Humanities and Social Science Reference Collection Policy


subject description and guidelines

  • For Olin Library and Uris Library, we collect reference materials (subject encyclopedias, dictionaries, directories, periodical indexes, almanacs, catalogs, subject and national bibliographies, manuals, yearbooks, and biographical and statistical sources) in the humanities and social sciences.


  • Faculty and students of the College of Arts and Sciences are the primary constituency for this collection. Secondarily, the collection provides access to interdisciplinary reference sources used university wide that are not otherwise covered by other libraries or selectors.


collection strength

  • Humanities and social sciences reference sources are covered at a level suitable for dissertation-level research except where specialized reference resources are covered by or shared with the Africana Library (Africa and the diaspora), Catherwood Library (especially labor and human resources), the Fine Arts Library (art, architecture, city and regional planning), the Hotel Library, Kroch Asia (Asia and Asian-America), the Law Library, the Management Library (business economics), Mann Library (especially sociology and social work, economics, education, and aspects of psychology), the Music Library (music), the Olin Map collections (maps, atlases, and cartography) and the Rare and Manuscript Collections (rare books, Cornelliana).

collection level

  • research 

geographical guidelines

  • All geographical areas are represented for those subject areas that are covered in the reference collection.

language guidelines

  • The collection is primarily in English and the Romance languages; these languages are represented at the research level. The collection includes sources in German, Spanish, Italian, French, Polish, and Russian. Bilingual dictionaries are available for most major languages worldwide. Asian-language reference sources are primarily covered by Kroch Asia reference, African languages in Africana reference.


  • English 
  • French 
  • German 
  • Italian 
  • Polish 
  • Russian
  • Spanish

chronological guidelines

  • No restrictions.


  • Business, the physical and life sciences, engineering and technology, art, and music are excluded except for the history of these subjects or background sources needed by general, interdisciplinary, or undergraduate users.

material types

  • Reference sources are available online and in print, microform, and electronic (CD-ROM and DVD) formats. The collection is characterized by an increasing emphasis on databases and other networked resources. The corollary is that print sources are decreasing in numbers. Note: A 2008 title-by-title review of the print collection in Olin and Uris resulted in a plan to remove over 50% of the print reference titles from the Olin reference collection; the removal was completed in December 2011. In 2009/2010, most of the Uris reference collection (serials and monographs) was cancelled, withdrawn, or sent to the Library Annex. Some unique titles were transferred to Olin Reference. Selected literature reference sets, bilingual language dictionaries, and the Education and Careers collection (primarily serials) remain in Uris Library in the reference area on the main floor.


housed in

  • Olin Library 
  • Uris Library 


library contact

  • Engle, Michael O. -  Reference/Instruction Librarian; Selector