Philip L. Milstein Family College Library Collection


1. History and Overview of the Collection

The Philip L. Milstein Family College Library is an interdisciplinary collection housed in Butler Library that supports the undergraduate research of students at Columbia University. Established in 1998, this undergraduate collection was formed from the merger of the former College Library, the Burgess-Carpenter Library, and books for undergraduate courses that were transferred out of Butler Reserves. 

The collection represents all subject disciplines that support the undergraduate curricula of Columbia College (CC), the School of General Studies (GS), and to a lesser extent the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), emphasizing the introductory research level. With strong support for the studies of the Core Curriculum, including classics, the collection is especially strong in world history, American history, New York City history, literature, economics, and the social sciences. The collection includes popular culture, general introductions to subject material, and current nonfiction bestsellers.

A non-circulating Milstein Study collection includes heavily-used reference works. 

This document outlines the Libraries’ general policy on undergraduate collections, but 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

Columbia College, SEAS, and GS students enrolled in the Core Curriculum, English, history, economics, comparative literature, and introductory classes in other subject areas.

b. Graduate and Professional Schools

The collection is available to all members of the Columbia University community and is frequently used by School of the Arts and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) graduate students in the subject areas of history, literature, and classics.

c. Institutes, Interdisciplinary Programs, etc.

Not applicable.

d. Course Reserves

Books from course reserves in history and humanities, literature, the social sciences, and the Core Curriculum are often later transferred to the Milstein College Library. The librarian will acquire specific books on request that are not already in the collection.

3. Selection Guidelines

a. Print

English-language monographs, reference resources. There are no serials in the collection.

b. Digital Collections

E-books are acquired when available or for second copies of heavily-used books. The Librarian collaborates with other selectors, especially the British & American History & Literature Librarian, to purchase interdisciplinary databases and those related to world and American history. 

c. Media

Not applicable. 

d. Languages Collected

English only.

e. Chronological Focus

Ancient Greece to the current day.

f. Geographical Focus

All areas, but focused primarily on North America, Western Europe, and classical Greece and Rome.

g. Imprint Dates Collected

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

4. Distinctive and Special Collections

There are two digital exhibits of texts, created from items held in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, for the Columbia College Core Curriculum classes Literature Humanities and Contemporary Civilization.

5. Collection Strategies

a. Consortia and Collaborative Collecting with Other Institutions

Not applicable. 

b. Location Decisions and Selection for ReCAP

Older relevant editions of Milstein titles are available at the Libraries’ shared off-site storage facility (ReCAP). Duplication of titles is limited to works identified by faculty as being central to a specific course. In these cases, no more than a few copies are obtained, one of which should be placed by the faculty member on reserve.

Deduplication only takes place when a title has been identified for relocation to ReCAP and a copy already exists on shelf at that facility. 

c. Deaccessioning

Titles are deaccessioned only in cases where the physical copy is disintegrating and no longer serviceable in print format. Older Milstein books that are listed as “missing” in CLIO, the Libraries’ online catalog, but that are available in other library locations, or at ReCAP, may also be deaccessioned. 

d. Digitization and Preservation

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

contact information

Related subject policies and references:

Gifts-In-Kind Policy

Columbia University Libraries Preservation Policy

Last updated: April 2019