Earth and Environmental Science Collection Development Policy

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


The collection supports undergraduate instructional programs and research of faculty, undergraduates, and some graduate students in the College of Arts and Science (CAS) and the Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS). The Earth and Environmental Science program is administered through the Department of Biology but is not a degree- granting program; a minor is offered. Interdisciplinary in nature, this program compliments degree granting programs in the natural sciences as well as social science, humanities, education, government, law, and business.

Centered around the study of the earth as a natural system and man's interaction with it, selected topics covered include the origin and evolution of the earth, climatic cycles and change over a variety of time scales, biogeochemical cycles, the interaction of oceans, atmosphere and land, and its impact on life, as well as the application of geologic principles in urban environments.

Students from other programs also make use of the collections in earth and environmental sciences. For example Anthropology students (B.A., M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D.) seeking works on evolution and paleontology find them in this collection. Students in the joint undergraduate program in Environmental Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology utilize engineering sections of the collection.


  1. Subject

    Coverage in this interdisciplinary program of study includes geology, paleontology, geophysics, climate, atmospheric science, oceanography, energy, evolution, and human ecology.

  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

    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, historical, cultural, policy, ethical, or philosophical importance.

  4. Chronological Periods

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

III. 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, and biographical and organizational directories are collected in print form.

    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 extremely 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 very selectively 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, specimen collections, and maps.

    General Collection

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

IV. Strengths & Weaknesses of the Collection

An interdisciplinary program of study, Earth and Environmental Science is now offered through the Department of Biology. Older sections of the geology collection exhibit greater coverage (generally to the research and advanced research levels) than current collections since they supported the instruction and research needs of the entire, now disbanded, Department of Geology. However, since then instruction has been at the undergraduate level so selection has been adjusted accordingly. While paleontology is still collected at levels closely resembling historical levels, mineralogy, petrology, geochemistry and geochronology as well as general aspects of the subject have only been collected at basic levels.

Many of the print indexing and abstracting services in the fields of environment and energy were canceled in the early 1990's. Print indexes and abstracts in this area remain weak while adequate strength has been built in the electronic index collection. Short term growth in this area will be in the area of web-based services.

V. Other Resources

  1. Other Collections at NYU

    Anthropology (Human Ecology)
    Physics (Atmospheric Sciences)

  2. Other Libraries in New York City

    American Museum of Natural History - relevant strengths include paleontology, mineralogy and geology.

    Columbia University Geology Library.

    Columbia University Geoscience Library - located at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, this collection covers marine biology, physical geography, climatology, rock mechanics, geochemistry, geophysics, and paleomagnetics.

    Cooper Union Library - although predominantly an engineering library, this collection also includes works on many aspects of environmental science.

    New York Botanical Garden Library - relevant strengths include the environmental science collection.

    New York Public Library - Science Industry and Business Library.

VI. 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

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


    - retain in the General 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) is considered in these cases.

  3. Electronic Resources
    Indexing and Abstracting Services

    - previous years of coverage are retained as new years are added.

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).

GC 1-1581 Oceanography
65-78 Underwater Exploration Exclude
83-87.6 Submarine Topography Exclude
96-97.8 Estuarine Oceanography AA A
100-149 Seawater. Chemical Oceanography A A A
150-181 Physical Oceanography A A A
190-190.5 Ocean-Atmosphere Interaction B C C
200-376 Dynamics of the Ocean (Waves. Ocean Circulation. Currents. Water Masses. Ocean Mixing. Tides) B B B
377-399 Marine Sediments Exclude
401-881 Oceanography A A A
1000-1023 Marine Resources. Applied Oceanography A A A
1080-1581 Marine Pollution A A A
GE 1-140 Environmental Sciences
1-125 General. History. Philosophy. Ethics B B B
140-160 Environmental Degradation by Region or Country B B B
145 Environmental Risk Assessment A A A
150-155 United States B B B
160 Other Regions or Countries A A A
170-190 Environmental Policy B B B
180-185 United States B B B
190 Other Regions or Countries A A A
195-199Environmentalism, Green Movement B B B
197-198 United States B B B
199 Other Regions or Countries A A A
QE 1-996 Geology
1-61 General. History C B B
65-350 Geographical Divisions A A A
351-399 Mineralogy B A A
420-499 Petrology B A A
500-625 Dynamic and Structural Geology C B B
640-699 Stratigraphy B B B
701-996.5 Paleontology C C C
720 Paleoecology
761-899 Paleozoology
901-996.5 Paleobotany
TD 1-1066 Environmental Technology, Sanitary Engineering.
1-157 General. History C B B
158-167 Municipal Engineering C B B
169-196 Environmental Protection. Acid Rain C B B
201-500 Water Supply C B B
511-870 Sewage. Solid Waste C B B
878-879 Soil Pollution A A A
881-890 Air Pollution C A A
891-893 Noise Pollution C A A
895-899 Industrial Sanitation A A A
920-931 Rural Sanitary Engineering Exclude
940-949 Low Temperature Sanitary Engineering A B B
1020-1066 Biodegradation. Hazardous Substances/Disposal A B B

Also see the Anthropology collection development policy statement for information on:

GF 1-900 Human Ecology. Anthropogeography
1-50 General
51-71 Environmental Influences on Man
75-95 Man's Influence on the Environment. Ethics
101-127 Settlements
125 Cities. Urban Geography
127 Rural Settlements. Rural Geography
500-900 By Region or Country

The Medical and Health Sciences collection provides works on the following:

RA 1-1270 Public Aspects of Medicine
565-600 Environmental Health (including sewage disposal, air pollution, water supply, etc.)
791-954 Medical Geography, Medical Climatology and Meteorology
1190-1270 Toxicology

Selection Criteria

  1. Monographs

    Materials must be relevant to curriculum and/or research needs. The subject area must be one that is collected, and the level of work must be appropriate for undergraduate instruction, graduate research or faculty research. Materials being considered for the collection come to the attention of the selector through faculty requests, the approval plan, interlibrary loan reports, publisher catalogues, journal book review sections or by identification in standard collection development tools.


    Physical quality of the monograph. Quality of content. Credentials/affiliations of publishing house, author, editors, contributors.


    Availability through other NYU libraries, consortia, or other New York City libraries.


    Price, anticipated short-term use and long term value to the collection must be considered. Monographs priced over $250 must be approved by the science bibliographer.

  2. Journals

    Material must be relevant to curriculum and/or research needs. The subject area must be one that is collected, and the level of work must be appropriate for undergraduate instruction, graduate research or faculty research. Journals being considered for the collection come to the attention of the selector through faculty requests, interlibrary loan reports, document delivery requests, publisher advertisements, or journal citation evaluations.


    Physical quality of the journal. Quality of content, including any special or unique characteristics. Credentials/affiliations of publisher, editor, editorial board and contributors. Rank in citation evaluations. Indexed in available abstracting and indexing services.


    Availability through other NYU libraries, consortia, other New York City libraries, interlibrary loan or document delivery. Alternately, tables of contents through an electronic alerting service or journal web sites.


    Price, estimated number of readers, and alternatives are considered in an informal cost/benefit analysis.

  3. Electronic Resources

    The general criteria outlined above are used for electronic resources as well. In addition, the following aspects are considered:


    Local and remote access; access method - Web-based online access, Telnet online access, networked CD-ROM, or standalone CD-ROM.


    Method of archiving old issues; Length of time old issues will be archived.

    Hardware/Software Requirements

    Hardware and software is required for public access terminals.

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