Library Collection

The following sections are taken from the library collection development policy. The full text of this and other policies are available at the Library Policies page.

The Collections

Library materials are organized into various collections. The following is a description of these collections, stating the purpose and scope of each collection and selection criteria specific to that collection.

The fiction collection is designed to serve the reading interests of a highly diverse community. It includes bestsellers, contemporary fiction and classics as well as representative works of new authors and works from a variety of national and cultural traditions. Genre collections shelved separately are mystery and science fiction/fantasy. Multiple copies are purchased based on popularity of the title and patron demand.

The nonfiction collection contains circulating materials in a wide range of subjects supporting the learning and information needs of library users. Included are books on job skill enhancement, self-help and individual growth, cultural awareness, business and consumer information, community affairs, recreational pursuits and general knowledge. Shelved separately is a College and Career collection which provides test preparation materials for students and job seekers. Materials for the nonfiction collection are selected by subject specialists and are organized using the Dewey Decimal Classification System. Duplicates of popular titles are purchased when indicated by demand.

General reference materials include bibliographies, indexes, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, atlases and statistical compendia which provide timely, accurate and useful information to library users. Reference materials are available in both print and electronic formats. Selection criteria of particular importance to reference materials are: currency, accuracy, arrangement, uniqueness of information, authority, documentation and level of indexing.

The Business Reference Collection serves all facets of the business community. It contains national and local company directories, industry surveys, trade and association directories, and national and local manufacturing directories.

Because of its designation as a Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDL), the Library houses a collection of U.S. patents and patent and trademark materials in various formats. Also included in this collection are patent searching guides and other reference materials on intellectual property.

The Sunnyvale Collection provides historical and current information about the city and community of Sunnyvale. It includes books, newspapers, city documents, photographs, pamphlets and audiovisual materials.

International Languages
The International Language collection provides recreational and information materials to meet the needs of community members who use materials in languages other than English. Resources include books, magazines, newspapers and audiovisual materials.

The Library currently owns materials in Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese. Each language collection varies in breadth and depth depending on public needs and availability of materials and resources.

The Library is committed to developing and maintaining this collection in order to respond to the changing demographics of the population served. New languages may be added to reflect community needs. Inclusion of languages in the collection is based on patron surveys and local demographic data.

The READ collection provides material in print and audio formats to support adult new readers or new readers in English as a second language. Some materials are suitable for use in teaching or tutoring situations, while others can be used for individual study and recreational reading. The materials, consisting of both fiction and nonfiction, are written on a first to fifth grade reading level. In addition to general reading skills, the collection supports other areas of interest to learners of English such as pronunciation, conversation, vocabulary and grammar.

Periodicals are purchased for adults, teens and children. The adult collection is comprised of newspapers, magazines and newsletters chosen to provide current and retrospective information on a wide range of special interests in the areas of health, hobbies, business and finance, sports, technology, entertainment and current events. Periodicals are retained for varying periods of time. Included in the collection are a number of periodicals in languages other than English. The teen and children’s collections contain titles of general interest to those age groups.

Although certain long-established titles remain staples of the collection, others change frequently in response to community demand, publishing trends, and lifestyle changes. Indexing in standard sources also influences inclusion in this collection.

Some newspapers and magazines are available on microfilm.

Map File
The map collection includes world maps of various regions, countries, and major cities, as well as state and major city maps. It contains an in-depth collection of maps of California counties, major cities, local Bay Area cities, and topographic maps. Also included are Santa Clara County flood maps and regional earthquake maps of special use to home builders, home buyers, or city planners.

Children’s Print Collection
The Children’s Collection is intended to encourage children to become lifelong readers and information seekers. It includes materials in a variety of formats and a number of languages with a broad range of reading levels. The primary users of the collection are children from infancy through 6th grade, their parents and caregivers, and their teachers.

Librarians select materials that children enjoy and which satisfy curiosity, stimulate intellectual development and support emotional growth. The collection contains materials that are the best available for children, as well as items selected for popular appeal. Curriculum related materials are purchased which duplicate and supplement materials available in school libraries. Textbooks are not purchased. Librarians review the collection continuously for currency and relevance to a changing community.

Teen Print Collection
The Teen Collection is a browsing collection of popular materials for students in grades 6-12. It is designed to encourage teens to be readers and library users, as well as to attract other teens who have not frequented the library. Popular Young Adult titles in paperback, as well as classics included on school reading lists form the core of the fiction collection. The nonfiction collection is not intended to be inclusive, but rather to cover subjects of interest to teens and topics frequently assigned for school projects. “Hot topics” of instantaneous but short-lived interest are a strong influencing factor in purchasing for this collection.

Graphic novels have grown in popularity and become an important part of the Teen collection. Although cataloged as nonfiction, they are shelved separately. Graphic novels are selected by librarians using reviews and recommendations from professional journals and web sites in accordance with the selection criteria laid out in this policy.

The Library collects audio books for adults, teens, and children, housed in their respective areas of the Library. Titles in this format are chosen for their appeal to a wide variety of interests. The collection contains fiction and nonfiction titles on a variety of subjects including language learning materials. The collection consists of both tape and CD formats although tapes are no longer being purchased.

The adult music collection consists of works by major classical and contemporary composers, as well as popular genres. It is comprised primarily of compact discs due to their popularity and availability. The children’s music collection includes folk music, popular children’s songs and introductions to classical music. Music recordings are selected based on popularity and patron demand. Careful attention is given to selecting popular international music as well as music from this country. The Library recognizes that some music lyrics can be controversial. Selections will be made on the merits of the work according to general selection criteria.

Movies, Documentaries and Series
The Library’s film collection is primarily a browsing collection and includes both feature and nonfeature films in a variety of languages to appeal to children, teens and adults. Films are selected for their intellectual and imaginative content and to reflect the varied ethnic backgrounds and other demographic and social issues of the community. Multiple copies of the most popular items are purchased to increase patron access.

Factors influencing purchase decisions for this collection include patron demand, popularity of the film (based on theater box office figures and sales rankings of commercial video/DVD vendors), and film reviews. An effort is made to select films from other countries, time periods and genres, and to provide films about topics that are enriched by a visual presentation such as travel, the arts, performances, and natural history. Television series have also become very popular. The Library purchases films with United States Motion Picture Association of America ratings of G, PG, PG13 and R. NC-17 and X-rated films are not purchased.

Films from other countries that have not been rated by the MPAA are also purchased for the collection. Films containing extremes of sex and violence will be excluded when these experiences are an end to themselves, rather than part of the movie theme. The Library recognizes that many films are controversial. Selections will be made on the merits of the works according to general selection criteria.

The collection consists of DVDs. As technology progresses, other formats will be considered once they have become the established format.

Electronic Resources Databases
The Electronic Database Collection serves the information needs of library users and librarians alike, providing easy, Web-based access to databases covering a wide range of subjects, including business and investments, health, current events, consumer information, teaching programs, and a variety of popular and academic topics. Library members may gain remote access to a number of these subscription databases.

The databases provide indexing and often full-text for numerous magazines, journals, newspapers, and reference sources, some of which are held by the Library. They also offer access to articles, reports, and listings that would not otherwise be available in the Library’s print collections. The majority of the databases are in English. Full-text Spanish-language periodical and newspaper coverage is also offered.
Databases are evaluated periodically based on user statistics and continued relevance to the community.

The Library offers a sizeable collection of e-Books which is shared with the Northern California Digital Book Consortia. New titles are selected each year with a focus on business, technology and computer books; however, all subjects are represented. Although many titles are also available in print, e-Books allow the Library to provide more copies of popular print titles and extend its collection to remote users.

Another component of this collection is digital audiobooks which can be downloaded to a computer or a listening device. These titles are mostly popular fiction titles intended for the general public.

A small collection of downloadable music is also available for Library patrons.

Materials Not Collected

Due to limited space and resources, there are certain materials the Library does not collect:

Textbooks: The Library does not buy textbooks used by the local schools, colleges or universities unless there is little or no material on the subject available in any other format.

Rare Books: The Library is not an archival library, nor does it collect rare or unusual materials that require special handling. Many of the local universities have rare book collections that can be accessed by the public.

Genealogy materials: The Library collects basic materials on genealogic research. More specialized materials can be found at the Santa Clara City Library or the Sutro Library in San Francisco which offers the most extensive genealogic collection west of Salt Lake City. Library staff will, however, attempt to help the public locate the desired information using Link+ or online databases.


City of Sunnyvale

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(408) 730-7500

  • Sunnyvale City Hall
  • 456 W. Olive Ave.
  • Sunnyvale, CA 94086
  • TDD (408) 730-7501
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The Fine Print