Architecture & city planning collection development policy

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Program information

Major constituencies served by the Fisher include undergraduate students pursuing degrees through the College of Arts & Sciences in the History of Art, Architecture, and the Department of Visual Studies' architectural tract. The Fisher supports all graduate programs conferred by the School of Design including: Master of Architecture (Professional Degree); the Master of Science in Design with concentrations in Architectural Design, Environmental Building Design, and Historic Preservation; Master and Ph.D. Programs in City Planning; Master of Urban Spatial Analytics; and, the country's oldest Ph.D. Program in Architecture (est. in 1964). Masters students may pursue dual degrees across departments within Penn Design as well as with other Schools and Centers, e.g., the Master of City Planning & Master of Public Administration with the Fels Institute of Government, the Master of Architecture & Master of Science in Engineering, the Master of City Planning & Juris Doctor, the Master of City Planning & Master of Social Work, and the Master of Landscape Architecture & Master of Business Administration. Certificate programs issued through the School, and in collaboration with other Schools and Centers, offer students working toward professional degrees the opportunity to gain expertise in Ecological Architecture, Emerging Design and Research, Energy Management and Policy, Environmental Building Design, Geographical Information Systems and Spatial Analysis, Historic Preservation, Integrated Product Design, Land Preservation, Landscape Studies, Real Estate Design and Development, Time-Based and Interactive Media, Urban Design, and Urban Redevelopment. 

Several centers or research units are also among the Fisher's primary constituencies. The Penn Institute for Urban Research is a university-wide, interdisciplinary institute at Penn dedicated to urban research, education, and civic engagement. The Architectural Conservation Lab is dedicated to training and research in the conservation of the built environment and routinely partners with the Fisher's materials library. The Ian L. McHarg Center focuses research, teaching, and advocacy on improving the relationship between cities and their landscapes, and processes of urbanization and ecosystems. The Fisher also shares a close research relationship with Penn Design's Architectural Archives.

Guidelines for Collection Development

The Fisher Fine Arts Library supports research in all aspects of architectural history, architectural design, landscape architecture, and historic preservation. In addition, the collection supports the research and teaching in social, political, ecological and the physical processes of city planning. The Fisher's existing collection and current acquisitions commitments, based upon available resources, are at the research level with the goal of being exhaustive.

1. Chronological

The Fisher's collection focuses on all chronological periods.

2. Formats

Formats constituting the collections include annuals, monographs, periodicals, databases and other reference resources, multivolume-sets, scholarly series, audio-visual material other electronic tools, maps and, selectively, dissertations and newspapers.  

3. Geographical

The Fisher collections focus on international scholarly coverage with emphasis on the North America and western Europe (concentrating on France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Great Britain) and to a lesser extent on the Middle, South, and Far East Asia, Eastern Europe, Russia, Australia, and Scandinavia. Recently, the Fisher has expanded its reach to include publications from Latin America and Africa. 

4. Language

All Western European languages are collected extensively and others selectively.

5. Publication dates

The Fisher collects current publications, earlier twentieth-century, nineteenth-century materials extensively, and earlier materials selectively.

Principal sources of supply and major selection tools

The Fisher has several foreign and domestic approval plans covering scholarly, trade and technical, museum, and gallery publications. Smaller-scale purchasing arrangements have been established with independent arts presses and distributors.  Rare or special collection materials are procured through antiquarian dealers. Title-by-title purchases through catalogs, book fairs, vendor alerts, and patron requests supplement the larger-scale acquisition practices.  

Subjects excluded

The study and teaching of, and popular how-to aspects of most subjects are out of scope, e.g., home decorating or design, test preparation, career guidance manuals, garden design basics, software packages and software manuals. Building science materials are collected selectively as are architectural engineering texts, and in consultation with faculty.