Classics Collection Policy


subject description and guidelines

  • Cornell University Library maintains a major research collection covering all aspects of the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome: archaeology, history, political, economic, and social conditions, law, languages and literatures, epigraphy, philosophy, religion, science, daily life, etc. General chronological boundaries reach from the Bronze Age (ca. 2500 B.C.E. on Crete) to the fall of the Roman Empire in the west (476 C.E.). Geographically, the collection covers all areas that fell within the Greco-Roman cultural or political sphere during the period of Greco-Roman hegemony. The collection encompasses materials on all known ancient Greek and ancient Italic dialects and the non-Italic dialects of the Italian peninsula. The collection also includes the history of Classical scholarship in all periods and places.


  • The primary users of materials in the collection are Cornell faculty, graduate students, visiting scholars, and undergraduate majors in the interdisciplinary field of Classics. Major research interests at Cornell include ancient philosophy, Greek and Latin literature and linguistics, Classical art and archaeology, epigraphy, Greek and Roman history and historiography, and the culture of Hellenistic Egypt. The Department of Classics includes faculty members with appointments in the Departments of Comparative Literature, History, Linguistics, and Philosophy. Classics faculty are active in the graduate fields of Asian Studies, Archaeology, Classics, Comparative Literature, Geological Sciences, History, History of Art, Archaeology and Visual Studies, Linguistics, Philosophy, Medieval Studies, Near Eastern Studies, Peace Studies and Peace Science, and Theatre Arts; the graduate field of Classics includes faculty members in the Departments of Asian Studies, History of Art and Visual Studies, Landscape Architecture, Near Eastern Studies, and Philosophy, as well as the Classics Department.


collection strength

  • Since the Greek and Roman Classics have been taught at Cornell from the very inception of the University and, in fact, constituted the core of the Humanities curriculum well into the 20th century, the holdings quite strong in older text editions, monographs, reference works, and early journal runs. Much of this material is not superseded and still in active use today. Apart from some gaps in the holdings that developed in the 1980s and early 90s (primarily European publications, from Italy in particular), solid coverage of the scholarly literature in the major European languages has been continuous.

collection level

  • research 

geographical guidelines

  • The collection includes scholarship on all areas of the ancient world that fell within the Greco-Roman cultural or political sphere during the period of Greco-Roman hegemony. Materials from the leading centers of contemporary scholarly publication in Classics – Germany, France, Britain, Italy, the United States and the Netherlands – are acquired at a level to support intensive dissertation and post-doctoral research. Materials published in other Western European countries and elsewhere in the world are acquired more selectively.

areas of significant geographic coverage

country (self-governing)

  • Austria
  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus
  • Egypt
  • France
  • Germany
  • Great Britain
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Libya
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Syria
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • United States of America

language guidelines

  • The collection encompasses materials on all known ancient Greek and ancient Italic dialects and the non-Italic dialects of the Italian peninsula. Materials in English, German, Italian, and French are collected at a research level, with less emphasis on Spanish-language materials. Publications in other languages are acquired selectively.


  • Ancient Greek
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Latin
  • Spanish

chronological guidelines

  • The Classics collection includes primary texts from and scholarly treatments of all aspects of Greco-Roman culture, extending from approximately 2500 B.C.E. to around 500 C.E.; the collection also encompasses modern editions of and commentary on Classical scholarship from the medieval period to the present. Publications from the 19th century to the present represent the bulk of the Library’s holdings in Classics.


  • Materials on Greek and Roman music are collected by the Music Library and materials on Greek and Roman art, for the most part, are acquired by the Fine Arts Library. Treatments of Judaism in the Greco-Roman world fall within the scope of the Library’s Jewish Studies collection. Early Christian (Patristic) writings and materials pertaining to early Christianity fall within the scope of the Religion collection. Writings in Greek and Latin composed after ca. 500 C.E. are acquired for the Medieval Studies and various national literature collections. Materials pertaining to the Byzantine Empire fall within the scope of the Medieval Studies collection. Writings in and about non-Greco-Roman languages of the Classical world (e.g., Gaulish, Iberian) are not systematically collected.

material types

  • The Library acquires the major international journals and monographic series in the field and invests heavily in new individual book titles in Classics from the U.S. and Europe. Journals (current issues and back files) are increasingly made available in electronic form. The Library provides access to most of the major bibliographic databases and full-text digital collections used by Classicists, such as L'Année philologique, Bibliotheca Teubneriana Latina, Brill’s New Jacoby, and Thesaurus Linguae Graecae.


housed in

  • Library Annex 
  • Olin Library 

special collections or noteworthy resources in the field

  • The Library’s Rare and Manuscript Collections hold a number of volumes that complement the extensive circulating collection in Classics, including medieval and Renaissance editions of Aristotle, Cicero, Sophocles, and Euripides, among others.

related library subject collection


associated with organization

    academic department

    • Classics (CLASS)
    • History of Art and Visual Studies (ART H)
    • Linguistics (LING)
    • Near Eastern Studies (NES)
    • Philosophy (PHIL)

    graduate field/program

    • Archaeology
    • Classics
    • History
    • History of Art, Archaeology and Visual Studies
    • Linguistics
    • Medieval Studies
    • Near Eastern Studies
    • Peace Studies and Peace Science
    • Philosophy

    academic unit

    • Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies (CIAMS)
    • Medieval Studies (MEDVL)
    • Religious Studies Program (RELST)


    • History (HIST)


    library contact

    • Cole, Virginia A. -  Classics, History, & Medieval Studies Librarian