Physics & astronomy collection development policy

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Program information

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is home to Penn's programs in physics, astronomy, and medical physics. The key branches of research efforts are astrophysics and cosmology, biophysics and biomaterials, condensed matter, high energy physics, the Center for Particle Cosmology, and the physics of living matter. The Physics & Astronomy Department offers specialized training through its masters and doctoral programs in addition to its undergraduate programs. A masters degree in medical physics is also offered by the department in conjunction with the Departments of Radiology and Radiation Oncology in the School of Medicine. Please visit the Physics & Astronomy Department website for additional information.

Guidelines for Collection Development

This policy applies to physics and astronomy as collected for the Math-Physics-Astronomy Library.

1. Chronological

Emphasis is on current research.

2. Formats

Electronic journals and print monographs and series are the primary formats. Journals are collected with a preference for electronic format, but print is collected if a viable electronic form is unavailable. Perpetual access, user experience, faculty preference, physical space, and cost factor into format decisions.

3. Geographical

Not applicable.

4. Language

English is preferred, but materials in the major European languages or their translations may also be acquired. Asian works are collected in translated editions only.

5. Publication dates

The emphasis is on current publications.

Principal sources of supply and major selection tools

Faculty members play a major role in the selection of materials. The department's evolving research programs and overall scholarly communication environment are considered. In addition to title-by-title selection, materials also come through standing orders for monographic series and approval plans.

  • Subjects collected and levels of collecting

    PHYSICS

    Atomic and Molecular Physics, Condensed Matter, Elementary Particles and Fields, Mathematical Physics, Optics, Plasma Physics, Biophysics, Quantum Physics, Relativity and Gravitation, Semiconductor Physics, Nuclear Physics, Electricity and Magnetism/Electrodynamics

    ASTRONOMY

    Cosmology/Cosmogony, Galactic/Extragalactic Astronomy, Non-optical Astronomy, Non-visible Wavelengths, Relativistic Astrophysics/Gravitation Theory, Solar System, Stellar Physics, Supernovae/Novae

Subjects excluded

History, philosophy, instructional exposition, atlases, biographies, bibliographies, dictionaries, general audience, and recreational books.

Cooperative arrangements

Geophysics, meteorology, and the historical and social aspects of physics and astronomy are collected by the Van Pelt Library. The Engineering collection is responsible for computer science and some applied mathematics.

The science bibliographers regularly survey the needs of interdisciplinary programs such as chemical physics, medical physics, biophysics, mathematical physics, materials science, astrophysics, plasma physics, and semiconductor physics to ensure proper subject coverage.

Due to the proximity of the Drexel University Library, reciprocal user arrangements have been established. Penn faculty can register at Drexel's Library for borrowing privileges, and Penn graduate students use letters of introduction to establish borrowing privileges at Drexel. 

Related subject collections