Geography Collection Development Policy


    The content of the Geography collection is determined by the Library use-patterns of the students and faculty from this campus, by the academic subject emphases of the Geography Department, and by the courses it announces. The goal of collection building for the Department is to satisfy the needs expressed by the means listed above, insofar as allocated time, available budgetary resources and University policy permit.

    In general, collection development for the Geography Department involves three kinds of collecting: 1) support for a multi-subject, undergraduate program covering all the traditional subjects of geography, 2) support for a specialized graduate level course sequence emphasizing agricultural geography, climatology, economic geography, transportation geography, environmental geography, hydrology, biogeography, spatial analysis or spatial dynamics, and behavioral geography, and 3) support for geographic data capture, data-manipulation and data-display courses taught at both levels, namely, remote sensing, cartography, mathematical modeling, and computer analysis of a broad variety of spatially referenced data.


    1. Language. Publications in the English language receive primary emphasis in collection development. A few serials in German or French are collected for the graduate level specialties of the program. Serials in English translation are always preferred to the foreign language original. Foreign language monographs or technical reports are seldom acquired.

    2. Chronological limits. Most works collected deal with information related to modern or contemporary times. Cartography is a notable exception.

    3. Data of publication. Most publications collected have twentieth century imprints. Some works published prior to this time are collected, usually as reprints.

    4. Geographical areas. There are no geographical restrictions in collecting; comparative data from different areas are an important emphasis of the collection . The English language emphasis in collecting tends to introduce bias in the collection against local information from many foreign nations. This effect is much more noticeable in the social science aspects of geography than in the science aspects.

    1. Monographs. English language monographs are broadly collected for all undergraduate subjects in geography, and for the social science graduate level courses of the Department. Selected lower-division textbooks are added to provide alternate treatment of introductory material in the field. Upper division textbooks are collected using the same criterion. Multiple copies of monographs are added when heavy use is predictable or evident. Variant editions are so seldom a problem that no policy statement is needed.

    2. Serials. Serials, as a class, are the first priority in collection development for the Geography program. This follows from the science aspects of the program and the interdisciplinary nature of research in geography. In both cases, the serial is the most important and frequently used medium for reporting substantive advances in geographic research.

    3. Government publications. The results of applied research, particularly in areas of urban planning, environment, agriculture, meteorology, hydrology, and the earth sciences in general are a major publication emphasis of nearly every level of government. Since these subjects match the research profile of the Geography program, very strong collections of government documents are essential. Research-level collecting is required in particular for the United States government agencies, state governments west of the 100th meridian, the local, tri-county area and Kern County, and, from the specialized organizations of the United Nations such as the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

    4. Proceedings/transactions. Conference and symposia publications are collected at a lower priority for the Geography program as a whole than for its science subprogram. However, collection building of proceedings and transactions on remote sensing and cartography are given high priority.

    5. Technical reports. The technical report collections and supporting collection building, are second in priority only to the serials. Technical reports are collected in particular as information sources on applied research in remote sensing, land use, pollution abatement, urban problems, applications of mathematical modeling and geographic systems developments.

    6. Reference materials. Reference works, particularly data collections, membership directories, dictionaries, and bibliographies are collected in depth.

    7. Festschriften. Not applicable.

    8. Primary/secondary source materials. Not applicable.

    9. Dissertations. All dissertations on remote sensing listed by University Microfilms are collected. Other dissertation topics relevant to subject emphases of the Department are not systematically collected.

    10. Newspapers. Not applicable.

    11. Microforms. Most technical reports and dissertations are collected in microfiche or microfilm format.

    12. Digital data. Digital data will be collected as per the subject emphases given above.

    13. Exclusions. Popular or ephermeral publications as well as textbooks designed for use below the college level are excluded. Dissertations and theses are excluded other than those published on remote sensing topics.

    Much of geography - although unique in its focus - overlaps significantly with the interests of other established research level programs on this campus. These shared interests include heavy reliance on mapping and imagery collections. Consequently, the collection needs of the Department depend on active, complementary collection building efforts by many other library personnel in the sciences and social sciences. Subject areas of the Geography Department not already supported by established research level collecting account for the majority of the actual collecting emphasis.


    1. UC/ Stanford Map Librarians Group (shared acquisition). Active participation in and cooperation with the group.
    2. Sources outside UC. Degree of dependence on Interlibrary loan. Reliable data for generalization is currently unavailable.


Author: mary [at] library [dot] ucsb [dot] edu (Mary Larsgaard).
Policy Last Updated: October 2004