United Nations/International Documents Collection Development Policy


The United Nations collection and the intergovernmental agency collections serve research and teaching needs of students and faculty in NYU's GSAS, especially in the departments of Politics and Economics; the Wagner School of Public Administration; the Stern School of Business; and the Law School. The campus trend toward internationalization in all educational programs has affected and increased the use of this collection.

As depository collections for the United Nations and the Food and Agricultural Organization, Bobst Library has a responsibility to respond to the research needs of the general public. This public includes researchers from area law schools; high school Model UN programs; other students, faculty, and researchers primarily from the Tri-State area. The paper UN collection is considered one of the most comprehensive in the U.S.


International intergovermental organizations are a 20th century phenomenon. With the exception of League of Nations and a few other agencies (International Labour Organisation, International Postal Union) the library's holdings begin in 1945. Since the beginning the United Nations material has been housed separately and organized following the UN's own classification scheme and accessible through finding aids produced by the UN itself.

The other intergovernmental agency publications were acquired subsequent to 1945 through a combination of depository agreements, blanket orders, and transfer arrangements with the Law School Library. The arrangement of these materials is currently under review and the long term goal is to house the material according the Library of Congress classification scheme and to have them fully accessible through BobCat. During the interim the materials are arranged by agency and accessible through a card catalog. Additionally the library has microform collections that enhance the library's coverage. We have an historical UN collection in microcard covering 1946-1969 and a microfiche collection covering 1965-1990.

Up until 1995 collecting was largely passive and unselective. Most of the large intergovernmental organizations were collected indescriminately. Some collection gaps are due to the labor- intensive nature of following address changes, identifying new representatives, and generating timely responses to queries regarding materials. Other gaps develop due to international political developments (e.g. US withdrawal from UNESCO resulted in our losing depository status). Some smaller or more recently established agencies were never included. We have an ongoing subscription to the Index to International Statistics which greatly enhances our coverage of intergovernmental agency material. The index is available in both print and electronic format and is supported by a microfiche collection. The index covers the years 1983-) and approximately 95% of the items listed in the index have been fiched.

Electronic media has become an important collecting area for both UN and intergovernmental agency material. The library has a Website which provides access to World Wide Web resources related to this collection ( Access to the Website is available to both the NYU community and the general World Wide Web user. Access to the CD-ROM products is provided through a stand-alone workstation in the Business and Social Science/ Documents Center. When considering Faculty requests for numeric data the librarian must consider whether coverage is already provided by the Social scinece Group at the Information Technology Services, and whether it relates to either research or teaching at NYU.

Foreign national documents have never been systematically collected and not part of the UN/International Documents collection. The limited collection is housed either in the Business and Social Science/Documents Center or in the general stacks. In paper the library collects the British and Greek Parliamentary Papers, selective Statistical Abstracts, Central Bank reports, some historical statistical compilations, and a limited number of topical monographs. In microform the library collects statistical yearbooks from around the world beginning with 1946, Central Bank reports, historical population censuses for Latin America and Europe (West and East), foreign office historical series, as well as French Gov......

Types of Materials

Official records, statistical publications, topical monographs, serials, CD-ROMs, floppy diskettes, audio recordings, videos, Internet resources, and considerable else that agencies have chosen to send. Also included are commercial microform collections, and materials that result from the partnership of commercial publishers with a given intergovernmental agency.

Strengths & Weaknesses

The real strength of this collection is in the paper holdings of League of Nations and United Nations historical documents. No other collection in the city makes these materials available to the public. The depth of the other IGO collections, and the sheer volume of IGO material is unique. This collection benefited from the integration of the Stern School of Business Library because many serials runs from IMF, OECD, and World Bank were completed. These publications are particularly rich for statistical work, and when they are augmented by our IIS subscription we can claim very thorough coverage.

Weaknesses are found in coverage of subsidiary agencies of the UN, (UNIDIR, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNIFEM, etc), UNESCO, regional offices of the ILO (PREALC, IILS, SAAT, IIES, CIT, etc), These materials would satisfy research interests but due to the labor intensve nature of collecting their materials, combined with inconsistent efforts over the years, it will be difficult to fill in the historical collections. Nonetheless, it is possible to establish strong collecting procedures for current materials. NYU has been a full depository for FAO publications since 1950, although currently there is little campus interest. NYU is one of only XXXX depositories in the US.

Other Resources

The Law School is a depository for GATT and European Union documents and they are known for having strong collections in both public and private international law, especially in the areas of trade, taxation, banking, and environmental law, as well as human and humanitarian rights. They collect foreign law in English and in the vernacular for Europe and other continents with strenghts in the laws of the UK, Belgium, Germany, Italy, France and Great Cayman Island. They are weak in the law of African countries, and they collect on China, Japan, Korea and VietNam only in English. The Law Library is involved in several consortial agreements for coverage of other world areas. They collect UN and intergovernmental organization documents selectively with a focus on legal materials.

Organizations & Collection Levels

Autonomous Intergovernmental Agencies

Caribbean Community A B C
Council of Europe (CE) D D D
European Broadcasting Union (EBU) A A A
*European Union (see Section V) - - -
Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) (depository)
*General Agreement on Tariffs
and Trade(GATT) (see Section V)
- - -
Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) A A A
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) B B B
International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank/IBRD) D D E
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) B A A
International Court of Justice C C C
International Finance Corporation (IFC)
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
International Labor Organization (ILO) A A C
International Monetary Fund (IMF) D D E
International Telecommunications Union (ITU) A A A
League of Nations A A C
Multilateral Fund Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Organization for African Unity (OAU) A A C
Organization of American States (OAS) B B D
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) D D E
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Companies (OPEC) A A E
United Nations (depository) E E E
UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
Universal Postal Union A A A
World Health Organization (WHO)
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) A A A
World Meteorological Organization A A A

*NYU Law Library is depository and/or collects extensively.

Subsidiary Organs of the UN General Assembly

These are represented selectively through our standing order for UN Sales Publications and through IIS:

  • Office of the UN Disaster Relief Coordinator (UNDRO)
  • Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • UN Children's Fund (UNICEF)
  • UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
    CCI: D DCI: D
  • UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)
  • UN Development Programme (UNDP)
  • UN Environment Programmme (UNEP)
    CCI: B DCI: C
  • UN Population Fund (UNFPA)
    CCI: B DCI: C
    CCI: A DCI: D ]
  • UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)
    CCI: B DCI: B
  • UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
  • UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW)
    CCI: A DCI: D
  • UN University (UNU)
    CCI: B DCI: C
  • World Food Council (WFC)
  • World Food Programme (WFP)
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