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last updated: 4/20/2012

Collection Development Policies - Comparative Literature

Comparative Literature

  1. Introduction
    1. Purpose of the policy statement
      This document provides information on the Comparative Literature collection of the Indiana University Libraries, detailing the scope of coverage, collection responsibilities, and selection tools, and giving an overview of the collection and its clientele. It will serve as a basis for managing, maintaining, and planning for the future development of the collection, and as a tool for other collectors and administrators.

    2. Audience
      The intended audience is Library staff and administration, the Comparative Literature Department, as well as students and faculty in related disciplines.

    3. Description of institution/department and clientele
      Founded as a seminary in 1820, Indiana University-Bloomington has been classed by the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement in Teaching as a Doctoral/Research-Extensive institution, offering doctoral programs in 86 disciplines, master's degrees in 125 fields, professional degrees in two areas, and bachelor's degrees in 98 subject areas. One of the leading research universities in the United States, IUB has historically been noted for its strength in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

      The Department of Comparative Literature at Indiana University-Bloomington was founded in 1949 and is among the largest of its kind in the United States. It is known for its scholarship and innovative teaching methods. Both teaching and research in the department are concerned with the relationships between literature and other arts and fields of knowledge. Emphasis traditionally has been on the systematic comparison of literary works from more than one culture, but in recent years comparative literature has been increasingly concerned with theoretical approaches to literature and with exploring relationships between literature and such areas as music, the visual arts, film, philosophy, religion, political thought, and the natural and social sciences. Translation Studies, including the theory and practice of literary translation, is a particularly strong area in the department. Another focus has been the area of Oriental-Occidental literary and cultural relations. Course offerings include methods and theory of comparative literature, literatures in translation, literary history, literary analysis, literature and the other arts, and translation studies. The department offers a Certificate in Translation, and also participates in certificates in Biblical and Literary Studies, Medieval Studies, and Renaissance Studies. Advanced degrees granted are the M.A. and Ph.D. In 2004-05 the department comprised 50 undergraduate majors, 70 graduate majors, and 14 core faculty members. As well, there were 6 joint faculty and 26 adjunct faculty members. More detailed information on the department is available at its web site:

      A special strength of the faculty is the breadth of languages covered, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Persian, Romanian, and Spanish. Faculty research interests, in addition to translation, include the interrelations between literature and philosophy, the Bible and literature, Renaissance studies, 19th-century European fiction, narrative theory, cultural theory, literature and psychoanalysis, Caribbean literature, Japanese-Western literary relations, comparative arts, history of ideas, medieval allegorical literature, intercultural theater, postcolonial studies, and literatures of ethnic minorities. Joint and adjunct faculty members from other departments contribute perspectives from Theatre and Drama, Gender Studies, Cognitive Science, Film Studies, Anthropology, Central Eurasian Studies, Germanic Studies, Spanish and Portuguese, English, Music, Jewish Studies, Philosophy, Classical Studies, Applied Linguistics, French and Italian, Religious Studies, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, and Slavic Languages and Literature.

      The primary clientele for the Libraries' collections in Comparative Literature are faculty, graduate students, and upper-level undergraduates in the department, but also students and scholars in the literatures of other cultures who need comparative materials as background for their particular studies.

    4. Brief overview of the collection
      The collection covers at research level mainly works in the LC class range dedicated specifically to Comparative Literature: PN851-899 in the IUB Main Library. Because the fund is very small, materials in other areas are acquired at the instructional support level; heavy reliance is placed on the other funds that cover language and literature to acquire relevant materials in their language areas.
  2. Scope of Coverage
    1. Languages collected and excluded
      Theoretically, all languages are appropriate. In practice, because of limited funds, materials are collected mainly in English and the major Western European languages. Most materials in other vernacular languages are acquired by the appropriate funds.

    2. Geographical areas covered and excluded
      Theoretically, world-wide. In practice, because of strengths of faculty in the department and also lack of funds, emphasis has been on North and South America, Western Europe, Japan, and China.

    3. Chronological periods covered and excluded
      The main emphasis is on the time span from the medieval period to the 21st century; in the area of literature and the other arts, mainly the 20th century is covered.

    4. Dates of publication of materials collected; current vs. retrospective coverage
      Emphasis is on collecting current materials, but if gaps are noted in the collection, retrospective acquisitions are also undertaken, if financially feasible.

    5. Formats collected and excluded
      Primarily collected are monographs and serials, including electronic journals, and selected digital resources. Electronic versions of journals will be preferred if they are the visual and textual equivalent of the print versions and are not more expensive, and if access is provided to permanent archival copies of all issues. Microforms and reprints are acquired if available and needed for research. Other formats, such as films or videos, are acquired occasionally on the Comparative Literature fund, but most usually by the Media fund.
  3. Collecting Responsibility
    The Librarian for Comparative Literature is responsible mainly for the collection of truly comparative materials. There is a good deal of collaboration with the collection managers for all languages and literatures, as well as with those for Fine Arts, Music, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Theatre and Drama, the Information Commons, and West European Studies. Except for the Information Commons, there is little or no overlap with other IUB campus collections.

  4. Related Collections

  5. Principal Sources of Supply and Major Selection Tools

    Most English-language publications are acquired from Blackwell's Book Services; many of them are covered by an approval plan profile for university press and trade titles. Most European French materials are ordered from Aux Amateurs de Livres or Jean Touzot, both in Paris. Italian materials are acquired from Casalini Libri in Florence/Fiesole. German materials are ordered from the vendor Otto Harrassowitz in Wiesbaden, and Spanish materials come mainly from Puvill Libros or Iberbook in Spain. Latin American and East Asian materials come from various vendors.

    Major selection tools include bibliographic information on new titles supplied by vendors in both paper and electronic form; electronic records of recently cataloged titles from the Library of Congress; dealer catalogs; publishers' blurbs and catalogs; recent bibliographies; online booksellers' databases; and recommendations from faculty and students.

  6. Preservation
    1. Criteria for selection for preservation and/or mass deacidification
      Criteria to be taken into consideration for selecting items for preservation include demand for the item; the condition of its binding and/or paper; and its availability, either commercially or in other libraries (i.e. its uniqueness or rarity). Selected for mass deacidification might be parts of the collection published between about 1850 and 1970, depending on the state of brittleness of the paper (books that are too brittle can not be successfully deacidified). Demand could be an issue here, as well as a need to preserve the items for future use even if in low demand at the moment.

    2. High-priority areas of the collection for preservation review and treatment
      High-priority areas of the collection for preservation review and treatment are volumes published before 1821, simply because of their age and possible rarity, and those published ca. 1850-1970, because of their likely brittleness.
  7. Selection Criteria for ALF
    Most titles published before 1821 are being sent to the ALF, possibly excepting dictionaries and encyclopedias.

    Unless they are reference-type materials, most items published between 1821 and 1993 that have never or rarely circulated since 1990, especially if the last use was not recent, are being sent to the ALF.

    In general, items that are in poor condition or brittle may be sent to the ALF, where environmental conditions are much better than in the stacks. Depending on copyright restrictions, if an item is in high demand it may be scanned to produce a copy to be shelved in the Main Library stacks, with the original being sent to the ALF.

    Journals that are available electronically through Project Muse will be sent to the ALF. Electronically available volumes of JSTOR journals will also be sent to the ALF. Some journals indexed in the Periodicals Contents Index (PCI) will be sent to the ALF, in whole or in part.

  8. Digital Projects
    Possible candidates for digitization are items that are old, fragile, and held by very few libraries in North America.

  9. Other Resources and Libraries
    There is a small reference collection in the Comparative Literature department. Most, if not all, of the materials duplicate holdings in the Main Library.

    The Lilly Library's rich holdings are of particular interest to Comparatists.

    The Center for Research Libraries' policy of collecting foreign dissertations on request eliminates the need to make significant purchases in that area.

  10. Consortial Agreements
    No cooperative collection development agreements are in place for the Comparative Literature fund.

Comparative Literature Home Page

Revised April 2012

last updated: 4/20/2012