United States History Collection Development Policy


The Purpose of the U.S. history collection development policy is to provide guidelines for the acquisition of library materials in the field of U.S. History.


The Davidson Library U.S. history collection's primary intent is to develop a research level collection that supports the undergraduate and graduate level U.S. history curriculum offerings of the UCSB History Department, and the teaching and research needs of the Americanist faculty. Primary users of the collection are students, faculty and other members of the campus community seeking information or doing research on a topic in or relating to U.S. history.

The UCSB History Department offers an undergraduate major and minor, and a M.A. degree in route to Ph.D. Two undergraduate degree programs are available: the traditional B.A. in history, and the UCSB pioneered B.A. in the history of public policy. The history of public policy degree combines comparative studies in history with studies in related academic disciplines. Two M.A./Ph.D. programs are offered: a traditional program leading to teaching careers in higher and secondary education and a public historical studies program designed to prepare historians for careers as researchers and writers in the community at large (i.e., museums and heritage sites, businesses, non-profit groups, public agencies, private foundations and other places). Within these programs, the History Department offers doctoral study in eleven general fields of study, of which U.S. history is one.


Subject Coverage

Materials on all issues, topics, events, and people within the interdisciplinary field of early American and U.S. history are collected, including the social economic, political and cultural history of the United States. Emphasis is placed on those materials which support the History Department's U.S. history course offerings and the U.S. history faculty's research interests. The collection is coordinated with the collection activities of the Wyles Collection (Civil War and Westward Expansion), housed in Special Collections; and the collections housed in the Ethnic and Gender Studies Library of Davidson. They include:

Types of Materials

Both scholarly and mainstream works from academic and trade publishers are acquired. Monographs and serials form the largest part of the collection. Subscriptions to new journals are acquired after careful review by the U.S. History Collection Manager and when necessary, consultation with the U.S. history faculty. Reference materials, indexes and abstracts are purchased extensively. Relevant electronic resources, including online databases and CD-ROMS are also acquired as appropriate. Unpublished theses and dissertations, from other institutions, facsimiles, early editions and newspapers are acquired on a highly selective basis and upon faculty request. Government publications, both state and federal, are acquired by the Government Documents Librarian. Microform sets and audio-visual materials are also sought for the collection. In the past, during poor economic periods, expensive microform sets have been purchased collectively through the University of California U.S. History Consortia.

The following types of materials are not ordinarily collected. Textbooks, local history materials (except Santa Barbara County, which is collected by the library's Special Collections department), and minor revisions and reprints. Material in the following physical format is not ordinarliy purchased: cheap paperback editions, 19th and twentieth century materials on poor quality paper, unless this is the only source of the needed information, and microcard editions.


Primarily English language publications are acquired. Specific materials in other languages may be purchased at the request of faculty.

Chronological Limits

Publications of and about all periods of American history are collected equally, as they become available. The periods are identified broadly as colonial, revolutionary, federal, 19th century and 20th century.

Geographical Limits

The history of all regions of the United States and its territorial possessions are generally collected. Some special attention is given to the history of California. UCSB's special responsibility is the history of Santa Barbara and adjacent counties, as well as campus history. Campus history is collected by Special Collections and is housed in the University Archives Collection


It is recognized that materials important to the study of American history are regularly purchased on other library guidelines. For example, sociology, political science, anthropology, religious studies and science, and as mentioned above the EGSL collections. Publications on U.S. Journalism are purchased on the history guideline, as well as the English guideline.

Copies of individual titles are occasionally authorized for more than one library location (i.e., Main and Wyles or Main and Black Studies). Multiple copies are added only after careful consideration of need.


The holdings of all libraries of the University of California are available through MELVYL and interlibrary loan.

University of California U.S. and British History/Women's Studies Consortia

The U.S. History collection development consortia is composed of librarians from the UC campuses who are responsible for developing and managing collections in Early American and U.S. History. The purpose is to collaborate and coordinate efforts in acquiring and providing access to history library resources. The combination of steadily increasing prices for scholarly publications, shrinking acquisition budgets, and growing output of published research sources, require us to move beyond traditional methods of collection development to continue to adequately support teaching and scholarship in U.S. History. Specific goals of the consortia can be viewed online.

U.S. Journals Project of the UC U.S. History Consortia

The U.S. History Journals Project ensures that major journals in the field of United States history are available to scholars and students in University of California Libraries. Active participants in this agreement are the member libraries of the UC U.S. History Consortia: UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Los Angeles, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC Santa Cruz, and Stanford University.

Under the agreement each library made a commitment to retain its current subscription for five years to a number of journals that are currently held by four or fewer of the libraries. In the current agreement, effective June 1994, specific campuses have taken responsibility for maintaining the last subscription to the journals held by four or fewer campuses, should others choose to cancel. This supplements the list of Core Journals in U.S. History held by most campuses and therefore not under cooperative agreement at this time. All Consortium members have full access to articles in these journals through interlibrary loan of photocopies and, when circumstances warrant, complete issues or bound volumes. The list of journals under agreement can be viewed online.

Center for Research Libraries

The UCSB libraries are voting members of the Center for Research Libraries (CRL). The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) is an international not-for-profit consortium of colleges, universities and libraries that makes available scholarly resources to users everywhere. CRL is governed by the major research libraries of North America and is funded by fees, grants and contributions. Open to scholars and researchers, its outstanding collections include more than five million volumes of research materials rarely held in North American libraries.

It is established practice among UC bibliographers to base significant collection development decisions on the fact that as CRL members we could provide access to needed expensive specialized materials. Bibliographers weigh every decision to add major microform sets against CRL's holdings. The UC Libraries rely almost exclusively on CRL for access to foreign dissertations and foreign government publications. When budgets begin to decline, UC's dependence on the type of cooperative collection development CRL exemplifies increases.


Author: barnes [at] library [dot] ucsb [dot] edu (Sherri Barnes)
Policy Last Updated: October 2004