Children's materials selection

General Objectives

The objective of the Library in providing collections especially selected for children is to make available materials that will serve children's informational, recreational and cultural needs for an age range from infant through twelve years, and for all levels of ability.

Selection is based on evaluation of materials, not censorship of ideas. A carefully chosen book collection will offer children a wide variety from which to choose.


New materials are examined by staff and/or evaluated from reviews in accepted sources before being added. Accepted sources include but are not limited to: Booklist, Horn Book, Kirkus, School Library Journal, and the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books.

Criteria for selection include:

  • Appeal for children
  • Contribution to the formal and informal goals of education
  • Subject matter of current and/or traditional interest
  • Acceptable literary and artistic quality
  • Suitability of subject, style, and format for intended audience
  • Relevance to present and potential informational, educational, and leisure-time needs
  • Reputation and/or significance of author or illustrator
  • Attention of critics and reviewers
  • Relation to existing collections and other materials on the subject
  • Availability of material elsewhere in the community
  • Volume and nature of requests by the public.

Materials may be judged unacceptable for certain general or specific deficiencies:

  • Lack of lasting quality in subject, format or style
  • Lack of sufficient usefulness or appeal
  • Presentation of obsolete or inaccurate information
  • Inadequacy in comparison with other similar materials already in the collection

Materials to be duplicated, replaced, or retired from the collection are evaluated by these same standards. Reasonable duplication will be based on funds and space available as well as current demand for specific materials. This rules out massive duplication of titles solely in response to school assignments, since this material should be available in the students' primary source of supply, the school library.

Members of the staff and public are encouraged to suggest new material for consideration and may also ask for reconsideration of materials previously omitted. Books will not be automatically withdrawn from, or added to the collections at the request of any individual or group. A form requesting reconsideration of materials is available for use by groups or individuals. The Children's Selection Committee will re-evaluate every item for which a reconsideration form has been submitted.

Audio-Visual Materials

The Library selects and maintains collections of children's audiobooks, sound recordings, and movies on video and DVD.

The criteria and guidelines listed above are applied to the selection of audio and audiovisual material. In addition, format, reputation of producer/distributor, component materials, distribution and purchase/lease restrictions, price constraints, product contracts, size of intended/anticipated audience, technical quality, appropriateness and uniqueness of content to the medium, and regional accessibility are considered. Selection decisions are based in part on reviews from such standard sources as Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide, Variety, Library Journal, and Video Librarian.

Because of the copyright restrictions on audience size mandated by most distributors of home video, the informational and instructional materials that are purchased are generally intended for the individual viewer.

Material produced specifically for instructional use in the classroom is not purchased. Instructional videos are generally at the beginner's level.

A wide variety of children's sound recordings on audiotape and compact disc are selected from the major reviewing sources, among them Audiofile, Downbeat, Booklist, Library Journal, Sound & Vision, and American Record Guide.

Audiobooks, on CD or cassette, as well as read-alongs (children's books accompanied by cassette or CD versions of the books with page-turn indicators) are selected using the same selection criteria as other materials.

Other Special Forms

Some large print editions of children's books are purchased, subject to the usual standards of selection in regard to content.

Periodicals for children are selected primarily for recreational use, their informational content being largely incidental. Exceptions are those periodicals that evaluate children's literature. Back issues of these periodicals are housed in the central Children's Room. These are provided for use primarily by staff, parents, students, and other interested adults.

Computer software programs are selected for informational and recreational use by children. Software is evaluated by the same criteria as other children's materials.


As a rule, the Library does not add to its children's collections display items (dolls, toys, etc.) that are not suitable for lending and use in the libraries.

Abridgments of books considered to be classics are added only when the abridgments have merit in their own right.

Books in series are purchased singly, with each title being carefully evaluated. Titles in publishers' non-fiction series may be omitted for the same reasons that would disqualify other single titles. Books in fiction series may be excluded, as other fiction titles would be, if they exhibit hackneyed plots, stereotyped characters or are poorly written.

Materials on the theory and philosophy of teaching reading are not purchased for juvenile collections, nor are workbooks designed for classroom practice and drill.

Textbooks are purchased when they provide the best or only coverage available. Basal readers are not purchased if they are in current use in the local public school system.

Special Subject Areas

In the area of religion, the children's collections contain biographies of religious notables; Bible stories; stories from the non-Judeo-Christian religions; books on comparative religion; and books of prayers, graces, meditations, or other inspirational content suitable for general use. Denominational teaching materials are not added.

Books on sex education, human physical development, and reproduction are carefully selected for accuracy of information and appropriateness of text and illustrations for the intended audience. These materials are provided for use by both children and adults.

High hazard sports, such as the Martial Arts, are represented in the children's collections by simple and elementary presentations that emphasize only the sport and defensive aspects of these activities.

Materials on firearms, automobiles, motorcycles, and the like purchased for the children's collections are of a historical and descriptive nature or stress instruction in accepted principles of safe use.