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Philosophy collection policy

This policy is under revision at present.

History of the Collection

The Philosophy collection has grown slowly and steadily through the years, largely thanks to sums of money given to McGill by benefactors with a particular interest in philosophy. The first such sum was donated in 1876 by the Hon. F.W. Torrance, and similar gifts were given by Sir William Macdonald, the trustees of the Clark Murray fund, and Mrs. Harriet Morgan. Perhaps the most notable supporter of the Philosophy collection was Professor J.W.A. Hickson, a member of the Department of Philosophy from the turn of the century until the 1920s, who lent his expertise to the ordering of books, made periodic donations from his own shelves, and also gave the Library sums of money, including funds to establish the David Hume Collection (to which he added books and manuscripts in his own possession).

If the collection has a real strength, it resides in the latter period of philosophic development, ca. 1775-1850. The holdings of works by David Hume (1711-1776) number some 260 entries, of which more than a hundred bear eighteenth-century imprints. Hume's French contemporary, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), is also well-represented with some 285 titles, of which ninety or so are of eighteenth-century printing.

From the nineteenth century, the Library maintains a collection of about 250 titles of the founder of the Existentialist School, Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), many of which are in Danish.

Current Collection Development

The current policy in acquiring titles for the collection tends to reflect the research and teaching interests of the Philosophy Department in particular by means of a careful selection of titles within a given budget. Since philosophy is the most universal of all subjects, many works which relate to the mission of other academic departments are selected by the bibliographers for Religious Studies, East Asian Studies, Political Science, Law, etc. In all cases duplication is avoided.

Academic Programmes and Liaison

The Philosophy Department offers a full range of courses at the undergraduate level as well as courses and seminars of relevance to the master's and doctorate degrees. The Department shows a particular strength in the history of philosophy, the philosophy of science and in the philosophy of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In addition, there is some emphasis given to individual philosophers, schools or disciplines of philosophy, e.g. Plato, Aristotle, Leibniz, Hume, Kant, German idealism, Ethics, and, recently, the philosophical aspects of Feminism.

The responsibility for the development and management of the Philosophy collection devolves on the bibliographer designated for such in the Collections Department of the Humanities and Social Sciences Area. Communication with the Department of Philosophy is arranged, ordinarily, through a Departmental Co-ordinator and, when needed, with individual faculty.

McGill Resources

The Humanities and Social Sciences Library is the major location for the University's collection in Philosophy and its cognate disciplines, e.g. Classics, History, etc.

Blackader-Lauterman Library of Art and Architecture maintains a collection of titles in the theory and philosophy of aesthetics as they apply to the history of art.

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is the repository of the early editions of the works of or about the major philosophers. Within the Department, collecting at a more comprehensive level has been assigned to David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Søren Kierkegaard, and to a lesser extent, Locke, Priestley, French-Enlightenment thought and the Scottish Enlightenment, in early editions.

The Islamic Studies Library maintains a collection of Islamic philosophy titles. In addition, they maintain a strong representative collection of the works of and about the medieval Arabian/Moorish scholars e.g Avicenna, Averroës, etc.

Health Sciences Library contains titles in the field of bio-ethics and medical ethics.

Law Library maintains a collection of works relating to legal ethics and the philosophy of law.

Osler Library holds early editions of the philosophical works collected by Sir William Osler and many rare titles in the philosophy of science.

The Physical Sciences/Engineering Library, the Mathematics Library and the Hitschfeld Library contain titles of relevance to the history and philosophy of science, mathematical logic, the logic of artificial systems and environmental ethics.

Religious Studies Library maintains a collection of theological works, titles from the early Christian school, e.g Augustine, and those associated with the philosophy of religion and ethics. It also maintains a collection of relevance to Buddhist and Hindu thought and literature and East Asian philosophy.

Regional Resources

Concordia University's Vanier Library holds the majority of the titles in the philosophy collection. It maintains a particular strength in the works of and about Kant.

Université de Montréal Bibliothèque des lettres et sciences humaines maintains a research standard in the major fields of philosophical research. The holdings of the University Library are richly supplemented by those of the Institut d'Etudes Mediévales.

Université de Laval maintains the richest collection of philosophy monographs and serials (20,000 titles; 190 periodical title subscriptions) in the Province of Quebec, especially, although not exclusively, in the French language. It is especially strong in the works of and about Aristotle.

Consortia and Document Delivery

The Center for Research Libraries, Chicago, maintains a collection of expensive multi-volume sets, microfiche editions, theses, etc. McGill University subscribes to an annual membership which enables the University researchers to borrow titles for extended periods.

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

General Guidelines

Languages: At the present time, English is the primary language of collecting, with French, German and Italian-language titles collected, and to a lesser extent, other European languages. Works of a philosopher will be collected in the language of the author and in English, if other than the original.

Chronological Coverage: extends from the Classical period to the present time.

Geographical Coverage: Emphasis is placed on western philosophy, incorporating that of ancient Greece and early Christian Rome, Medieval, Renaissance and early-modern Europe. The geographical limits include North America in the late 19th and 20th centuries, some African and "other" schools. East Asian and Buddhist philosophy comes under the purview of the Religious Studies Library; Russia and Eastern Europe, the provenance of the Slavic and East European Studies bibliographer. Jewish philosophy falls within the framework of Jewish Studies, unless that of a contribution to other than specifically Jewish thought, e.g.the works of Spinoza, Schopenhauer, etc.

Date of Publication: Because of the demand placed on the annual budget for current titles, retrospective or replacement titles are acquired after appropriate consideration. These latter may be acquired when the quality of the collection so demands or when important titles which have been lost or are in poor condition must be replaced, or when specialized funds are made available for the purpose.

Subjects and Levels of Collecting

Definitions of collection levels are derived from the American Library Association's Guide for Written Collection Policy Statements, 2nd. edition, 1996. The subject arrangement is based on the classification developed by the CREPUQ Sous-groupe en Philosophie, September, 1993.

Definitions of Collection Levels

Section I: The History of Philosophy    
The Preclassical Near East including Egypt, Mesopotamia, Iran, Palestine 2  
Ancient - Greek and Roman    
  Presocratic 3b  
  Socrates, Plato, Aristotle 4  
Post Aristotelian    
  The Epicureans 3b  
  The Sceptics 3b  
  The Stoics 3b  
  Neoplatonism 3b  
Patristic and Medieval Periods (in consultation with Religious Studies bibliographer    
  Patristic 3b  
  Medieval - Prior to the thirteenth century 3b  
    - The thirteenth century 4  
    -After the thirteenth century 3b  
Arabic / Islamic and Jewish thought (in consultation with Islamic and Jewish Studies bibliographers) 3b  
Renaissance and the beginning of the modern era (15th & 16th centuries) 3b  
The Seventeenth Century 4  
The Eighteenth Century 4  
  David Hume 5  
The Nineteenth Century 3b 4
  G.W.F. Hegel 4  
  Søren Kierkegaard 4  
  Friedrich Nietzche 3b 4
The Twentieth Century 3a  
  Frankfurt School & Critical Theory in conjunction with English bibliographer 3a  
  Martin Heidigger 4  
Existentialism 3b  
  Marxist-Lenninist see also Collection Policy for Slavic Studies 3a  
  Phenomenology 3b  
  Analytic Philosophy 3b  
  Pragmatism 3a  
  Structuralist 3a  
India and the Far East see Religious Studies and East Asian Studies 2  
Section II: Philosophy    
Introduction to Philosophy 3a  
Cognition, Epistemology and Philosophy of Science 4  
Logic 4  
Philosophy of Language see also Collection Policy for Linguistics 3b  
  Noam Chomsky 4  
Ontology and Metaphysics 3b  
Philosophy of Mathematics see alsoCollection Policy for Mathematics 3b 4
Philosophical Psychology see also Collections Policy for Psychology 2  
Ethics 4 4+
Medical Ethics and bioethics see also Collections Policy for Health Sciences    
Political Philosophy see also Collection Policy for Political Science 3b  
Philosophy of Law see also Collection Policy for Law Library 3a  
Aesthetics see also Blackader-Lauterman Collection Policy 3a  
Philosophy of Religion see Collection Policy for Religious Studies Library 2  
Philosophy of Culture and Technology 2  
Philosophy of History see also Collection Policy for History 3a  
Philosophy of Education see Collection Policy for Education 0  

Co-ordination and Co-operation

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

Classics: Titles treating of the literature, literary history, linguistics and philology, the antiquities, history, religious history and mythology of the Greek and Roman civilisations to 600 AD.

Edward Rosenthall Library of Mathematics and Statistics collects in mathematical logic.

History: The bibliographer responsible for selection in the field of historiography selects titles in the philosophy of history. (level 3b)

Law Library maintains a collection in the philosophy of law and legal ethics.

Literature: Titles concerning the theory and nature of literary composition and critical theory are the responsibility of the bibliographer(s) collecting in the field, e.g. English, French, German, etc.

Physical Sciences and Engineering Library collects in history and philosophy of science (Mossman Collection) and in the logic of artificial systems.

Political Science: Works concerning political thought and theory are the domain of the Political Science Bibliographer (level 3b).

Religious Studies Library duplicates, to some extent, the interest in the philosophy of the early Christian era, e.g. Augustine and the Reformation philosophers. The Library collects in the field of contemporary ethics; it also selects and maintains, exclusively, titles in the fields of Asian, especially Buddhist and Hindu philosophy.

Slavic and East European Studies: Works dealing specifically with Russian or East European thinkers or movements are selected by the Slavics bibliographer, (level 3a).

Walter Hitschfeld Environmental Library selects titles appropriate to environmental ethics.

The Philosophy bibliographer represents the McGill Libraries on the CREPUQ Collections Development and Evaluation sub-committee on philosophy. To date this group has undertaken a survey of philosophy serials and a review of subjects collected at the 4 level.

Plans for Further Development

Discussions concerning collection policy for Classical studies and in particular Classical philosophy are planned for the academic year 1994-1995.

Discussions with Religious Studies concerning overlapping interests.

Descriptions of the Collection

Evans, Calvin D. Sfren Kierkegaard bibliographies: remnants, 1944-1980 and multi-media, 1925-1991. Montreal: McGill University Libraries, 1993. (Fontanus monograph series, 2)

International Kierkegaard bibliographic database, compiled by Stephen Hogue. vers. 1.2 Nov. 1990. Montreal: Dept. of Philosophy, McGill University, 1990. 2 computer discs. + guide

Reference Dept. McLennan Library. "Library guide: Philosophy", 1991. 2pp.

Toomey, Kathleen. A Publication of Teubner Editions held by the McGill Libraries. 1994.

Serials and standing order lists are available from the bibliographer.

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