Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: German Studies

Analysis of the Subject Field

A. Chronology / Emphasis

The emphasis has been on authors from Goethe to the present in literature, and on the Nazi period in history. Although these should continue, some shift has occurred and will continue. The fall of the Communist regime and the reunification of Germany (die Wende) have awakened considerable interest in the history of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik and east Germany in general. Significant new research has also taken place on the Revolution of 1848, which ranks as an important event in the history of German democracy. The timing for these two research developments is no accident. 1848 is seen as relevant to modern times. In literature, more emphasis is being given to contemporary authors. This is a very fertile period for German literature, especially for feminist authors, with significant faculty and student interest in these. Harrassowitz lists provide information on thousands of titles per year in almost all genres;  many titles are purchased as firm orders, and the Harrassowitz approval plan continues to be an important source of titles. The other approval plans also can include current German literature, often in English translation. Popular literature/culture has received more emphasis in the late 2000s into the 2010s, in conjunction with Special Collections in particular.

History and historical materials are collected in all formats and are critical to the study of German culture. Other areas, such as law, economics, social life and conditions, are also important.  While the language is usually German, English material focused on these areas is included. Occasionally, titles in other languages are added as appropriate.

B. Translations / Out-of-Print materials

Translations are collected, particularly for undergraduate use. Teaching literature in translation is a staple of most literature departments today. In general out-of-print materials are not sought, except by request.

C. Geography

The German collection was in the past limited to the geographic areas of Germany, Austria (and Austria-Hungary), and Switzerland. In retrospect, this was a mistake. Michigan and the Midwest had an active German community, and some regional publications can still be found in German.  With the establishment of the Center for Great Lakes Culture, a real effort has been made to acquire regionally-based German-language publications. With increased awareness and availability of cross-cultural influences, material relating to German cultures in other regions and continents has also been purchased.

D. Format

The format of the collection has been and, for the foreseeable future, will remain print. Microformats will be acquired only by request as a last resort. Online materials, especially newspapers and journals, are actively collected.  Films are now an important part of the collection and are quite heavily used by scholars and their students.