Urban Planning: Basic Resources for Research

The following is a selective guide to basic research resources available at Avery Library, intended to give an overview of materials that may be useful in beginning research. To view other research guides, return to Avery Library Subject and Research Guides. Ask a librarian if you need reference assistance or have any further questions.

Dictionaries, Encyclopedias & Handbooks

Directory of information sources in housing and urban development. Rockville, Md.: HUD USER, 1993.
Avery Reference HT167 .D57 1993g

Duensing, Edward. Information sources in urban and regional planning: A directory and guide to reference materials. New Brunswick, N.J.: Center for Urban Policy Research, 1994.
Avery Reference Z5942 .D87 1994

The encyclopedia of housing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1998.
Avery Reference AA31 En197 (copies available in multiple locations)

Encyclopedia of urban America: the cities and suburbs. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1998.
Avery Reference AA9105 En19 (copies available in multiple locations)

A Glossary of urban form. Birmingham: Urban Morphology Research Group, School of Geography, University of Birmingham, 1991.
Avery Reference GF125.G56 1991g

Hayden, Dolores. A field guide to sprawl. New York: W.W. Norton, 2004.
Avery Reference HT321 .H3856 2004

Moskowitz, Harvey S. The latest illustrated book of development definitions. New Brunswick, NJ: Center for Urban Policy Research, 2004.
Avery Reference HT167 .M683 2004

A Planners dictionary. Chicago: American Planning Association. Planning Advisory Service, 2004.
Avery AA9105 Am29 no.521/522

Planning A to Z: a dictionary of planning terminology. New York: City of New York, Dept. of City Planning, 1983.
Avery Reference AA9005 P69

Transportation planning handbook. Washington, DC: Institute of Transportation Engineers, 1999.
Avery Ware HE152.5 .T73 1999


  • 100 Essential Books Of Planning
    The American Planning Association has created a list of 100 essential books. These books come from every decade starting in 1909, the date of the first national planning conference.

When using CLIO to find books, useful subject headings include:

  • cities and towns
  • city planning
  • housing
  • housing policy
  • land use planning
  • regional planning
  • urban renewal
  • urban transportation
  • urbanization

Indexes & Abstracts

  • Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals
    Citations to articles in architectural and related journals covering architecture, city planning, urban design, and related disciplines.
  • HUD USER Bibliographic Database
    Dedicated to housing and community issues. It contains full-abstract citations to research reports, journal articles, books and data sources in housing policy, economic development, urban planning and other relevant fields.
  • Index to Current Urban Documents
    Searchable index of reports and research generated by local government agencies, civic organizations, academic and research organizations, and metropolitan and regional planning agencies.
  • Journal of planning literature.
    Online full text , 1999-. Paper, 1985-. (Avery AB J8362)
  • LexisNexis Academic
    Comprehensive online database which provides full-text access to a wide range of news, business, legal and rerence information, including hundreds of U.S. and foreign newspapers, magazines, wire services, newsletters, journals, and broadcast transcripts.
  • PAIS International (Public Affairs Information Service)
    Citations to journal articles, books, conference proceedings, government documents, book chapters, and statistical directories in the area of public affairs. Covers a range of political, social, public policy and urban planning issues.
  • RIBA Library Online Catalogue
    Catalogue of books, journal articles and other material in the British Architectural Library covering architecture, city planning, and urban history. Strong focus on Great Britain, Europe and the British Commonwealth (India, New Zealand, Australia and Canada).
  • Sociological Abstracts
    Citations to journal articles, conference papers books and dissertations on literature about sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences. Areas of coverage include rural and urban sociology, policy, planning, social development, community development and culture and social structure.
  • Transport
    Citations to research reports, books, articles, theses, standards, specifications, conference proceedings, and summaries of research in progress on international air and surface (road, rail and marine) transportation. Content provided by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the National Research Council (U.S). Transportation Research Board, and the European Conference of Ministers of Transport.
  • TRANweb Transportation Article File
    Produced by the Northwestern University Transportation Library. Index to journal articles, conference papers and other material on transportation.
  • ULI Development Case Studies
    Access to more than 300 detailed case studies of completed projects ranging from low-income housing to mixed-use downtown developments to commercial and industrial projects. The case studies provide photographs and site plans, information on costs and rents, innovative features and strategies of the project, and an explanation of the entire development process.
  • Urban Studies Abstracts
    Citations to recent literature covering areas related to urban affairs, including community and rural development, housing, transportation, urban history and urban planning.

Full-Text Journals


  • About Planning
    Internet clearing house for information about websites, publications, essays and news related to land use planning, smart growth and new urbanism.
  • American Planning Association
    Nonprofit public interest and research organization committed to urban, suburban, regional and rural planning. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, advance the art and science of planning and to foster the activity of planning, physical, economic, and social, at the local, regional, state, and national levels.
  • Basic Research Resources for City & Regional Planning
    Comprehensive bibliographic guide to city and regional planning sources created by the Environmental Design Library at UC Berkeley. Topics include international planning, history of city planning, urban design, housing, sprawl & new urbanism and transportation.
  • Geography Network
    A global network of geographic information users and providers. Mostly free access to many types of geographic content including dynamic maps. The site includes population density maps and customizable maps from Census information, downloadable data, and more.
  • New Urbanism
    Website devoted to this planning movement which promotes the creation and restoration of compact, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods, towns, and cities. Includes information on smart growth, sustainablity, and transit oriented development.
  • New York City Department of City Planning
    Information on the physical and socioeconomic planning, including land use and environmental review, of New York City. Includes the online version of the Zoning Resolution.
    Public-interest information exchange for the urban planning and development community. A large and comprehensive site with up to date information on planning and development in the news as well as links to important planning and development sites on the web.
  • Smart Growth Online
    Web-based catalogue of smart growth related news, events, information and resources. Developed through a cooperative agreement between the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Sustainable Communities Network, this tool is designed to advance public understanding of smart growth and how growth can improve community livability.
  • Urban Planning, 1794-1918: An International Anthology of Articles, Conference Papers, and Reports
    Compiled by Prof. John W. Reps of Cornell University. Full text of 185 selections of primary source material for the study of how urban planning developed up to the end of World War I.
  • Global Studies
    Region specific information on collections, services and resources for Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Russia and Eastern Europe, South and Southeast Asia.
  • Decennial Census Information
  • Data Service
    Part of the Digital Social Science Center (DSSC) in Lehman Library. It supports research that involves numeric and geo-spatial data resources. The Data Service maintains a library of data and documentation that covers a wide range of topics, both national and international, including socio-demographic topics, public opinion polls, politics, health, and economics. Includes GIS Spatial Data Resources. See the CU Spatial Data Catalog to locate GIS-compatible datasets from Columbia's spatial data collections.
  • Map Collection and GIS
    Collection includes topographic maps, thematic maps and geological sciences maps. Located in Lehman Library.
  • U.S. Government Documents
    Columbia has been a depository for U.S. Federal documents since 1882, and is a microfiche depository for New York State documents, 1983-1994. Located in Lehman Library.

Last updated September 2009.