The Fisher Children's Center is the largest, most comprehensive children's collection in the library system. The collection is intended for children through age 13 as well as adults interested in children's literature. It contains nonfiction titles in all subjects and includes a deep juvenile fiction section which retains classic authors and titles from previous centuries as well as current popular titles. The juvenile picture story collection is extensive and contains many titles of multicultural interest. The juvenile beginning reader section is large and contains the best titles produced for children practicing their reading skills. The folklore collection is deep and built with the intention of representing as many world cultures as possible; it contains many historic titles that are no longer in print. An extensive magazine collection includes periodicals of both general and special interest for a variety of ages and reading levels. The board book, graphic novel, music and movie collections contain popular interest titles and do not focus on historic completeness. The reference collection is extensive and intended to represent the ideal reference sources for children's librarians throughout the city. Titles in more than 50 languages are included in the collection, representing the most common languages spoken in the city as well as those spoken by smaller minority groups in the Bay Area.
Priority is given to books of current interest to children. It is the Library's goal that at least one copy of every English language title in the children's collection system-wide be held by the Children's Center. The collection also includes all magazines held system-wide as well as additional recommended titles and bound back issues of important titles such as review journals and indexed titles. Books in languages other than English are purchased from abroad as well as domestically; the size of each collection often depends on the Library's ability to find or establish a working relationship with international and U.S. vendors.
The collection is used by children, parents, teachers, budding and experienced children's authors and illustrators, library school graduate students, students of children's literature, preschool teachers, English as a Second Language adults and children, adults learning a new language, adults studying for early childhood accreditation and children's literature researchers. The collection is weeded based on significance of title, usage and maintaining existing collection strengths.
The Children's Center houses the following special collections as well:
- Early Childhood
- Current titles on parenting; early childhood education; issues surrounding children from the ages of birth to eight years.
- Effie Lee Morris Historical and Research Collection of Children's Literature:
- Titles in all subjects relating to children's literature.
- Fiction and Picture Books
- Books presenting ethnic stereotypes (negative or positive); local and Northern California authors and illustrators; award-winning authors, illustrators and titles; examples of current and past trends in children's literature; exceptional adaptations of classic literature which are illustrated by noted illustrators.
- Books presenting ethnic stereotypes (negative or positive); examples of outstanding, notable nonfiction titles; significant library reference resources from previous decades.
- American Library Association Awards
- Copies of the Newbery, Caldecott, Batchelder, Sibert, Coretta Scott King and Printz Award winners; some honor books.
- Alice in Wonderland Collection
- Fiction and nonfiction titles relating to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, including many illustrated editions of Alice; titles are in English with some in languages other than English; Alice-related realia.
- Beatrix Potter Collection
- Most available books by and about Beatrix Potter, including editions in languages other than English; books based on Miss Potter's books; related realia.