Medieval Studies Collection Policy


subject description and guidelines

  • The Cornell Medieval Studies Program is interdisciplinary and draws faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students from many departments: Classics, Comparative Literature, English, History, History of Art, Modern Languages, German Literature, Romance Studies, Music, Asian Studies, and Near Eastern Studies. In the context of building Cornell library collections, the term "medieval studies" refers to the languages, literatures, history, culture, commerce, social life and customs of Europe and the Byzantine Empire from the period of the Great Migrations (ca. A. D. 300) to the Renaissance (beginning in Italy 1350, England, France, Germany and Austria ca. 1485, the Low Countries and Scandinavia 1500-1550). Within this scope, materials that are interdisciplinary or intra-national are purchased by the medieval studies selector while materials specific to a particular discipline or nation are generally purchased by the appropriate subject selector.


  • Cornell faculty, students, and staff are the primary constituency for this collection.


collection strength

  • Olin Library's special strength is in the area of Old English literature, complementing the Icelandic Collection's comprehensive holdings. The special collections of Dante and Petrarch materials in Kroch Rare and Manuscripts are nationally known; materials for the history of Italy in the Middle Ages are also strong. During the 1960's the Library purchased extensive retrospective sets of serials, and standing orders were placed for nearly all scholarly European monographic series and serials in the field of Medieval Studies.

collection level

  • research 

geographical guidelines

  • Primarily Western Europe and Byzantium.

language guidelines

  • Secondary literature primarily in English and Western European languages; sources and texts in Latin and vernacular languages.


  • English

chronological guidelines

  • Roughly 300A.D. to 1500A.D.


  • Textbooks and dissertations (unless editions of original texts) are not routinely purchased. Most medieval manuscripts and facsimiles of medieval manuscripts are purchased by the Department of Rare Books.

material types

  • Print, microform, and online. Manuscripts are the purview of Kroch Rare and Manuscripts.


housed in

  • Olin Library 

related library subject collection


library contact

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