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Political science collection policy

Liaison librarian

  • Deena [dot] Yanofsky [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Email) 514-398-1087

History of the Collection

The traditional strengths of the Political Science collections have been in Canadian politics and public administration, international relations, the government and politics of Britain, and the processes of decolonialization and development. These interests thus are well-developed in the Library's collections.

Current Collection Development

During the last decade, research interests have expanded to include political behavior, political economy, policy studies, environmental politics, political philosophy, political theory, comparative politics in developed and developing countries, and interdisciplinary areas involving policy, law, and society. Cooperation among liaison librarians serving disciplines that deal with closely-related topics, particularly History, Economics, Law, Government Documents, Human Geography, and Sociology, is an essential aspect of the Library's purchasing strategy.

Throughout the growth of the discipline and of the Political Science department, the Library has sought to maintain a balanced collection, representing a variety of viewpoints, a broad range of topics, and wide geographic coverage.

Academic Programmes and Liaison

The Political Science Department, which is in the Faculty of Arts, offers the following undergraduate programmes: major concentration, minor concentration, honours, and joint honours. In addition, the Department offers programmes for doctoral and master’s degrees, including M.A. Options in Social Statistics, Development Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, European Studies, and the Neotropical Environment.

A wide range of courses is offered at all levels, thematically divided into the fields of Canadian Politics, Comparative Politics (Developed Areas and Developing Areas), International Politics, and Political Theory. Faculty members and students in the Department of Political Science are also affiliated with a number of research centres and interdisciplinary programmes in the University.

Collection development is the responsibility of the Political Science liaison librarian. Communication with the Political Science department is maintained through a faculty coordinator, but links to all department members are encouraged. Regular contact with other subject and area librarians 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 Political Science collection. The Information Services Department has a basic collection of reference works on political science as well as a rich array of bibliographies and other reference works required for research.

The Islamic Studies Library and Nahum Gelber Law Library also collect publications dealing with the political aspects of their subject responsibilities.

The Government Documents Department’s depository arrangements with the Canadian Federal Government provide a rich resource for Canadian Studies. The Department is also a depository for such regional and international organizations as the United Nations, the World Bank, the European Union, the ILO, and the OECD. Official publications from the United Kingdom are collected as are federal publications from the United States, Australia, and India. For other countries, collection criteria are highly selective.

The Institute for the Study of International Development has a unique collection of books, journals and ephemera from both developing and developed countries related to Third World development issues. Materials are in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, and collection strengths include Southern Africa, South Asia, labour, women in the development process, and the environment and development.

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 Interlibrary Loan Service in the Humanities and Social Sciences Library. Faculty and graduate students can also order journal articles directly through the Canadian Institution for Science and Technology Information (CISTI).

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) maintains an excellent international collection of dissertations, retrospective journals, rare multi-volume sets, microfiche editions, newspapers runs, etc., the holdings of which may be viewed on their Web site. McGill University is currently a subscribing member of the consortium, which enables University researchers to borrow titles for extended periods.

General Collection Guidelines

Languages: English is the primary language of collecting. French-language material from Quebec is more extensively acquired than is European material. Works published in a language other than English is selected if the author or the content is of sufficient importance. Works published in French, German, Italian, Russian, and other Western European languages are purchased selectively.

Chronological Coverage: No specific limits, but special emphasis is on collecting materials dealing with late 20th century issues and events.

Geographical Coverage: Priorities are outlined in the section dealing with levels of collecting.

Treatment of Subject: 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 to build previously neglected areas when necessary and to replace important books that have been damaged or lost.

Format of Materials: Monographs are primarily collected in print form. Periodicals are selected in print and electronic format, with electronic subscriptions preferred when available. Electronic books (e-books) related to Political Science topics are acquired as part of institutional-wide collections from major publishers. Individual works are selectively purchased in e-book format depending on the importance and projected usage of the title. Documentary and feature films are purchased in DVD format to support specific curriculum needs. Award-winning documentaries related to current events are emphasized. Other formats, such as CD-ROMs, microforms, and videocassettes are acquired on a case-by-case basis.

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 organization followed below represents an adaptation of that of the International Bibliography of Political Science.

Canadian Politics and Public Affairs 4 4+
Political Science - General Studies 3b 3b
Political Thought 3b 4
Government and Public Administration 3b 3b
Governmental Process 3b 3b
Comparative Politics 3b 4
International Relations 3b 4
Political Philosophy 3a 3b
North America (see also Canadian politics above) 4- 4
Western Europe (core countries: France, Germany, Great Britain and Italy) 3b 4
Other Western European countries 3b 4-
Former Soviet Union and East Europe 3b 3b
South Asia 3b 3b
Africa: east, central, south and west 3a 3b
Latin America and the Caribbean (including Mexico) 3b 4
Middle East and North Africa (see also Islamic Studies policy) 3b 4
East Asia: China, Japan, and Korea 3a 3b
Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and Oceania 2 2

Coordination and Cooperation

McLennan Information Services Department: Recommendations for the purchase of reference works are forwarded to the Information Service Department.

Co-ordination within the Humanities and Social Sciences Library:

The History liaison librarian is concerned with constitutional history and historical treatment of issues and events. The Geography, Economics, and Sociology liaison librarians cover respectively: political geography, international economic relations, and social relations.

Co-ordination with other McGill libraries:  The Islamic Studies Library covers multidisciplinary subjects relating to Islamic civilization. There is cooperation with the Political Science liaison librarian for items dealing with modern political issues.
The Nahum Gelber Law Library collects publications concerning the judicial process, constitutional law, and all the legal aspects of government and administration including human rights. Public administration and the politics of international business, multinational enterprises, regulated industries, the management of government enterprises, and the politics of industrial relations are areas of overlap with the management subject area.

For publications dealing with other policy issues there is close coordination of acquisitions among the Humanities and Social Sciences Library and the Nahum Gelber Law Library.


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