West European Social Science Collection Development Policy

Bobst Library, New York University
Andrew Lee, Librarian for West European Studies


The West European social science collection directly supports College of Arts and Science majors and minors in West European Studies. It also indirectly supports majors and minors in Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Economics French, German, Hellenic Studies, History, Irish Studies, Italian, Metropolitan Studies, Politics, Sociology, Spanish and Portuguese, and Women’s Studies.

This collection directly supports the Graduate School of Arts and Science programs leading to the MA in West European Studies, and it indirectly supports the graduate programs related to the departments listed above, as well as the Institute of French Studies, and Museum Studies. Programs in the Stern School of Business and the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and the School of Education also include courses covering West European social science topics.

This policy statement describes the Bobst collections relating to social science disciplines as they relate to Western Europe from the post WWII period (approximately 1950) to the present. European History, Jewish Studies, and Eastern Europe are not included in this policy.


  1. Language

    The collection consists of materials in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Catalan, Portuguese, Greek, German, and Dutch and, to a lesser extent additional European languages.

  2. Geographical Areas

    General emphasis is on the social science disciplines as they relate to Western Europe, in particular (but not limited to) the members of the European Union: Great Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, and to a lesser extent Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and the islands administered by these countries (e.g. Malta, Canary Islands, Balearic Islands).

  3. Disciplinary Emphasis

    LC--The LC classes are spread broadly across the D, G,H, J, K, and L schedules.
    The strengths of the collection are in France, Germany, and the UK.

  4. Chronological Periods

    The collection includes primary and secondary sources for the post-war period (approximately 1950) to the present. In some cases coverage extends back through time as in the case of archeology, economic history, sociology, political history.

  5. Background, Strengths, and Weaknesses

    In 1991 the position of Librarian for West European Social Sciences was created and that same year marked the beginning of the activities of the Center for European Studies. Until that time West European collecting was done by the Social Science Bibliographer and other social science librarians with an emphasis on the collection of English-language materials.

Types of Materials

  1. Included

    Monographs, monographic series, facsimiles, reprints, atlases, conference proceedings, newspapers, journals, microforms, video recordings, CD-ROMs, and other electronic media as appropriate. Some “popular” or “lower quality” materials are chosen selectively for their presentation of topics or points of view that would not be represented otherwise.

  2. Excluded

    Textbooks, maps, manuscripts, pamphlets, newsletters, and juvenile and popular materials. Genealogical materials and immigrant records are not collected. Datasets on magnetic tape are not included in this collection as there are other departments on campus responsible for their acquisition.

Strengths & Weaknesses of the Collection, Other Resources, Subjects & Collecting Levels

Current Collecting Priorities

This collections attempts to be as comprehensive as possible in all that which concerns immigration to, migration within, and emigration from Western Europe.

A discipline-based discussion is not particularly useful in this case because coverage is provided through the cooperation of the subject/disclipline selectors with the selector for West European Studies. Because the publishing output for most aspects of West European social science is not overwhelming librarians are able to collect more broadly than in some other research fields. This broad collecting is necessary due to the distinctive nature of most interdisciplinary and area-focused research. This research most often takes the form of in-depth case studies (country, region, city) and/or compare-and-contrast exercises involving two or more case studies (e.g. government structures, welfare state).

Audio-Visual Recordings
Videotape Collection

A particular effort is made to collect feature film and documentary film related to (im)migration in Western Europe. These are collected in videotape format only. Additionally video related to other aspects of contemporary life in Western Europe is collected (e.g. regionalism, women’s rights, political/social movements).

Music Collection

Covered by the selector for Music. There is potential for collaboration with the Music and Anthropology selectors on a regional and folk music.

Inter-governmental Agencies
  • Council of Europe (CE)--Part of Bobst UN Depository collection
  • European Union (EU)--Depository collection is located at the NYU Law Library
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE)--Part of Bobst UN Depository collection

The collection supports teaching and research in additional departments, programs, and divisions including language departments (e.g. French, German), disciplinary programs (e.g. Sociology, Political Science), and interdisciplinary research of all sorts (e.g. International Education, Metropolitan Studies, etc.).

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