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A Guide to Germanic Studies

Research Guide to support Germanic Studies at Washington University

Collection Development Policy

Washington University in St. Louis

Collection Development Policy

Library: Olin

Subject: Germanic Studies

Collection: General

Date Revised: February 10, 2014

Subject Librarian: Walter Schlect


1. General purpose:

The collection supports the research and teaching needs of its primary audience, faculty and students in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, as well as faculty and students in other programs focusing on German literature and culture, especially Art History, Comparative Literature, Film & Media Studies, History, Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities, Music, and  Philosophy.


2. Subjects excluded:

Material on Germanic linguistics (PDs, PFs) is generally not acquired. Some exceptions include dictionaries, grammars, other language reference as well as general books on the studying and teaching of German language and literature.


3. Overlap with other collections or subjects:

Comparative Literature (although often faculty and students are associated with both departments)

Given the interdisciplinary needs of faculty and students, there is some possible subject overlap for items in European History, German-language film, Art History, and Philosophy. There is also possible overlap for literary and cultural theory texts which are used by users from American and English Literature, Romance Languages and Literatures, and other literature departments.  However, subject librarians from all these areas work closely to avoid duplication and keep collections balanced, relevant, and up-to-date.


4. Languages included and excluded:

The Libraries collect materials primarily in German and English, and will acquire occasionally material upon request in other Western European languages, especially French. 

Works of criticism in other European, Slavic and Asian languages are not normally considered in scope.

The Libraries actively collect English translations of German literature and  of notable primary works  in other Germanic literatures.  Translations into other languages are generally out of scope but are on rare occasions accepted as gifts.


5. Geographical limitations:

Emphasis is on materials published in Western Europe and North America.  All approval plans are limited to publications from these areas. Upon request, the Libraries will occasionally acquire materials from outside North America and Western Europe. 


6. Chronological limits:

From Medieval period to the present (21st century).  


7. Retrospective acquisition:

The Libraries acquire primarily currently-published materials. As funds and availability allow, the Libraries will acquire older and out-of-print titles to meet new research and teaching needs. Such retrospective acquisitions are usually only considered upon faculty or student request.

In evaluating these needs, subject librarians look at potential use and the availability of materials from consortial partners or digital libraries (e.g. HathiTrust).


8. Types of material collected and excluded:

  • Literary Works
  • Criticism
  • Dictionaries
  • Reference works
  • To a lesser degree grammars are collected; these include:
    • Journals
    • Monographs
    • Series: either in print or online. 
    • Spoken word recordings and performances are acquired rarely.
    • Generally, textbooks and unrevised dissertations are not acquired although occasionally accepted as gifts.
  • 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. Electronic journals are preferred over print. The Libraries subscribe to or purchase electronic databases of primary and secondary materials and electronic indexes, such as Die Deutsche Lyrik and the BDSL Online. Language-instruction software and audio-visual materials are not collected.  German-language feature and documentary films are acquired on DVD format (all regions) and on VHS when no DVD is available.


9. Other factors to consider:

Contemporary German Literature Collection: Funded in part by Max Kade Foundation, the collection started in 1984 by Prof. Mike Lützeler who arranged for free copies to be sent to WU from publishers in German-speaking Europe. There are about 90 publishers which participate; about 500 to 700 volumes are added each year. The books are cataloged and housed with the other PTs on level A as well as provided to other libraries via inter-library loan. A portion of firm order funds is used each year to acquire titles whose publishers do not participate. The resulting collection is one of the most comprehensive of contemporary German literature in North America.


10. Subjects and Collecting Levels*:

  • German-language reference and general treatises on studying and teaching German language-- REPRESENTATIVE
  • German Literature in General. Reference Works – SELECTIVE
  • Old and Middle High German Literature (Texts and Criticism)—COMPREHENSIVE
  • Early New High German Literature through the Periods of Humanism, the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation (Texts and Criticism)—COMPREHENSIVE
  • German Literature: The Baroque Period. The Enlightenment. The Classical Period (Texts and Criticism)—COMPREHENSIVE
  • German Literature: Romanticism, Realism, Naturalism (Texts and Criticism)--COMPREHENSIVE
  • German Literature after 1918 –COMPREHENSIVE [Approval plan set at SELECTIVE but augmented by firm orders and Contemporary German Literature Collection donations]
  • *Collection Levels
  • Comprehensive = (reference works; works dealing with theory, methodology, organization and history; primary source material; fundamental and comprehensive research including habilitations, conference proceedings; specialized research; all dissertations; Festschriften)
  • Selective = (primarily reference works; works dealing with theory, methodology, organization and history; primary source material; fundamental and comprehensive research including habilitations; and the most important conference proceedings, specialized research, major dissertations, and Festschriften)
  • Representative = (only the most important reference works; works dealing with theory, methodology, organization and history; primary source material; fundamental and comprehensive research including habilitations)


11. Collection Development policies consulted listed below: