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Collection Development - Adult Non-Fiction

8. Adult Nonfiction

Dewey Decimal numbers are assigned by the cataloger in consultation with the selector.

000-099 Generalities

This is a broad collection that reflects many general subjects. In the area of journalism, the library purchases popular writing manuals and major histories and commentaries on journalism and journalists. Other materials shelved in this section include older editions of encyclopedias and other standard general works. Because computer books form such a large portion of the 000s, they will be treated separately in the section below.

Computer Books: This collection is aimed primarily at the business and home computer user. The hardware emphasis is therefore on IBM/MS-DOS and Macintosh, with lesser coverage of other models. Software books, purchased proportionately to the hardware platform emphasis, cover the major types of packages: word processing, database, spreadsheet, graphics, desktop publishing, communications, networking, etc. A small number of items are selected on minicomputer and mainframe topics. The boom in computer technology and the widespread advance of the use of computers both in the home and the office necessitate an extensive collection of relevant, up-to-date materials on all aspects of computers. In general, hardware books three to five years old and software books two to four years old should be seriously considered for deselection.

100-199 Philosophy and Psychology

The philosophy/psychology collection consists of works by and about all major philosophers and philosophies, Western and Eastern, ancient and modern. Subjects included in this area are metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, logic, the paranormal, occultism and psychology. Included in the scope of the psychology collection are histories of psychology, collected and complete works of classic psychologists, secondary sources relating to them and numerous works of popular psychology and self-help.

Other subject concentrations include spiritualism, historical works on witchcraft and magic, occultism and works of parapsychology, including dream interpretation, that appeal to the general adult public. The library generally buys what is reviewed in the areas of philosophy and psychology in standard reviewing sources, concentrating on titles of popular appeal and those accessible to the informed layperson. Most readers desire materials for self-education and pleasure while supplementary educational materials are needed to serve the interests of students. Considerable media coverage on the ethical ramifications of social, medical, business, professional and environmental questions stimulates customer interest and demand. The library should continue to purchase well-reviewed titles on behavior, the paranormal and popular advice and self-help titles that are readily accessible to the informed layperson. In addition, titles on Asian and Middle Eastern schools of thought should be considered as additions to the collection to provide a broader range of coverage.

200-299 Religion

The Religion collection is an overview of topics of interest to the general public, including such topics as theology; concepts of God; good and evil; immortality and evolution; biblical studies; Christian theology, history and doctrine; moral and devotional literature; and titles on comparative religion and religions other than Christianity. At present, the collection is strongly Christian and Jewish in content. The increasing immigrant population indicates the need to build collections pertaining to Buddhist, Islamic and Hindu traditions.

The prominence of an author in the area of Christian moral theology is of prime importance when selecting materials for this collection. Christianity and its response to socioeconomic phenomena and problems are of interest to religious readers. Media reporting of current events can have a strong influence on selection decisions. Additional purchasing influences are the desire for balanced denominational representation in the collection and customer interest, regardless of denominational affiliation or lack thereof. For example, there is continual interest in the Mormon faith and also in cults.

The library should augment its present collections in Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism with materials of interest to lay readers and relevant to current social issues. Attention should also be given to religious best seller lists, such as those found in Publishers Weekly. All religions and denominations are represented as fairly as possible, but sectarian materials of a proselytizing nature may be excluded in favor of unbiased, informative presentations. Some modest retrospective buying is needed to represent the traditions of immigrant residents and to fill noticeable gaps; however, the collection should remain fairly stable in size. Collection concentration should be on popularly written or layperson-accessible titles of potential interest to followers of non-Christian faiths and to other interested parties.

300-399 Social Sciences, Sociology and Anthropology

The Social Sciences collection covers a vast array of topics dealing with society and its issues: adolescence, retirement, motherhood, step-parenting, sex roles, education, political sciences, military science, relationships, characteristics of society, commerce, customs, etiquette, relationship with the environment, economics, law and ethnic groups. Concentration should be on popular titles and materials of interest to the informed layperson.

A diverse service population influences the selection of materials. The community's professional, intellectual and recreational pursuits and its diversity present a challenge to the library in keeping the collection current with a rapidly changing world. Generally, the media are strong influences on customer interests and consequently, on our selection of materials. Also of importance is the growing number of immigrants in the community. Careful scrutiny is needed to obtain materials helpful to Fargos immigrant population in their quest to obtain citizenship and understand American life and customs. Likewise, those doing business overseas need whatever assistance is available in understanding non-American cultures.

Collection emphasis should be on keeping the collection current and relevant to the interests and needs of the community in areas such as investments, citizenship and curriculum needs. Occasionally duplicate copies are needed to satisfy customer demand, but in general, single copies are sufficient.


Sociology and anthropology cover the study of societies and humans, social control and change, conflict, terrorism, media as a means of communication, population, immigration, social groups, culture, institutions and communities, all of which are areas of high customer interest.


Books in this section are intended to help nonprofessionals understand and participate in the American political process. Among the topics covered are basic political issues, special interest groups, and histories of political parties. Titles dealing with the political science of foreign countries are added if customer interest is evident.


This section contains information on economics, labor issues, banking, land use, natural resources and energy, public finance, personal finance, production, socialism and related systems.


This section provides customers with in-demand legal self-help resources. Customers want to be informed of the laws that govern our society. There is great interest in such topics as living wills and probate.


Titles in this section address the topics of public administration, the executive branch of government and the programs administered by this branch. Also included are the various branches of the military.


Materials in this section focus on social problems, social welfare and services, criminology, fraternal associations and forms of insurance. Currency is the key concern in developing this section. Another area to which particular attention should be paid is augmenting "pro and con" materials for the college, high school and junior high customers whose studies frequently require researching both sides of controversial issues.


The education section covers all levels from kindergarten through college. Within that range, the collection presents a retrospective look at the history and philosophy of education, as well as issues, theory and methodology prevalent in the field today. The collection also includes an extensive selection of college admission resources, including student test prep materials. Materials are geared toward students, parents, and to a lesser degree, teachers.

The section is used primarily by students seeking college, test or career information and by parents seeking to help their children in various aspects of school curricula. These are the areas that will continue to be emphasized. However, with the large number of schools in and around this area, professional usage can be increased if the collection is augmented with materials for teachers and educators. The emphasis should be on keeping the collection current.


Commerce (domestic and international), communications (postal, telecommunication) and transportation (rail, water, ground and air) are the focus of this section of materials.


Customs, costume, holidays, etiquette and folklore make up the majority of this section. There is a continuing need for books on historical costumes. Etiquette books are also always popular with customers, particularly business etiquette materials. In addition, folklore books are always in demand.

400-499 Languages

The Languages collection consists of standard works for the layperson on subjects such as the evolution, use and acquisition of language, as well as comparisons of languages. Emphasis is on the English language, its history, structure and learning. There is also an emphasis on sign language and materials on English as a Second Language (ESL), including the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) guides and other English language learning materials.

Basic learning materials and dictionaries for romance, classical, and other major world languages are represented. The purchase of titles on other languages depends on anticipated demand. There is a strong, increasing demand for materials in learning English as a second language and in the grammatical structure of the English language from the increasing immigrant populations in Fargo.

An intense interest in world travel creates a heavy demand for multi-lingual dictionaries and phrase books. Duplication may be necessary in this area. Dictionaries in foreign languages should be obtained, as needed, to answer the needs of Fargos diverse community.

This collection needs some attention in order to deepen coverage on learning materials in the major language groups. While the collection does not need to be extensive, some growth is needed to enhance the current holdings. It should be maintained on a basic, but well-chosen level to support fundamental school and public library inquiries. Current practices and theories should be represented along with classic texts and treatments. It is especially important to replace worn or missing titles in the heavy circulating area of English language materials, to stay current with the changing needs of the community, and to monitor demand for language-instruction titles and dictionaries.

500-599 Pure Sciences and Math

The Pure Sciences and Math collection is designed to meet the needs of both the student (junior high through beginning college level) and the inquiring non-student. The collection primarily consists of popularizations of technical subjects and layperson materials, including popular naturalist identification guides. More detailed or specialized treatments are included where demand requires.

The continuing explosion of knowledge in the sciences warrants a larger collection, though only rarely should more than one copy of a title be purchased. The 500s contain subjects in which information is quickly dated or even proven wrong (physics, astronomy, etc.), as well as subjects where information is nearly timeless (mathematics). For the more time-sensitive subjects, anything over two to three years old should be closely examined for accuracy to ensure the availability of up-to-date information. In other areas retention can be based more on condition and level of use. Popular titles should continue to form a major portion of the collection.

600-699 Applied Sciences

The applied science and technology section serves an extremely wide range of needs: medical information, from personal health to disease coping and recovery; all aspects of home economics and management, including cookbooks, gardening, home and appliance maintenance and repair; electronics and engineering, including automobile maintenance and repair; management, ranging from starting and running a home business through improving one's management style and moving up the corporate ladder; manufacturing and building trades.

Public library customers historically have extensive interests in areas such as business, personal health, cookery, do-it-yourself-projects, etc. Consequently, the demand for relevant, current information on these high-profile subjects is always strong.


This collection includes technology dictionaries and encyclopedias, as well as resources covering the following subject areas: technical drawing, hazardous materials technology, education and research topics, and inventions and patents.


With the exception of classic works in such general areas as anatomy, nursing and first aid, most selections in the medical sciences should be aimed at the general consumer. It is important to cover as wide a range of diseases and treatments as possible. Priority should be given to ensuring that all sources are accurate and up-to-date.

620-629, 660-699

Subject areas covered in this collection include: engineering, manufacturing, building, car repair, home repair and construction. Coverage of the more popular subjects in these areas needs to include works from the beginner to professional level of specialty. Other subjects, especially some in the 660s, 670s and 680s, are too specialized and technical for a public library this size, in which case only popular works aimed at the non-professional are appropriate. Broad coverage is especially important in car repair books in terms of both year and model.


This section contains books on agriculture and related technologies: works on plants of agricultural importance, farming, gardening, animal husbandry, dairy and pets, insect and fish culture. The gardening and pet books are particularly popular and works on agriculture fit in with the general economy of North Dakota.


This is a popular section, which includes books on home and family management, cookery, entertaining, selling and buying homes, household furnishings and housekeeping, sewing, personal care, and an array of subjects on child rearing and training.


This area is focused on business and management divided into the subject areas of office services, career skills, management, marketing, advertising and public relations.

700-799 Arts and Recreation

The 700s encompass a wide range of subject matter of interest to students, casual art and music lovers, collectors, and handicraft and sports enthusiasts. The largest sections cover a wide range of arts and crafts, music, television and motion pictures, and sports. Virtually all items are at a popular level, with little scholarly material. Customer interest and demand heavily influences purchasing patterns in arts and recreation.

Most price guides for collectibles are added to the circulating collection rather than the reference collection. General guides should be treated as reference titles, while the more specialized titles are better utilized in the circulating collection. The emphasis should be on keeping the popular topics (as noted above) current in order to fulfill customer expectations and needs. Purchasing in the fine arts should be influenced by customer demand and general public interest. Crafts and collectible books could be increased, as well as books on current and popular movies.

800-899 Literature

The Literature collection consists of the following major subject areas:

Writing and Communication: Material in this collection is intended to aid the writer or aspiring writer of fiction and nonfiction for adults, children or more specific audiences. Subjects covered include advice on writing techniques and finding a publisher for novels, short stories, screen plays and poetry, as well as public speaking and performance techniques and styles. Writing term/research papers, articles for periodicals, letters, and technical reports are some of the popular subjects selected for this area. Also included are style manuals and handbooks on English composition and books on preparing and delivering speeches and toasts.

Literary History and Criticism: Titles are selected to cover the literatures of the world and the various forms of literature. They may also consist of surveys of one or more national or regional literatures, or studies of individual authors and individual works. Also included are collections of speeches, essays, and humorous writings; anthologies of short stories; and plays and poems in both single-author volumes and anthologies. Emphasis is on British and American literature. Basic and representative core works of the literature and culture of many other nations are present in translation to support a basic level of school and public library inquiries.

Required reading in local high schools centers on major British and American authors and the collection reflects this emphasis. School literary assignments and the recreational and continuing education needs of the public library community necessitate a literature collection responsive to demand.

900-999 Geography and History

The history and travel section consists of popular works intended for a general audience, and supplemental material to support student use (mainly in United States and Western European history).

There is considerable demand for current travel guides to most international and national locales. There is also considerable interest in works covering World War II. The population demands current as well as classic works in the study of all aspects of history. The factors of age and affluence create demand for a wide variety of travel materials. Growth of ethnic populations in Fargo will necessitate a further enhancement of the history and travel collections. Genealogy is also a popular pastime and there has been an increasing demand for current materials in this area.

This collection needs some strengthening in order to broaden coverage on areas of the world outside of Western Europe and the United States. Areas that need to be expanded include ancient history, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Current thought should be represented along with classic texts and treatments. It is important to replace worn or missing titles in the heavily circulated area of travel materials. It is also important to keep in touch with the changing needs of the community and to monitor the demand for specific titles and subject areas.