Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: Biological Sciences/Natural History

Written By Julia Perez 6/30/89, Revised 2/14/00, 10/12/05 ; Revised by Susan Kendall 7/19/11; 1/8/15; Revised by Jodi Coalter 8/1/2023 Page Coordinator: Jodi coalter

Purpose or Scope of Collection

Curricular/Research/Programmatic Needs:  

The MSU Libraries support undergraduate and graduate programs through the Ph.D. level and basic research in the biological sciences. This includes a broad range of centers and departments in the College of Natural Science and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources: the W.K.Kellogg Biological Station, the Lyman Briggs School, the Plant Research Laboratory, and the Departments of Entomology, Integrative Biology, Fisheries and Wildlife, and Plant Biology. It also includes several interdisciplinary programs that bring together faculty and researchers from multiple departments, including programs in ; Ecology, Evolutionary Biology & Behavior; and Biological Sciences.  

This policy statement covers the larger organismal, ecological systems, and natural history areas of biology. Other policies cover the cellular and molecular areas of biology or the applied areas of plant agriculture, animal science, and medical and veterinary research.  

History of the Collection/Existing Strengths and Emphases:  

Although zoology and animal physiology along with botany and plant systematics were part of the early curriculum in MSU's history, mainly agricultural practices were emphasized. Therefore, early collection development in these areas reflected the agricultural orientation of the institution at the time. The biological sciences eventually grew to be fields of study independent of the agricultural sciences. A tie still exists between the biological sciences and agriculture because of research interests that benefit agricultural practices. MSU is a land grant institution and is affiliated with the Agriculture Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service located on campus. This affiliation is reflected in the collecting practices of MSU Libraries.  

The collection contains material that is applicable to research in the ecology, plants, and animals, and agriculture of Michigan, the Great Lakes area of the United States and Canada, and the Midwest states. It also includes materials that supports global research, including Central and South American and African continents. It also emphasizes areas of current biological research focus on campus, including genetics and evolution, entomology, and aquatic ecology, fisheries and toxicology.  

Special Collections also holds some materials in the biological sciences and natural history. There are numerous works by naturalists White, Bacon, Darwin, Linne, Redi, and Plinius Secundus. The entomology collection is particularly strong and features the small but very fine Ray Stannard Baker apiculture collection. Ornithological holdings in special collections include the works of Audubon, Bewick, Gould, Grayson, Studer, and Aldrovandi. Many of these holdings have been acquired by gift or purchase throughout the years, but some items have been transferred there from the circulating collection. Special Collections currently purchase selective reprints of the classical works in the botanical or biological field that are currently being published that augment collections already held; otherwise, active purchasing is not being done in this area.