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Collection Development @ SJSU Library

Collection Development Policy - Physics & Astronomy

Last Updated: July 2018

Programs Supported

Selection for this discipline is designed to support undergraduate study leading to:

  • BA, Physics
  • BA, Physics, Preparation for Teaching
  • BS, Physics
  • Minor, Physics
  • Minor, Astronomy

The selection also supports Graduate study leading to:

  • MS, Physics
  • MS, Physics, Concentration in Computational Physics
  • MS, Physics, Concentration in Modern Optics

Physics faculty has expertise in lasers and optics, quantum mechanics, computational physics and condensed matter.  Physics and Astronomy students are active participants in research programs on campus and at nearby national laboratories, and are co-publishers of scientific reports each year.

Existing Resources

The University Library is the main resource for physics and astronomy. The collection is enhanced by access to materials from other libraries through Interlibrary Loan Services and CSU+ programs. Students and faculty also have walk-in access to the Falconer Biology and Lane Medical libraries on the Stanford campus. Marine biology is supported by the library at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories where marine biology majors take classes. 


There is a coordinated effort in the collection of materials with physics and astronomy department, engineering department, and many of the science disciplines, notably mathematics.

In some areas the materials collected may duplicate materials found in the San Jose Public Library (SJPL) collections, although in general, the SJSU collection is scholarly while the SJPL collection is more introductory or general. Coordination in collection develop occurs in the following categories:

  • Acoustics, sound
  • Astronomy, including descriptive astronomy, space astronomy and astronomical instruments
  • Cosmology
  • Electricity and magnetism
  • General physics
  • Gravity
  • Heat
  • Light, light theories, and radiation
  • Nuclear physics
  • Optics and fiber topics
  • Thermodynamics

Materials Collected

  1. Special Materials  - If deemed appropriate by faculty, video recordings that are specific to the field may be collected. All formats audio visual materials may be selected.
  2. Languages - English language material is collected
  3. Geographical Areas - Worldwide coverage with emphasis on English language materials
  4. Chronological Periods - Historical accounts of physics or biographies of physicists may be selected but should be no more than 2% of the year's budget
  5. Current / Retrospective Materials - Materials selected should be current (within the last 10 years)
  6. Other Factors - Approximately 30% of materials should be in book format, with the other 70% being journals

Collection Highlights

The collection is strong in basic undergraduate level general materials, but much of the collection is fairly old. Due to various budget crises, some core physics and astronomy periodical titles were cancelled to provide funds with which to improve the collection by purchasing more current books. Materials in the fields of nuclear and atomic physics are somewhat lacking, as there are few courses taught in those areas.

There is a solid core of physics and astronomy journals for the years previous to the late 1980s, when many core titles had to be cancelled due to the severe budget restrictions.  Subscriptions to journals cancelled during those years have not been re-activated, but may now be available electronically through various electronic consolidator services. Journals published by the American Institute of Physics are now available online through the searchable Scitation database and twenty-eight journals are available electronically on the library’s list of Electronic Journals through the Institute of Physics. Abstracts and full text of other physics and astronomy journals are available through online databases of Engineering Village, General Science Full Text, IEEE Xplore, ScienceDirect, SPIE Digital Library, Web of Science and Wiley Interscience. 

Budgetary restrictions continue to also impact book purchases, a key resource for undergraduate students. The focus continues to be to fill in gaps and provide current essential books and print materials.

A comprehensive list of materials for this subject can be found in the Chemistry Research Guide:

Evaluation of Collection – Methods and Planning

Periodicals and electronic databases: Providing access to primary research materials continues to be important at SJSU Library even with flat budgets and high-inflation rates. New and existing programs will be supported with essential journal titles or online databases, depending on available funding. Constant improvement to Interlibrary Loan Services and CSU+ continues to be a great resource students and faculty via the delivery of books, journals, journal articles, and other materials from other libraries. Periodical and electronic databases are purhcased based on faculty and student requests via a trial period and an assessment of available funding.

Books: The SJSU Library will continue order books, with a focus on filling in gaps and purchasing current materials of interest to students and faculty. The format preference will be multi-user eBooks to allow access to students and faculty from anywhere and at anytime they conduct research. Information on collection use by the campus and public community will be part of future analysis. Books are purchased based on faculty and student requests, and by reading Choice Reviews and examining association publications.