Linguistics Collection Development Policy

Bobst Library, New York University
Scott Collard, Selector for Linguistics


The collection supports academic programs in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), as well as smaller programs in the School of Education.

In addition to an undergraduate program, the Linguistics Department offers an M.A./Ph.D. program that gives students an extensive background and training in phonetics and phonology; syntax and semantics; sociolinguistics; neurolinguistics; computational linguistics; and historical linguistics. Students also engage in cross-disciplinary work through other departments (psychology, anthropology, computer science, philosophy) and individually structured research projects.

Outside of the Linguistics Department, smaller programs related to literature and translation, language acquisition, communication, applied linguistics, ESL/TESOL and other areas within the Steinhardt School of Education are also supported through collection activities. Many of these programs intersect and interact with the concerns of the departments of Teaching and Learning and Applied Psychology, and as such, collection development in these areas tends to be complex and multidisciplinary in nature.


  1. Languages

    Because of the nature of formal linguistics research, and particularly the specialties of the Linguistics department at NYU, materials are acquired in multiple languages, with a special emphasis on western European languages as well as some African and Afro-Caribbean languages, creoles and pidgins. Many core materials are multi-language in nature, and materials are collected in other languages in consultation with the Linguistics faculty.
  2. Chronological Periods

    Although the Library selectively collects works related to classical theorists and research, in order to support the curriculum and faculty research, the library purchases mainly current material.

Types of Materials

Scholarly serials, monographs, collections of essays, conference proceedings, and electronic resources are collected. Serial subscriptions are collected in print or electronic format, but with a growing preference for electronic. Linguistic corpora and datasets may be purchased on a selective basis. Textbooks requested by faculty for specific courses are purchased and put on reserve; otherwise, textbooks are purchased only in special circumstances, such a demonstrated need for purchasing of overview sources on a particular subject, or for reference purposes.

Small amounts of materials to support the work and activities of Applied Linguistics and ESL/TESOL programs, and may include handbook or guidebook materials, as well as curriculum-focused materials.

Strengths & Weaknesses of the Collection

Current and retrospective holdings of scholarly Linguistics monographs and serials are extensive and growing as the Linguistics Department expands. The selection of non-print resources is particularly strong, with users able to access remotely all of the main indexing utilities (LLBA, MLA, BL, and the Citation Indexes); a majority of the core, central journals; and a handful of classic reference titles like the Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics. Ongoing exploration of non-print offerings will remain a focus of collection work, particularly where more computing-intensive applications like linguistic corpora are concerned.

In addition, considering the interdisciplinary work of the department, the collections in other social sciences and education significantly enhance the curricular and research needs of Linguistics students and faculty. (See "Other Resources" below.)

Other Resources

See the following policy statements for descriptions of other relevant Bobst collections: Anthropology (linguistic anthropology); Computer Science (natural language processing); Psychology (language acquisition, language and cognition, neurolinguistics); Education (applied linguistics, ESL/TESOL and L2 Acquisition, child psychology); English (language and literature); and Communications. The Courant Institute Library also collects computer science materials related to natural language processing.

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