Library & Information Science


1. History and Overview of the Collection

The Libraries seeks to support the information needs of professional librarians employed by Columbia University Libraries. These materials are integrated within the general collection. The current acquisitions commitment and collecting goal are at the basic information level.

Columbia University opened the first library school in the United States on January 5, 1887, led by Melvil Dewey. In 1889, the school left Columbia and spent the next thirty-seven years at the State Library in Albany as the New York State Library School. In 1926, the New York State Library School returned to Columbia. Simultaneously, the Library School of The New York Public Library moved from 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue to Columbia.  Both were rebranded as the School of Library Service. The School of Library Service was permanently closed by the University in 1992.

While the library school was in existence, an attempt was made to acquire all substantive publications in the field of library and information science in the United States as well as a generous representation of foreign publications, especially those from Great Britain and Europe, at a research level. In 1962, former Director of the Libraries, Richard H. Logsdon, described the collection as:

“...the nation’s principal collection of books and journals pertaining to library service…[covering] the entire span of pertinent literature from 1887 to present and [incorporating] the holdings of both the New York State Library School and The New York Public Library School.”

Collection coverage includes library administration, history of libraries, bibliography, documentation, library education, publishing, the history of books and printing, conservation of materials, archives and records managements, and bibliographic database management and administration. 

This document outlines the Libraries’ general policy on collections for library and information science, but it is not intended to be a rigid set of rules; collection suggestions from students and faculty are welcome. (See contact information below.)

2. Academic Departments and Programs Supported

a. Undergraduate

Not applicable.

b. Graduate and Professional Schools

Not applicable.

c. Institutes, Interdisciplinary Programs, etc.

Not applicable.

d. Course Reserves

Not applicable.

3. Selection Guidelines

a. Print 

English language monographs are acquired selectively.

b. Digital Collections

Electronic materials (e-books and e-journals) are the preferred format to acquire.

c. Media

Not applicable.

d. Languages Collected

We collect English-language publications only.

e. Chronological Focus

We collect current publications only.

f. Geographical Focus

We collect materials published in North America and Western Europe selectively.

g. Imprint Dates Collected

The main focus of collecting is current and recent (+/- three years) imprints.

4. Distinctive and Special Collections

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library's collections include:

New York Public Library Library School Records, 1900--1927

New York State Library School Records, 1887--1967

School of Library Service Records, 1920s--1992

Maurice Tauber Papers, 1935--1978

Ernestine Rose Papers, 1945--1947

The graphic arts collection began in the 1930s with the purchase of the library of the American Typefounders Company. The graphic arts collection, once a part of the School of Library Service, was integrated during the latter part of 1992 into the Rare Book & Manuscript Library collections, which is responsible for its continued development.

5. Collection Strategies

a. Consortia and Collaborative Collecting with Other Institutions

Not applicable.

b. Location Decisions and Selection for ReCAP

Materials on site include current works identified by library professionals as being central to their needs. Library and information science materials, previously purchased to support the needs of the School of Library Service, are housed in the Libraries’ off-site storage facility (ReCAP).

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 copy that could potentially be withdrawn for any unique features or unusual provenance before assenting to deduplication.

c. Deaccessioning

Titles are generally 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 has been digitized or otherwise reformatted. Distinctive collections held in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the C. V. Starr East Asian Library, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, and the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary are not deaccessioned.

d. Digitization and Preservation

As needed, titles in our special and circulating collections are evaluated by staff of the Libraries’ Preservation and Digital Conversion Division (PDCD). 

Contact information


SUSAN E. MARCIN

Head of Electronic Resources Management: Technologies & User Experience
  • Collection Development & E-Resources Management
(212) 854-0410
Butler Library - 106 Butler Library

JANE SIEGEL

Rare Book Librarian
  • Rare Book & Manuscript Library
(212) 854-8482
Butler Library - 6th Floor East Butler Library

Related subject policies and references:

Gifts-In-Kind Policy

Columbia University Libraries Preservation Policy

Last updated: February 2019