Gender, sexuality, & women's studies collection development policy

Main content

Program information

The Gender, Sexuality, & Women's Studies Program at Penn offers an undergraduate major, minor, and dual degree. It is an interdisciplinary program, offering many cross-listed courses. The graduate program offers a Graduate Certificate, which provides opportunities for graduate students to integrate their thinking about gender and sexuality using a variety of methodological approaches such as critical feminist, race, and legal theory, cultural studies, and French psychoanalytic theory, as well as traditional disciplinary methodologies. The affiliated faculty list includes members from over ten departments in the humanities, social sciences and sciences. 

Collection description

Because of its interdisciplinary nature, the size of the gender, sexuality, & women's studies collection is difficult to assess. Levels of collecting are incorporated within the policies of specific disciplines. Many bibliographers participate in developing the collection in the course of their work.

The collection contains a wealth of relevant published material in the fields of anthropology, education, folklore, literature, political science, social work, and sociology, with a growing component in sexuality. The library holds several relevant microform collections including British Birth Control Ephemera in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries, Herstory, Mary McLeod Bethune Papers, Witchcraft in Europe and America. Historical diaries are strongly represented, through American Womens Diaries, New England women and their families in the 18th and 19th Centuries, Southern Women and Their Families in the 19th Century, and Women's Language and Experience, 1500-1940: Women's Diaries and Related Sources.

The Penn Library Web provides access to two complementary licensed networked online fulltext databases relevant to gender, sexuality, & women's studies, Contemporary Women's Issues and GenderWatch. In addition, the Penn Library Web's subject-based "gender, sexuality, & women's studies" pages provide excellent coverage of web pages worldwide germaine to the curricular and research interests of Penn readers.

Bibliographic access to the journal literature in gender, sexuality, & women's studies is provided through the fulltext databases above, through several printed indexes held at Van Pelt Reference: Studies on Women Abstracts, Women Studies Abstracts, and Women's Studies Index, and through free online databases linked from the Penn Library Web.

Although the majority of the collection is in English, other languages are represented as well. Textbooks and dissertations are not collected unless specifically requested.

Guidelines for Collection Development

The separate fund for GSWS covers the core materials for field roughly conforming to the sort of titles that are classified in LC class HQ. Obviously, the bulk of material is in other LC classes and the fund helps support these as well. It is also used to support expensive online relevant materials. 

1. Chronological

Most materials deal with contemporary issues and social questions.

2. Formats

Print, electronic, microform, video. Monogaphs are generally print preferred.  Periodicals are e-preferred.  Videos are purchased as DVDs or video files with perpetual streaming rights when available and affordable.  However, content will be purchased in any format as conditions require.

3. Geographical

Most deal with the United States and to a lesser extent Western Europe. Area studies librarians cover materials in their respective areas of responsibility. 

4. Language

Predominantly English but other languages if relevant

5. Publication dates

Almost all purchases are made as publications appear. 

Principal sources of supply and major selection tools

The approval plans provide substantial support but many titles appear outside the mainstream publishing venues. It is important to check with specialized bookstores, and keep current with core journals such as Signs.

  • Subjects collected and levels of collecting

    All subjects are included; as mentioned above, most of the gender and women's studies materials are collected by the appropriate subject bibliographers.

Subjects excluded

There are titles in all subjects related to women, gender and sexuality. There would be no exclusions except insofar as other bibliographers might decide. 

Related subject collections