Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: Agriculture and Forestry

Updated July 27, 2023

Purpose or Scope of Collection

Curricular and Research Needs
The agriculture collection of the Michigan State University Main Library supports the curricular and research needs of the faculty, staff and students in multiple departments within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), AgBioResearch (formerly the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station) and MSU Extension. This policy impacts the following CANR departments: Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering (jointly with Engineering), Forestry, Horticulture, and Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences. In addition, the policy covers materials needed by the Institute of Agricultural Technology, Tree Research Center, W.K. Kellogg Research Station and associated Experimental Forest, Forest Biomass Innovation Center, and, in part, the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory (jointly with Natural Science).

All programs offer B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees.  Eleven relevant minor programs are also supported.

Certificate programs are offered by the Institute of Agricultural Technology (IAT) and the Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Plant Breeding and Genetics.

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is highly active and successful in securing grant funding for research in all areas of agricultural and plant science research. Research areas, topics, and methodologies in the department vary widely, from crops to soils to urban farming to orchard management to GIS and drone usage to agritourism to sustainability within and around communities. Research data is both quantitative and qualitative in nature.

History of the Collection/ Existing Strengths and Emphases

The Library received its charge on opening day of the Michigan Agricultural College, May 12, 1857, from President Joseph R. Williams: “An Agricultural Library should be gathered here, more perfect than any country now affords. All knowledge relative to the Agriculture of the past, and its history, its progress, and its condition in modern states, should be assessable to the students. The Library should embrace a wide range of sciences, law, literature, history, philosophy, medicine, etc. The library should, therefore, be a noble and comprehensive one.”  In 1902, the Agricultural College established a "school of forestry". As was stated by the board president at that time, "We intend to make the school of forestry as distinct as either the school of agriculture or engineering." The school quickly became a Department, and in 2001 celebrated it 100th anniversary.

Records of the earliest Michigan Agricultural College Library acquisitions, gifts and librarians' reports were issued in the Annual Report of the Secretary of the State Board of Agriculture of the State of Michigan, for the year....; and provide insight into the early recognition of the need for a well-rounded and cutting-edge collection of research materials for students and professors alike. Funds for a library collection, initially "a few hundred dollars" mentioned in the First Annual Report (p. 8, 1862) have grown to a robust budget of today to insure the purchase of scholarly and secondary materials for the disciplines of practical agriculture, horticulture, natural science, entomology, botany, forest management, and farm economics.

The Library has been the recipient of copies of all State Agricultural Experiment Station publications and all possible publications from State Cooperative Extension Services and Agricultural Experiment Stations. In recent years this has been in flux with the decline in printed publications and new born-digital information.  The Library has also received, over the last 150 years, similar print and electronic publications from all of the American land grant universities, thus creating a wealth of knowledge of past and present, organic and conventional, beneficial and detrimental plant cultivation practices.

The Library has historically sought out information resources on the agricultural sciences published beyond the state line including all countries around the world to bring awareness of other practices, challenges and solutions to educate our students, professors and researchers. The collection is strongest in United States, Canadian, European, and African materials.