Collection Development

The mission of the Queens Library is to provide quality services, resources and lifelong learning opportunities through books and a variety of other formats to meet the informational, educational, cultural and recreational needs and interests of its diverse and changing population.

This Collection Development statement supports the Library in its mission and defines the purpose and objectives of the Libraries and Central Library collections, and it gives direction to their growth and development.

The Library is a forum for all points of view on current and historical issues and adheres to the principles of intellectual freedom as expressed in the Library Bill of Rights and contained within the Freedom to Read and Freedom to View Principles adopted by the American Library Association or ALA. It is the goal of the Queens Library to make available to its customers materials that reflect the diverse, multiethnic and multilingual communities served by its Libraries and Central Library collections.

The Library opposes any attempts by individuals or groups of individuals to censor materials selected for its Community Libraries and Central Library collections. Further, the Library's decision to acquire or remove materials from its collections will not be determined by partisan or doctrinal points of view. It is the Library's goal to offer the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those which may be unorthodox or unpopular with the majority or controversial in nature. The Library's decision to acquire material does not constitute endorsement of the material's content. Customers are free to challenge the presence of material in any collection and may request in writing reconsideration of the appropriateness of the item in question. The Library does not support or subscribe to any system of industry coding, rating or labeling.

The Library provides free access to all materials, in print, non-print and electronic formats, to all customers who are free to select or reject any item for their personal use. Children are permitted access to viewing and borrowing material in the adult collections with parental consent. Responsibility for a child's use of library materials, regardless of format or content, lies with the parent or guardian, not the Library.

The Queens Library consists of sixty-two (62) Community Libraries and a Central Library which serve the culturally and ethnically and linguistically diverse population of the Borough of Queens. Additionally, the Central Library special subject collections support the academic, professional and technical research needs of the Borough. The sixty-three (63) locations house general and special interest circulating and reference collections for all age groups: children, young adults, college students, adult and senior adult, in languages which represent the ethno-linguistic character of the local community. It is the Library's intention that the collection in each agency or library location addresses the individual needs and interests of its immediate community and to the degree possible, reflect the diversity of the entire borough.

Formats Collected

Print and Audio Visual Media

Books, large print material, music cassettes, music compact discs, videocassettes, 16 mm films, photographs, mounted pictures, music scores, maps, New York State, New York City and US Government Documents, books on tape, multi-sets (book and CD or floppy disk), magazines, newspapers, and pamphlets.

Electronic Media

The Library provides customers with access to the Internet and other electronic resources and supports the American Library Association's doctrine on Access to Electronic Information, Services, and Networks. The Internet is a global electronic network that provides dynamic resources and facilitates communication. Because Library staff cannot control access points that often change rapidly and unpredictably, customers are responsible for the choice of sites accessed (see Queens Library's Public Use of the Internet Statement and Copyright & Disclaimer Statement).

Material Selection

In addition to examining materials that come to the Library through publisher and vendor approval and Greenaway plans, the following are among the review sources regularly consulted as part of the material selection process: Kirkus, Publishers's Weekly, Library Journal, School Library Journal, New York Times Book Review, Multimedia World, Multicultural Review, Black Books Bulletin, Quarterly Black Review, the Lambda Book Report, Choice, World Literature Today, Video Source Book, Video Librarians, Stereo Review and sources available through the Internet.

General criteria for selecting material include importance of subject matter, timeliness of the material, permanent value of material as a standard work, prominence of the author, critical reception, suitability of subject and style for intended audience, customer interest. Selection criteria for electronic resources additionally include: ease of access, hardware requirements, comparison of content with other available formats, licensing requirements, networking capabilities, and staff training and customer assistance requirements.


The children's collections of the Queens Library serve children from birth through sixth grade, as well as their parents, teachers, caregivers, and other professionals working with children, by providing books and other media of the best available quality for recreational use, general information and elementary school level curriculum support. Literary excellence, accuracy and timeliness of factual material, and high quality art and illustrations are the standards met in materials selected for the Library's collections. Hard cover material not approved for purchase is not acquired in any other format.

Young Adult

The Queens Library Young Adult collections are designed to address the recreational, developmental and informational needs and interests, including those which are curriculum related, of youth in grades seven to twelve and to stimulate the interests of young people in reading and the world around them. These collections are intended to be browsing in nature, to contain current interest material, to be changing constantly and to be aesthetically appealing. Hard cover and paperback books and pamphlets are collected specifically for them.

Languages Other Than English

Although the Library primarily collects materials in the English language, in order to address the ethno-linguistic needs of its diverse population, print and non-print collections are maintained in languages other than English which reflect local community needs. These general interest collections, which are under the responsibility of the New Americans Program, are tailored to meet the needs of immigrants. They are intended to guarantee equity of access to the Borough's diverse population and are integral parts of branch libraries collections. The materials are further intended to assist in the acculturation process and to help maintain a connection to native languages and cultures. As the need arises, structured collection development programs are undertaken for specific languages.

The Central Library houses the Library's largest collection in languages other than English and help serve Community Libraries needs through rotating collections.

The Archives

The Archives, housed in the Central Library, exists to preserve, organize, and manage the use of materials which deal with the geography and the natural, cultural, social, economic and political history, both past and present, of the four counties of Long Island. Printed monographs, serials, pamphlets and broadsides, manuscripts, photographs, prints, drawings, maps and plans are collected to the comprehensive level. The collection is under the responsibility of the division librarian.

The Black Heritage Reference Collection

The Black Heritage Reference Collection is housed in the Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center and exists to document the African American experience, to preserve Black culture and heritage, and to promote and support the study of Black History and culture. The collection consists of books, films, videos, doctoral dissertations, periodicals, pamphlets, compact discs, phonograph records, audio cassettes, posters, artifacts,and letters.

Film and Video

The Library's film and video collections, housed in the Branch Libraries and Central Library, support ALA's Freedom to View Principle and strives to provide a diversity of viewpoints without the constraint of labeling or prejudging film, video and other audiovisual materials on the basis of the moral, religious, or political beliefs of the producer or filmmaker on the basis of controversial content.

Weeding and Collection Maintenance

It is the policy of the Library to develop and maintain collections which meet customer needs for current and retrospective information and which further address customers' cultural, educational and recreational needs and interests. Weeding is an on-going process essential to this end. When information in material becomes dated and misrepresentative of current knowledge, or the materials themselves become damaged beyond use or are no longer in demand, they should be removed from all collections.


All material presented to the Library as gifts is subject to the same scrutiny and review as that purchased. The Library reserves the right to dispose of gifts as it deems appropriate. Material received as gifts may be included in collections, used in book sales or discarded.



Q. What is the purpose of the Suggest-A-Book service?

A. The service was created to connect Queens Library users with books they want to read but are not found in our online catalog. All suggested books that are approved for purchase will be put on hold when they arrive for the person who made the first suggestion for the book. Please be aware that there is a fee for books on hold that are not picked up in a timely manner, so please plan accordingly.

Q. If my book suggestion is approved, how long will it take to get the book?
A. That depends on the availability of the book.  We make no promises regarding delivery time but, on average, most books will be ready to pick-up in 7-10 business days after approval.  Any orders not filled within 90 days will be automatically canceled (except for books in languages other than English which can take much longer).

Q. What is an ISBN? Why is it important?
A.  ISBN is an abbreviation for International Standard Book Number.  It can be found in the product details section on such sites as Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com . It can help to eliminate confusion between different editions of a book or different books with the same title.  The ISBN is especially helpful for books not written in English. Most books have 2 ISBNs, one 10 digits and the other 13 digits, we prefer the 13 digit ISBN. The ISBN is not required because not every book has one.

Q. Why can’t I suggest pre-orders and new releases?
A. Since every Queens library branch has its own budget and collection development plan, we want to make sure that the Suggest-A-Book budget is not spent on books already on order.  Books still not available in our catalog 30 days after publication are usually safe from redundancy.  This policy also decreases any confusion about who is first in line to reserve the title.

Q. Why can’t I suggest DVDs , music CDs, magazines, etc?
A. While Queens Library would love to provide an online suggestion service for every format, budget and staff limitations keep us restricted to our primary format of books in their various forms.  We do plan on expanding the service when the necessary resources become available.

Q.  My suggested book was rejected as not available, out of print, out of stock, etc. but I see it for sale on Amazon.com. Why don’t you order it from there?
A. Queens Library orders materials from approved vendors (i.e. Ingram and Baker & Taylor) who give us discounts, free shipping, tax exemption and other benefits specific to public libraries. Amazon.com and other online retailers do not offer the same level of service. Most importantly, online retailers demand payment up front and will not invoice us in the manner that New York City and State require.

Q. What kind of book suggestions are usually rejected?
A.  Most commonly, books that exceed the budget or are more appropriate for an academic library (i.e. textbooks).  While our discounts and budget can change, it is safe to assume that most books with a retail price over $60 will likely be rejected. Also, books that are designed to be written in, cut up for crafts, contain posters or stickers or have special packaging will not be ordered.

Q. What should I do if I know the book I want is out of print or too expensive?
A. Queens Library is able to request books from other library systems via interlibrary loan (ILL).  There is a separate form for that service here http://www.queenslibrary.org/research/interlibrary-loan .

Q. Is there a limit to the number of books I can suggest?
A.  The current limit is 10 unresolved suggestions.  A suggestion is resolved when you receive an email saying that it will be purchased or not.  Please bear in mind that all of your suggested books could arrive together which may not be convenient for you.  If we feel that you are abusing the service we will send you a message to that effect and may even block you from submitting further suggestions.  When suggesting a series of books, please submit a suggestion for each separate title in the series (hint: submit the first title in the series before doing any others. If that one is not available or is ineligible, chances are good that the rest will also not be approved).

Q. What types of e-books and audiobooks are available?
A. We use the Axis 360 platform for e-book suggestions (more information here: http://www.queenslibrary.org/entertainment/downloads/ebooks ).
Audiobooks are available as CDs, Playaways or digital downloads.  Please specify which type you prefer in the “Additional Information” section of your suggestion. 

For any other questions, please use the Contact Us service