Classics Collection Development Policy

Bobst Library, New York University
Gerald Heverly, Selector for Classics


The library's collections in Classical Studies support a wide range of graduate and undergraduate programs embracing all aspects of Greek and Roman literature and civilizations.

The graduate program in Classics, leading to the masters or doctoral degree, is both departmental and interdepartmental. Departmental programs emphasize ancient literature, history, philology, papyrology, epigraphy, law, and palaeography. Interdepartmental programs in classical art and archaeology are supported mainly by the Stephen Chan Library of the Institute of Fine Arts.

The collection further supports a number of programs where the literatures of Greece and Rome are studied in translation such as Comparative Literature, Philosophy, English, Hellenic Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Dramatic Literature and, to some extent, Art History, Anthropology/Archaeology, and Museum Studies.


  1. Language

    The collection consists principally of primary texts in classical Latin and Greek and critical works in the major European languages. The literature of antiquity includes all branches of knowledge: Historical, philosophical and scientific treatises are acquired as well as literary texts. Works of the major and several minor authors in English translation are collected for the CAS and GSAS programs.

    Criticism that is part of the literature of classical studies is collected in the original Greek or Latin and is considered primary text. Modern criticism, including literary history and theory, is acquired primarily in English, although major critical works by German, Italian, French, and Spanish classicists are acquired in the original language especially where English translations are not available.

  2. Geographical Areas

    Included are regions governed or influenced by ancient Greece and Rome.

  3. Chronological Periods

    The classics collection spans the periods from the 7th century B.C.E. through the 5th century C.E. (the fall of the Roman Empire). Bronze Age (Minoan and Mycenaean) materials are collected chiefly by the Stephen Chan Library of the Institute of Fine Arts. Primary source materials in the Greek and Latin literatures of the Middle Ages is acquired both in the original languages and, where available, in translation. Also collected are significant scholarly treatises on the literature of the Middle Ages. Scholarly research on the history (including the history of art) of classical antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Byzantine period are collected in support of programs in Classics, History, Hellenic Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the Fine Arts.

Types of Materials

  1. Included

    Monographs, monographic series, serials, proceedings, facsimiles, reprints, festschriften, microforms, electronic media (including electronic texts), and video recordings. Exhibition catalogs, sound recordings, and dissertations are acquired very selectively.

  2. Excluded

    Maps, graphs, manuscripts, ephemera, posters, and dissertations when requested for individual research.

Strengths & Weaknesses of the Collection

Holdings for Classical Studies in Bobst Library, supplemented by the Stephen Chan Library in the areas of ancient art and archaeology, represent a significant scholarly resource.

The retrospective collection is fairly strong (although spotty) in primary classical texts and in critical works in western European languages. Retrospective collection building since 1997 in especially reference and primary source materials has greatly strengthened and improved these resources.

The creation in 1998 of a separate section of the library for primary source materials in the humanities has assured the library of nearly complete sets of the Oxford Classical Text, Loeb, Teubner, and Budé series.

The collection of materials dealing with papyri and papyrology is strong, and an effort must be made to continue the high level of collecting.

The library has acquired a number of databases for the study of primary texts in classical studies such as the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, the Packard Humanities Institute databases, Perseus, and the Vergil Reference CD-ROM.

The problem with brittle books has weakened the collection. Irreplaceable 19th century critical editions of primary texts have disintegrated with time and others are in fragile condition. Much work has been undertaken in an effort to replace or bind a good deal of brittle materials. Filming has also been used primarily in cases of no existing paper copy. Availability of other collections in the city, the RLG preservation program, and the library's own preservation program should ameliorate these conditions. A project to replace missing books was completed in 1999. However, efforts to replace missing or worn volumes of standard works must continue, as well as the acquisition of multiple copies of works in heavy demand.

An area in which stronger collecting should be undertaken includes epigraphy. Epigraphic sources are essential to our knowledge of Greek and Roman history. Courses on Latin epigraphy and on the Imperial period where inscriptions form an important source are offered primarily at the graduate level. There is also a project underway in the Classics Department to collect and decipher the Greek inscriptions in the papyrus collection held at the Fales Library. The existing collection of resources on epigraphy is at a basic level. Efforts should be made to raise the level to support research at the doctoral level. In the meantime, Columbia University's strong collection in this area can serve as an added resource. Our collection in ancient law also needs some strengthening for the same reason although the NYU Law Library will continue to provide the main collecting in this area. Courses on Etruscan civilization and seminars on archaeology are offered regularly in the department. Consequently, some archaeological materials, especially overviews and materials related to the history and languages of Greece and Italy, are collected as well. IFA will, however, continue to be the chief resource for archaeology, especially for excavation reports and materials covering local geographic areas.

Continuing efforts will focus on the development of a collection strong in major editions of primary texts and in criticism. Because of increasing interest in interdisciplinary research (e.g. a change from the previously mandatory "Introduction to Classical Studies" to "Introduction to Ancient Studies") efforts to acquire materials in all aspects of antiquity (including history, art and archaeology) should be made. This expanded interest also includes the geographic areas of the Near East, Egypt, and Anatolia.

Other Resources

See policy statements for Comparative Literature, Art, Anthropology, European History, Religion, and Philosophy.

Related collections are those of the Stephen Chan Library at the Institute of Fine Arts and the NYU Law Library.

Subject & Collecting Levels

PA 201-899 Greek philology and language C
PA 2001-2915 Latin philology and language C
PA 3050-4505 Greek literature D
PA 6001-6971 Latin literature D
PA 5000-5660 Byzantine literature C
PA 8001-8595 Medieval & Modern Latin literature C
PA 3300-3367 Papyri and papyrology C
DF 10-289 Ancient Greece -- history C
DF 275-289 Local history and description B
DG 11-365 Ancient Italy -- history C
DG 221-225 Etruscan language and history C
DF 501-649 Byzantine Empire, 323-1453 C
CJ 5581-5690 Numismatics -- ancient B
CN 120-740 Epigraphy -- ancient C
B 108-708 Philosophy -- ancient C
JC 51-93 Political science -- ancient C
KJA 2-3660 Ancient law B/C
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