A. Curricular/Research/Programmatic Needs
Historically, the purpose of the collection was to support the undergraduate Latin major, Latin and Greek language and literature as a minor at the graduate level, and the interdisciplinary Classical Studies undergraduate program. Certain portions of the collection support instruction and research in other fields or departments such as philosophy, comparative literature, religious studies, history, art and art history, archaeology and historical linguistics. Classical literature, especially in translation, supports several WRAC and English classes or programs as well as the general cultural interests of the University community. However, due to restructuring, the Department of French, Classics, and Italian is being merged into a new Department of Romance and Classical Languages. As a result, many courses in Latin, Greek, and Classical Literature are being phased out.
B. History of the Collection/Existing Strengths and Emphases
Major growth occurred after World War II, but especially in the sixties when the Library had the funds to purchase sets (of journals, mainly, but also monographic sets) and other expensive items from dealers. Although there were four full-time Classicists in the Department of Romance and Classical Languages by the late sixties, the development of the collection was due to the energy and devotion of bibliographers who were true “bookmen.” It was their conception of what a classics collection should be that has given MSU such a fine and usable compilation.
The expanded university with its emphasis on the liberal arts and various undergraduate programs abroad contributed to the acquisition of scholarly journals and other materials from Europe. Suggestions also came from the departments of English, Philosophy, History, Humanities, Art and others.
The collection emphasizes basic texts and criticism in the languages and literatures, with a current emphasis on Greek comedy and drama and the scholia on the primary authors. Works, mainly monographic, pertaining to social, economic, and political concerns are also collected, particularly if they have application to the rest of the ancient world. The collection is stronger than curricular interests would indicate in Greek and Latin epigraphy and paleography, medieval Latin literature, and early Christian literature, including Church Fathers and church history, due to the research interests of faculty in the departments of Religion and English. There is a good basic collection on papyrology for a similar reason, although this collection is not currently supported. Past and current bibliographers have made every effort to acquire out-of-print editions of the primary authors and secondary works of major value; however, there has been little interest in recent years in acquiring rare or fine editions.