Biology Collection Development Policy

Bobst Library, New York University
Kara Whatley, Librarian for the Life Sciences


The collection supports undergraduate and graduate instructional programs and research of faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows in the College of Arts and Science (CAS) and Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS) Department of Biology. B.A., B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in biology are conferred by the department, which also administers B.S. and Ph.D. programs run by the Center for Neural Science, and a minor offered in Environmental Science (see the Earth and Environmental Science collection development policy statement). In addition, three programs are run jointly with other NYU departments and educational institutions. The graduate program in Biomedical Journalism is offered jointly by NYU's Departments of Biology and Journalism and Mass Communication. The NYU GSAS College of Dentistry in cooperation with the Department of Biology, offers the graduate program in Oral Biology. Finally, graduates of NYU and Stevens Institute of Technology joint 5-year program in Biology and Engineering receive a B.S./B.E. degree.

Among the students using this collection are those preparing for advanced study, careers in teaching, careers in experimental research or careers in the applied sciences, as well as non-science majors exploring a variety of topics. Specific areas include molecular biology, cellular biology, genetics, evolution, organ systems, population studies, neurobiology, microbiology, plant biology, developmental biology, physiology, immunology, biochemistry, virology, and biophysics.

The Center for Neural Science (CNS) offers interdisciplinary instruction and research opportunities that focus on the function of the brain. Among the core CNS faculty, associate faculty and affiliate faculty are scholars in the fields of neural science, psychology, biology, mathematics, computer science, chemistry, physics, and philosophy. Areas of study and research include neurochemistry, neurobiology, cellular physiology, biophysics, behavioral neuroscience, visual neuroscience, neuromagnetism, cognitive neuroscience, neural mechanisms of memory and emotion, mathematical biology, computational neuroscience, robotics, artificial intelligence, and cognitive science.

A list of the specific degrees offered through the Department of Biology follows:

College of Arts and Science
B.A. Biology
B.S. Biology / B.E. Chemical, Civil or Environmental Engineering (joint program with Stevens Institute of Technology)
B.S. Neural Science (Center for Neural Science)

Graduate School of Arts and Science
M.S. in Biology with a concentration in one of the following: Biochemistry, Cancer, Cell Biology, Development, Ecology, Evolution, Genetics, Immunology, Microbiology, Biological Models, Molecular Biology, Neurobiology, Physiology, Plant Science, or Virology.
M.S. in General Biology
M.S. in Computers in Biologic Research
M.S. in Recombinant DNA Technology
M.S. in Biomedical Journalism (joint program with the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication)
M.S. in Oral Biology (joint program with GSAS College of Dentistry)
M.Phil. in Biology (conferred only on students accepted into a doctoral program who have fulfilled all requirements except the dissertation and its defense)
Ph.D. in Plant Resources
Ph.D. in Developmental Genetics
Ph.D. in Biology/Environmental Health Sciences (collaborative program with the Nelson Institute of Environmental Medicine)
Ph.D. in Neural Science ( Center for Neural Science)

The biological sciences collection also supports specific aspects of several other programs. Students of Anthropology (B.A., M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D.) looking for information on comparative anatomy and population biology of existing species consult this collection. Resources in biochemistry support research and instruction in Chemistry.

The NYU Medical School offers Ph.D. and Ph.D./M.D. programs in Basic Medical Sciences while the Nelson Institute of Environmental Medicine offers M.S. and Ph.D. programs in Environmental Health Sciences (with classes given on the Washington Square Campus and at the Medical Center). While the Ehrman Medical Library supports these programs, visitors to Washington Square Campus might seek resources in the areas of cellular and molecular biology, developmental genetics, basic microbiological mechanisms of infectious diseases, toxicology, molecular oncology and immunology, neuroscience and physiology.

Students in several of the School of Education's programs make use of this collection as well. Students of Nursing (B.S., M.A. and Ph.D.) find resources in anatomy and physiology of particular interest. Likewise, portions of the collection covering physiology as it relates to nutrition are of particular interest to students in the Nutrition and Food Studies programs (B.A., M.A., and Ph.D.). Students participating in the Department of Teaching and Learning programs (B.A.,M.A., Ph.D., Ed.D) also make use of the science collections, biology among them.


  1. Subject

    The biological sciences collection covers that branch of the natural sciences involved with the study of living organisms, from the molecular and cellular basis of life to biological systems and populations. Included in the collection are works in the following sub-disciplines: botany, zoology, physiology, natural history, microbiology, genetics, neural science, and human anatomy.

  2. Language

    The collection comprises primarily English language materials. French, German and Italian monographs are collected on a very selective basis. Major European language and Russian serials are collected on a selective basis.

  3. Geographical Areas

    In core subjects that may be influenced by geography, such as natural history, botany and zoology, primary collection emphasis is on North American, northeastern regional and local works. Works that cover other geographic areas are selected when there is a specific need or when the work deals with a particular topic that is unique, comprehensive or of overriding contemporary social, cultural, policy, ethical, philosophical, or historical importance.

  4. Chronological Periods

    While the heavy emphasis is on current materials, important works covering historical aspects are collected.

Types of Materials

  1. Included

    Reference Collection

    The collection includes major abstracting and indexing services in print and/or electronic format (Web-based online access, Telnet online access, and networked CD-ROM). Source books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, field guides, laboratory manuals, protocols and dissection guides, biographical and organizational directories and atlases are collected in print form. Comparable works are also collected in electronic form on a very selective basis.

    General Collection

    Scholarly monographs, monographic series, conference proceedings of U.S. and international symposia and congresses, festchriften and U.S. government and U.N. documents are collected. Textbooks (at teaching faculty request, textbooks may be placed in the Reserve Collection), study outlines and exam guides are also collected. Academic dissertations are acquired on a selective basis. Selection of reprint editions is done on an extremely selective basis and only for important works not currently owned, editions in need of replacement, or when editions contain new and important introductory material. Scholarly journals are collected in print, and increasingly in electronic format. A highly selective collection of less scholarly materials has been built to support instruction for non- scientists.

  2. Excluded

    Reference Collection

    Equipment manuals, slide and specimen collections, anatomical models and maps.

    General Collection

    Pamphlets and ephemera, lecture notes, reprints of single journal articles, preprints, reprint editions, technical reports, newsletters, manuscripts, juvenile works.

Strengths & Weaknesses of the Collection

Collections in the biological sciences comprise roughly 26,500 titles, or 19% of the entire Jerome S. Coles Science Library collection. Included are roughly 375 current journals. The collection's major strengths are its reference holdings which are strong in indexing and abstracting services (electronic particularly), journal holdings (print and electronic), and other serial holdings.

The collection is uneven in depth across the various sub-disciplines. Recent and current selection strategies have resulted in a collection strong in the cellular and molecular aspects of biology. Even so, the collection has a long history of selection covering all aspects of biology to support the generalist as well. In some cases specific aspects of sub- disciplines are emphasized. For example, in zoology there is greater strength in the collections relating to those organisms chosen for laboratory study in general and those of particular research interest in the department (e.g., Arabidopsis, C. elegans, and fish). The collection in physiology, a discipline that concentrates on the general study of the processes of living nature, has greater depth in those living tissues deemed most appropriate to study various phenomena as reported in the scientific literature (e.g., nerve structures). Materials in neurobiology continue to be selected aggressively in order to build the collection. Some growth will be supported in the area of environmental toxicology since more classes are being offered on the Washington Square Campus. Selection has been cut back in some areas of agriculture, particularly in forestry.

The biological sciences collection, particularly the more interdisciplinary areas such as neurobiology and biochemistry, is complemented by the exceptional strengths of the library's holdings in the physics, chemistry, psychology, and philosophy. Selected areas of medicine, computer science and mathematics also support study in this field, as do intensive collections in computer science and mathematics at the Courant Institute of Mathematics.

Other Resources

  1. Other Collections at NYU

  2. Other Libraries in New York City

    American Museum of Natural History - relevant strengths include biology, natural history, and the natural sciences.

    Columbia University Biological Sciences Library

    Ehrman Medical Library - NYU's medical library offers great depth in the medical and clinical aspects of biology. It also provides access to full text electronic journals not owned by Bobst Library.

    New York Botanical Garden Library - relevant strengths in the collection include botany and horticulture.

Subject Coverage & Collection Levels

Weeding and Retention

  1. Reference and General Collections
    Encyclopedias, Dictionaries

    Retain most recent edition in the Reference Collection, and one prior edition in the General Collection.

    Source Books, Handbooks, Field Guides, Atlases, selected Laboratory Manuals and Protocols

    Retain most recent edition in the Reference Collection, and one prior edition in the General Collection.


    Retain in the General Collection. In some cases the most recent volume may be retained in the Reference Collection.

    Subject Bibliographies, Histories, Biographies

    Retain most recent edition of important or comprehensive works in the Reference Collection, and prior edition in the General Collection.

    Abstracting and Indexing Services

    Retain back volumes indefinitely, unless curriculum or research changes warrant re-evaluation.


    Retain most recent edition in the General Collection, withdraw earlier edition(s) unless deemed important.

  2. Journals

    In general, back issues are retained indefinitely in print form and/or on microform (a small number are retained on microform only). Generally issues of newsletters are withdrawn when no longer current.

    In an effort to recover shelf space, short runs of canceled journals may be considered for withdrawal from the collection or conversion to microform. Alternative access (interlibrary loan or document delivery) to the journal literature is considered in these cases.

  3. Electronic Resources
    Indexing and Abstracting Services

    Previous years of coverage are retained as new years are added. When a title changes from CD-ROM to Web-based version, the CD-ROM is withdrawn. Print versions of a title are reviewed and considered for cancellation when electronic formats are adopted.

    Encyclopedias, Handbooks, Laboratory Protocols

    As new editions are added to the Reference Collection, old editions are withdrawn.

Subject Coverage

Introduction to Collection Development Policy Statements. Coverage defines the depth of the collection in a particular subject area and may range from basic to intensive. The following section describes the existing collection strength (ECS), the current collecting intensity (CCI), and the desired collection strength (DCS).

QH 1-705 Natural History
1-278.5 General Natural History
1-83 General; Nature History; Conservation D D D
84-198 Geographic Divisions A A A
201-278.5 Microscopy C C C
301-705 General Biology
323 Biomathematics C C C
324 Methods of Research; Technique A A A
331-332 Bioethics C C C
345 General Biochemistry D D D
359-425 Evolution D D D
426-470 Genetics D D D
471-531 Reproduction; Life; Death A B B
540-549 Ecology; Environmental Biology C C C
573-671 Cytology D D D
650-671 Biophyics D D D
705 Economic Biology A A A
QK 1-989 Botany
1-100 General; History; Conservation C C C
101-475 Geographical Distribution A A A
474-495 Seed-Producing Plants - General Aspects C C C
504-635 Seedless Plants - General Aspects C C C
640-707 Plant Anatomy C C C
710-899 Plant Physiology D D D
900-989 Plant Ecology; Evolution C D D
QL 1-991 Zoology
1-58 General; History D D D
61-79 Collecting; Zoos; Aquariums D A A
81-100 Animals and Civilization. Endangered Species D D D
101-345 Geographical Distribution D A A
351-355 Classification; Nomenclature D D D
360-599 Invertebrates - general & systematic studies, comparative & experimental studies D D D
605-739 Chordates; Vertebrates - general & systematic studies, comparative & experimental studies D D D
750-785 Animal Behavior D D D
799 Morphology D D D
801-950 Comparative Anatomy D D D
951-991 Embryology D D D
QM 1-695 Human Anatomy
1-81 General; History C C C
100-511 Particular Organ Systems C C C
531-549 Regional Anatomy C C C
550-577 Human & Comparative Histology C C C
601-695 Human Embryology C C C
QP 1-981 Physiology
1-345 General; History; Human Physiology D D D
91-114 Cardiovascular System; Heart; Tissues D D D
115-135 Lymphatic System; Respiration; Thermoregulation D D D
136-185 Nutrition; Digestive Tract D D D
351-495 Neurophysiolgy; Neuropsychology D D D
361-430 Nervous System
431-495 Senses; Sensation; Sense Organs
501-801 Animal Biochemistry; Specific substances, (e.g. proteins, enzymes, vitamins) D D D
901-981 Experimental Pharmacology Excluded
QR 1-502 Microbiology
1-74 General aspects C C C
75-99 Bacteria D D D
100-177 Micro-organisms - general aspects, physiology, morphology, biochemistry, cytology, systematics, ecology D D D
180-189 Immunology; Immunochemistry C D D
201-255 Pathogenic Microorganisms C C C
301-351 Micro-organisms of Animals and Plants C C C
352-353 Mycoplasmas; Rickettsias C D D
355-502 Virology D D D
S 1-954 Agriculture (General)
1-559 General; History A A A
560-572 Farm Economics; Farm Management Excluded
583-589 Agricultural Chemistry, Physics, Ecology, Pollution A A A
590-599 Soils (including soil chemistry, soil-plant relationships) A A A
600-604 Agricultural Meteorology; Crop Systems Excluded
604.5-627 Agricultural Conservation; Soil Conservation Excluded
631-667 Fertilizers and Soil Improvement Excluded
671-790 Farm Machinery, Engineering, Farm Buildings Excluded
900-972 Conservation of Natural Resources B B B
SB 1-668 Plant Culture
1-109 General; History A A A
110-139 Propagation; Special Methods A A A
170-171 Tree Crops A A A
175-317 Food Crops; Field Crops A A A
317.5-319 Horticulture Excluded
320-402 Vegetables; Fruits; Nuts; Others Excluded
403-450 Gardens and Gardening Excluded
450.9-476 Landscape Gardening & Architecture A A A
481-485 Parks A A A
599-989 Pests and Diseases Excluded
992-998 Economic Zoology Excluded
SD 1-668 Forestry
1-387 General; History A A A
388 - 389 Forest Engineering A A A
390 Forest Soils A A A
391-410 Sylviculture A A A
411-428 Conservation and Protection A B B
430-557 Exploitation and Utilization A A A
561-668 Forest Policy and Administration A A A
SF 1-1100 Animal Culture
1-83 General; History A A A
84-85 Economic Zoology; Range Management A A A
87-99 Transportation; Housing; Feeds A A A
101-140 Branding; Breeding; Exhibitions A A A
170-180 Working Animals A A A
191-275 Cattle; Dairying A A A
277-362 Horses; Horsemanship A A A
371-401 Sheep; Goats; Swine; Other A A A
402-405 Fur-Bearing Animals A A A
405.5-407 Laboratory Animals A A A
409-459 Pets; Small Animal Culture A A A
461-513 Birds; Poultry A A A
518-597 Insects; Bee Culture; Silk Culture A A A
600-1100 Veterinary Medicine A A A
SH 1-691 Aquaculture, Fisheries, Angling
1-20.5 General Excluded
20.5-400 Aquaculture; Fisheries A A A
401-691 Methods of angling Excluded
SK 1-579 Hunting
1-36 General; History A A A
37-341 Shooting; Hunting Excluded
351-579 Wildlife Management A A A
590-593 Wild Animal Trade A A A
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