Hampshire Libraries Stock Policy

The Stock Policy document sets out the principles and practices that inform the selection and management of stock within Hampshire County Council public libraries. Stock is defined as all forms of library material including books, audiobooks, newspapers, magazines, maps, printed music, photographs, digital formats and electronic information resources.

Stock ambition and values

Public libraries are diverse and have a broad demographic which is reflected in our stock policy. Our ambition is to be inclusive, dynamic, and responsive in our approach to stock purchase and coverage, making available a wide choice of published materials within the available budget.

We are committed to developing the library potential to meet individual and community needs. This includes promoting and championing literacy and reading. Our stock policy reflects the vision set out for Hampshire Libraries:

  • Promoting reading
    • Providing a service for everyone - championing reading for pleasure.
    • Developing children’s literacy, particularly within the Early Years (ages O-5) - giving children the best start in life.
    • Investing in Hampshire’s Digital Library - reflecting increasing use of electronic books and offering greater choice to readers.
  • Supporting healthy, creative communities
  • Investing in digital services

The values that inform our stock policy can be summarised as follows:

  • Literacy: commitment to invest in resources to support literacy and reading as an essential life skill and as a source of pleasure and enjoyment for all ages. To provide books of recognised quality across all genres and collections. To support learning and contribute to an informed and active citizenship.
  • Inclusion: informs both our role as an information provider and our remit to provide a diverse stock.
  • Accessibility: to provide books in a range of formats to reach as wide an audience as possible including audio, large print, eBooks and eAudio as well as books in other languages.
  • Value for money: to pursue cost-effective stock procurement through continuous review of supplier contracts and market trends.
  • Promotion: actively encourage promotion and display of books to open up reading choices
  • In addition, and aligned to our stock policy, Libraries Connected, a sector support and advocacy organisation, has identified four key Universal Offers integral to a modern library service. These key offers aim to connect communities, improve wellbeing and promote equality through learning, literacy and cultural activity. Alongside a Children’s Promise and Print Impaired People’s Promise, the offers are:

  • Culture and Creativity
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Information and Digital
  • Reading
  • Corporate and Legislative framework

    The Library Service in Hampshire sits within the directorate of Children’s Services. Hampshire County Council’s Strategic Plan 2021 to 2025 and other local plans and policies, as well as regional and national plans and policies, all have a bearing upon the strategic and operational activities of Hampshire’s library service.

    In line with the County Council focus on climate change, the library service is developing an action plan and working with suppliers on more sustainable models of delivering services.

    Public Libraries are governed by legislation ensuring that all members of society have free access to library materials. The main piece of legislation is the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. Hampshire County Council is required by law to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ Library Service for those who live, work and study in Hampshire. There is no specific definition of what constitutes a comprehensive and efficient service – it is for each authority to judge based on, among other things, local needs and available resources.

    Public Libraries must comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty (section 149 of the Equality Act 2010). This imposes a duty on public bodies to have due regard to advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it. Providing access to a wide and diverse range of library resources is a way of protecting and promoting equality with relation to the nine protected characteristics.

    Selection, provision and access to library material is also informed by legislation on Copyright and Intellectual Property, terrorism, race relations, local government, freedom of expression and human rights.

    See Appendix 1 for a summary of the legislative framework and copyright guidance.

    Hampshire libraries

    Hampshire has one of the largest library services in the country, with a network of 40 council-run libraries arranged into tiers according to size, catchment-reach and services offered. Each library, regardless of size, provides a gateway to the whole range of services on offer.

    Find your nearest library

    Last Copy Store

    We maintain a Last Copy Store for adult fiction and non-fiction books which are no longer in print but are considered significant in terms of their contribution to literature or their subject area. As such, the last copy collection contributes to the depth and breadth of our library stock.

    New stock is not bought for the Last Copy Store and it consists of last copies of titles sent from branches that meet the holdings criteria and are no longer in print. Due to its age, stock may not meet the standards required in branches. However, stock should still be in an acceptable condition for lending. There is no public access to the store but all items are on the catalogue and can be reserved.


    Spydus, our integrated library management system (LMS), is commissioned from Civica. An LMS is software that provides a database of stock and facilitates processes such as orders and acquisitions, cataloguing and circulation as well as a web based public access catalogue (WPAC)

    Our catalogue records are provided by BDS, a leading supplier of bibliographic metadata to libraries. We use BDS to supply our catalogue records for all mainstream holdings across physical and digital formats through a daily automated feed into our LMS.

    Reservation and request services

    Reservation Service: all items in Hampshire libraries that are available for loan can be reserved remotely on our online catalogue or in a branch. The pickup branch can be specified. There is a small charge for this service.

    Digital books

    We provide a wide selection of eBooks and eAudio which can be downloaded for free to smartphone, tablet, eReader or computer. The borrowing of digital books generally works on the same basis as print i.e. one-copy-one-user. However, each month we feature a collection of unlimited titles which the publisher has made available for multiple downloads and enabling many people to borrow them at the same time.

    Stock policy

    One single network

    Hampshire Libraries take a whole county approach to stock purchase and management and stock is treated as a shared countywide resource. As part of this approach, some stock does not have a ‘home’ library and will stay at the library where it is returned, apart from items that have further reservations or are in special collections. The benefits of this approach, known as Dynamic Stock, are that it:
  • Maximises use of stock as items do not have to travel back to a home library.
  • Helps to refresh the stock at the receiving library.
  • More cost effective in that it achieves substantial savings on courier costs.
  • Dynamic Stock also has potential drawbacks such as stock imbalances between larger and smaller libraries. Non-fiction, both Adult and Children’s, is not part of Dynamic Stock.

    As with any process where there is a fine balance between positives and negatives, Dynamic Stock is kept under review.

    Stock circulation

    We have introduced automated stock rotation plans for Large Print and Audiobook collections to help make best use of this expensive stock. Stock circulation is a key method of widening choice and enabling our customers to see as wide a range of titles as possible as well as making each purchase more cost effective. Stock items in curated promotional collections are also circulated across the county.


    Hampshire Library Service Stock Policy supports the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) guidelines on intellectual freedom which states:
    'Intellectual freedom is the right to access and share information, to intellectual activity and creativity, to expression and debate. A fair and prosperous democratic society is built upon access to information and ideas, the ability to develop knowledge and communicate with others. When a library and information service is funded by the public it should provide access to all publicly available information as far as resources allow. Access should not be restricted on any grounds but the law and the legal basis of any restriction should always be stated. Library and information professionals should have full control over collection development, management and access within broad policies set by their organisation'.
    See Freedom of access to information - CILIP: the library and information association

    Some published material may cause offence to some customers because of its religious, political or moral line, or because of the inclusion of alternative or controversial knowledge. Novels may include text of an explicitly sexual or violent nature and may contain bad language or content deliberately designed to shock. However, we will not add, or remove, any item from our shelves solely at the request of an individual or group. Material which is legally available and which has not incurred penalties under current UK law may legitimately be considered for purchase, consistent with our selection policy. We will remove titles that have been withdrawn by the author, publisher or library supplier.

    The selection of a given item should not be interpreted as an endorsement of a particular viewpoint.

    Material that is defined by UK legislation as obscene or blasphemous, or which incites religious or political hatred, cannot be stocked or displayed. The library service does not knowingly purchase such material and if any item becomes subject to legal proceedings it will be removed. The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and its successor body, Arts Council England, provide guidance to public library authorities on the provision of library stock that may be considered controversial in nature, i.e. inflammatory and extremist.

    It is recognised that some children’s books, considered classics of their times, do not always reflect the standards we rightly expect today. Where possible, we will replace such books with newer editions that include critical analysis or questions for discussion. Children’s writing is constantly growing and evolving. As such, rather than systematically withdrawing all stock that might cause offence, our policy is to actively select stock to appeal and to reflect our society. We seek out children’s books representing more diverse characters and written by a wide variety of authors. For example, we support among others, the Diverse Book Awards as well as titles specially chosen by Empathy Lab to help children develop an understanding of different ways of life as well as see their own reflected. The expectation is that parents and guardians will supervise their child’s reading, according to their knowledge of the child’s reading age and their capacity to deal with the content and subject matter. Books from a different era can be used as talking points to discuss positive and negative portrayals and to gain an understanding of the historical context and the difficulties many people endured and still do today.

    Self-published books

    We do not purchase books that are self-published apart from the exceptions listed further down. Self-publication is defined as being where an author has sole control of the content without the collaboration of an established publisher to provide editorial processes. We would include, under the umbrella of self-publishing, where a company charges the author for the actual printing or production costs of the book, or for some other part of the publishing process. This includes Hybrid Publishing, Co-Publishing and Partner Publishing, Joint Venture Publishing, Subsidy Publishing and Shared Responsibility Publishing.

    Our position does not imply any value judgement on the quality of self-published books which may equal, meet or exceed the quality of those published through established routes. However, libraries are reliant on publishers to undertake editorial review and legal checks to help eliminate factual error and content that may be viewed as libellous or counter to law. There is an inherent risk in the absence of such review. Editorial processes also ensure that the level of grammar, language, description etc which are used in children’s book is appropriate and relevant for the targeted age level. Library staff are not able to appraise each and every book to this level of detail and are not necessarily qualified to do so.

    Some exceptions apply as follows:

  • Self-published books that relate to the Hampshire locality will be considered for purchase. In these circumstances, content and legality remain the responsibility of the author.
  • Self-published books that have undergone independent scrutiny such as a nomination for a literary award. To be considered for purchase, such books must be available from our library supplier.
  • Stock donations

    Hampshire Libraries are unable to accept stock donations unless they relate to the Hampshire locality. There are a number of factors that inform this decision. Many donations are not appropriate for the library sector in terms of age, subject matter, condition, production quality and binding. Donations take considerable staff time in checking suitability, processing and adding to the catalogue. In addition, we no longer buy expensive processing materials such as plastic jackets making donations more prone to wear and tear and, as such, become less sustainable.

    Exceptions are made for local studies material relating to the Hampshire locality. Donations of this nature are accepted on the understanding they become the property of the library service. There is no guarantee that a donated item will be added to stock. Donations that are placed in an appropriate library may subsequently be circulated to other locations, sent to the last copy store or withdrawn and sold.

    Some libraries also accept donations of jigsaws as this service is provided entirely from donated items.

    Lost or damaged items

    Payment is required for lost or damaged stock apart from items issued to the Child 0-4 membership category. We do not charge for this membership category. However, adult and children’s books borrowed on other membership categories will be charged if they are lost or damaged.

    Replacement copies are not accepted. The payment charge is the full retail cost. Once payment is received, a refund cannot be made should a lost item be subsequently found.

    Stock selection and purchase

    The stock budget is reviewed annually and assigned before the start of the financial year. The budget covers both new stock and backlists used for replacements and gaps in collections, as well as creative projects and refurbishments.

    Performance monitoring takes place to gather data on issues, visits and stock use and turnover. Stock is monitored and evaluated through the use of various automated stock management tools, national and in-house surveys, reservations, stock suggestions and customer comment forms. Stock monitoring helps to ensure our stock works as hard as possible and that demand is met efficiently and effectively.

    Hampshire Libraries belong to a Central Buying Consortium (CBC) which enables us to achieve substantial discounts on stock bought through our contracted library supplier. All stock from our supplier is close to shelf ready on delivery. Apart from specialist stock, we do not purchase stock other than from our contracted library supplier as it incurs additional expense and staff time processing the items. We use specialist suppliers for large print, audiobooks, books in other languages, and OS maps. Our main suppliers are subject to procurement processes and tenders.

    Label placement on books: labels are applied by our contracted suppliers, following standard CBC instructions. The RFID tag, which allows for the self-issuing and return of items, generally must be placed on the inside back cover to ensure it can be successfully read at the RFID terminal. The inside back cover is also stronger and inner pages are not sufficiently robust to accommodate it securely. Once placed, it is not advisable to remove a label as it would damage the book and render the label itself unusable. While acknowledging that labels can at times cover up additional information added by the publisher, they are essential to library operations and do not usually affect core content. Labels are kept to a minimum and the CBC regularly monitors and reviews all aspects of stock purchase and servicing.

    Stock is selected in a variety of ways. Most new stock is ordered pre-publication as far as is possible to ensure our stock keeps pace with what customers can find on bestseller lists, reviews and in bookshops. Subject to available resources, we seek to purchase sufficient numbers of popular new titles to minimise waiting lists.

    Various resources are used to inform stock selection including performance statistics, bibliographical sources, supplier websites, publisher catalogues, trade publications, newspaper and journal reviews, book award nominations, and bestseller listings. In some instances, we draw upon specialist knowledge from organisations including statutory and third sector agencies with whom we work in partnership on a range of projects. Our stock selection process is structured to take account of feedback from both staff and customers. Customers can suggest an item for purchase using an online form. For eBooks and eAudio, there is a ‘Send Feedback’ option in Settings on The BorrowBox app that can be used to make stock recommendations. Not all suggestions can be bought but each one will be considered.

    Reservations are monitored to ensure we have an acceptable number of copies in stock to meet demand.

    Unsolicited items

    As our stock is purchased through our contracted suppliers and arrives shelf ready, unsolicited items sent to the library service will not be considered for purchase and will not be returned to the sender.

    Digital resources

    Digital publishing works on a different model from print. When we purchase an eBook, we do not own the book. Effectively, we purchase a licence to access its content. The publisher sets the terms and conditions for library purchase which might for example equate to eg 26 loans or licence expiry after two years, whichever comes first. Terms and conditions vary across publishers. The title will expire at the end of the licensing period, with the option to repurchase.

    In contrast, many of the eAudio titles we purchase are available for us to keep without restriction. This makes them a good investment and not subject to the wear and tear of physical formats.

    Not all titles are available in digital format. In addition, some publishers operate a 3-month embargo after trade publication before releasing titles digitally to the library sector while other publishers do not support digital library lending at all. However, availability has in general increased in recent years.

    Stock outside the scope of our collections

    The following categories of stock are not purchased:

  • Items without UK publishing or distribution rights
  • Items banned under UK law
  • Expensive luxury editions
  • Very specialist interest
  • Omnibus editions are not usually bought
  • Items in bindings unsuitable for library use such as cased, ring, spiral, loose-leaf, cloth, leather
  • Items intended for individual ownership, such as books which contain fill-in sections, activity and sticker books
  • Textbooks and workbooks
  • Books specifically published as reading schemes and marketed for the education sector are not generally purchased although we do provide some books that are graded to support reading development.
  • Novelty children’s books
  • Children’s books with batteries
  • Board books that have been previously published as picture books with standard text that is long and wordy
  • Items that are self-published or published by a company that charges for any part of the publishing process (see separate section on self-published books)
  • Layout, display and promotion

    The layout of our libraries is designed to be welcoming and to provide a range of facilities according to the size of the library which may include study space, comfortable seating and IT with free access to the internet. Larger libraries also have additional facilities such as cafes, learning centres, exhibition space, or we may share the site with partners and/or community organisations. We aim to make the best possible use of all the available space, designing flexibility into our buildings so that we can facilitate a wide range of community activities and events, such as rhyme and story time, reading groups, learning, events and talks.

    When considering presentation, we want our stock to be in good condition and displayed attractively in a user-friendly way. The main fiction collections are arranged in author order. Genre fiction is often grouped in separate sections eg crime, romance, science fiction. We use Dewey subject classification for non-fiction. The shelving arrangements are clearly signed. The layout includes front-facing and tabletop displays as well as themed promotions on various topics to help customers find interesting reading material.

    Children's stock

    We provide books and activities from the very earliest months of life and onwards, helping parents and carers to share and enjoy stories and support children as they grow and learn.

    We want our stock to:

  • Reflect and celebrate our diverse community so children can see themselves and their families depicted in the story.
  • Be available in sufficient quantity so children can have fast access to popular books when they are published.
  • Have a choice of books by well-known contemporary children’s authors in all libraries.
  • Be available in a range of accessible formats including audiobooks on CD, dyslexia-friendly books, eBooks and eAudio.
  • Have a selection of classic children’s stories in larger libraries.
  • Support children’s emotional and intellectual development and cater to a wide range of abilities and interests.
  • Provide a balance of familiar, reassuring books as well as books to challenge, motivate and delight.
  • Collection categories

    Children’s stock is arranged and labelled into collection categories designed to bring together books by broad age range as well as reading level and emotional maturity which can vary widely. These categories are determined by the publishing data that informs the catalogue record. There will be borderline titles that sit at the higher or lower end of any given category and can occasionally give rise to concerns. Although there are different viewpoints and tolerance levels for what may be acceptable content, we will in some circumstances consider reclassifying a title to a more appropriate category. In making decisions about reclassifications, we consider not only the subject matter but also the context and how it is dealt with by the author. We recognise that children’s fiction has an important role in raising awareness of difficult issues and, as long as this is done with sensitivity, our titles will cover a range of sometimes challenging subjects.

    Children from 11 onwards can borrow items from any part of the library including adult stock. This gives older children freedom to explore all collections at an age when they are usually starting secondary school.

    BorrowBox allows children to borrow content based on their membership type up to the age of 11. Although they can still see the items, children with a 0-4 or 5-10 account will be prevented from downloading eBooks and eAudio items that are categorised as Young Adult or Adult. From 11 onwards, they can borrow young adult and adult items.

    Although our collection categories are designed to help, it is the responsibility of the parent or carer to supervise a child’s reading material.

    Collection categories for children’s stock are:

     Early Years  Board Books  
       Picture Books  
     Early Readers  First Readers  One stripe spine label
       Young Readers  Two stripes spine label
     Fiction  Stories for 7-11  
       Picture books for older readers  Three stripes spine label
       Audiobooks  CDs and Playaways
     Information  Non-fiction books  School age onwards
     Teen  Younger Teen (11+)  T on Yellow Background spine label
       Older Teen (14-19)  T+ on Black Background spine label
       Teen audiobooks  CDs and Playaways

    The Older Teen collection includes more challenging content for young adults and is shelved as a separate section away from the children’s library. Some libraries may choose to shelve this collection with their Adult Fiction stock.


    The value of reading is well documented and contributes to better economic opportunities, improved cognitive ability, development of empathy and positive health benefits including reduced stress levels. We consider the provision of fiction books as a key element of our service and underlines our ambition to support literacy and reading as an essential life skill and a source of pleasure and enjoyment.

    We aim to provide a wide-ranging selection of titles covering all types of fiction and reading preferences such as bestsellers, literary novels, popular genre authors, book award nominees, debuts, classics, books in translation, books in languages other than English and books for emergent readers.

    We invest in fiction books in a range of accessible formats including large print, dyslexia-friendly, unabridged audiobooks on CD and Playaway, eBooks and eAudio.


    We offer a wide range of non-fiction titles to encourage and support:

  • Personal development, health and wellbeing
  • Lifelong learning
  • Entertainment, relaxation and leisure
  • Understanding of topical issues, current affairs and the wider global perspective
  • We aim to provide reputable information offering a broad range of opinion. The selection of a given item should not be interpreted as an endorsement of a particular viewpoint.

    Magazines: most libraries provide a range of popular magazines to borrow for up to 7 days. A much wider range of magazines is available digitally through the BorrowBox app and PressReader (which includes magazines across the world and available in many languages).

    Newspapers: the i newspaper and local newspapers are purchased for many of our libraries. Our smaller libraries take a local weekly newspaper. We do not have a policy to archive newspapers. National newspapers are retained for one week with no retention of the local paper. We provide digital newspapers through PressReader with over 2,400 available including coverage of many countries across the world as well as being available in multiple languages.

    Local studies: we work with Hampshire Record Office to review and develop our local studies offer according to size of library. We also work with HRO in the acquisition of publications by local authors relating to Hampshire and its history.

    Music CDs and DVDs: these have not been purchased since 2017 but some libraries still retain a collection of older titles.

    Music scores: Music scores are available individually and as performance sets for hire by music groups. The sets comprise vocal scores, libretti and orchestral sets. The service is available to any group that can collect and return the sets at a Hampshire library. Memberships and hire charges for the Music Sets Service can be viewed on the library website. Music groups outside Hampshire (ie outside the geographical area of Hampshire) are charged an additional cost. This charge is applied where a group has a registered address outside Hampshire.

    Playsets and reading group sets: We have a collection of around 1,300 titles in convenient sets available for hire by reading groups and over 900 playsets for drama groups.

    Maps: Most libraries hold maps for Hampshire and the surrounding area as well as some of the more popular Ordnance Survey maps. Full sets of Landranger and Explorer maps are held in selected libraries.

    Withdrawal, disposal and recycling

    We have a clear policy for dealing with the withdrawal and disposal of stock. Stock is retained until it falls out of regular use, becomes out of date, is replaced by a newer edition, or is in poor condition. Disposal of stock is by necessity a continuous process, and the amount of stock at each branch is ultimately determined by the space available to accommodate and display it. Before withdrawal, the last copy of each title is checked to assess suitability for the Last Copy Collection.

    Some withdrawn stock is selected for local sale in branches. All other withdrawn stock is purchased from us by a book collection company for onward sale or recycling. All proceeds go to the library service.

    Requests for withdrawn stock by community groups

    Ad hoc requests for general stock will be considered, although not for specific categories or formats of stock. We are not able to provide an ongoing service to a group. Our offer of ad hoc support would amount to a maximum of three boxes of withdrawn stock in any one year with no guarantee of condition and content other than it is adult or children’s stock. We do not have the resources for any additional staff intervention, and the amount supplied to a group needs to be balanced against the loss of income on the sale or disposal of that stock. Once a group has been supplied with withdrawn stock, it is their responsibility to manage and dispose of it. We cannot accept returns of withdrawn stock.

    Appendix 1

    Legislative and regulatory framework summary

  • Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964
  • Equalities Act 2010
  • Obscene Publications Act 1959, amended 1964
  • Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 and other relevant H&S legislation
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (including the Gender Regulations 1999)
  • Race Relations Act 1976 and (Amendment) Act 2000
  • Video Recordings Act 1984
  • Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988, Copyright (Visually Impaired Person’s) Act 2002 and Copyright Act Guidelines 2003
  • Data Protection Act 2018
  • Local Government and Housing Act 1989
  • The Children Act 1989
  • Local Government Act 1992
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • Human Rights Act 1998
  • Protection from Harassment Act 1997
  • Terrorism Act 2006
  • Sale of Goods Act 1979
  • Copyright legislation

    The photocopying of all materials in our collections is subject to The Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988 and The Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Act 2002. Generally, published works remain in copyright for a period of 70 years from the death of an author or composer.

    The Act allows limited photocopying under ‘Fair Dealing’ for research for a non-commercial purpose or private study, but does not specify how much of a work may be copied. However, the following is generally accepted:

  • Books & Periodicals: extracts up to 5% of the publication or one complete chapter/article.
  • Ordnance Survey Maps: a maximum of four copies of a single extract not exceeding A4 size. Copies may not be made for commercial purposes. Check with staff regarding copies of maps for planning applications.
  • British Government Publications: extracts of up to 5% of the publication. Longer extracts may be made from Bills, Acts of Parliament and Statutory Instruments.
  • Music: generally, it is illegal to photocopy the whole or a substantial part of a work. There are often several copyright owners associated with a music work including the composer, the author of the words, any arrangers and/or editors and the publisher, making it difficult to establish whether or not the work is in copyright. Under ‘Fair Dealing’, a short extract may be copied but only for research for a non-commercial purpose or private study.
  • In general, the amount you copy must be 'fair and justifiable'. You must not reproduce the copy, sell it, or share it online. You must acknowledge the source where reasonably practical.

    The responsibility is on the individual to comply with copyright legislation. If in doubt, contact the publisher of the work.