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Italian studies collection policy

Liaison librarian

  • Lonnie [dot] Weatherby [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Email) 514-398-5031

2003 Revision

History of the Collection

The origins of the collection and its most valuable assets may be attributed to the efforts of chief librarians Gould and Lomer, as well as the generosity of the bibliophile benefactors, especially Francis McLennan whose bookplate can be found in so many of the early editions of Italian literary and historical works. A concerted effort towards the development of a book collection to support the study of the Italian language and literature began in the 1960s with the establishment of a separate Italian Department. A very fine collection of contemporary Italian creative writing was built up in the 1970s and 1980s.

Current Collection Development

Efforts are directed to sound support of the undergraduate curriculum and the systematic addition of new publications in the core topics (Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarch etc., as outlined below). The general interest in the Faculty of Arts in the medieval and Renaissance periods ensures good background coverage for literary studies. Continued development of the collection of late nineteenth-century and twentieth century Italian fiction and criticism as appropriate is a priority, as is literature on dialect.

Academic Programmes and Liaisons

The Italian Department provides a full range of courses at the undergraduate level,and a Master of Arts, both thesis and non-thesis. A doctoral program is awaiting approval. Collection development is the responsibility of the Italian Bibliographer. Contact with the Italian Department is maintained through a faculty coordinator as well as with other faculty members when required. Regular 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 Italian Studies collection. In addition the following McGill libraries hold materials of interest for the study of Italian.

The Reference Department has a basic collection of Italian reference works as well as a rich array of bibliographies and other works required for research.

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections has considerable holdings of books, prints and maps. Of special interest are its collection of puppets and commedia dell'arte materials.

The Osler Library of the History of Medicine also includes considerable material of direct interest to Italianists. Osler himself saw medicine in its broadest possible cultural, intellectual, and historical framework, and this has very much shaped the Library's collection policy over the years.

The Blackader Library and Marvin Duchow Library of Music have very good collections in Italian art and music.

The Language Laboratory provides taped materials for language learning.

Regional Resources

Other important resources in Montreal include the Institut des études medievales, of the Université de Montréal and the Italian Cultural Institute.

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.

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.

The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) a consortium to which McGill belongs, holds the microfilm collections of Italian Books before 1600 and 1700 and of Italian drama produced by Erasmus Press. It is also a source for foreign theses and for some rare serial backfiles, the holdings of which may be viewed on their Web site.

General Collection Guidelines

Languages: For primary materials only Italian and its dialects are acquired. Translations from other languages into Italian would be acquired only on the basis of the reputation of the author or translator. In general, English (or other) language translations of primary materials are referred to the bibliographer responsible for English and comparative literature for consideration. Secondary material is acquired chiefly in Italian and English but significant works in French, German and any other Western European language will be added according to their importance.

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

Geographical Coverage: Italian literature originating outside of Italy is acquired on its own merits. Interest in the development of the Italian language or its literature outside of the Italian peninsula is minimal so that the concentration of collections activities is on the Italian production.

Date of Publication: Emphasis is on current publications. Retrospective acquisitions are only made to build previously neglected areas and to supply replacements of important books which have deteriorated or disappeared.

Subjects and Levels of Collection

Definitions of collection levels are from the American Library Association's Guide for Written Collection Policy Statements, 2nd ed. 1996. "Collection Levels" indicates both the current acquisitions policy and the "desirable level" reflects the level necessary to support the proposed doctoral programmes.

Definitions of Collection Levels

Language of the Italian Peninsula 2 2
Italian Civilization 3a 3a
Italian Film 4 4
Medieval 4 4
Renaissance 4 4
17th Century 3a 3a
18th Century 3a 3a
19th Century 3b 3b
20th Century literary production 3b 3b
Contemporary Literature 4 4
Dialect Literature 3b 3b

Coordination and Cooperation

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

English and Comparative Literature bibliographer buys general materials in English on the theory of literature etc., translations into English and comparative literature.

Linguistics: General linguistics is the province of the Linguistics bibliographer

Descriptions of the Collection

Serials and Standing orders lists are available from the bibliographer.

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