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Classics collection policy

2003 Version

This policy is under revision at present.

History of the Collection

McGill's Classics collection has been built assiduously over the century and a half of the University's existence. It has been enriched by donations from faculty and from bibliophiles. The collection has a literary orientation and is especially strong in periodicals. In recent years a number of important additions have been made from Arts Library Development and Rattrapage funds.

The modern Greek collection is largely based on a gift collection provided through the generosity of the Papachristidis family in the late 1950s.

Current Collection Development

Much emphasis is placed on maintaining the quality of the mongraphs and serials collections.

Academic Programmes and Liaison

The Classics Section of the Department of History provides a full range of courses at the undergraduate level as well as the master's degree with and without thesis and the doctorate. The coverage includes the languages, literatures, and political thought of Ancient Greece and Rome.  Collection development is the responsibility of the Classics Bibliographer. Contact with the Classics Department is maintained through a section Coordinator as well as with other faculty members when required. Regular contact with other bibliographers and teaching departments is maintained.

McGill Resources

The Humanities and Social Sciences Library is the major location for the University's collection in Classical and Modern Greek Studies.

Rare Books and Special Collections of McGill University has a fine range of early editions of the classics as well as prints and maps of interest to classicists. The Otto Ribbeck collection consisting of monographs and some 6000 offprints and pamphlets is a rich source of secondary materials for classical scholarship in the 19th century. The monographs have been incorporated into the main collection, the rest are in the process of being catalogued.

Osler Library has strong holdings of primary and secondary sources relating to classical medicine and science as well as a few purely literary texts in very early editions.

The Law Library collects seriously in Roman law. The Wainwright (rare book collection) includes some non-legal material of interest to the Classical scholar e.g. the backfile of the Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des inscriptions.

BlackaderLauterman Library is the main resource for Ancient Greek and Roman Art and Architecture. It is very strong on Byzantine art.

Islamic Studies Library includes important publications describing the Greek and Roman colonies in the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa.

Blacker-Wood Library and Physical Sciences and Engineering Library have interesting holdings in the history of science and technology in antiquity.

Regional Resources

Bibliothèque nationale du Québec: Because this library holds the historic collection of the Sulpicians, there is a wealth of retrospective materials relating to the classical world.

Université de Montréal, Bibliothèque des lettres et sciences humaines has significant holdings of critical works in French and of French translations of the classics. It has a long-standing subscription to the Belles Lettres series. The outstanding feature of the collection is its strength in retrospective and current publications concerning imperial Rome.

The Canadian Centre for Architecture has outstanding holdings concerning classical architecture, and some materials related to construction and town planning in the ancient world.

Consortia and Document Delivery

The Center for Research Libraries, a consortium to which McGill belongs, has an excellent historical collection of European dissertations and acquires virtually all European theses automatically.

OCLC Membership in several research consortia provides access to vast bibliographic databases and to efficient document delivery systems based on the holdings of North America's most eminent research collections.

General Collection Guidelines

Languages: Besides Latin and Greek, English is the primary language of the Classics collection, but monographs published in other Western European Languages, primarily German, French and Italian are regularly purchased. Material in other languages is purchased selectively according to need.

Chronological Coverage: Materials which cover developments to about 600 a.d.

Geographical Coverage: All regions which formed part of Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations.

Treatment of the Subject: Scholarly treatment is emphasized. Textbooks are not normally acquired.

Date of Publication: Emphasis is on current publications. Whenever possible, retrospective acquisitions are made to upgrade specific areas of the collection and to serve as replacements of important books which have deteriorated or disappeared.

Subjects and Levels of Collecting

Collection Levels derived from the American Library Association's Guide for Written Collection Policy Statements, 2nd. ed. 1996. The subject arrangement is taken from L'Année Philologique.

 Authors and Texts    
    Greek 4 4
    Latin 4 4
    Modern Greek 2 3a
Literary History 3a 3a
Linguistics and Philology 3a 3a
    Palaeography 3a  
    History Papyrology 3a  
   Textual Criticism 4  
Greek Mythology 4  
Roman Mythology 3b  
    Greek 2  
    Roman 2  
Philosophy and History see policies for Philosophy and/or History    
History of Classical Studies 1  
Research Methodology 3b  

Cooperation and Coordination

McLennan Reference Department: Recommendations for the purchase of reference materials are forwarded to Reference.

English and Comparative Literature: Bibliographer buys general materials on theory of literature and translations of Classical and Modern Greek works of interest for the study of English or comparative literature, e.g. translations of classical works by Yeats, Sartre etc.

Art and Architectural History: Blackader purchases "visual publications" relevant to the Art History and Architecture curricula.  The Art and Architecture bibliographer also purchases Archaeology titles for location in McLennan.

Geography: Publications on classical topography and mapmaking are the province of the History bibliographer.

History: Greek and Roman History, hitherto purchased by Classics, are now selected by the History bibliographer. Byzantine History is covered by the Slavic and East European Studies bibliographer.

Philosophy: For Greek and Roman philosophy see collection policy statement for Philosophy.

Law Library: Roman Law is collected comprehensively (level 4).

Plans for Further Development

Full review of all library collection policies which relate to classical studies in the light of the changing profile of classical studies at McGill.

Descriptions of the Collection

Lists of current serials and standing orders are available from the bibliographer.

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