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Communication studies collection policy


The Communication Studies program is oriented toward the analysis of the public forms, practices and conventions of communication and information institutions as well as the critical evaluation of theoretical and analytical issues associated with communication in contemporary society.

Current Collection Development

Priority is given to works that explore theories and histories of communication, urban media studies, critical policy studies and the social implications of communications technologies, Marxist and feminist approaches to the study of communication and media, critical sound studies, the philosophy of communication and in particular German and French poststructuralist theories of communication as well as diasporic and postcolonial media studies.  Governmental and extra-governmental institutions, policies and regulations are of particular interest. In this rapidly changing field research is largely published in books and journals.

Academic Programmes and Liaison

The Department of Art History and Communication Studies offers courses at the undergraduate level on communication, the relationship between the media and culture, between technology and culture, and the social, political and ideological functions of the media.
The Graduate Program in Communication Studies offers courses and directs project research in preparation for the M.A. by course and thesis and the Ph.D. It concentrates on the history and theory of communication and communications technologies and on critical media and policy studies.
Collection development is the responsibility of the liaison librarian for Communication Studies. Regular contact with other liaison librarians and teaching departments is maintained through sharing of relevant materials.

History of the Collection

Basic reference holdings in the field were purchased with a special grant in 1970 and a systematic building up of holdings to support this new programme took place through the mid-seventies. In 1977 the collection was evaluated by Eleanor Blum, the librarian of the College of Communications at the University of Illinois, and retrospective purchasing was done using her bibliography Basic Books in the Mass Media. The cyclical review of the programme in February 1983 indicated some shortcomings in the book collections as well as a serious weakness in serials support. Rattrapage funds were used to fill the gaps thus identified and a number of subscriptions were placed for essential serial titles. In 1999 the program merged administratively with Art History in the renamed Department of Art History and Communications Studies; areas at the intersection of the two disciplines - in particular, urban cultural studies, visual cultural studies and new media - are expected to grow significantly.

McGill Resources

The Humanities and Social Sciences Library is the major location for the University's Communications collection, including audio-visual materials in the AV/Reserves section.
In addition, the following McGill libraries hold publications dealing with various aspects of communications:
The Government Information Service includes much useful material for the study of the media. In particular it is a comprehensive resource for Canadian government policy and regulation through depository arrangements with the Canadian federal and Quebec provincial governments and selective purchasing of publications from the other provinces. The Department is also a depository for international organizations such as the United Nations and the European Union. The Department collects UNESCO publications titles on communications. Official publications from the United Kingdom are collected selectively as are federal publications from the United States, Australia and India. For other countries collection criteria are highly selective; however, current acquisitions are made to support the curriculum.
Life Sciences Library collects books and journals on human communication disorders.
Nahum Gelber Law Library collects media law and is interested in the legal aspects of regulation/deregulation.
Howard Ross Library of Management collects business and marketing communications, advertising as industry and theory, and organizational communication. Regulation and deregulation are of joint concern.
Marvin Duchow Music Library has a representative collection at the undergraduate level of major works in mass media and music.
Schulich Library of Science and Engineering concentrates on publications on technological developments in communications such as cable, satellite and telecommunications.

Regional Resources

Concordia University Libraries are strong on literature concerning educational uses for the new communications technologies.
Université de Montréal emphasizes media studies and new technologies.
Université du Québec à Montréal stresses media studies and technology as well as communication psychosociology.
Cinemathèque Québecoise library has, in addition to material on cinema, a very good collection of monographs and serials on the history of television. A current service of press clippings on cinema and television is provided.

Consortia and Document Delivery

The Center for Research Libraries in Chicago, a consortium to which McGill belongs, holds foreign dissertations, foreign newspapers and press summaries and foreign radio broadcasts and scripts.
OCLC membership gives McGill users access to a vast bibliographic database and an efficient document delivery system based on the holdings of North America's most eminent research collections. Journal articles and books not owned by McGill libraries are available free of charge to McGill students and faculty via the Document Delivery Service in the McLennan Building. 

General Collection Guidelines

Languages: English is the primary language of the collection, but works published in other Western European Languages, primarily French (Quebec publications being selected more extensively than European French material), German and Italian are purchased quite selectively. Works published in other European languages are purchased occasionally according to need.
Chronological Coverage: Emphasis on issues, events or policies of the last decade. Strong interest in the history of communications.
Geographical Coverage: Priorities are outlined in the section dealing with levels of collecting.
Treatment of Subject: The cultural and social aspects of communication technology rather than the scientific and technical ones are collected. Scholarly treatment of a subject is emphasized. Textbooks and working papers are not normally acquired.
Date of Publication: Emphasis is on current publications. Retrospective acquisitions are made as needed to build previously neglected areas or to replace important books which have been worn out or lost.
Subjects and Levels of Collecting
Collection Levels are derived from the American Library Association's Guide for Written Collection Policy Statements, 2nd. ed., 1996. The subject divisions below are based on the Unesco Thesaurus, 1995.

Books and book industry (publishing) 3a
Communications revolution and social implications 4
Communications theory (includes cybernetics,
system theory, symbolic interactionism, research methods)
Cultural analysis 3b 4
History of Communications 4
Language and expression 3a
Intercultural communication 3b 4
International communication 3b 4
Interpersonal communication 3a
Journalism 3b
    Comparative international journalism
    Women in the press
Mass Media (radio, television) 3b 4
Information technology (computer science, data communication, IT applications) 3b
Organizational communication 3a
Policy and regulation 3b
Popular culture (in co-operation with Literature & Music bibliographers) 3a 3b
Propaganda and censorship 2
Telecommunications and broadcasting 3b
Visual communications 3a


Canada 4  
United States 3b  
Western Europe 3b  
Former Soviet Union, Eastern and Central Europe
(supporting vernacular material by Slavic and East European bibliographer)
South Asia 3a  
Latin America and the Caribbean 3a 3b
Africa: Central/South/East/West 2  
Middle East and North Africa 2  
Australia/New Zealand/Southeast Asia/Oceania 2  
Eastern Asia: China, Japan, Korea 2  

Coordination and Cooperation

Anthropology: cultural studies, studies of popular culture and theories of culture are of common interest.

English: publications concerning film (except as an industry), writing skills and textual analysis are referred to the English bibliographer.
Library and Information Studies: titles dealing with the role of new technologies in the dissemination of published information are purchased by the LIS bibliographer.
Linguistics: studies of language use and nonverbal communication are also collected by the linguistics bibliographer.
Management: telecommunication, publishing and cultural industries, consumer behavior, audience studies, and the communication of information in organizations, marketing and management are overlapping areas of interest.
Political Science: publications concerning political communications, propaganda and government policy issues are of common interest.
Psychology: nonverbal communication, advertising, propaganda and persuasion, effect of media on behaviour, behavioral aspects of media design, and interpersonal communication are of joint concern.
Reference: Recommendations for the purchase of reference works are forwarded to the Humanities & Sciences Reference Department bibliographer.
Slavic and East European bibliographer is responsible for publications covering these regions.

the social impact of communications, violence on television, the study of the social production of meaning and audience studies are subjects of joint interest.

Priorities for Future Development

Co-ordination of collection development priorities with the Art History Bibliographer. Evaluate serials holdings to reflect growing importance of globalization, cultural identity, gender and space, urban cultural and media studies issues.

Descriptions of the Collection

A list of serials of interest to the Communications Programme has been compiled as well as a list of current standing orders. Mass Communication: a Student's Guide to Reference Sources. McGill University, McLennan Reference Department, 1988 (ERIC ED-296-390).

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