General policies and principles for the Library's collections are stated in the General Collection Development Policy.  

Purpose of the Collection

The UCSB Library's Religious Studies (RS) collection provides support for the undergraduate and graduate level curriculum of the UCSB Department of Religious Studies and the research of the graduate students and faculty of the department. The department encourages an interdisciplinary approach to the study of religious traditions incorporating materials and theories from folklore, history, literary criticism, sociology, psychology, and philosophy.

Academic Department Description

The RS Department at UCSB is the largest religion department in the UC system, and one of the most diverse religion departments in the world. The Department prides itself on both the breadth and depth of its course offerings and programs. Many of the languages necessary for the study of religions (Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi, Persian, Punjabi, Sanskrit, and Tibetan) are taught within Religious Studies. The Department offers BA, MA, and PhD degrees.



The RS collection reflects the department’s interdisciplinarity and, when appropriate, subject specialists in these other areas are consulted when materials are selected. One of the strengths of the Religious Studies Department is its comprehensive analysis of religious traditions in the United States with a particular focus on the diversity of new religions and new interpretations of older religions seen in California. Primary source materials that document non-mainstream religions in the United States are most often acquired by and located in the American Religions Collection of the library's Special Collections. Other focuses of the department covered by this policy include: Biblical commentary, Buddhism (special emphasis on Tibetan traditions), Christianity, Greek and Roman religions, Hinduism and South Asian Religions, Judaism, Native American religions, Sikh studies, Mediterranean Religions, Catholic Studies, and Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sociological Approaches to Religion. Islam and Middle Eastern languages are covered under the Middle East Studies Collection Development Policy.

Geographical Coverage

There is no restriction on geographical areas provided that the material is relevant. Overall equal attention is given to the geographic regions of interest to the department.

Materials are collected from all continents. However, the majority of the publications are produced in the United States and western Europe.


Most of the materials selected are in English; German and French language materials are also collected. Primary source material is collected in the original language, sometimes in bilingual editions. These primary source materials are in Hindi, Sanskrit, and Tibetan. Materials in Chinese, Japanese and Korean are selected by the East Asian Studies specialist. Materials in Arabic, Aramaic, Hebrew, and Persian are selected by the Middle Eastern Studies specialist.

Chronological Limits/Period Coverage

There are no chronological limits applicable for this collection.

Publication Dates

Most publications acquired are published in the 20th and 21st centuries. Earlier works are usually acquired in facsimile format. Occasionally an original pre-twentieth-century work will be selected in consultation with UCSB's Special Collections.  

Types of Materials Collected


The following formats are collected: serials; monographs; conference proceedings; and Festschriften. Reference materials, research monographs, and academic journals have a high priority in acquisition. North American university press titles as well as both scholarly and mainstream works from academic and trade publishers are acquired. Monographs are emphasized and may be either print or electronic format. Electronic format is the first choice for journals and reference works.

Reprints are generally not acquired unless augmented, revised, or containing some other new intellectual material. Unpublished theses and dissertations are not actively selected. Textbooks are not acquired. Devotional, catechetical works, inspirational literature and spiritual self-help books are generally not selected for acquisition nor are local histories of specific congregations.

Systemwide and Other Resources

The RS collection benefits greatly from the library’s participation in serials and research databases that are licensed by UC’s California Digital Library and funded by the UC campuses.

Students, faculty and staff of UCSB have access to Interlibrary Loan services for obtaining materials from other campuses. 

Related Collection Development Policies

Subject librarian: David Gartrell
Policy Last Updated: June 2015