Mathematics Collection Development Policy

Bobst Library, New York University
Kara Whatley, Head, Coles Science Reference Center


Mathematics has been described as an art, competing only with music in its abstraction and beauty. It has also been described as the Queen of the Sciences. The study of Mathematics is essential for all of the sciences, for Computer Science, for Economics, and for the social sciences. It is the gateway to a large part of a new world that includes computer applications, planet-wide phenomena, and physical, molecular, physiological, and evolutionary systems. Mathematics and computer science are viewed as living parts of the stream of science, not as isolated specialties.

The Bobst Library collection supports undergraduate instruction in the Department of Mathematics, teaching of mathematics (pedagogy) at the graduate and research level in the School of Education, and programs in other disciplines, particularly for the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, the Stern School of Business, and the Wagner School of Public Service . Mathematical statistics classes in the QA's of the Library of Congress system. Computer Science, which is a part of mathematics in the Library of Congress Subject Headings, is described in a separate statement. The collection also includes mathematical materials for the non-mathematician, such as mathematical recreation and mathematics for standardized tests.

Academic Programs


The Department of Mathematics offers an undergraduate major in Mathematics, the requirements for which are set forth in the College of Arts and Science Bulletin. In accordance with the Courant Institute of Mathematical Science philosophy, the Department also participates in a number of interdisciplinary programs. There are two double majors, one with Computer Science and another with Economics. The Department also has two five-year programs: a B.S./B.E. in conjunction with Stevens Institute of Technology that leads to a B.S. in Mathematics and a B.E. in Engineering Physics, Electrical, Computer, or Mechanical Engineering; and a B.A./M.S. with the Leonard N. Stern School of Business for students considering a career in Actuarial Science.

Morse Academic Progam (MAP) For students who are not planning to be directly engaged in scientific or technical endeavors the three-course Foundations of Scientific Inquiry sequence was created. The Quantitative Reasoning course is taught by members of the Department of Mathematics.


The Department of Mathematics at NYU is a world leader in Applied Mathematics, emphasizing the application of Mathematics to technology and other branches of science. The Graduate Department of Mathematics at the Courant Institute offers balanced training in the mathematical analysis and applications of mathematics in the broadest sense, especially in ordinary and partial differential equations, probability theory and stochastic processes, differential geometry, numerical analysis, scientific computation, mathematical physics and materials science, and fluid and gas dynamics. In computer science, the Institute excels in theory, programming languages, computer graphics, and parallel computing.

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


  1. Language

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

    Limitations do not apply for this subject.

  3. Chronological Periods

    Emphasis is on current materials. Materials on the history of mathematics are collected from every time period.

  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

    Textbooks, monographs, monographic series, facsimiles, reprints, conference proceedings, journals, microforms, video recordings, CDROMs, electronic texts, popularizations. Microform is avoided because of technical problems with reproduction of mathematical notation.

    Reference Collection

    Encyclopedias, dictionaries, directories, guides, handbooks, abstracts and indexes, instructional support materials, selected textbooks, tables.

  2. Excluded

    Circulating Collection

    Newsletters, ephemera, preprints, reprints, offprints, technical reports, juvenile works, K-12 textbooks, manuscripts, problem sets, dissertations and theses (except from NYU). Microform is avoided because of technical problems with reproduction of mathematical notation.

    Reference Collection

    Printed specialized bibliographies or compilations of citations that could be derived from online databases, problem sets, examination files.

Strengths & Weaknesses of the Collection

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 deteriorating physical condition of materials, and limited staff to conduct inventories. Every effort is made to replace missing materials in a timely way if they are available. Increased access to electronic format may help to address this challenge. The collection is strong on periodicals from the 19th century. There is a good collection on college-level pedagogy, especially use of software such as MAPLE and MATLAB.

The collection of textbooks is strong, but it needs to be assessed and weeded, and a selection of textbooks for undergraduate mathematics made in Spanish, Russian, and Chinese for English as a Second Language students. Another ongoing challenge is to mesh collecting with the Courant Institute Library.

Other Resources

  1. Related Collections within NYU Libraries

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

    Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences (CIMS)
    Graduate and research-level materials in pure and applied mathematics. Unnecessary duplication is avoided. Reference works to support research and graduate study, including the basic indexes for mathematics and statistical sciences, are housed at the Courant Institute and linked to the Bobst Library online public access catalog whenever possible. The Institute's excellent library contains one of the largest collections of journals and advanced texts in Mathematics and Computer Science in the U.S.

    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 a challenge and there are numerous grey areas. Some Courant faculty have joint appointments with other NYU departments and are doing research in subjects areas that are established parts of research. Using mathematical tools to model aspects of neuroscience is one example. Mathematical physics is collected both in Bobst and CIMS. Modeling of flows in the atmosphere and the ocean is collected at CIMS because the research interest originated there.

    The Fales Library and Special Collections
    Houses the Berol Collection of Lewis Carroll Materials that includes some of his mathematical works.

  2. Other Collections in New York City

    Cooper Union
    Undergraduate level mathematics to support the engineering degree program.

    Columbia University Mathematics Library
    Not recommended for NYU undergraduate use, as the collections largely overlap.

Subjects & Collection Levels

LC Class Subject ECS CCI DCS Notes
QA1-99 Mathematics, General B B B
QA1-4 Periodicals B B B D level collection at Courant Institute
QA11-20 Study and Teaching B C C
QA21-35 History, Biography B B B D level collection at Courant Institute
QA76 See Computer Science Statement
QA77-141 Elementary Mathematics, Arithmetic
QA101-145 Arithmetic BB B
QA150-271 Algebra, General B B B
QA265-271 Linear Programming and Game Theory B B B
QA273-280 Probability, Mathematical Statistics B B B
QA300-316 Calculus B B B
QA372-377 Differential Equations BB B
QA440-699 Geometry, General; Trigonometry; Topology B B B
QA801-939 Analytical Mechanics B B B
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