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A Guide to Physics & Astronomy Resources

Please use this guide as a starting point for all Physics & Astronomy related resources.

Collection Development Policy

Washington University in St. Louis
Collection Development Policy

Library: Physics

Subjects: Physics & Astronomy 

Collection: General

Date Revised: April 2020

Subject Librarian: Alison Verbeck

1. General purpose:

  • Support of instruction and research in physics and astronomy up through the doctoral and faculty levels in the Department of Physics.  The collection also supports teaching and research in other subjects, including math, earth and planetary science, chemistry, biology, and engineering, but the interests of the Physics Department are given the most weight when deciding on acquisitions.
  • Overview from April 2020:
    • Faculty and Researchers:
      • 27 full time tenure or tenure track faculty, 7 research faculty, 2 lecturers, 10 postdoctoral research associates.
      • Research is funded by NSF, DOE, NASA, NIH, and other sources.
    • Graduate Students - currently 4 masters students, 2 JPP students, 67 PhD students for a total of 73 
    • Undergraduate Students - currently 89 students majoring or minoring in Physics

2. Subjects excluded:

  • In Astronomy (0):
    • Extraterrestrial Life
    • Geodesy
    • Cosmochemistry
    • Astrogeology
    • ​The Solar System
    • Lunar Eclipses
    • Planets and Planetology
    • Meteors
    • Extrasolar planets (these items are included in the Earth and Planetary Science Library collection)
  • In Physics (0):
    • Philosophy
    • Geophysics
    • Meteorology
    • Climatology (the latter three are also included in the Earth and Planetary Science Library collection)
  • Minimal Level (1):
    • Popular Works
    • Historical Works
  • Basic Information Level (2):
    • Biographies of influential physicists

3. Overlap with other collections or subjects:

  • Mathematics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Engineering and medicine
  • There are areas of:
    • Chemical Physics
    • Physical Chemistry
    • Applied Physics
    • Biophysics, etc. where it is hard to draw a distinct line between the subjects

4. Languages included and excluded:

The main language included is English.  English is currently the language used for science all over the world.  A lot of the physics literature before World War II was in German, so a considerable amount of German is still in the collection.  Almost all new items are purchased in English.

5. Geographical limitations:

None, although primarily American and European publications are purchased.

6. Chronological limits:

None, although primarily newly published material is purchased.

7. Retrospective acquisition:

Only if specifically requested by a faculty member or to replace lost or missing items.  However, older materials are still used heavily.

8. Types of material collected and excluded:

  • Collected:
    • Monographs and Serials primarily
    • Some graduate/advanced level textbooks.
  • Excluded:
    • Juvenile Material
    • Dissertations other than the Department of Physics
    • Audiovisual materials unless explicitly requested by faculty
    • Biographies unless about very prominent physicists
    • Conference proceedings unless explicitly requested or donated by faculty who attended.

9. Other factors to consider:

  • Items are purchased based on requests from the department – faculty or grads
  • Faculty still prefers print monographs over ebook format
  • Print and ebooks are not typically duplicate 
  • Nearly all new journal articles are available through arXiv or ADS
  • Nearly all journals are electronic only other than “magazine” type formats

10. Subjects and Collecting Levels: Except as noted above, most of physics and astronomy is at level 3B or 4:



QB Astronomy


QB 1-139 General. History


QB 54 Extraterrestrial life

QB 140-274 Practical and spherical astronomy


QB 275-348 Geodesy

QB 349-453 Theoretical astronomy and celestial mechanics


QB 355-453 Calculation of orbits. Cosmochemistry


QB 454-459 Astrogeology

QB 460-467 Astrophysics (General)

QB 468-494 Non-optical methods of astronomy

QB 495-991 Descriptive Astronomy. Cosmology


QB 500.5-506 Solar system. Origin of solar system. Physical conditions


QB 579-789 Lunar eclipses. Planets. Planetology. Meteors. Spectroscopy

QB 806 Stellar evolution


QB 820 Extrasolar planets

QC Physics

QC 1-999 Physics

QC 1-19.1 General


QC 5.56-6.4 Philosophy. Methodology

QC 19.2-20.7 Mathematical physics

QC 20.8-71 General

QC 72-74 Force and energy (general)

QC 75-80 Curiosities

QC 81-119 Weights and measures

QC 120-169 Mechanics

QC 120-131 General

QC 132-137 Dynamics. Motion

QC 138-145.4 Fluids. Fluid mechanics

QC 145.5-149 Hydrostatics. Floating bodies

QC 150-160 Fluid dynamics. Hydrodynamics

QC 161-165 Gases. Pneumatics

QC 166 Vacuum

QC 167-167.4 Fluid viscosity

QC 167.5-169 Gas dynamics

QC 170-219 Atomic physics. Matter

QC 170-171 General

QC 172-173.27 Constitution of matter

QC 173.28-173.44 Properties of matter

QC 173.45-173.49 Condensed matter physics

QC 173.5-173.95 Relativity physics

QC 173.96-174.6 Quantum theory

QC 174.7-175.3 Statistical physics

QC 175.4-175.9 Superfluid physics

QC 176-176.81 Solids. Solid state physics

QC 176.82-176.94 Thin films

QC 176.95-177 Special substances

QC 178-181 Gravitation

QC 182-189.4 Special properties of matter (absorption,capillarity, diffusion, viscosity)

QC 189.5-190 Rheology. Thixotropy

QC 191 Elastic properties of solids

QC 192-219 Thermal properties, deformation, Friction

QC 220 Sound, light, heat as a whole

QC 221-250 Acoustics. Sound

QC 221-241 General

QC 242-242.7 Underwater acoustics

QC 242.8-243 Sound waves

QC 244-250 Ultrasonics, nonlinear acoustics, acousticholography

QC 251-349 Heat

QC 251-275 General

QC 276-277.8 High temperatures

QC 277.9-279 Low temperatures

QC 280 High pressure

QC 281-289 Relation between pressure, volume &temperature

QC 290-300 Calorimetry

QC 301-310.14 Change of state

QC 310.15-319.7 Thermodynamics

QC 319.8-325 Heat transfer

QC 326-330 Convection

QC 331-349 Radiation and adsorption. Laws of cooling

QC 350-473 Optics. Light

QC 350-449 General

QC 450-473 Spectroscopy

QC 474-500 Radiation physics

QC 474-476.3 General

QC 476.4-480.7 Luminescence

QC 480.8-484.7 X-rays

QC 484.8-489 Cosmic ray physics

QC 490-493 Other radiations

QC 494-500 Color

QC 501-769 Electricity and magnetism

QC 501-610.8 Electricity

QC 610.9-611.8 Semiconductor physics

QC 611.9 Superconductivity

QC 612-629 Measurement. Force. Thermoelectricity

QC 630-660.4 Electrodynamics

QC 660.5-668 Electric oscillations

QC 669-675 Electromagnetic theory

QC 676 Radio waves

QC 677-678 Microwaves

QC 679-684 Quantum electrodynamics

QC 685-700 Quantum electronics

QC 701-714 Electric discharge

QC 715-716 Photoelectricity

QC 717-717.5 Ion flow dynamics

QC 717.6-749 Plasma physics

QC 750-769 Magnetism

QC 770-800 Nuclear and particle physics

QC 770-785.4 General

QC 785.5-789.6 Instruments and apparatus. Research,nuclear reactors

QC 789.7-790.8 Nuclear fission

QC 790.9-791.8 Nuclear fusion

QC 791.9-792 Atomic energy

QC 793-794.94 Nuclear and particle physics

QC 794.95-800 Radioactivity


QC 801-850 Geophysics. Geomagnetism


QC 851-999 Meteorology. Climatology

QD Chemistry


QD 901-999 Crystallography

QH Natural History (General). Biology (General)

QH 501 Biophysics