The Biology program at the University of Pennsylvania comprises a number of disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses of study on both the undergraduate and graduate levels and is centered in the Department of Biology of the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS). Over one hundred students receive bachelor degrees in Biology each year. An additional 100+ graduate with a major in Biological Basis of Behavior. Resources in biological sciences are utilized by many other science and social science programs at the University for both teaching and research. The Biology collection also supports the information needs of the many research centers on campus. 

The Department of Biology offers programs from the undergraduate degree to the PhD. Undergraduate students graduate with a General Biology degree but can specialize in Neurobiology, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Molecular & Cell Biology, Computational Biology & Mathematical Biology and Mechanisms of Disease.

Graduate opportunities are available in Ecology and Biodiversity; Evolution; Plant Biology; Microbiology; Neurobiology, Behavior & Physiology; Cell & Developmental Biology; Genetics, Epigenetics, Genomics; and Computational Biology. The Department of Biology, while part of SAS, is also affiliated with Biomedical Graduate Studies (BGS), which combines resources and faculty from the Schools of Medicine, Dental Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, and Engineering and Applied Science.

1. Chronological

Current publications in support of department research and teaching priorities.

2. Formats

The Biology journal collection is entirely electronic; the monograph collection is primarily electronic except for rare cases when the book is not available in digital format or the electronic version is exorbitantly more expensive then the print.  Electronic publications on CD-ROM or requiring site-specific web access are not normally purchased. Audio-visual material, examination reviews, handbooks, laboratory manuals, loose-leaf services, streaming video, and workbooks are purchased selectively. Microforms are excluded.

3. Geographical

Ecosystem-specific materials are collected only in support of department-related research and/or teaching. For example, the library's collection houses a number of materials on rainforest ecology due to a faculty member's active research in that area.

4. Language


5. Publication Dates

Publications issued within the previous three years. Older materials are purchased to fill in gaps due to lost copies, in support of new programs, or at the specific request of faculty members.

The majority of the Biology monograph collection is acquired in electronic format through various book vendors and publishers. The publisher platform is preferred, however, books are purchased on other platforms such as EbscoHost and Proquest. Frontfiles and subject packages also make up a large part of the electronic monograph collection. Print, when acquired, is purchased through Rittenhouse Book Distributors. The Biology Librarian uses approval plans, search alerts and vendor communication to identify new material for the collection. 

In addition, the following criteria are often helpful in making collection decisions:

Serials and Periodicals
Inclusion in a major indexing source such as Scopus or MEDLINE
Faculty requests
ISI Impact Factor
Interlibrary Loan activity
Cost/potential audience
User requests, including Interlibrary Loan
Search interface design
Perpetual Access
Digital Rights Management

Animal culture
Economic biology
Industrial Microbiology
Wildlife management

Purely descriptive works on animals, habitats and plants are purchased in very limited numbers.

  • The Chemistry Library also collects in biochemistry.
  • The Fisher Fine Arts Library collects materials on landscaping.
  • The Morris Arboretum Library collects materials on floristic botany, garden and landscape history, conservation biology, and horticulture.
  • The Museum Library has materials on physical and medical anthropology and primatology.
  • The C.J. Marshall Memorial Library collects material on wildlife management and wildlife health.
  • The Van Pelt Library collects in history and sociology of science, science policy, paleobiology, environmental sciences and evolution.
  • The Math/Physics/Astronomy Library also collects in biophysics.