Collections

“A book is not only a friend, it makes friends for you.” — Henry Miller

The wealth of a public library is often measured by the strengths of its collections. The books and other materials at the Memphis Public Library & Information Center provide an outstanding educational and entertainment resource to the community. To help continue the growth of our community, we must expand and enhance the collections of the Public Library.

Memphis and Shelby County Room
A repository of local history materials that spans generations, the Memphis and Shelby County Room in the History Department of the Central Library includes books, maps, periodicals, photographs, newspaper clippings, manuscripts and indexes. It is home to the papers of such significant Memphians as E. H. Crump, Maxine Smith and Rabbi James A. Wax and organizations including the Junior League of Memphis and the Freedman's Bureau. Additional funding for the Memphis and Shelby County Room will mean even more donations of significant papers and other materials can be secured, processed, preserved and made available to the public with professional finding aids to help in research.

Genealogy
The Library provides extensive genealogical records, indexes and documents to help customers discover their family history. One of the most frequently used areas of the Library, the Genealogy collection also documents our community’s history for researchers and historians.

Popular Library Fiction / Non-Fiction Collection
The Popular Library contains the high-traffic books, audiobooks, videos/DVDs and music CDs. It has most of the items listed in the New York Times Book Review, including an extensive collection of African American literature. These materials require constant updating to keep up with customers' requests for the latest materials. Foreign Language Fiction is a category that the Library hopes to expand significantly. Potential second language additions are Spanish, Chinese and French.

Math & Science
For children and young adults, science and math are two crucial areas for learning and discovery. By supporting the mathematical and scientific needs of our students, the Library helps young Memphians become competitive and successful. The core collection of materials in every branch provides tools for students to develop their mathematical skills and scientific knowledge.

Memphis Music
Memphis Music combines books, records and CDs, as well as other materials pertaining to Memphis’ musical past, present and future, including the personal papers of artists and others in the Memphis music business. The collection highlights the artists and musical periods that are unique to our community, while demonstrating Memphis music’s impact on the world. Projects needing funding include the ongoing acquisition of musical recordings and other materials, plus recording audio and video histories of Memphis artists, producers and songwriters.

Computer Materials
The world is growing as the information flow continually widens. Technology requires constant changes and upgrades. With various workshops and training classes, the Library is a prime source for customers who want to learn how to use current hardware and software. In order to stay cutting edge, the Library must constantly adapt its computer system with the latest upgrades and newest technologies.

Children’s Picture Books
The most important years of a child’s development are before the age of four. Literacy training at the earliest stages of learning can impact future success in all areas of learning. Picture books are a child’s first introduction to reading and are vital to starting a child on a reading path for life.

Children’s Geography
Studies have shown that a high percentage of today’s youth are unfamiliar with state capitals and world geography. We want to reverse this trend. Our plan is to extend the very popular Children’s Geography collection at the Central Library and the branches to help more of our children gain a better understanding of the world.

Small-Business Information
Many successful small businesses in the Memphis area are aided by the research and information gathered at the Library’s First Tennessee Small Business Center. Among the many resources we provide are materials about writing a business plan, securing funding, developing a marketing strategy and managing the books. Located in the Business & Sciences department at the Central Library, additional funding will allow similar collections to be established or enhanced in branch libraries.