Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Queer Sudies Collection Development Policy

Bobst Library, New York University
Jason Phillips, Librarian for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies

The area of lesbian, bisexual, gay and queer studies encompasses a wide array of disciplines, theoretical approaches, modes of study, and experience. If there is one tenet which all of these disparate groups hold in common it is the centrality of sex and sexuality as valid issues with which and through which to pursue any scholarly enquiry. From this statement springs divergent approaches to scholarship in nearly every traditional field of study. In general, most students and scholars interested in lbgq studies are involved in interdiscliplinary, cross, disciplinary, or extradisciplinary work. Meeting their research needs requires different kinds of materials and different approaches to collecting that have traditionally been done. Much queer primary research questions the very nature of the materials acquired by libraries, seeking the often ignored and usually not purchased or preserved portions of collections. This should be kept in mind by anyone selecting queer materials.


The lbgq collections supports research and teaching of all aspects of lbgq studies at NYU. The primary user group for the materials includes faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates in the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Continuing Education, School of Education, Gallatin School of Individualized Study, School of Social Work, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Tisch School of the Arts, and the Wagner School of Public Service. Departments supported include English, comparative literature, anthropology, history, social science, psychology, performing arts, fine arts, American studies, cinema studies, women's studies, John W. Draper program, social work, health studies, law, and education. (Faculty from these departments have expressed the desire for the library to develop its holdings of lbgq materials.)


  1. Language

    Preference will be given to materials in English, including the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and other English speaking countries. Materials relating to queer issues in other countries and languages are collect in consultation with the appropriate selector.

  2. Chronological Periods

    Emphasis will be placed on contemporary persons, events, and works, but material will be collected relating to all historical periods. Retrospective acquisition: Given the usual vississitudes of the collection of queer materials, the historical holdings have many gaps. Retrospective acquisition of key out-of-print titles will be done based on standard bibliographies. When available, microforms and reprints will be purchased.

  3. Geographical Areas

    While no region or country is excluded, emphasis is placed on the United States. Works from Canada, Great Britain, and to a lesser extent Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and other English-speaking countries are collected to support cross-cultural studies. Western European materials will be collected at a lower level, again, to provide cross-cultural perspectives. Special attention will be paid to Dutch and German materials in acknowledgment of the closer relationship of queer cultures in these countries to American queer culture.

Types of Materials Collected and Excluded

  1. Materials Collected

    In general all types of formats will be collected, including: monographs, books, periodicals, sound recordings, video, multimedia, electronic resources, etc. Given the ephemeral nature of much primary material relating to queer studies, special consideration should be given to the acquisition of materials that would normally be deemed out of scope or of insufficient research value. Examples of such items might be bar guides to NYC, travel guides to NYC, etc. Special collections materials will emphasize fictional representations of queerness, especially early works (written before 1940) and works about queer experience in New York City. Other valuable items which must be preserved in original format should be purchased in conjunction with the Fales Librarian.

  2. Video Collection

    A core collection of lesbian and gay videos will be collected. Supplemental films by NYU alumni and/or films about the queer experience in New York City will be collected comprehensively.

  3. Materials Excluded

    In general popular self-help books, sex manuals; physical sciences, except for work on lbgq scientists, are collected only representatively. Exceptions to this guideline might include books which are supportive of the student who is coming to terms with his or her sexual identities. Other ephemeral materials may be collected because they represent specific types of publications, i.e. newsletters, circulars, comic books.

  4. Subjects

    identity development; homosexuality; gays; lesbians; bisexuality; transsexuals; transgender issues; queers; S/M; transvestism. See attached list of relevant LCSH.

    These subjects overlap with other collecting areas, especially women's studies, sociology, politics, psychology, and the physical sciences. The lbgq studies selector should cooperate with selectors for these other areas to assure adequate coverage.

    Overlap with other collectings areas:

    • Social sciences
    • Women's studies
    • European literature
    • World history
    • Tamiment

Subjects & Collecting Levels

Subjects Existing Collection Current Colleccting
Biography A B
History B D
Literature B D
Politics B D
Psychology D D
Religion B B
Sociology C D
Women's Studies B D
Anthropology B C
Arts B D
Biology B B
Education B C
Law A B
Philosophy B B
Economics B B
Library Science A A
Military/ Naval Science A A Except political implications of military policy
Sports A A

Other Resources

New York Public Library: The New York Public Library holds a large collection of lesbian and gay archival materials and printed items. Included among their collections are the papers of th International Gay Infomation Center, the People With AIDS Coalition papers, the Gay Mens' Health Crisis papers, and the personal papers of many leading lesbians and gay men. Of special interest is the IGIC collection, which contains 81 linear feet of records and personal papers from 1944-1991, 2000 separate periodical titles, 4000 books, 150 linear feet of ephemeral materials, and over 300 audiovisual items.

Cornell University Human Sexuality Collection: Cornell University holds one of the largest collections of materials relating to sex and sexuality in the country. The collection includes all aspects of human sexuality, with an emphasis on lbgq issues and political action. There is an extensive international collection of periodicals, including over 1000 titles; over 40 manuscript and archival collections, totaling over 500 cubic feet of materials; a book collection of about 3000 volumes, not including a very large pulp fiction collection. The archival holdings include the papers of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and other national organizations.

The Lesbian Herstory Archive: The Lesbian Herstory Archive is one of the largest archives devoted to materials about women who love women. The collection is community-based and run by community members. It contains over 15,000 volumes, 1500 periodical titles, 12,000 photographs, 1000 subject files, 400 videos, numerous tapes, sound recordings, works of art, posters, and ephemeral materials.

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