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 the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences 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, Geospatial Technologies, Nature Society Studies, and Urban-Economic Geography.  At MSU important physical geography topics are Climatology, Geomorphology/Soils, and Plant Geography. Geospatial technologies include Cartography, Geographic Information Science (GIS) and Remote Sensing.  In Nature Society Studies, important topics are land use change, economic development, health & medical geography, and urban geography. 

The interdisciplinary nature of the field is illustrated by the number of faculty (40% of the department) with joint appointments Regional 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, however all geographic regions are collected at least at a minimal level. Many geography and map titles focusing specifically on a geographic area from one of our Title VI Area Studies programs (African, Asian, and Latin America & Caribbean Studies) 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, a branch within the MSU Main Library, houses the atlas and sheet map collection plus gazetteers and carto-bibliographies.