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German language and literature collection policy

This policy is under revision at present.

History of the Collection

Like all collections which have evolved over a hundred years or more, the German collection reflects the interests of the German department, its changing personnel, and their library activity. At various times, and in turn, attempts have been made to build strong research collections on Goethe, Rilke, Brecht, and Expressionism. As each of the interested faculty members left, the collection building resumed a level more in keeping with the overall patterns of scholarly publication.

Current Collection Development

At present the policy is to build a balanced collection in the field representing the best of current scholarly work and literary production.

Academic Programmes and Liaison

The Department of German provides a full range of courses at the undergraduate level, a Master of Arts and a Ph.D.

Collection development is the responsibility of the German Bibliographer. Liaison with the German Department is assured through a Departmental Coordinator as well as with other faculty members when required. Contact with other bibliographers and teaching departments is maintained through the sharing of relevant review material.

McGill Resources

The Humanities and Social Sciences Library is the major location for the University's German studies collection.

The Reference Department has a basic collection of reference works on German as well as a rich array of bibliographies and other reference works required for research. The Department maintains Subject Study Guides for German Literature.

The Rare Books and Special Collections of McGill University has books, maps and prints relevant to German literary studies in its general collections.  The Rilke collection is of particular interest.

The Language Laboratory provides taped materials for students enrolled in language courses.

Consortia and Document Delivery

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.

The Center for Research Libraries has several important microsets including German Drama (Falls City Microcard) and German Books before 1601 (Erasmus Press) the holdings of which may be viewed on their Web site. Other microform collections are to be found at various Ontario universities.

Membership in large 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. OCLC membership 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: For primary materials, German only is acquired. Translations of medieval German texts into modern German would be considered. Translations from other languages into German would be acquired only on the basis of the reputation of the translator (e.g. Erich Fried's translations of Shakespeare). English (or other) language translations of primary materials are not acquired but are referred to the bibliographer responsible for comparative literature for consideration. Secondary material is acquired in appropriate languages.

Chronological Coverage: The whole span of German culture is included from the early Middle Ages to the present.

Geographical Coverage: The collection is restricted to the literary production of Germany, the former DDR, Austria and German speaking Switzerland. German literatures produced in neighbouring regions (e.g. Südtirol or Luxemburg), by emigrants (including Canada), or in former colonial regions are not collected, unless they can stand on their own literary merit. Dialect and regional literatures are not collected.

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

Theses: Since the Center for Research Libraries acquires virtually all European theses automatically, they are acquired by McGill only in exceptional circumstances.

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 for important books which have deteriorated or disappeared.

Subjects and Levels of Collecting

Collection Levels are derived from the American Library Association's Guide for Written Collection Policy Statements, 2nd. ed., 1996.


  History of the German Language 3a 3b
  German Linguistics 3a 3b
  German Folklore 2  
  Mysticism, Rhetoric, Emblem Books    
Women: In conjunction with the Bibliographers responsible for Comparative Literature, Interdisciplinary studies, etc.    
  Novelle 3a 3b
  Hörspiele 3a 3a
  Bildungsroman 3a 3b
  Medieval 2 2
  Humanism and Renaissance 3a 3b
  17th century 2 2
  18th century 3a 3b
  19th century 3a 3b
  20th century 3a 3b

Coordination and Cooperation

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

English and Comparative Literature bibliographers buy general materials on theory of literature etc., translations into English and comparative literature, film, theatre and drama.

Descriptions of the Collection

Lists of standing orders purchased on the German fund and lists of serials held by the library relevant to German Language and Literature have been compiled. They are available from the bibliographer.

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