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Primary emphasis is on the twentieth century through today. Pre-twentieth century children's materials are primarily housed in UW Libraries Special Collections.
Although there are no geographical limitations, the area of focus for the children's literature collections is North America, primarily the United States.
Primary emphasis is on English language materials, but original materials in other languages are purchased on a selective basis.
Children's materials are mostly still purchased in print format. Currently, few primary works are purchased in electronic format. Journal literature is integrated with the English Literature, Education, and Library and Information Science collections.
Workbooks and anthologies containing material already in the collection are generally not collected. Translations of English children's literature into non-English languages, or original non-English books into non-English languages, are excluded from the collection. Children's textbooks are not collected unless they are part of the separate Curriculum collection. Pop-up and toy books are generally not purchased for the circulating collections, but are included in Special Collections' Book Arts Collection.