Computer Science Collection Development Policy

Bobst Library, New York University
Kara Whatley, Head, Coles Science Center 5th Floor


Computer Science is traditionally concerned with the science and technology of computing and communications systems. It is the discipline that studies the principles, design and applications of computer systems and computer technologies. More recently, interest has turned to a broader view, encompassing human-computer interaction, autonomous systems, visualization, and technology for multimedia presentations.

The collection of the NYU Bobst Library Coles Science Center supports the information needs of the undergraduate program in computer science at NYU. The Department of Computer Science is a part of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences (CIMS). Established in 1969, research areas in the department include algorithmics, computational geometry, high-level programming languages, compilers and compiler optimization techniques, parallel and distributed computing, design of computer systems, databases, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, graphics, multimedia, computer vision, mathematical programming, numerical analysis, computational biology and computational finance.

Part of the College of Arts and Science (CAS) at NYU, the Computer Science department offers a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree, a minor in computer science and a minor in computer applications. The Department of Computer Science also offers a B.S./B.E. Dual Degree with Stevens Institute of Technology and an accelerated master's program is available to undergraduates.

The minor in computer science is designed primarily for mathematics and science majors whose work will require basic programming skills. The minor in computer applications is designed for humanities and social sciences students who plan to use computer application software such as spreadsheets, desktop publishing, multimedia, and Internet software extensively in their careers.

The core of the curriculum consists of courses in algorithms, programming languages, compilers, artificial intelligence, database systems, and operating systems. Advanced courses are offered in many areas such as natural language processing, the theory of computation, computer vision, software engineering, compiler optimization techniques, computer graphics, distributed computing, multimedia, networks, cryptography and security, groupware and computational finance. Adjunct faculty, drawn from outside academia, teach special topics courses in their areas of expertise. Students are also encouraged to take courses offered by the Department of Mathematics in such subjects as mathematical logic, probability, combinatorics, and applied mathematics.

Computer Science and Information Systems

The department offers a Masters of Science in Information Systems in collaboration with the Stern School of Business. The emphasis is on the use of computer systems in business. Computer Science graduates for the most part intend to pursue technically-oriented careers. CS majors (both undergraduate and graduate) are in demand for their technical skills, and operate from a motivation of development of new algorithmic, scientific, or technological approaches to problems. On the other hand, management information systems is concerned with the analysis, design, and implementation of computer and communications applications and with broader issues of the strategic use of information technology in organizations. IS graduates are interested primarily in pursuing careers as managers of information technology groups or as management consultants. There is a joint M.S. degree in CS/IS, and the Stern School offers an undergraduate major as well as advanced degrees in the subject.

The collection is developed to include materials to assist members at all levels of the NYU community from undergraduates to web managers and programmers on the use computers for their teaching and research. Works on the Internet and the WorldWideWeb are well represented in the collection. The collection includes materials for the lay person such as "how-to" manuals, works on word processing, spreadsheets, databases and product reviews.

The above section is composed largely of extracts from the various WWW pages cited.


  1. Language

    Material is in English, except for dictionaries and a small collection of textbooks in languages used by English as a second language students.
  2. Geographical Areas

    There are no geographical limits for this subject.
  3. Chronological Periods

    Current materials on computer science are emphasized. Essentially, no literature on this subject existed prior to the mid-20th century.
  4. Sources used to Develop the Collection

    [Section to be completed]

  5. Weeding

    [Section to be completed]

  6. Selection Criteria

    [Section to be completed]


Types of Materials

  1. Included

    Circulating Collection

    Monographs, textbooks, guidebooks, manuals, conference proceedings, reprints, facsimiles, microforms, cdrom's, access to remote electronic texts.

    Reference Collection

    Encyclopedias, manuals, handbooks, guidebooks, instructional support materials, remote access to abstracts and indexes. Product reviews. Every effort is made to maintain an up to date collection of guidebooks for the major programming languages.

  2. Excluded

    Circulating Collection

    Ehemera, pamphlets, preprints, offprints, technical reports, newsletters, manuscripts, juvenile materials, problem sets, K-12 textbooks.

    Reference Collection

    Printed specialized bibliographies or compilations of citations that could be derived from online databases. Superseded and outdated material is withdrawn, or transferred to the circulating collection if it is of ongoing historical interest.

Strengths & Weaknesses of the Collection

The combined collection at CIMS and Bobst is strong on materials on computers and society, algorithms, programming languages, compilers, artificial intelligence, database systems, and operating systems, formal language theory, computer logic, computer mathematics, discrete mathematics, neural computing, knowledge-based computing, and systems analysis, and are collected at the undergraduate study level at Bobst and at the advanced academic and professional level materials at the Courant Institute for Mathematical Sciences.

One challenge facing all of the science collections at NYU is to make a successful transition from print to electronic information resources. Another is to manage the collections well, given limited space, the poor condition of the collection, and limited staff to conduct inventories. Weeding outdated material and adding the latest information is of critical importance in this field. A successful transition to electronic format may help greatly to address this challenge.

Development of the computer science collection between Bobst and the Courant Institute is an ongoing challenge to coordinate.

V. Other Resources

  1. Related Collections within NYU Libraries

    Applied Science and Technology: Computer Communications, the Internet, Hardware.

    Z's: Outdated or superseded bibliographies that retain interest for historical or bibliographic research reasons are located in the Bobst Library Z collection.

    Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences
    Graduate and research-level materials in pure and applied mathematics are collected by the library of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and duplication is avoided whenever possible. Reference works to support research and graduate study, including the basic indexes for mathematics and statistical sciences, are the responsibility of the Courant Institute and, whenever possible, the electronic versions are linked to the Bobst Library online public access catalog. The institute's excellent library, which contains one of the largest collections of journals and advanced texts in Mathematics and Computer Science in the U.S., is open to most categories of NYU library patrons. While efforts are made to avoid unnecessary duplication between Bobst and Courant, and to focus subject collections in one location or the other, this can be difficult, given Courant's strong interdisciplinary programs. Courant faculty may have joint appointments with other NYU departments or be doing research in areas that are part of research in other NYU departments. Mathematical physics is collected both in Bobst and CIMS, for example.

  2. Other Collections in New York

    Cooper Union: Electrical Engineering, CAD/CAM

    Science and Industry Branch of the New York Public Library: materials for the general public.

Subjects & Collecting Levels

Combined between CIMS and Bobst.

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