Collection development

The Librarian, with the advice of the Library Board, will set policy and guidelines governing materials selection. This policy will be reviewed and revised, if necessary, on an annual basis by the Librarian and the Library Board to ensure that both understand, approve, and support the policy. The Library Advisory Board and the library staff recognize the responsibility to provide materials representing diverse points of view. The Ketchikan Public Library subscribes to and supports the American Library Association’s interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights and the American Library Association Freedom to Read statement

The collection is composed of fiction and nonfiction titles that reflect the unique character of this community. It provides educational, recreational, cultural, and research information in a wide variety of formats that include books, magazines, newspapers, maps and pamphlets, as well as non-print material such as videos/DVDs, cassettes, compact discs and Internet delivered digital databases. The Adult Division collection concentrates on the needs of the adult lifelong learner by providing popular and high interest fiction and nonfiction materials. A core collection of recommended materials in both reference and general works is augmented by a strong regional collection and well-developed marine, travel, health, crafts/hobbies, computer and “how-to” sections. The Children’s Division maintains a strong juvenile fiction and nonfiction collection, Young Adult fiction, and emphasizes the preschool patron, their parents, and educators. The Ketchikan Public Library does not collect for curriculum support. The Public Library can be an additional source of information and assistance but the school libraries are primarily responsible for curriculum support.

Selection Criteria

Each title is selected on its own merit and the needs of the audience for whom it is intended. Selection is made primarily on the basis of book reviews and other professional tools. Major selection tools for the Ketchikan Public Library include Booklist, Library Journal, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Kliatt and Video Librarian. Patron requests are given strong consideration. Publishers or dealer’s catalogs and “bestseller” lists are also are used for selection. No single standard exists which can be applied in all acquisition decisions. Some materials must be judged primarily on their artistic merit, some on their scholarship, some on their value as human documents; others are needed to satisfy recreational and entertainment needs. Each needs to be considered in terms of the audience for whom it is intended. General criteria considered in evaluation and reevaluation of materials for the Ketchikan Public Library include:

  • Funds and space

  • Popular interest and usefulness

  • Authority, effectiveness and timeliness

  • Attention of reviewers, critics, and public

  • Reputation and/or significance of author

  • Suitability of physical form for library use

  • Availability of material in other library collections

  • Overall balance in subject and point of view

Recommendations from library users are encouraged and will be purchased if they meet the above criteria. Interlibrary Loan requests are considered for purchase if within selection criteria. The Alaska State Library provides assistance in evaluation of special collections.

Cooperative Collection Development

The Ketchikan Public Library is part of the First City Libraries system. This means it shares computer equipment, a common database, and a circulation system, with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School district and the University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan campus. The computer system is fully integrated so each library can tell exactly what the other libraries own, thereby avoiding needless duplication and facilitating cooperative collection development. Materials owned by member libraries are, almost always, freely shared with all patrons.

The Ketchikan branch of the Alaska Court System Library maintains a collection of federal law and materials while the Public Library maintains a collection of materials on Alaska State Law. The Library also collects materials of general interest related to law and the courts, as well as, do-it-yourself business and personal law. The college library is a selective Federal Depository.

The Ketchikan Public Library also participates in an interlibrary loan program. The library is an active member of the OCLC Network, which provides access to the bibliographic holdings of libraries nationwide.

Weeding & Inventory

Weeding the collection is accomplished annually using the selection criteria and circulation statistics. An inventory of the collection is done yearly.

Selection Responsibility

The Librarian has the final responsibility for maintenance and development of the collection. The Adult Services Librarian is the acquisitions librarian for the adult fiction and nonfiction collections (the nonfiction collection covers from high school level and up). Approximately ½ nonfiction and ½ fiction titles are selected for adult interests. The Children’s Librarian is the acquisitions librarian for the children’s and young adult fiction and preschool through junior-high non-fiction collections. Approximately 2/3 fiction and 1/3 nonfiction titles are selected for children and young adults. The large print collection is the responsibility of the Outreach Librarian and is primarily popular fiction. Each librarian chooses newly-published, older and replacement titles in their selection area, with input by other staff members as needed.

Collection Maintenance


Materials are reviewed regularly and systematically by the appropriate librarians to assess overall quality and physical condition. Materials of current value but in poor physical condition will be evaluated for mending, rebinding, or replacement. Rebinding is preferable for long term retention if the cost of binding is less than the cost of replacement. Mending is only done in cases of minor damage or when there is no alternative.




Duplicate titles are added to the collection only under careful consideration and sufficient demand. This situation is driven by space constraints and could change in the future.


The library supports conservation and preservation of all historic materials of regional interest. The book collection of the Tongass Historical Museum has been entered into the First City Libraries union catalog. While the Tongass Historical Museum’s collection does not circulate, it is available for the public to use in-house. Occasionally, an item from the library collection will be donated to the Museum.


The library encourages donations of materials or the money to purchase them. Donations are accepted with the proviso that they will be evaluated for inclusion in the collection in the same manner as other materials, and unusable gifts will be disposed of or sold. The library cannot legally appraise gifts for tax purposes. Donors are offered a signed and dated gift tax statement as a receipt.

Format of Collections

  • Reference: Items selected are works in a variety of high interest subject areas, or which are included in standard reference bibliographies for small libraries. This collection is reviewed annually for currency and effectiveness. These items do not circulate so that they will always be available for patron use.

  • Alaskana:  Items of state and local interest are placed in the non-circulating Alaskana collection so that they will always be available for patron use and research.  Extra copies may be placed into general circulation, depending on value and ease of replacement.

  • Magazines: Subscriptions are heavily used in the library and all but current copies circulate. Back issues are generally held for one year for monthly periodicals and 3 months for weekly periodicals.  The Library’s subscription list is reviewed annually and titles are added or dropped according to use.

  • Newspapers: Subscriptions to national, regional, and state newspapers provide patrons with current information. All newspapers are kept for at least two weeks. The Ketchikan Daily News is kept in hard copy until microfilmed. Microfilm copies of Ketchikan papers are retained for research.

  • Pamphlet files: State and local historical items are kept for Alaskan and general interest information. Small items which present shelving problems, or clippings are included as well as information not available in other formats.

  • Maps: Topographic maps of Alaska and some local navigational charts are collected. The library, through an agreement with the University, is the depository collection for topographic maps of Alaska.

  • Video: Informational, educational, and literary videos are collected to provide alternate access to information. The library does not collect materials which will become quickly outdated. Price is a serious consideration in the purchase of videos. Outstanding popular culture and award winning films are included. Critically acclaimed foreign films, independent films and PBS productions are heavily collected.  DVDs are the format currently being purchased for the collection, but the library still maintains a small collection of VHS fiction and nonfiction.