Business


1. History and Overview of the Collection

Early in Columbia history, the Montgomery Library of Accountancy maintained the financial collection containing approximately 25,000 volumes. Many of these volumes are rare items, including the earliest printed work that dates to 1494. The Montgomery Library also contained 15,000 business manuscripts and account books dating from the years 1332 to 1900. The reference collection was important as well as the American and foreign periodicals, business services, government releases, directories, and statistical sources. The Reserved Book Rooms contained some 8,000 volumes on reserve for approximately 300 courses in business and economics. 

A second home of the Business Library was formerly the main floor of Butler Library, located in the front wing of the building. It contained an actively-used collection of some 87,000 volumes, rich in business and economic materials, for use in research projects and course reading. 

In April 1962, President Grayson Kirk announced the establishment of the Thomas J. Watson Library of Business & Economics in a new building, Uris Hall. According to the president, “The unique feature of the library is the support of and identification with individual library collections by corporations in fields of their major interest.” 

The library has a basic collection of over 330,000 volumes and 296,000 microforms on business and economics, over 3,000 American and foreign periodicals, trade and association journals, and extensive files of current government releases, labor union periodicals, and pamphlets. In addition, the Marvyn Scudder Financial Collection, a large special collection of research materials, contains documentary material pertaining to the financial histories of thousands of corporations from 1821 to date. This remarkable research collection is one of the largest of its kind and affords an excellent opportunity for the study of business history, investments, security markets, industry analyses, and corporate finance. 

The library collection increased heavily in print format until computer technology took over. Starting in 1992, the library has been adding more materials in electronic format. To facilitate and increase seating capacity, the library removed 29,000 volumes from on site to the Libraries’ shared off-site storage facility (ReCAP), namely publications from 1984 and earlier. Over the years, various architectural modifications have resulted in an increased number of items being moved to ReCAP. The library now sends about 5,000 volumes per year to ReCAP and purchases fewer print volumes and more electronic books and journals.  

Currently, the library has 23,500 books and monographs, published from 2013 to the present, a limited reference collection, and approximately thirty current periodical titles in Watson Library. The microfilm collection has been moved to ReCAP. 

The library collection focuses on the topics of: accounting, decision and risk analysis, corporate and international finance, management, marketing, security analysis, media, entertainment, and communications, and social enterprise. The library's collection reflects the Columbia Business School curriculum emphasis on teaching and research needs. A curriculum review resulting in greater emphasis on teaching international business led the library to add more resources on international business, companies, and industries.

2. Academic Departments and Programs Supported

a. Undergraduate 

The Libraries collects materials in support of the undergraduates of Columbia College (CC) and General Studies (GS), with the special concentration in business management, finance, and the fundamental principles of economics, and the Mendelsohn Center for Undergraduate Business. 

b. Graduate and Professional School

The Libraries supports the MBA, Executive MBA, Executive Education, Global MBA, Doctoral Program, Master of Science, and faculty teaching and research functions offered by the Graduate School of Business. By extension, any business or economics coursework or research taking place in any of the other University units, e.g. the Law School, School of International & Public Affairs, School of Journalism, School of Professional Studies, General Studies, and Graduate School of Arts & Science, is supported, particularly those units who engage in joint programs with the Business School, such as: 

Architecture: MBA and MS in Urban Planning

Dental and Oral Surgery: MBA and DDS

Engineering & Applied Science: MBA & MS in Industrial Engineering

International & Public Affairs: MBA and MIA

Journalism: MBA and MS

Law: MBA and JD

Nursing: MBA and MS in Nursing

Physicians and Surgeons: MBA and MD 

Public Health: MBA and MPH 

Social Work: MBA and MS in Social Work

Teachers College: MBA and MA in Private School Leadership

c. Institutes, Interdisciplinary Programs, etc.  

In addition to the programs listed above, the Libraries’ collections also support the work of the following organizations:

Advanced Projects and Applied Research in Fintech

Center for Decision Sciences

Center for Excellence in Accounting and Security Analysis

Center for Pricing and Revenue Management

Center on Global Brand Leadership

Center on Japanese Economy and Business (CJEB)

Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center

Family Business Program

Global Leadership Matrix

Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management Program

Heilbrunn Center for Graham & Dodd Investing

Jerome A. Chazen Institute for Global Business

Leadership Lab

Motivation Science Center

Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate

Private Equity Program

Program for Financial Studies

Richard Paul Richman Center for Business, Law, and Public Policy

Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics

Tamer Center for Social Enterprise

W. Edwards Deming Center for Quality, Productivity, and Competitiveness

d. Course Reserves

Selection for course reserves is up to individual faculty members. The Librarian will do whatever is possible to secure specific materials absent from the collection. Course reserves for the department are housed in the Business & Economics Library. 

3. Selection Guidelines

a. Print

Overall, the Libraries’ existing collection and current acquisitions commitment supports the academic and research needs of the Business School and its affiliates. Despite the shift from print collections to electronic collections in the last ten years, the library continues to add a limited amount of print materials. The library collects annuals and monographs extensively and periodicals, newspapers, reference tools, scholarly series and textbooks selectively. We also collect titles of high-end texts with unique content that are not available in digital format, e.g. handbooks, titles that addressed areas not well-covered in the collection otherwise, or new areas.

b. Digital Collections 

Columbia University Libraries offers a robust variety of electronic resources. The Business & Economics Library collection strives to offer the full array of available databases relevant to the field. The number of e-book titles acquired has been increasing over the last several years. E-books may be purchased outright or may be part of a subscription service as appropriate, based on availability. Electronic items with reduced barriers to access are preferred, such as DRM-free e-books or multi-user licenses. There are numerous electronic journal subscriptions available as well. The Business & Economics Library also licenses datasets that are of use to the research interests of users. 

c. Media 

Audiovisual materials are excluded from selection, but archival collections may be present as part of broader electronic collections. Other tools, such as microfilm, are collected selectively upon specific request. 

d. Languages Collected 

English language materials are collected extensively, Western European languages very selectively, and non-Western languages are collected rarely. 

e. Chronological Focus 

We collect current publications extensively and earlier 20th-century materials selectively. Older materials are not generally collected except upon specific request.

f. Geographical Focus 

We collect materials published in North America and Western Europe extensively and other countries selectively. However, the database collection has a more international focus, specifically on business or trade in India, China, and Europe. 

g. Imprint Dates Collected 

We collect materials focusing on current and recent (+/- three years) research topics extensively and earlier 20th-century topics, 19th-century topics, and earlier topics selectively. When antiquarian acquisitions are offered via gift or purchase, no specific chronological ranges are established in advance; rare or unique materials from any period may be considered. 

4. Distinctive and Special Collections

We collect companies’ historical annual reports  and SEC filings. Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) holds the archives of numerous individual Gilded Age business leaders, including financiers such as August Belmont and George W. Perkins, merchants such as W.R. Grace, and industrialists such as Charlemagne Tower. In the records of the New York Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the New York Clearing House Association, RBML holds significant materials related to institutions that devoted themselves to regulating and promoting New York business. Business history remains a priority area of collecting interest for RBML. The library also holds items of historical interest such as Columbia Business School alum Benjamin Graham’s papers, who is considered the "father of value investing,” the Montgomery Accounting and Business Records collection, the Samuel S. Dale Papers, and the PriceWaterhouseCoopers Collection.

5. Collection Strategies

a. Consortia and Collaborative Collecting with Other Institutions 

Development of the Business & Economics Library’s collection takes into consideration the collections of other libraries to minimize unnecessary duplication and to ensure that necessary materials are not overlooked. These are primarily the collections in Lehman Social Sciences Library, Butler Library, the Arthur W. Diamond Law Library, Science & Engineering Library, and Teachers College and Barnard College libraries. The collection is greatly enhanced by Columbia’s participation Borrow Direct, OCLC’s SHARES network of international academic libraries, and the Manhattan Research Library Initiative (MaRLI), a partnership with New York University and The New York Public Library. MaRLI also enables Columbia to expand its access to electronic journals and books through cooperative subscription and purchase agreements.

b. Selection for ReCAP 

Due to multiple renovations to add seating in the Business & Economics Library, shelving space was reduced. All monographs published prior to 2010 have already been sent to ReCAP. The library continues to send about 5,000 volumes per year to ReCAP so there is enough space for future growth. 

c. Deaccessioning 

Titles are deaccessioned only in cases where the physical copy is disintegrating and no longer serviceable in print/physical  format. In these instances, the Librarian will evaluate whether to make a preservation photocopy, to create or acquire a digital surrogate, and/or whether to replace the physical copy with another. Resources on obsolete formats are reviewed by librarians on a case-by-case basis; in instances where the original format has artifactual value, it will be retained even after it it has been digitized or otherwise reformatted. Distinctive collections held in RBML, C.V. Starr East Asian Library, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, and the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary are not deaccessioned. 

d. Deduplication

Deduplication only takes place when a title has been identified for relocation to ReCAP and a copy already exists on shelf at that facility. Even in this instance, the Librarian will inspect the local copy for any unique features or unusual provenance before assenting to deduplication. 

e. Digitization and Preservation 

Materials may be treated for preservation issues as needed. 

Contact Information


YASMIN SAIRA

Research Support & Collection Development Librarian
  • Science, Engineering, & Social Sciences Libraries
(212) 854-3547
Business & Economics Library - 130 Uris Hall

AMANDA BIELSKAS

Head, Collection Management for the Science, Engineering, & Social Science Libraries
  • Science, Engineering, & Social Sciences Libraries
(212) 854-6767
Science & Engineering Library - 403 Northwest Corner Building

Related subject policies and references:

Gifts-In-Kind Policy

Columbia University Libraries Preservation Policy

Last updated: January 2019