Collection Development - Physics

Collections LibrarianIan Graham Interim (x2127)

The collection development policy for Physics guides the development and management of the physics 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 physics collection supports the undergraduate physics curriculum offered at Wellesley College. The collection supports student research in specific areas of interest.   The collection is used primarily by physics and astrophysics majors. Students in environmental studies, math and astronomy courses, and students fulfilling course distribution requirements in the sciences, including pre-medical students are also users of the collection. The overall collecting policy supports the dual Physics Department goals of preparing students to be critical and analytic thinkers and to develop a basic understanding of the physical world by providing training in the arts of logical analysis, model construction and problem solving.  

Material is acquired covering subjects ranging from the microscopic - atoms, nuclei and the elementary particles, to the very large - planets, stars and galaxies. Typically, courses covering Newtonian, quantum, statistical and classical mechanics as well as optics, magnetism, electricity, thermodynamics, biophysics, neuroscience and vibrational and wave motion are supported. Selected specific departmental research interests encompass areas such as: acoustics, laser spectroscopy of atoms and molecules, computational neuroscience and neurophysiology, complex fluids, condensed matter physics and high temperature superconductivity and atomic collisions. Published material from the American Institute of Physics is favored and selectively purchased to support courses currently being taught.

The Physics Department offers a program leading to a bachelor's degree in physics. The Department collaborates closely with the Departments of Chemistry, Biological Sciences and Geosciences to support an Environmental Science concentration within the Environmental Studies major.

The Physics Department also collaborates with the Department of Astronomy to offer an interdepartmental major in Astrophysics.

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 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 since a major goal of the physics department is to provide a strong foundation for students who wish to pursue careers in high-quality physics programs and related disciplines. Entry level materials are acquired selectively to support courses fulfilling distribution requirements, as are popular materials to encourage reading about the sciences across the disciplines.

Languages Collected: The primary language of the collection is English. Foreign language works, if selected, are purchased in English 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 physics 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 retrospective collection, especially in the journal literature, is maintained.  

Shelving Locations: Books and journals are housed at the Science Library with the exception of most pre-1985 journal literature, which are housed at an off-site facility and are retrievable by request.  Online access to collections is provided through the Library website.

Reference: Reference material for physics is purchased by the Science Librarian for Research and Instruction and follows the general subject parameters of the physics collections policy. The scope includes, but is not limited to, the following types of material: biographies, dictionaries/thesauri/nomenclature aids, encyclopedias, handbooks, style and/or literature guides, and occasional electronic search aids and directories which support curricular or related professional programs. Electronic access is the preferred format for reference works.

Subjects Collected Selectively:  Applied engineering topics are purchased selectively to support specific curricular needs or to provide general background to the collection.

Related subjects and interdisciplinary relationships

Interdisciplinary support is offered as follows:

Environmental Studies : Material supporting the Environmental Studies major is purchased collaboratively with the Biology , Chemistry , and Geology selectors, depending upon the focus of specific courses offered for the Environmental Sciences concentration.

Political Science topics about the environment such as policies concerning global warming, climate change, acid rain, movement of materials in the environment, etc. are purchased by the Social Sciences selector.

Science & Society materials are selected by the Social Sciences selector.

Physical Education 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.

Medical Physics material covering hardware used in medical diagnostics or medical imaging is typically purchased by the Physics selector.

Neuroscience materials involved in the Physics curriculum are typically purchased by the Biology selector.

    Local resources

    Wellesley students who participate in exchange classes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Olin College are entitled to access to and use of the material in the MIT and Olin College Libraries.