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last updated: 4/24/2012

Collection Development Policies


  1. Introduction
    1. Purpose of the policy statement
      The purpose of this policy statement is to provide an overview of the collection development plan and offer guidance about which print and electronic materials best support physics research and teaching at Indiana University.

    2. Audience
      This policy is intended to inform the librarian, faculty advisors to the library, university administrators, and prospective or new faculty and graduate students in the physics department.

    3. Description of institution/department and clientele
      The IU Physics Department is the primary user of physics materials collected in the Swain Hall Library. Currently the department has 41 full-time faculty members, four adjunct faculty from Chemistry, and one from Computer Science. There are approximately 25 Research Scientists, Research Associates, and Postdoctoral Fellows both at the Cyclotron and in Swain Hall, and 86 graduate students.

    4. Brief overview of the collection.
      1. History of the collection
        The Physics Department was located in Kirkwood Hall from 1895 - 1902 at which point it was moved into the newly completed Science Hall. The physics library started out at that time as a reading room with no supervision and no librarian. Dr. Allan C. G. Mitchell became the chairman of the Physics Department in 1938, at which point he instituted the first formal check-out system consisting of placing a block of wood in the place of the book borrowed, and the borrower wrote his name and the date on the block of wood. At that point the collection was small, only 30 - 40 linear feet of books. In the 1930s, the field of physics was changing and evolving rapidly, and it was recognized that the library needed to respond by acquiring current materials not held, rather than filling in gaps in the collection of background physics materials. In the late 1930s, physics faculty were responsible for selecting books and journals for the library.In 1940, Swain Hall was completed, and became the home of three departments: Physics, Astronomy, and Mathematics. The Swain Hall Library was established on the second floor, and the departmental collections were merged into one. It was also around this time that keys to the library were issued to some graduate students and faculty from the departments, a tradition that remains today. In 1943 the library had a total of 8,000 volumes in the collection.

      2. Collection strengths and weaknesses
        In 1988, the Physics collection development plan identified Nuclear Physics, High-Energy Particle Physics, and Condensed Matter Physics as major research areas for the Physics Department, and the collection today continues to reflect these strengths. With the absence of an engineering program at IUB, the weaknesses include books and journals on experimental mechanics, heat and heat transfer, plasma physics, nuclear fusion, atomic energy, geophysics, geomagnetism, vacuum technology, electronic circuits and materials, and cryogenic technology. These areas are collected at a minimal or basic information level, and are not sufficiently intensive to support advanced undergraduate or graduate courses.

      3. Subject areas emphasized or deemphasized
        Biophysics, nuclear/particle physics, and accelerator physics, in particular are anticipated to be areas of growth, both nationally, and locally, and the collection will reflect this emphasis. The newly formed, multidisciplinary Biocomplexity Institute will seek to combine quantitative experiments and computer simulation with projects such as modeling biological networks, modeling the structure and function of the cytoskeleton, and modeling organogenesis. The physics collection is becoming more multidisciplinary in nature, supporting research and teaching of an increasingly multidisciplinary faculty with strengths in both computational sciences and life sciences.

      4. Collection locations
        The physics collection is located on both levels of the Swain Hall Library, and less frequently used books, and journals that are available electronically are located in the Auxiliary Library Facility.
  2. Scope of Coverage
    1. Languages collected and excluded
      Currently there is no formal or systematic collecting of physics materials in non-English languages; the majority of the collection is in English, with a small number of older materials in French, German, and Russian.

    2. Dates of publication of materials collected; current vs. retrospective coverage
      In general, the focus of the physics collection is current research, where the goal is to maintain a good working collection of physics materials to support research and instruction through the Ph.D.

    3. Formats collected and excluded
      Books, journals (print and online) form the core of the physics collection. While paper pre-prints of physics papers were collected and organized by the library through the 1980s and 1990s, this practice was discontinued because of the existence and availability of the Los Alamos pre-print arXiv, the online library of pre-print literature (now hosted at Cornell University).
  3. Collecting responsibility
    It is the responsibility of the Swain Hall Librarian to make collection decisions about the physics collection, often in consultation with the Swain Hall Library committee.

  4. Related collections
    Cyclotron, Chemistry, Geology, and Biology are related collections on the IUB campus.

  5. Principal sources of supply and major selection tools
    The major source of supply and the primary selection tool is the Academic Book Center/ Blackwell Book Services science approval plan and approval forms. In addition to this, journals such as Physics Today often review high quality forthcoming and newly published physics books; it is an excellent selection tool. Other tools include the Special Libraries Association listserv PAMnet (over 300 physics/astronomy/math librarians), and E-Streams, an online science book review periodical.

  6. Selection criteria for ALF
    Criteria include: currency of the material, language, availability of the journal run online. The recently acquired backfiles of Elsevier physics journals opens the door to begin selecting some or many of those print volumes for ALF.

  7. Other resources and libraries
    The arXiv ( is a major physics resource, as is the Stanford Linear Accelerator's SPIRES High Energy Physics database. The HEP literature database contains more than 500,000 high-energy physics related articles indexed by the SLAC and DESY Deutsche Elektronen-Synchrotron libraries since 1974.

  8. Consortial agreements
    In 2001, the physics collection was enhanced by a three year consortium agreement through the CIC for access to the comprehensive and retrospective Institute of Physics (IOP) journal publications online.

Physics Home Page

Revised April 2012

last updated: 4/24/2012