Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: Geography

Page Coordinator: Kathleen Weessies Last updated: 01-05-2009

Purpose or Scope of Collection

A. Curricular, Research, and Programmatic needs

The Geography collections at MSU support instructional programs from the undergraduate to doctoral level in Geography and its related fields. Geography has a unique interdisciplinary position in that nearly every academic discipline can be studied from a geographic perspective (much as we can study the history of nearly any topic). Therefore the library’s geography collection must also support and encourage the geographic component of other academic disciplines.

B. Geography Department strengths and emphases

The discipline of geography may be divided into three segments :Physical Geography, Human Geography, and Geospatial Technologies.  At MSU important physical geography topics are Climatology, Geomorphology/Soils, and Plant Geography. In human geography, important topics are land use change, economic development, medical geography, and urban geography.  Geospatial technologies include Cartography, Geographic Information Science (GIS) and Remote Sensing.  

The interdisciplinary nature of the field is illustrated by the number of faculty (40% of the department) with joint appointments wRegional Studies overlap with other campus departments in such topics as Development with Africa, Latin America, East Asia, and Global Change.

The Geography department also has the non-academic Remote Sensing & GIS Research and Outreach Services(RS&GIS), which provides remote sensing, global positioning system (GPS), geographic information science (GIS) and cartographic services to the MSU campus, the State of Michigan, and other agencies. It provides outreach instruction in these subjects and conducts research grant and contract work for on-campus and off-campus units.

C. History of the Collection

Books concentrating on geography, discovery and exploration, and climate have been collected by the university library since its inception. Focus on sub-disciplines has evolved over time in relation to departmental interests. For instance we are currently experiencing a waning interest in polar studies, a topic once of great interest to some faculty. In terms of quantity of sheets, the map collection has largely developed through several federal depository programs from the US Geological Survey, the US Department of Defense, and the Federal Depository Library Program. Because of this, the collection’s strength’s often reflect the varied and changing interests of the federal agencies. For instance, our foreign topographic coverage consists largely sets from the US Department of Defense and therefore reflects those geographic areas of interest to that department. Many geography and map titles focusing specifically on a geographic area from one of our Title VI Area Studies programs (African, Asian, Canadian, and Latin America & Caribbean) have been purchased using Area Studies funds entirely or in part.

D. Collection Coverage

The geographical coverage of the collection is worldwide with in-depth collecting in the following areas: U.S., particularly Michigan; Africa; Latin America; and Canada. The Map Library houses the depository sheet map collection, with the main components being from the Defense Mapping Agency and the United States Geological Survey. Maps by commercial publishers and distributors are also acquired, including maps from the United Nations, the European Union, and the government of Canada, though not on a depository basis.

E. Most scholarly monographs and journal subscriptions are housed with the main collection, including exploration, some cartography, and most GIS. The Map Library has many of the gazetteers and carto-bibliographies in addition to the expected maps and atlases. Some manuals for GIS are housed in duplicate in the Map Library.

Michigan State University