Special Collections

Lawrence Headquarters Library's Reference Collection

The Lawrence Headquarters Branch is responsible for reference support to all system Branches, and thus must maintain the most current and comprehensive collection of reference sources. The reference staff also utilizes the resources of the Statewide Reference Center when necessary.

No one format, such as print or Internet databases, should be given absolute priority. Those resources which are acquired should be looked at on the basis of the following criteria: ease of use; popular demand; currency; price and what they add to the collection that other works in the same subject area do not.

Reference librarians have the responsibility of evaluating new books for the collection and for keeping the collection current. Important collection development tools include Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, and electronic selection tools (which bring together reviews form many publications.)

Pamphlets and Other Vertical File Materials

Vertical files will be maintained at the Headquarters Library and in the Branches as supplements to other collections. They shall provide timely and accurate information that is not readily available in other sources with special emphasis on local information.

The Lawrence Headquarters Library maintains special vertical file collections on New Jersey and Mercer County and its municipalities. Each branch shall maintain an extensive file on its local government and history.

Each item placed in the files shall be dated, and a systematic removal process shall be in effect. Continuing demand, currency and relevance to local history shall be reflected in retention choices.


Microfilm and microfiche are available in the Lawrence Headquarters and Ewing Branch collections in order to acquire and preserve items not available in print, and to conserve storage space. As most microfilm materials acquired by the Library are copies of printed originals, the traditional principles of selection usually apply.


The Lawrence Headquarters Library reference collection shall include a broad range of maps, with exhaustive coverage of material on Mercer County and nearby areas of the state. Branches will hold small, representative collections of physical, highway/street and historical maps.

Selection criteria should include accuracy, currency, facility of use, suitability of format for the intended age level, and durability. Maps of lasting importance that are perishable should be considered for preservation by means of cloth backing or lamination.

New Jersey Collection

The Lawrence Headquarters' New Jersey Collection contains New Jersey historical and genealogical materials, with special emphasis on Mercer County. Books and other materials of significance to New Jersey and especially to Mercer County should be added regularly to the collection.

Preservation, rather than withdrawal, shall be the decision in most cases for disposition of worn or damaged materials, as this is one of the few organized sources of local history.

Foreign Language Materials

Branches shall maintain small collections of titles in Spanish, Chinese, French, German, Russian and other languages, based on demand. The collections consist of popular fiction and nonfiction and are primarily intended for the recreational reading of patrons fluent in the languages represented, or students and teachers of foreign language.

Lawrence Headquarters' Library has a large collection of foreign language materials in many languages. West Windsor branch, which serves a large Asian population, will concentrate on developing Chinese and Hindi language collections. Hightstown branch will actively collect Spanish language materials to serve its significant Hispanic community.

To meet additional demand, interlibrary loan can be utilized, e.g., a bulk loan from Newark Public Library.

Graphic Novels

According to YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association), graphic novels are defined as "book length collections of sequential art containing a single story, or a set of interrelated stories. Not to be included are: illustrated books; non- illustrated books featuring superheroes as a main character; non-fiction books about comics and graphic novels; and collections of comic strips". The use of the Graphic Novel collection is primarily recreational. The novels included in this collection span traditional age ranges - juveniles, young adults and adults may all find titles of interest. Various subject areas are covered and one may find both fiction and non-fiction topics covered.

Various tools are used when selecting titles for the Graphic Novel collection. Review sources such at VOYA, Library Journal and Brodart TIPS; listservs and web sites; and patron requests all are taken into consideration when acquiring materials. Much of the collection is driven by popular culture and patron demand.