Guide to the Research Collections

- INTRODUCTION -- WILLIAM VERNON JACKSON
- PREPARATION OF SUBJECT DESCRIPTIONS

PREPARATION OF SUBJECT DESCRIPTIONS

Completion of this essential, if time-consuming, work provided a solid foundation for preparing the descriptions of resources, subject by subject. Although the technique varied somewhat for each discipline, the following steps were common to nearly all:

With these steps taken, writing began. Allowing for differences from section to section, a typical arrangement runs as follows: (1) the extent of holdings, usually giving figures for 1921, 1930, 1941, and 1966 (occasionally for a few earlier years too) as an indication of the quantitative development of the collection; (2) the current acquisition policy, with mention where possible of those areas receiving comprehensive, representative, or selective coverage;7 (3) bibliographical and reference tools; (4) serials, with both an indication of number and types currently received and of typical back files and the extent of their completeness; and (5) subdivisions or special topics, as appropriate to the subject. Examples of such special categories include subdivisions on local history (within history sections), on major authors (literatures), on higher education (education), on magic (theatre), on Napoleon (French history), and on librarianship abroad (library science). Unique materials such as first editions and manuscripts are mentioned where appropriate. For subjects with materials dispersed in several units, the descriptions often indicate location of those not shelved with the primary group (e.g., "The Berg Collection contains ..."). Although the guide to resources, as pointed out earlier, is not a listing of authors and titles, the present compilation attempts to avoid vagueness by giving specific information such as the titles representative of serials and the name of authors and institutions whose publications are present in quantity. But this information should be considered primarily as examples of the type of material available. The reader should not infer that authors, institutions, and topics not discussed are necessarily less well represented: what is significant in the smaller library (e.g., American scholarly journals, standard reference and bibliographical tools--even those of multivolume proportions--and complete works and critical editions of major figures in all Western literatures) can safely be assumed to be in this collection of over 4,000,000 volumes.

Nevertheless it would be a mistake to presuppose that the present Guide reveals all things to all men about the collections. More importantly it does not generally compare resources of the Research Libraries with those of other institutions; the use of words such as "strong" and "significant" refers to holdings within the Research Libraries and not in comparison to other libraries. In short, we have attempted to describe accurately the collections as they are. Many of these bibliographical statements are, to some extent, subjective; that is, they are seldom the result of checking bibliographies or lists. Nor does this Guide attempt to provide reference to all publications--even those of the library itself--which mention, in one way or another, these resources; that is done in part by entries in the Public Catalog, in part by the Downs compilations, and in part by the bibliographic files assembled during the course of preparing this work.

This Guide does not attempt to chronicle the history of the Research Libraries' collections. Numerous historical facts are given because they contribute to a better understanding of present holdings, not as a systematic approach to the evolution of resources; consequently there are no chronological listings of acquisitions as in Brown. Nor does this Guide present the financial story of the building of the Research Libraries' holdings by presenting total and specific expenditures over the years, or by discussing endowed book funds and similar topics. The present volume does adhere to Brown's principle of a detailed index, in the hope that the guiding principle of arrangement by subject will cause the user fewer searches for material about each specific topic of interest.

It is the library's expectation that the Guide, which covers resources acquired through December 1969, will be kept up-to-date through regular supplements. Indeed, one supplement, for the last six months of the July 1969-June 1970 fiscal and statistical year, has already appeared.8 It is hoped that this new Guide and its supplements will prove as useful as its predecessor to the library's readers and staff, and to scholars and librarians everywhere.

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