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Physics and Astronomy

Bibliographer: Lauren Gala, (215) 746-0228,

I. Program Information

Penn's programs in physics and astronomy are centered in the combined department of Physics and Astronomy and in a broad range of interdisciplinary academic and research programs.

The key areas of research are in experimental and theoretical astrophysics, particle physics, and condensed-matter physics. The department confers about 15-20 doctorates, 4 master's degrees, and 10-15 bachelor's degrees each year.

Faculty and students participate in the work of the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM), and they are involved in high energy physics experiments at CERN, Fermilab, and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. The department operates two observatories, the Homestake Neutrino and Cosmic Ray Observatory, a leading extraterrestrial neutrino and high energy cosmic ray observatory, and the Flower and Cook Observatory which focuses on interacting and astrometric binaries. In addition, the department participates in the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Canada and the Baksan Neutrino Observatory in Russia. The department also works with the medium energy facility at Michigan State University, the electron accelerator facilities in Newport News, VA (CEBAF), the San Diego Super Computing Center, and the University of Illinois Advanced Computing Lab. Other on-going programs are with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the Naval Research Laboratory.

Active research programs link the department to the departments of chemistry, geology, computer science, electrical engineering, materials science, biophysics and the medical school.

II. Collection Description

The physics and astronomy collection forms part of the Math-Physics-Astronomy Library located on the 3rd floor of the David Rittenhouse Laboratory. The collection includes approximately 9000 monographs (7500 in physics, 1500 in astronomy) and nearly 300 current journal titles. A growing number of journals are available electronically.

The Math-Physics-Astronomy Library also provides print and electronic indexes and abstracts to the literature of physics and astronomy. INSPEC provides electronic access to Physics Abstracts from 1969 to the present. Also available is the ISI Science Citation Index database from 1988 to the present. Guides to web resources and selected web resources in physics and astronomy are listed on the Science and Engineering Libraries home page. The Reference collection consists of dictionaries, handbooks, encyclopedias, and data tables. Dissertations from the Physics and Astronomy department are added to the collection as they become available.

A small number of print preprints are still available at the Math-Physics-Astronomy Library, but most preprints can be accessed electronically on preprint servers on the web.

III. Guidelines for Collection Development

  1. Chronological

    Not Applicable.

  2. Formats

    Journals and monographs are the primary formats for physics materials. Some monographs are part of ongoing series.

  3. Geographical

    Not applicable.

  4. Language

    The preferred language is English, but materials are acquired in French and German. Russian and Asian publications in translated editions are preferred, if available, but original language editions are acquired if translations do not exist.

  5. Publication Dates

    The emphasis is on current publications.

IV. Principal Sources of Supply and major Selection Tools

Faculty, and student recommendations are depended upon to select titles for purchase. Publishers' announcements and catalogs, as well as reviews in journals such as Astronomy, Nature, Physics Today, Scientific American, and Sky and Telescope are also useful. In addition to title-by-title selection, materials also come through standing orders for monographic series and approval plans. Preprints are received directly from the originating institutions as gifts.

The Studies-Collection System, a custom course and research analysis tool, is used to determine the relative level of academic support needed from the library for the various subjects in each of the departments (Journal of Academic Librarianship 23( September 1997): 380-89).

V. Subjects Collected and Levels of Collecting

Subjects Collected Levels of Collecting
Atomic and Molecular Physics 4/4F
Biophysics 2/2/3
Classical Mechanics 3/3E
Condensed Matter 4/4F
Colloids and Emulsions/Polymer Physics 4/4F/4
Complex Fluids 4/4
Electronic Properties 4/4F
Lattice Dynamics/Crystal Statistics 4/4F
Liquid Crystals 4/4F
Magnetics Properties 4/4F
Optical Properties 4/4F
Quantum Fluids and Solids 4/4F
Surface/Interfaces 4/4F
Electricity and Magnetism/Electrodynamics 4/4E
Elementary Particles and Fields 4/4F
Fluid Dynamics/Mechanics 2/3E/4
Instrumentation/Techniques 3/3E
Mathematical Physics 4/4E
Nuclear Physics 4/4F
Electromagnetic Transitions and Reactions 4/4F
Experimental Methods 4/4F
Nuclear Reactions and Scattering 4/4F
Nuclear Structure 4/4F
Optics 4/4E
Quantum Optics 4/4E
Plasma Physics 4/3E
Physics of Sound and Music 3/2E
Quantum Physics 4/4F
Relativity and Gravitation 4/4F
Semiconductor Physics 4/4E
Superconductivity 4/4F
Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics 3/4E
Classical Fluids 3/3E
Field Theories 3/3E
Many-body Physics 3/3E
Non-equilibrium Thermodynamics 3/3E
Non-linear Physics and Chaos 3/3E
Renormalization Groups 3/4E
Astrometry 3/2F
Atlas/Charts 4/4F
Binary Stars 4/4F
Celestial Mechanics 3/2F
Cosmic Rays 4/4F
Cosmology/Cosmogony 4/4E
Ephermerides/Almanacs 4/4E
Galactic/Extragalactic Astronomy 4/4F
Instrumentation 3/2E
Instellar Matter Nebulae 4/4F
Mathematical Astronomy/Computing 3/2E
Neurons Stars/Black Holes 4/4F
Non-optical Astronomy 4/4F
Non-visible Wavelengths 4/4F
Quasars 4/4F
Radioactive Transfer 3/3E
Radio Astronomy 4/4E
Relativistic Astrophysics/Gravitation Theory 4/4F
Solar System 4/4F
Spectroscopy 4/4F
Star Catalogues 4/4F
Stellar Physics 4/4F
Sun 4/4F
Supernovae/Novae 4/4F
Variable Stars 4/4F

VI. Subjects Excluded

Works intended for an amateur readership.

VII. Cooperative Arrangements and Related Collections

Geophysics, meteorology and the history of physics and astronomy are collected by the Van Pelt Library.

The science and technology librarians regularly survey the needs of interdisciplinary programs such as chemical physics and physical chemistry, biophysics, mathematical physics, materials science, astrophysics, thin films, plasma physics, and semiconductor physics, to ensure proper coverage and dispersal of materials among the subject collections.

A formal user arrangement has been established between Penn and Drexel University to allow Penn faculty to use the Drexel University Library.