Industrial and Labor Relations Collection Policy


subject description and guidelines

  • Industrial Relations (IR), increasingly called "employment relations", developed as a distinct academic subject nearly a century ago. Although controversy still exists concerning its "intellectual boundaries," here it will be defined as "subfields related to the employment relationship." This includes human resource management, collective bargaining, labor history, labor law, labor economics and organizational behavior. The existing collection emphasizes all aspects of industrial relations as briefly described above and serves as the premier collection of its type in North America. Collections in international and comparative industrial relations are growing to reflect a more global economy and workforce.


  • The primary mission of the Martin P. Catherwood Library (ILR) is to serve the needs of the faculty, both resident and extension, and students of the ILR School. One of our primary areas of support is to graduate students working toward advanced degrees (MS, MILR, MPS and PhD) from one of the six departments within the school (listed below). The Catherwood Library also serves as a resource for a diverse clientele including labor union leaders, human resource managers, legislators, practitioners, and academic researchers worldwide.


collection strength

  • Every effort is made to collect at a comprehensive level in each of those areas where present strengths exist (described below). Due to the multi-disciplinary focus of industrial relations it is also necessary to build a very basic level collection of monographs and serials from the disciplines of economics, law, political science, psychology and sociology. Grey literature from labor unions/employer associations is collected extensively. The strength of the ILR collection lies in Library of Congress (LC) class HD. It is here that titles on collective bargaining, industrial relations, labor disputes, labor economics (employment/unemployment, wage structure, discrimination, poverty, education and training, fringe benefits), labor/labor union history, contemporary labor-management relations issues, as well as those dealing with international and comparative industrial relations are to be found. Two other "micro" areas of strength are HF5549 (human resource studies) and those components of HM where material on organizational behavior (organizations, leadership, power, social groups) is found. In addition, the collection selectively includes materials from LC classes: HA1-20 (statistics); HB-HC (economics); HQ1060-1064 (ageing and retirement), HV (social and public welfare as it relates to employment); KD-KF, KJ-KZ (primarily labor laws and legislation); RC (occupational safety and health); T55-60 (primarily work measurement, industrial efficiency).

collection level

  • comprehensive

geographical guidelines

  • The entire world is represented, but the greatest emphasis has been on North America and Western Europe. The ILR collection is complemented by the very strong Area collections at Cornell University Library, including those covering Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

areas of significant geographic coverage

country (self-governing)

  • Canada 
  • France 
  • Germany 
  • Italy 
  • United States of America 

transnational region

  • eastern Europe 

language guidelines

  • No programmatic decision is made to restrict materials according to language. In addition to English, strengths are in French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Non-English language collections relevant to the ILR subject area are often found in Cornell's strong Area Collections (e.g. African, Asian, Eastern European, Latin American, Middle Eastern).


  • English 
  • French 
  • German 
  • Italian 
  • Spanish 

chronological guidelines

  • The bulk of the ILR collection dates from 1945, the year that the ILR School was founded, but does include segments of the literature from the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. Historical periods of research interest range from the late 19th century to the present 21st century.


  • Nothing is considered an exclusion, but dissertations, textbooks, and titles more relevant to the layperson (e.g. self-help or guidebooks) are acquired selectively.

material types

  • The ILR collection includes all material types


housed in

  • Martin P. Catherwood Library 

special collections or noteworthy resources in the field

  • The Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation & Archives is the unit of Catherwood Library that collects, preserves, and makes accessible special collections pertaining to the history of the workplace and labor relations.  Materials consist of unique and rich primary sources, including printed and hand-written historical documents dating back to colonial times, historical photographs, rare pamphlets, audio recordings, film, and oral histories. The Catherwood Library serves as a Depository Library for publications of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

related library subject collection


academic department

  • Human Resource Studies (ILRHR) 
  • International and Comparative Labor (ILRIC) 
  • Labor Economics (ILRLE) 
  • Labor Relations, Law, and History (ILRLR) 
  • Organizational Behavior (ILROB) 
  • Social Statistics (ILRST) 

cornell college or professional school

  • School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) 


library contact

  • Cohen, Suzanne -  Collection Development Coordinator, Martin P. Catherwood Library