Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: Religious Studies. Last updated 05-17-2023

Factors Influencing Collection Policy

  • A. Anticipated future trends

    We have entered a new period in which issues of faith, Christianity, and non-Christian religions, especially Islam, are of greater interest to many in our University community than they were before 9/11. The Religious Studies department, more than once slated for closure, has revived itself; and has many new, younger, faculty members.  They offer courses on all major faiths.  There are two positions in Islam. There are two positions for religion in America, with many other faculty members also interested in this.  There is a position for African American religion;  this professor is interested in its intersections with theory, the diaspora, social movements, gender/sexualities, and Black cultural studies.  There is a position for Judaism; the professor is interested in Jewish education and work with non-profits.  There is a position for the intersection of religion and ecology; the professor is interested in environmental ethics, religion and nature, ecological restoration, children and nature, and food ethics.  They have just hired (spring, 2023) two Native American/Indigenous faculty members to teach in this area.  The University has both Jewish studies and Muslim studies programs and Religious studies faculty are involved here.  The Department chair,  a specialist in religion in North America, is a co-PI for a large grant project, The American Religious Sounds Project,  that collects the sounds of people at worship and offers them on a website.  Spring, 2023 saw approval to offer a new course called Religion and the Arts.  The Department has an endowed chair position in spirituality; this faculty member teaches courses on new religious movements, spirituality, and religion in North America, popular culture and non-profits.  One faculty member teaches Biblical Literature, ancient Mediterranean religions, and the history of Christianity.  Occasionally, the department offers a course on the Reformation which has been taught online by an adjunct professor.  The Department strives to offer content that will be popular with undergraduates, including, for instance, religion(s) in North America, religion and film, religion and the public, religion and gender/sexuality, religion and race, Asian religions in America, South Asian religions, East Asian religions, interreligious relations, Islamic thought, religion and sound, mysticism, esoteric religion and mysticism, religion and politics, and  faith-based organizations and international development.  The Department offers a track that provides courses working with non-profits, such as churches, mosques, temples, synagogues, para-church organizations, mission organizations, and other entities, which leads to a certificate upon completion, for undergraduates. Spring, 2023 the department newsletter announced they will now offer a master of arts degree in nonprofit leadership, global cultures, and social enterprise, asynchronous and online.  We need to build up the collection on the non-Christian faiths while not reducing our efforts on Christianity. This will be a great challenge financially with the present financial resources for this collection area. An academic specialist has been hired by the department to assist with advising; the person also teaches courses in the religion and non-profits track.

  • We must be attentive to DEI, diversity, equity, and inclusion in our collecting going forward, looking for publications from both mainstream and small independent publishers about racial minorities, religious minorities, LBGTQ+ persons, and other under represented peoples in the various world faiths, their experiences and difficulties, both primary and secondary sources.  Consider online/electronic, open access, as well as traditional paper formats. Finding these materials, which may be outside our GOBI approval system, takes more time for the subject librarian to do.

  • Some books come on shelf-ready approval from GOBI.  Many GOBI slips are used, in addition, as well as firm orders from publishers not on the approval plan. 

  • We anticipate collecting electronic research data subsets created by faculty and students from our electronic resources.

  • B. Relationship to Other Resources
    • On campus branch or format collections, if any.


    • 2. Regional resources

      Students from Lansing Bible College, who pursue an individualized Ph.D. program awarded through M.S.U., make heavy use of specifically focused scriptural, exegetical, and pastoral collections at LBC and other private schools.  University of Michigan Libraries and the libraries of Michigan's small Christian denomination affiliated colleges, such as Hope, Calvin, Aquinas, Spring Arbor, and University of Detroit-Mercy probably collect more deeply in denominational religious studies materials than we do. 

  • C. Relationships to resources treated in other policy statements

    Human medicine: medical humanities, collected by medical selector in R-RZ
    Philosophy: ethics, collected by philosophy selector, B-BJ
    History: history of churches; impacts of religion on history and society, collected by British history/studies selector, French studies selector, medieval/Renaissance/early modern studies selector, American history selector, and area studies bibliographers, gender studies selector, political science selector, classics selector, BL-BX, D-DX, E, F, H-HX, J-JX.  Religious studies selector usually collects in BL-BX only.  Area studies bibliographers are supposed to collect works about the intersection of religions and society/politics/economics/culture, etc. in their areas of the world. 
    Art: aesthetics; religious themes as subjects, collected by art librarian, N-NX
    Music: Church music, collected by music librarian, M-MT
    Literature: representation of religion in literature; religious writers as literary authors, collected by literature selector and also by British history/studies selector, medieval studies/Renaissance/early modern selector,  and area studies bibliographers, P-PT
    Judaism: collected by Jewish studies bibliographer, especially 19th century forward.

            Islam: collected by Muslim studies selector and Middle East selector, also other area studies' selectors

            Religious/spiritual aspects of non profit organizations may be collected by religious studies selector.