of the Sunnyvale community. The Library strives to meet these needs within the limitations of space, staffing and budget.

The Library is a popular materials collection with special emphasis on materials that promote early childhood development, support formal education and independent learning, and further the acquisition of information literacy and technology skills by all library users throughout their life. Textbooks and materials of a highly technical or specialized nature more appropriate for research or special libraries are generally excluded from the collection.

The Library extends access to information beyond its own collection by participating in resource sharing with other library systems on the local, regional, and state level, and by providing access to online sources of information through the Internet and other digital materials.

Responsibility for Selection
The authority and responsibility for the selection and withdrawal of library materials rests ultimately with the Director of Library and Recreation Services. Under his/her direction, selection and withdrawal is delegated to professional collection development library staff. These decisions are made within the limitations of available space and funding, and within the scope of the written collection development plan. Materials will be selected based upon their value to the collection as a whole.

Selection Criteria
All materials, whether purchased or donated, are considered using the criteria below. An item need not meet all these standards to be added to the collection:

  • Contribution to the diversity and scope of the collection
  • Contemporary significance
  • Relevance to the needs and interests of the public, including languages available
  • Popular appeal
  • Reputation or significance of the creator(s)
  • Available space 
  • Published evaluations or reviews
  • Impact on materials expenditure plan 
  • Accessibility of material
  • Accuracy and timeliness
  • Relevance of format and content to the intended audience
  • Effectiveness and suitability of format in communicating the content;
  • Receipt or nomination for awards
  • Physical format and/or quality of production. Additional format criteria are considered when selecting digital content, including:
    • Accessibility
    • Availability of library licensing
    • Ease of use
    • Equipment, training, and technology requirements
    • License agreement requirements and vendor support
    • Unique content

Collection Maintenance
To maintain the quality and relevance of the collection, the Library regularly withdraws materials that are worn, outdated, superseded, or obsolete. Space limitations require that duplicate copies no longer in demand also be discarded.

As materials become worn, damaged, or lost, replacement will be based on:

  • Availability
  • Ongoing demand or need
  • Alternate options better serving the same purpose
  • Updated, newer or revised materials
  • Historical value in this or another library based upon mission and guidelines
  • Ability of another library system to provide the item or a comparable item

Reconsideration of Library Materials
The role of the Library is to collect materials representing varying points of view and different ways of life. Materials are selected using the guidelines presented in this policy and in no way indicate an endorsement of the author’s viewpoint by the Library. Any materials challenged by patrons will be reviewed carefully and respectfully, using the procedure outlined in Library Policy CD-4.

Donations of Library Materials
Donations of books and audiovisual materials in good condition are accepted based on the provisions listed in Library Policy CD-3.

American Library Association Library Bill of Rights
The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.
I. 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.

II. 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.

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

VII. All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use. Libraries should advocate for, educate about, and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information.
Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; January 29, 2019.
Inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.

American Library Association Freedom to Read Statement
The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label "controversial" views, to distribute lists of "objectionable" books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.

Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be "protected" against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression.

These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet. The problem is not only one of actual censorship. The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy or unwelcome scrutiny by government officials.

Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change. And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension. Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain. Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.

Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections.

We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture. We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend. We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings.

The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights.

We therefore affirm these propositions:

  1. It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority.

    Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different. The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested. Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy. The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process. Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these. We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.

  2. Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.

    Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought. The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.

  3. It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.

    No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.

  4. There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.

    To some, much of modern expression is shocking. But is not much of life itself shocking? We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers from dealing with the stuff of life. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves. These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared. In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others.

  5. It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous.

    The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for others. It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.

  6. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people's freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.

    It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group. In a free society individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read, and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive. Further, democratic societies are more safe, free, and creative when the free flow of public information is not restricted by governmental prerogative or self-censorship.

  7. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a "bad" book is a good one, the answer to a "bad" idea is a good one.

    The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader's purpose. What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has been thought and said. Books are the major channel by which the intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth. The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all Americans the fullest of their support.

We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.

This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers.

Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.

A Joint Statement by:
American Library Association
Association of American Publishers

Subsequently endorsed by:
American Booksellers for Free Expression
The Association of American University Presses
The Children's Book Council
Freedom to Read Foundation
National Association of College Stores
National Coalition Against Censorship
National Council of Teachers of English
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression

Approved June 1, 2020

Donations of Books and Other Materials

The Library accepts donations of books and audiovisual materials in good condition, and reserves the right to reject materials for any reason. All donations are subject to the provisions listed below.

  • Donated items become the property of the Sunnyvale Public Library.
  • The Library is under no obligation to add materials to the collection or to notify the donor of disposition of items.
  • Donated items may be reviewed for possible addition to the Library collection, based on condition and relevance to collection guidelines and policies.
  • Items not added to the collection are given to the Friends of the Sunnyvale Public Library to sell at book sales. The proceeds benefit the Library.
  • There is a limit of four bags or boxes of donated materials accepted on any one day from an individual. Donations must be delivered to the Library loading dock or to the circulation desk.
  • The following types of materials are not accepted: newspapers, magazines, software, audio and video cassettes, home-made recordings, Reader's Digest Condensed Books and encyclopedias more than five years old.
  • Donation receipt forms are available to be completed by donors. Values are assigned by donors, not Library staff.

Approved November 29, 2018

Library Displays of Artwork and Other Materials

I. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish a Public Art Program by which the City of Sunnyvale can accept artwork and other materials for temporary display in the Sunnyvale Public Library. The policy establishes the goals and objectives of the Library's Public Art and Display Case Program and provides guidelines for exhibiting art at the Library.

The Sunnyvale Public Library is not exclusively a gallery or exhibition space and is not a public forum. The Library is frequented by City employees and members of the public, including children, from a highly diverse community. Therefore, the Library will not display artwork and other materials containing sexual imagery, nudity, graphic depictions of violence, or any artwork or materials that create a hostile work environment for employees.

The policy outlined below will be subject to periodic review. From time to time, the City may adopt and incorporate into this policy such additional guidelines as it deems necessary.

II. The Sunnyvale Public Library Public Art Program

A. Goals & Objectives
The goals and objectives of the Sunnyvale Public Library Public Art and Display Case Program are:

  1. To enliven and enrich the Library environment by incorporating public art and other materials of aesthetic, historic, cultural or educational value.
  2. To enhance the aesthetic experience of persons visiting and working in the Library.
  3. To promote diversity by displaying artwork and other materials that reflect the social, ethnic and cultural fabric of the City of Sunnyvale.
  4. To increase public exhibition opportunities for artists who live in Sunnyvale.
  5. To educate and enrich the community be presenting materials relevant to Sunnyvale history and culture.

B. Administration
The Director of Library and Recreation Services shall administer the Public Art and Display Case Program, coordinating with other staff as necessary. The Library Director or his or her designee will:

  • Select the appropriate areas for display of artwork and other materials such as library walls and display cases.
  • Convene the Art Selection Committee as needed.
  • Prepare and monitor all necessary records and documentation.
  • Help coordinate all physical and logistical components of art installation. However, the artist is responsible for installation and removal of his or her artwork.
  • Coordinate publicity and media attention for displays. However, the Library has no obligation to publicize any artwork.

C. Maintenance, Protection, and Sale of Artwork and Other Items

  1. The City is not responsible for maintaining or protecting artwork or other materials while on display at the Sunnyvale Public Library. The artist, artist's agent, or lender of the materials must sign a waiver releasing the City of Sunnyvale from any and all liability for loss or damage to the works or items on display.
  2. The artist or artist's agent may include his/her name and contact information along with the display, but the Library shall not be responsible for facilitating the sale of any work of art. The Library's Public Art and Display Case Program is not intended as a means of commercial sales.

III. Selection of Artwork and Displays

A. Display Case

  1. The Library Director or designee is solely responsible for determining what items will be exhibited in library display cases. The Library Director may, at his or her sole discretion, work with an exhibitor and incorporate loaned materials into an exhibit. The Library Director is not obligated, however, to accept any materials offered for an exhibit.
  2. Displays should be of general cultural and educational interest to the community, such as historic photos and artifacts, natural history collections (fossils, shells), collections of children's toys or dolls, antiques, vintage games or books. Displays should include 3-dimensional items of appropriate size. Descriptive labels should be included if applicable. No items or services for sale may be displayed.
  3. If Library books are used in the display, they may not be checked out until the display is dismantled.

B. Artwork Selection Committee

  1. As needed, the Library Director or his or her designee shall convene an Artwork Selection Committee consisting of at least two library staff and one representative of the local art community appointed by the Library Director.
  2. Representatives of the local art community will be chosen based on their aesthetic expertise and may include artists, architects, curators and other arts professionals (excluding dealers, agents, or representatives of artists applying to the panel).
  3. The Artwork Selection Committee will review artwork according to the Artwork Selection Criteria set forth in Subsection III (B), below, and make recommendations to the Library Director.
  4. Artwork will be displayed for two months or for a period agreed upon by the Library and the artist before the art is installed.
  5. The Library Director shall have final authority over the selection, arrangement, placement and duration of display of all works of art.

C. Artwork Selection Criteria

  1. Artwork must have artistic merit that enhances the aesthetic experience of those who visit and work in the Sunnyvale Public Library.
  2. Preference will be given to artists who are residents of Sunnyvale. For display in the Children's Room, preference will be given to works of art by children.
  3. The Sunnyvale Art Club and Sunnyvale Photo Club may each display one work of art in the Library, rotating the pieces on a monthly basis, subject to approval by the Selection Committee and the Library Director.
  4. The artwork must be suitable for display to a diverse audience including children and employees. The Library will not display artwork that contains explicit sexual imagery, nudity, or graphic depictions of violence or any artwork that would create a hostile work environment for employees.
  5. Artwork must be in good condition and suitable in scale, materials, and form for display in the Sunnyvale Public Library for a period of two months.
  6. The Library will not accept works of art that, due to the manner of construction, materials, or any other factor, may pose a threat to public safety.
  7. From time to time, the Library may request artwork that is relevant to a special event or theme.

Approved April 6, 2009

Public Conduct and Supervision of Children

The Sunnyvale Public Library and the Board of Library Trustees welcome all visitors to the Library. To ensure that all Library users have a safe and pleasant experience, all visitors are expected to comply with the following Code of Conduct.

1. Respect the right of everyone in the Library to enjoy a pleasant environment and all library resources without disruption.

  • Follow all Library rules, policies, procedures and requests of staff.
  • Act courteously, respectfully and appropriately towards others; refrain from any behavior that is disruptive, threatening, abusive, or prevents others from timely enjoyment of library resources or services.
  • Keep voices at low levels; refrain from talking in areas of the Library that have been designated as Quiet Areas. Noise from electronics or other sources that disturbs others is not allowed.
  • Avoid conduct that is physically, verbally or visually harassing or threatening; actions such as unwanted or inappropriate touching or staring, exposing other members of the public to inappropriate sexual actions or images or verbal threats are examples of inappropriate conduct.
  • Creating or emitting strong, pervasive odors, including excessive odors caused by perfume, cologne or food that causes a nuisance and unreasonably interferes with other patrons' enjoyment of the Library are not permitted.
  • Smoking, including the use of electronic or vapor cigarettes, and/or being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs is not permitted inside the Library or on Library premises.
  • Be fully clothed, including shoes.

2. Keep your Library a safe place.

  • Secure/monitor your own property. The Library is not responsible for loss or theft.
  • Provide direct Adult supervision of children less than 8 years of age anywhere inside the Library and on Library premises.
  • Keep Library entrances, aisles, stairs, doorways, and other passageways clear. Oversized items and/or an excessive number of personal items are not permitted inside the Library.
  • Refrain from running, jumping, throwing objects and similar activities that could cause injury to you or to others.
  • Firearms, weapons, fireworks, or other dangerous substances are not permitted.
  • Riding bicycles, skateboards, scooters, roller skates, hover boards and similar devices (other than strollers or wheeled devices required because of a disability) inside the Library is not permitted unless they can be carried and stowed away from the public right of way.

3. Treat your Library appropriately and with respect.

  • Use the Library facility, equipment, and furnishings as intended. Bathing, washing clothes, or placing feet or footwear on furniture are examples of inappropriate uses of the Library.
  • Consume only light snacks and covered beverages in the Library, never consume them near electronic equipment, and be sure to clean up after yourself.
  • The Library welcomes service animals; all other animals must remain outside.
  • Defacing, damaging, or destroying Library property, equipment or facilities is not permitted.
  • Personally monopolizing Library resources, including computers, tables, seating and other equipment to the exclusion of others is not permitted.
  • The Library is a place for learning; selling, soliciting, surveying, canvassing or similar activities that intrude on other patrons' use of the library are prohibited without written permission of the Director of Library and Community Services.
  • Sleeping is permitted in the Library provided you are not disturbing others, preventing others from utilizing library equipment, or creating a safety hazard.

Patrons should immediately report to Library staff any behavior that is inconsistent with this policy. Staff will enforce violations of the Patron Code of Conduct as described in Library Policy A-12. Enforcement of the Patron Code of Conduct or other Library Policies.

Approved October 1, 2019

Supervision of Children
The Sunnyvale Public Library welcomes and encourages youth to use library services, materials, and spaces. The Library is a public facility open to everyone, and parents and caregivers are expected to accompany and supervise children under the age of eight at all times. Library staff cannot act in "loco parentis" (in place of parents). Parents and caregivers are responsible for their child's safety and well-being at all times.

If an unattended child appears to be lost, is being disruptive, or in the judgment of supervisory staff, is jeopardizing his or her own safety, Library staff will attempt to locate the parent or caregiver. If the parent or caregiver cannot be located, the child may be placed in the care of the Department of Public Safety.

Library staff will not, under any circumstances, be responsible for determining whether a caregiver, custodian, or parent is a legally authorized caregiver, custodian or custodial parent of the child. Parents, guardians, and caregivers acknowledge the risk of leaving a child unattended in the Library and release the City from all claims which they may have on behalf of the child.

Approved April 1, 2020

Last Updated: Jul 13, 2021