Astronomy Collection Policy


subject description and guidelines

  • Astronomy deals with the origin, evolution, composition, distance, and motion of all bodies and scattered matter in the universe. It is the observational and theoretical study of celestial bodies, of the intervening regions of space, and of the universe as a whole. It is one of the oldest sciences and has developed in step with advances in instrumentation and other technology and with advances in physics, chemistry and mathematics. Today the field of astronomy involves the application of the latest theoretical and experimental tools from all scientific disciplines. Traditional areas of excellence at Cornell include infrared astronomy, theoretical astrophysics, radio and radar astronomy and planetary science. Astronomy and space sciences involves research across various departments, including astronomy, physics, applied physics, geological and atmospheric sciences, theoretical and applied mechanics, and electrical engineering, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and the Palomar Observatory in California. This is primarily an electronic collection to support the increasingly online workflows and information requirements of researchers. The focus is on full access to the published literature in electronic format. The physical sciences collection includes several enhanced interfaces with features essential to physical sciences research. Astronomical data sources are generally openly available through such initiatives as the National Virtual Observatory. Significant effort through the Cornell Library is also focused on acquiring electronic access to older literature to enhance access and use.


collection strength

  • Overall, the collecting goals for Astronomy is suitable for dissertation-level research and undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate education.

collection level

  • research 

geographical guidelines

  • Most materials in the collection are published in North America and Europe.

areas of significant geographic coverage

country (self-governing)

  • Canada
  • United States of America

transnational region

  • Europe

language guidelines

  • English is the primary language of the collection. Materials in other languages are acquired as requested.


  • English

chronological guidelines

  • General collection holdings date back to mid-1800s in print and electronic holdings.


  • Pre-college materials are not collected. Undergraduate level textbooks are not actively collected. Hardcopy materials are only acquired upon request.

material types

  • Astronomy emphasizes scholarly communication through academic journals, pre-prints, book series, scholarly monographs, conference proceedings, specialized bibliographic and data sources. Materials are collected exclusively in networked electronic format except for a limited number not available electronically or upon special request. Print materials in astronomy are primarily located at the Annex or in other related library collections. Electronic editions have been acquired for the majority of older journal issues and many monographic series to facilitate access and use.


housed in

  • Clark Physical Sciences Library 

special collections or noteworthy resources in the field

  • arXiv – preprint server NASA Astrophysics Data System – open access bibliographic database includes full text and links to open data

related library subject collection


academic department

  • Applied and Engineering Physics (A&EP)
  • Astronomy (ASTRO)
  • Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (EAS)
  • Mathematics (MATH)
  • Physics (PHYS)
  • Science and Technology Studies (S&TS)
  • Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (T&AM)

graduate field/program

  • Applied Physics 
  • Astronomy and Space Sciences 
  • Atmospheric Science 
  • Mathematics 
  • Physics 


library contact

  • Spoon, Henrik -  Physics, Astronomy, and Math Librarian