Guide to the Research Collections
The collecting policy for encyclopedias is comprehensive for all except the Oriental languages. The retrospective collection of encyclopedias is principally of historical interest. There is a good representation of editions of nineteenth-and twentieth-century American titles. Children's encyclopedias of the twentieth century are also present, although this is not a field in which the library has actively collected. Late eighteenth-and early nineteenth-century German children's encyclopedias are found in the Schatzki collection. The British collection includes many of the nineteenth-century "universal" compendiums as well as various editions (English and American) of such
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standard works as the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
There are generally full representations of works in foreign languages, such as the German "Brockhaus" and "Meyers," and the French "Larousse." The general collections also include the concise compendium or "fact book"; the nineteenth-century representations of this type of reference work are particularly interesting. Of works such as Chambers' The Book of Days
there are many editions.
The open shelves of the Main Reading Room house most of the recently published or current titles. In keeping with the cosmopolitan character of New York City, the many foreign-language encyclopedias are in constant use. Each year the Main Reading Room replaces a single English-language title with the current edition to insure that up-to-date information is always available. Among older standard works are complete sets of the Diderot Encyclopédie
and Johann Heinrich Zedler's Grosses vollständiges Universal-Lexicon.
The Oriental Division has English and German editions of the Encyclopaedia of Islam.
One of the Chinese manuscripts in the Manuscripts and Archives Division is an eighteenth-century copy of sections 15,951 to 15,958 of the Yung Lo Ta Tien of the Ming Dynasty.
Encyclopedias of subject interest, such as those covering the fields of technology or art, are classified with the subject and are generally located in the reference collections of the subject reading rooms.