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A Guide to English and American Literature

Resources and services

Collection Development Policy

Washington University in St. Louis

Collection Development Policy

Library: Olin Library

Subject: English and American Literature

Collection: General

Date Revised: April 14, 2014

Subject Librarian:  Kristine Helbling


1. General purpose:

In addition, the growing number interdisciplinary studies programs creates curriculum-wide dependence on English materials at WU (see Overlap with other collections of subjects).


2. Subjects excluded:

  • Popular literature, while not actively collected for the English and American Literature, is collected for the Pop Lit Collection. (Popular literature includes genre fiction—mystery, science, fantasy, romance—“inspirational” literature, “best-sellers” in both fiction and nonfiction).
  • Children's literature, unless part of a collected author's canon, is not collected.


3. Overlap with other collections or subjects:

  • Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities
  • Drama
  • African-American Studies
  • American Culture Studies
  • Women and Gender Studies
  • Book History
  • Drama
  • American and British History
  • Comparative Literature

4. Languages included and excluded:

Primarily English language materials are collected.

5. Geographical limitations:

Emphasis on Great Britain and the United States.

6. Chronological limits:



7. Retrospective acquisition:



8. Types of material collected and excluded:

  • Literary works
  • Criticism and reference Works are collected.
    • These include (either in print or online):
      • Journals
      • Monographs
      • Series
      • Spoken word recordings and performances are acquired rarely
      • Generally, textbooks, manuals, and unrevised dissertations are not acquired.

All formats are collected, however acquisition of CD-ROMs and microforms is highly selective and only when requested and no other suitable format is available. DVDs including non-US regions are collected. DVD is preferred over VHS. Electronic journals and electronic reference materials are preferred over print. Monographs are generally purchased as printed text though other formats are considered, including digital formats or microforms.

The Libraries subscribe to or purchase electronic databases of primary and secondary materials and electronic indexes, such as Early European Books and the MLA International Bibliography.


9. Other factors to consider:

  • Faculty works are collected
  • All rare books belonging to the library are kept in the Department of Special Collections, Olin Library
  • We buy on request from WUSTL community
  • When professors leave and new hires begin, the focus of the collection often changes as well


10. Subjects and Collecting Levels:

Basic (B), Instructional Support (I), Research (R), Comprehensive (C)


Subclass PR, English Literature (R)

  • PR1-56: Literary history and criticism
  • PR57-78: Criticism
  • PR111-116: Women authors
  • PR125-(138.5): Relations to other literatures and countries
  • PR161-488: By period
  • PR171-236: Anglo-Saxon (Beginnings through 1066)
  • PR251-369: Medieval.  Middle English (1066-1500)
  • PR401-488: Modern
  • PR421-(429): Elizabethan era (1550-1640)
  • PR431-(439): 17th century
  • PR441-(449): 18th century
  • PR451-(469): 19th century
  • PR471-(479): 20th century
  • PR481-488: 21st century
  • PR500-614: Poetry
  • PR521-614: By period
  • PR621-744: Drama
  • PR641-744: By period
  • PR750-890: Prose
  • PR767-818: By period
  • PR821-890: Prose fiction.  The novel
  • PR901-907.2: Oratory
  • PR908: Diaries
  • PR911-918: Letters
  • PR921-928: Essays
  • PR1098-1369: Collections of English literature
  • PR1110: Special classes of authors
  • PR1119-1151: By period
  • PR1170-1228: Poetry
  • PR1281-1309: Prose (General)
  • PR1330: Diaries
  • PR1341-1349: Letters
  • PR1361-1369: Essays
  • PR1490-1799: Anglo-Saxon literature
  • PR1803-2165: Anglo-Norman period.  Early English.  Middle
  • PR: English
  • PR2199-3195:English renaissance (1500-1640)
  • PR3291-3785: 17th and 18th centuries (1640-1770)
  • PR3991-5990: 19th century, 1770/1800-1890/1900
  • PR6000-6049: 1900-1960
  • PR6050-6076: 1961-2000
  • PR6100-6126: 2001-
  • PR8309-9680: English literature: Provincial, local, etc.


Subclass PS, American Literature (R)

  • PS126-133: Biography, memoirs, letters, etc.
  • PS147-152: Women authors
  • PS163-173: Treatment of special subjects, classes
  • PS185-231: By period
  • PS185-195: 17th-18th centuries
  • PS201-217: 19th century
  • PS221-228: 20th century
  • PS229-231: 21st century
  • PS301-326: Poetry
  • PS330-353: Drama
  • PS360-380: Prose
  • PS370-380: Prose fiction
  • PS400-408.2: Oratory
  • PS409: Diaries
  • PS410-419: Letters
  • PS420-429: Essays
  • PS501-689: Collections of American literature
  • PS530-536.3: By period
  • PS580-619: Poetry
  • PS593: By form
  • PS601-617: By period
  • PS623-(635): Drama
  • PS642-659.5: Prose (General)
  • PS651-659.2: By period
  • PS669: Diaries
  • PS670-678.2: Letters
  • PS680-689: Essays
  • PS700-3576: Individual authors
  • PS700-893: Colonial period (17th and 18th centuries)
  • PS991-(3390): 19th century
  • PS3500-3549: 1900-1960
  • PS3550-3576: 1961-2000
  • PS3600-3626: 2001-


Class Z – Bibliography (B-R) 

  • Z4‑8: History of books and bookmaking
  • Z116‑659: Book industries and trade
  • Z987‑996.3: Book collecting