Selection principles

Items are selected for inclusion in the collection to provide

  • titles that are current, authoritative and well written
  • a wide range of materials that represent a variety of views and opinions, and including controversial works, in both print and non-print sources
  • multiple copies of popular items to meet demand
  • Australian and Tasmanian materials which reflect the heritage of the community

Format matters

Contemporary publishing includes a wide range of sizes, shapes and formats, many of which are designed to be eye-catching in the bookshop, but may not be suited to the wear and tear of public library use. This has to be taken into consideration as part of the selection process.

At risk formats may include items which are oversize, undersize, irregular in shape, flimsy, fragile, stapled, ring-bound, contain 'product samples' such as craft supplies or cosmetics, or are designed for a single user to fill in questions or complete puzzles.


Our collections incorporate donations that complement our collecting policy.

Freedom to read

We uphold the right of individuals to set and follow their own standards for acceptable reading materials, and in common with public libraries elsewhere in Australia, supports the policy of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), on free access to information.

We purchase and acquire materials that have been reviewed and authorised for general public access by the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1995.  We do not remove or restrict titles that some clients may find offensive, nor do we label or endorse materials to indicate their content or coverage.

Selection of resources is not influenced by the possibility that they may be accessed by children and parents or legal guardians are strongly encouraged to be responsible for a child's choice of library materials for home loan or use in the library. 

The Non-fiction collection

General scope

The non-fiction collections have a popular base that is balanced with a range of 'books for curious minds' designed to satisfy readers with more specialised interests.

Popular materials target the interests and concerns of the general market, and are written in plain English that avoids unexplained jargon.

While our collections contain many titles that are able to support formal learning, they do not aim to include technical, academic or professional works or text-books, unless they have an obvious application to the general reader. The Junior non-fiction collections are increasingly targeted towards hobbies and interests rather than homework support.

Where possible, we select works which are well-illustrated and indexed.

Books for curious minds

We use the following criteria to identify books for curious minds.

  • They are intellectual rather than scholarly
  • They present a focussed, in-depth treatment of a subject
  • They express original arguments or theses, not necessarily academic in nature, that weigh evidence for or against a particular view, or challenge existing and accepted views
  • They provide an original contribution to a subject and may contain lengthy indexes and bibliographies
  • They are aimed at a smaller segment of the reading market and rarely become best-sellers, although they may generate public interest or controversy

The Fiction Collection

General scope

The fiction collections comprise general, genre and literary fiction.

General fiction

General fiction is written to entertain the reader with a standalone story concerned with an individual plot, theme and characters.  General fiction series do occur, although less frequently than genre series.

Genre fiction

Genre fiction appeals to readers who enjoy a particular type of plot, theme or characters. These include crime, romance, science fantasy, westerns, adventure, horror, short stories, and thrillers. Junior collections are particularly strong in 'series' titles.

Literary fiction

Literary fiction is characterised by the imaginative and creative use of story-telling to explore important philosophical, psychological, social and linguistic themes. It may be p​resented in a range of language styles ranging from the simple and direct, such as Hemingway, to the complex works of James Joyce. 

Young People's Collections

The young people's collection comprises print and audio-visual materials generally considered suitable for those aged between 0 and 18 years.

The State Library has placed a particular focus on supporting parents in reading to their pre-school children and includes a wide selection of board books, and picture books for this group, prior to independent reading.

While age groups are flexible, the children's collection largely caters up to the age of 12 years, and the young adult collection targets 13-18 year olds, with many clients in this age group making use of the adult collections. 

Age categories are intended as a guide to assist clients to choose relevant library materials.


This collection presents information and creative ideas in an audio-visual form that enhances access for both adult and junior clients, and provides a viable alternative for those who prefer non-print formats. 

The DVD collection appeals to a wide range of interests, with the inclusion of factual or instructional titles such as documentaries, sport, language learning, crafts, hobbies, and cookery. 

Feature films are purchased with a focus on award winners, notable art-house and foreign language films, and classic movies. Younger interests are catered for with quality animated feature films.  Well-reviewed filmed books, plays, opera and musicals, particularly those with Australian connections, are also added. 

The collection contains selected concluded television series, particularly those based on books.

The DVD collection does not aim to include a wide variety of current commercial titles available from other sources in the community.


The aim of the CD music collection is to provide a balanced selection of music that will represent a wide range of popular and classical musical forms, periods, composers and performers.

Some special attention is given to early learning, entertainment and sing-along titles, including current and traditional favourites for young children

The collection also includes special purpose recordings such as sound effects, Christmas carols, wedding and funeral music.

Recorded  Books 

The recorded book collection is available for clients with a medical condition that restricts their access to printed materials. To comply with copyright law, clients who wish to borrow from the recorded book collections are required to provide a medical certificate that confirms they are unable to read standard print materials. 

The collection is wholly in tape cassette format.


The audiobook collection complements the recorded book collection but has copyright clearance for the general reader. The collection is comprised of a range of general, genre and literary fiction together with bestselling and topical non-fiction titles.

Items are generally acquired on CD in both abridged and unabridged versions.


Current magazines are available for borrowing on a range of popular subjects tailored to meet the needs of local communities. Subscriptions are reviewed on an annual basis.

Community languages

The coverage of the community languages collection reflects the major language groups in Tasmania, as identified by the Census. The State Library of Tasmania currently acquires fiction in German, Spanish, Italian, French, Chinese, Japanese, and Dutch, and holds small collections in a range of other languages which are represented in the community.


A general collection of eBooks is maintained for adults and children.