Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: German Studies

AUTHOR: Michael Seadle Page Coordinator: Mary Black Last updated: 06-09-2008

Purpose or Scope of Collection


This plan updates the Collection Development Policy that Leena Siegelbaum wrote on 3 January 1990. That plan covered all of Northern and Central Europe. This plan splits that into two parts, and this part covers only the German speaking countries: Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.


A. Curricular/Research/ Programmatic needs.

The German Collection (including translations and supporting works in other languages) supports the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs at MSU, as well as faculty research. It is also intended to meet the general information needs of the MSU community, including those of German speaking students, staff, and faculty in departments not directly linked to German studies. German language and literature represent the bulk of the teaching and research in this area. German history is also taught, mainly to undergraduates, and German resources are widely used in the fields of art history, music history, and many of the social sciences. An important new development has been courses in business German.

B. History of the Collection.

German language instruction at MSU dates back to the start of the 20th century. The program virtually died during the 1914-18 War, but was revived again afterwards. During the 1939-1945 War German language training focused on military needs. A significant growth period began after that war, though no PhD program in German Language and Literature began until 1961. This program falls administratively under the Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African languages. German history courses have been taught at MSU only since the late 1950s. The pre-1950 German language and literature collection was inadequate for either the growing instruction demand or for research needs. (See Appendix 1 for details.) A vigorous collection building effort began in the mid/late 1950 with the help of new faculty, interested librarians, and increased funding. The Harrassowitz approval plan began at this time, and has been the real backbone of the collecting effort. The German language collection (PF) is fairly small, but has grown through faculty interest and energetic collecting in recent years. It suffices for MA level research.

C. Existing Strengths and Emphasis

The German literature collection (PT) reflects the Harrassowitz approval plan and thus resembles the core collections of most other research libraries. Professor Gallagher donated funds that were used to purchase some materials on folk literature. No unique collections of any size or special interest have been acquired. Very conservative collection policies over the decades have contributed to an overemphasis on Goethe and Schiller, and a distinct under-representation of popular culture materials (Unterhaltungsliteratur). This is a particularly egregious omission at an institution whose popular culture collections are among its bestknown strengths. In the last year mysteries written by German authors have been added to the collection. This is a genre which essentially did not exist in German literature until the last few decades (with a few very notable exceptions, e.g. Emil und Die Detektive, all Krimis were translations).


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