Collection Development - Biological Sciences

Collections Contact: Sarah Barbrow (x3021)

The collection development policy for Biology guides the development and management of the biology collection. This policy is for the use of the Science Librarian for Collections and the Science Library's users. The policy will be updated as needed. Faculty and students are encouraged to provide recommendations for library materials.

General purpose of the collection

The biology collection supports the undergraduate biology curriculum offered at Wellesley College. To a limited extent, the collection supports departmental research in specific areas of interest. The collection is used heavily by all biology majors, including students fulfilling pre-medical course requirements. Materials are used substantially by students majoring in biological chemistry or neuroscience as well as Environmental Studies program students concentrating in environmental science. Organic chemistry students and students fulfilling science course distribution requirements are also users of the collection.

Priority is given to acquiring materials in core disciplines of molecular, cellular and organismal biology for both animals and plants. Courses in physiology, developmental biology, genetics, microbiology, ecology, environment, evolution/paleobiology, neuroscience, marine biology and histology are supported. Selected specific departmental research interests encompass areas such as: environmental physiology and biochemistry of cyanobacteria, the role of basal forebrain structures in the development of learning and memory; the role of Clb2 protein in eukaryotic cell signaling, comparative vertebrate anatomy and paleontology of swimming vertebrates, behavioral and reproductive modeling of songbird populations, and urban aquatic ecosystems.

Published material from the major biological societies is favored and is selectively purchased to support courses currently being taught. All biology materials, both general and reference collections, are housed in the Science Library, except for pre-1970 runs of selected journal titles which are housed (and are retrievable by request) at an off-site facility.

The Department of Biological Sciences offers a program leading to a bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences. Also, the Department collaborates closely with several other science departments to offer instruction and support interdepartmental majors:

- with the Chemistry Department to offer an interdepartmental major in Biological Chemistry.

- with the Psychology Department and the Chemistry Department to support the Neuroscience major.

- with the Departments of Geological Sciences, Chemistry and Physics to support an Environmental Science concentration within the Environmental Studies major.

    Additionally, the Quantitative Reasoning overlay course requirement for all Wellesley students is fulfilled by several 100- and 200-level biology classes.

    Description of the collection

    Types of Materials: Materials are purchased in all formats, with emphasis on the journal literature. Electronic access is the preferred format for journal literature. Conference proceedings, laboratory manuals and protocols are selectively acquired when their topics support curricular offerings. Single copies of textbooks are purchased selectively when their content provides a foundation of knowledge in a new or advanced area of science or when a text is so important to a field that its use and acceptance go beyond supporting introductory curriculum. Materials created for individual use such as lab notebooks, workbooks and problem/answer sets are not purchased for the collection.

    Readership Level: Material is bought at the college level, with emphasis on upper undergraduate/early graduate works. Entry level material is acquired selectively for courses supporting distribution requirements.

    Languages Collected: The primary language of the collection is English. Foreign language works, if selected, are purchased in translation.

    Geographical Areas Covered (intellectual content or publication source): Materials are routinely purchased from all areas of the world with no exclusions.

    Chronological Periods Covered (intellectual content): There are no restrictions on intellectual content of the collection. Current history of science material is bought selectively to support current course offerings. Typically, primary biological works of historical significance are not purchased although referrals are sometimes made to the Selector for Special Collections for the history of science collection housed there.

    Chronological Period Covered (publication dates): Current materials are the focus of almost all purchasing, but a strong retrospective collection, especially in the journal literature, is maintained. Recently the Library has started to purchase (ongoing) electronic archival content of existing paper collections and of collections previously unavailable on campus. Selective retrospective titles are acquired rarely to fill gaps, to replace a significant work that is missing or damaged or to enhance archival coverage in our journal collection.

    Shelving Locations: Paper copies of books and journals are housed at the Science Library (with the exception of most pre-1970 journal literature). Electronic access to many databases and online full-text documents is provided through the Library website.

    Reference: Reference material for the biological sciences is purchased by the Science Librarian for Research and Instruction, and follows the general subject parameters of the biology collections policy. The scope includes, but is not limited to, the following types of material: biographies, dictionaries/thesauri/nomenclature aids, encyclopedias, regional and national field guides, style and/or literature guides, and occasional electronic search aids and directories which support curricular or related professional programs.

    The library stopped its paper subscription to the major biological index/abstract, "Biological Abstracts", effective in 1994. Some years later the library began electronic-only access to several Biological Sciences databases from CSA and now supports reference searching through a variety of online databases.

    Current Collecting Emphasis: Purchasing has increased in the areas of environmental science and neurology.

    Subjects Collected Selectively: Clinical medicine, pharmacology, forensics, ornithology, general science, global warming, climate change, natural history, pollution, toxicology, and waste management materials are only purchased selectively to support specific curricular needs or to provide general background to the collection. History of science materials are purchased selectively and for targeted courses, however, in a certain sense, the entire retrospective collection in the Science Library serves as a historical resource for our students.

    Related subjects & intrdisciplinary relationships

    Cognitive Sciences study at Wellesley follows an interdisciplinary approach to studying the mind, encompassing the disciplines of psychology, linguistics, philosophy and computer science. Material to support Cognitive Science is purchased primarily by the Psychology and Social Sciences selectors with some consultative support by the Computer Science selector.

    Health Sciences materials including topics such as Medical Policy, Law And Biology, Pharmaceutical Industry and Society and Biology are purchased primarily by Social Sciences selector.

    Pharmacology materials, particularly pharmaceutical chemistry, are purchased selectively by the Chemistry selector to support organic chemistry courses.

    Bioethics material is purchased by the Social Science selector.

    Biomedical Engineering/Biotechnology materials are bought after consultation among the Biological Sciences,Chemistry and Social Sciences selectors to support specific curricular needs.

    Biological Chemistry, the study of the chemistry of biological systems, is supported primarily by the Chemistryselector. Materials are purchased in selected specific areas such as proteins, enzymes, immunology, genetics and cytology. General math and physics background support for biological chemistry is provided through existing collections in these areas.

    Environmental Science offers an interdisciplinary approach for viewing the Earth and its inhabitants (animal, plant and mineral) from multiple scientific perspectives. Material is bought selectively by the Biological Sciences selector to support courses in ecology, marine sciences, evolution and conservation. Additional materials are purchased collaboratively by the selectors in ChemistryPhysics and Geology to support the Environmental Sciences focus within the Environmental Studies program.

    "Popular" Medical materials are purchased by the Science Librarian for Research and Instruction to support local health concerns/issues and to provide a very basic level of coverage for the employee wellness program and general medical health.

    Neuroscience at Wellesley College examines chemical and biological mechanisms that underlie nervous system structure and function and how neurons are assembled to produce behaviors. The Neuroscience Program has an integrative and multidisciplinary approach including rigorous training in biochemical and cellular mechanisms. Materials are purchased for this program primarily by the Biological Sciences selector with support from theChemistry and Psychology selectors.

    Physical Education materials emphasizing sports medicine aspects of the PERA program (applied human anatomy, sports physiology, sports psychology and health) are selected by the PERA selector. Materials concerning the physics of sports or of human and animal activity are purchased by collaboration between the Biological Sciences selector and the Physics selector.

    Horticulture and Landscape Arts materials are selectively purchased. A rich historical landscape arts collection resides in the Art Library as well as the Botannical Garden Collection at the Wellesley College Greenhouses.

    Science and Society materials are purchased by the Social Sciences selector.

    Religion & Science is typically purchased by both the Region selector and the Social Sciences selector.

    Women's Health topics and specific issues relevant to women such as female addiction, adolescent psychology, body image and other topics associated with the social sciences and psychology is typically purchased by the selector for Social Sciences.

    Marine Science materials are purchased as necessary to support specific classes, as are materials in the area of Limnology (study of the physical, chemical, geological and biological aspects of lakes and other bodies of fresh stagnant (and sometimes of fresh flowing) water).

    Local resources

    Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine (Harvard Medical School Library): a limited number of one-time access passes to the Countway Library of Medicine's immense clinical and medical research collections are available in the Science Library for students working on organic and pharmaceutical compounds research projects.

    Mayr Library of Comparative Zoology (Harvard University): access/borrowing cards to the Mayr Library's current and retrospective collections are available in the Science Library for students working on biological sciences research projects.