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Library Policies

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

Collection Development

The mission of the Sunnyvale Public Library is to be a gateway to lifelong learning and enrichment in a safe, nurturing and dynamic environment for the residents of Sunnyvale. In order to meet this mission, the Library provides a wide range of materials that will appeal to users of all ages, backgrounds and educational levels. Special emphasis is placed on providing materials that promote early childhood development, support formal education and independent learning and further the acquisition of basic information literacy and technology skills by all Library users. In addition, 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.

The purpose of this Collection Development Policy is to establish guidelines for the development and management of the collections of the Sunnyvale Public Library in accordance with the goals of the Library as stated in the Library Sub-element. It provides guidance for the librarians, as they strive to build a collection of library materials that will meet and anticipate the needs of the Sunnyvale community, and informs the public about the principles that govern the selection and removal of library materials. It states the Library’s position on intellectual freedom and censorship and finally, defines the scope and standards of the various collections contained within the Library.

Library Description
The Sunnyvale Public Library is a full-service library located in the heart of Silicon Valley serving a community of diverse cultural, linguistic and educational backgrounds. The Library is the information center for the community, providing a wide-range of reference materials, both in print and electronically. Committed to the concept of lifelong learning, the Library offers a broad choice of circulating print and audiovisual materials, along with a variety of digital resources, selected to accommodate the diversity of tastes, reading levels, languages and interests of users of all ages.

Community demographics influence the collections of the Library. The residents of Sunnyvale reflect many different ethnic groups and slightly more than half of the residents of the City speak a language other than English at home. Sunnyvale is a city of high educational attainment surrounded by several major universities, with nearly 60 percent of residents identifying themselves as working in management/professional jobs. Approximately one quarter of the population is under the age of twenty while the majority of the residents fall into the 20-64 age group. For these reasons a strong emphasis is placed on the acquisition of materials in other languages, technical materials and materials for children. The population is both well-informed and well-read and expects the Library to provide them with quality materials to help them continue the pursuit of lifelong learning and entertainment.

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. In practice, the choice of library materials by users is an individual matter. Parents and legal guardians retain responsibility for the reading/viewing/listening materials used by children and adolescents from the library collection. The City Council and Board of Library Trustees, on behalf of the Library and the community, has adopted and declared support for the American Library Association Bill of Rights and American Library Association Freedom to Read statement.

Selection Guidelines

Authority and Responsibility
The Director of Library and Recreation Services has the authority and responsibility for the selection of Library materials. Under his or her direction, the selection is delegated to the Supervising Librarian for Collection Development who oversees the selection process and manages the materials budget. Professional library staff are assigned responsibility for selecting materials in prescribed subject areas, based on their own specialized knowledge and experience.

Selection Criteria
Library materials are selected with the purpose of carrying out the goals of the Library. The librarians use a variety of resources to make their selections. These include trade journals such as Library Journal, School Library Journal, Booklist, and Publisher’s Weekly, publisher’s catalogs, newspapers and magazines, television, radio and online review sources. All staff and members of the public are encouraged to recommend materials for the collection.

Each selection is evaluated on its own merit and in relation to the collection as a whole, using some or all of the following criteria:

  • Current and future relevance to community needs
  • Demand
  • Accuracy
  • Style, clarity, presentation
  • Literary merit, significance
  • Importance of author or artist (authority and reputation)
  • Price
  • Format
  • Availability

Multiple Copies
Whenever possible, the Library purchases multiple copies of certain titles based on anticipated popularity and patron demand. In order to improve customer service and limit the time spent waiting for current titles, the Library attempts to maintain a ratio of one copy for every four reserves.

New Formats
The Library is continually seeking out and evaluating new formats in order to provide the most current products to our patrons. Decisions to add a new format are based on the following considerations:

  • Patron demand
  • Emergence of format and necessary hardware as industry standard
  • Availability of titles
  • Cost, not only to purchase, but to catalog, process and maintain
  • Amount of training and technical support needed
  • Enhancement or replacement of existing formats
  • Adaptability to RFID/AMH system

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

The Collections

The fiction collection is designed to serve the reading interests of a highly diverse community. It includes bestsellers, contemporary fiction and classics as well as representative works of new authors and works from a variety of national and cultural traditions. Genre collections shelved separately are mystery and science fiction/fantasy. Multiple copies are purchased based on popularity of the title and patron demand.

The nonfiction collection contains circulating materials in a wide range of subjects supporting the learning and information needs of library users. Included are books on job skill enhancement, self-help and individual growth, cultural awareness, business and consumer information, community affairs, recreational pursuits and general knowledge. Shelved separately is a College and Career collection which provides test preparation materials for students and job seekers. Materials for the nonfiction collection are selected by subject specialists and are organized using the Dewey Decimal Classification System. Duplicates of popular titles are purchased when indicated by demand.

General reference materials include bibliographies, indexes, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, atlases and statistical compendia which provide timely, accurate and useful information to library users. Reference materials are available in both print and electronic formats. Selection criteria of particular importance to reference materials are: currency, accuracy, arrangement, uniqueness of information, authority, documentation and level of indexing.

The Business Reference Collection serves all facets of the business community. It contains national and local company directories, industry surveys, trade and association directories, and national and local manufacturing directories.

Because of its designation as a Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC), the Library houses a collection of U.S. patents and patent and trademark materials in various formats. Also included in this collection are patent searching guides and other reference materials on intellectual property.

The Sunnyvale Collection provides historical and current information about the city and community of Sunnyvale. It includes books, newspapers, city documents, photographs, pamphlets and audiovisual materials.

International Languages
The International Language collection provides recreational and information materials to meet the needs of community members who use materials in languages other than English. Resources include books, magazines, newspapers and audiovisual materials.

The Library currently owns materials in Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese. Each language collection varies in breadth and depth depending on public needs and availability of materials and resources.

The Library is committed to developing and maintaining this collection in order to respond to the changing demographics of the population served. New languages may be added to reflect community needs. Inclusion of languages in the collection is based on patron surveys and local demographic data.

The READ collection provides material in print and audio formats to support adult new readers or new readers in English as a second language. Some materials are suitable for use in teaching or tutoring situations, while others can be used for individual study and recreational reading. The materials, consisting of both fiction and nonfiction, are written on a first to fifth grade reading level. In addition to general reading skills, the collection supports other areas of interest to learners of English such as pronunciation, conversation, vocabulary and grammar.

Periodicals are purchased for adults, teens and children. The adult collection is comprised of newspapers, magazines and newsletters chosen to provide current and retrospective information on a wide range of special interests in the areas of health, hobbies, business and finance, sports, technology, entertainment and current events. Periodicals are retained for varying periods of time. Included in the collection are a number of periodicals in languages other than English. The teen and children’s collections contain titles of general interest to those age groups.

Although certain long-established titles remain staples of the collection, others change frequently in response to community demand, publishing trends, and lifestyle changes. Indexing in standard sources also influences inclusion in this collection.

Some newspapers and magazines are available on microfilm.

Children's Print Collection
The Children’s Collection is intended to encourage children to become lifelong readers and information seekers. It includes materials in a variety of formats and a number of languages with a broad range of reading levels. The primary users of the collection are children from infancy through 6th grade, their parents and caregivers, and their teachers.

Librarians select materials that children enjoy and which satisfy curiosity, stimulate intellectual development and support emotional growth. The collection contains materials that are the best available for children, as well as items selected for popular appeal. Curriculum related materials are purchased which duplicate and supplement materials available in school libraries. Textbooks are not purchased. Librarians review the collection continuously for currency and relevance to a changing community.

Teen Print Collection
The Teen Collection is a browsing collection of popular materials for students in grades 6-12. It is designed to encourage teens to be readers and library users, as well as to attract other teens who have not frequented the library. Popular Young Adult titles in paperback, as well as classics included on school reading lists form the core of the fiction collection. The nonfiction collection is not intended to be inclusive, but rather to cover subjects of interest to teens and topics frequently assigned for school projects. “Hot topics” of instantaneous but short-lived interest are a strong influencing factor in purchasing for this collection.

Graphic novels have grown in popularity and become an important part of the Teen collection. Graphic novels are selected by librarians using reviews and recommendations from professional journals and web sites in accordance with the selection criteria laid out in this policy.

Audiovisual Collection

The Library collects audio books for adults, teens, and children, housed in their respective areas of the Library. Titles in this format are chosen for their appeal to a wide variety of interests. The collection contains fiction and nonfiction titles on a variety of subjects including language learning materials.

The adult music collection consists of works by major classical and contemporary composers, as well as popular genres. It is comprised primarily of compact discs due to their popularity and availability. The children’s music collection includes folk music, popular children’s songs and introductions to classical music. Music recordings are selected based on popularity and patron demand. Careful attention is given to selecting popular international music as well as music from this country. The Library recognizes that some music lyrics can be controversial. Selections will be made on the merits of the work according to general selection criteria.

Movies, Documentaries and Series
The Library’s film collection is primarily a browsing collection and includes both feature and non-feature films in a variety of languages to appeal to children, teens and adults. Films are selected for their intellectual and imaginative content and to reflect the varied ethnic backgrounds and other demographic and social issues of the community. Multiple copies of the most popular items are purchased to increase patron access.

Factors influencing purchase decisions for this collection include patron demand, popularity of the film (based on theater box office figures and sales rankings of commercial video/DVD vendors), and film reviews. An effort is made to select films from other countries, time periods and genres, and to provide films about topics that are enriched by a visual presentation such as travel, the arts, performances, and natural history. Television series have also become very popular. The Library purchases films with United States Motion Picture Association of America (MMPA) ratings of G, PG, PG-13 and R. NC-17 and X-rated films are not purchased.

Films from other countries that have not been rated by the MPAA are also purchased for the collection. Films containing extremes of sex and violence will be excluded when these experiences are an end to themselves, rather than part of the movie theme. The Library recognizes that many films are controversial. Selections will be made on the merits of the works according to general selection criteria.

The Electronic Database Collection serves the information needs of library users and librarians alike, providing easy, Web-based access to databases covering a wide range of subjects, including business and investments, health, current events, consumer information, teaching programs, and a variety of popular and academic topics. Library members may gain remote access to a number of these subscription databases.

The databases provide indexing and often full-text for numerous magazines, journals, newspapers, and reference sources, some of which are held by the Library. They also offer access to articles, reports, and listings that would not otherwise be available in the Library’s print collections. The majority of the databases are in English. Full-text Spanish-language periodical and newspaper coverage is also offered.

Databases are evaluated periodically based on user statistics and continued relevance to the community.

The Library offers a sizable collection of eBooks from a variety of vendors. New titles are selected each month with a focus on popular fiction and nonfiction titles along with other more specialized titles encompassing topics in business and technology. Although many titles are also available in print, eBooks allow the Library to provide more copies of popular print titles and extend its collection to remote users.

Another component of this collection is digital audiobooks which can be downloaded to a computer or a listening device. These titles are mostly popular fiction titles intended for the general public.

A small collection of downloadable music is also available for Library patrons.

Materials Not Collected

Due to limited space and resources, there are certain materials the Library does not collect:

Textbooks: The Library does not buy textbooks used by the local schools, colleges or universities unless there is little or no material on the subject available in any other format.

Rare Books: The Library is not an archival library, nor does it collect rare or unusual materials that require special handling. Many of the local universities have rare book collections that can be accessed by the public.

Genealogy materials: The Library collects basic materials on genealogy research. More specialized materials can be found at the Santa Clara City Library or the Sutro Library in San Francisco which offers the most extensive genealogic collection west of Salt Lake City. Library staff will, however, attempt to help the public locate the desired information using Link+ or online databases.

Collection Maintenance

The Library’s collection is systematically evaluated to ensure that the materials remain current and in good condition and continue to reflect the needs of the Sunnyvale community. Statistical tools such as circulation reports, collection turnover rates, and customer surveys help the selectors determine how the collection is being used and what items are candidates for discard, repair or replacement.

Library materials are discarded based on the following criteria:

  • The information is obsolete or inaccurate.
  • The number of copies is no longer needed.
  • The material is not being used.
  • The material is damaged or in poor condition.

As an alternative to discarding or replacement, some materials may be repaired.

Materials that are discarded, except for magazines and newspapers, are given to the Friends of the Library. They decide whether an item should be recycled or sold at the Friends of the Library Book sale.

Review of Policy
This collection development policy will be evaluated and revised no less than once every five years.
Approved April 18, 2012

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 4 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: audio and video cassettes, encyclopedias more than 5 years old, home-made recordings, magazines, newspapers and software.
  • Donation receipt forms are available to be completed by donors. Values are assigned by donors, not Library staff.

Approved February 17, 2012

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 you to the Library facility and hope that you enjoy your time here. Please respect the right of everyone to enjoy a pleasant, safe library environment. In order to provide a positive, safe and equitable experience at the Library, we ask you to observe the following rules and comply with staff member direction at all times.

  • Behave with courtesy and respect to others. Patrons exhibiting any behavior that is disruptive, threatening, abusive, bothersome or questionable in any way may be asked to leave the Library.
  • Wear shoes and shirts at all times in the Library.
  • Silence personal electronic devices such as cell phones, computers, pagers or music players that would disturb other Library users. Keep voices at a low level. Refrain from talking in areas of the Library that have been designated as "Quiet Areas."
  • Consume light snacks and covered beverages away from any Library electronic equipment, being sure to clean up after yourself.
  • Library users causing strong pervasive odors that disturb others may be asked to leave.
  • Smoking, drugs and alcoholic beverages are not allowed in the Library.
  • Keep all personal items with you. The Library cannot be responsible for unattended items. Unattended items are subject to confiscation.
  • Leave large or bulky items or objects that might create a safety hazard or nuisance outside the Library.
  • Use only one chair per person with all personal items.
  • Keep bicycles, scooters and large carts outside the Library.
  • Do not ride skateboards, bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, etc., that could cause injury to you or others, while in or around the Library.
  • Directly supervise children under 8 years of age, while they are in the Library. Supervision should be by a responsible adult.
  • Sleeping is permitted in the Library provided you are not disturbing others, preventing others from utilizing library equipment, or creating a safety hazard.
  • Use the Library facility, equipment, materials and furnishings as intended. Refrain from tilting chairs, placing feet on furniture or moving furniture.
  • Damaging and/or destroying Library materials or property is subject to prosecution. (California Penal Code Section 594).
  • Bringing any animals, except service animals, such as guide dogs, into the Library is not permitted.
  • Bathing, shaving, washing clothes, etc., are not permitted in the Library.

Approved October 2, 2018

Supervision of Children
The Library encourages and promotes family use of the Library, and its resources. However, in order for children to have positive and safe experiences at the Library, children must be supervised by their parents or other accompanying adults while in the library building, when using the outside materials-return machines, and on Library grounds. Children under eight years of age may not be left unsupervised in or around the Library.
Approved December 6, 2011

Last Updated: Sep 2, 2020