Guide to the Research Collections

- Section -- II: -- THE HUMANITIES


In the field of juvenile literature, the book selection policies of the Research Libraries bear directly upon the policy of the Central Children's Room in the Donnell Library Center of the Branch Libraries. The original policy of the Research Libraries was to acquire selectively only foreign children's literature, leaving the selection of English and American children's books entirely to the Central Children's Room, along with the general acquisition of books in other languages. This policy has changed considerably. By 1965 the General Research and Humanities Division of the Research Libraries (responsible for book selection in the field of the humanities in Western European languages and in English) was acquiring selectively English and American children's books representative of book production and illustration. Only in German was any systematic selection of children's books as literature being made. Old or rare children's books were not acquired. These Research Libraries collecting guidelines were qualified as follows:

Other divisions also acquire children's material of specialized subject interest. The American History Division is particularly interested in children's books about American Indians, while the Local History and Genealogy Division is concerned with those about New York City and, to a lesser extent, children's books about heraldry. Works in series which have a reputation of being well illustrated, such as the Junior American Heritage series in the American History Division, are obtained. Art books for children are not acquired. Very few purchases are made of old or rare children's books, although many have been accumulated over the years by the Rare Book Division. Purchases made by that division are in the field of English and American books. The Berg and Arents Collections have no interest in children's books unless the books fall within their collecting fields. The Oriental and Slavonic Divisions do not purchase current children's books unless they are by an established author of adult works, illustrated by a well-known illustrator, or represent a significant edition of a classic. Occasionally a textbook is acquired if it illustrates a historical change in the language. The Jewish Division buys selectively in Hebrew and Yiddish children's literature. The Economic and Public Affairs Division is highly selective in its acquisition of children's books; for example, it will buy a book on communism written for children or one on the New York Stock Exchange written for teen-agers. The Science and Technology Research Center does not buy or accept current children's books. The Map Division contains a representative selection of books on the elementary techniques of map making and map reading written for children.

Plays written for children are not acquired unless they have been professionally produced, but material about the amateur and professional productions of children's plays and material about any kind of professional entertainment--magic, puppet shows, children's films--is acquired by the Theatre Collection. The Music Division only occasionally acquires children's books. The Dance Collection is highly selective in acquiring children's materials which can be used by the teacher; these include books on singing games and dances at an elementary level, and ballet plots, synopses, and biographies at a junior high school and high school level. These materials are supplemented by a good collection of children's play, music, and folk songs in the Central Children's Room.