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Collection Development @ SJSU Library

Collection Development Policy - Political Science

Last Updated: 2018

Programs Supported

Faculty, students and staff of the Department of Political Science engage in teaching and learning – critically and systematically – about politics, public affairs, public institutions, and their challenges.  The department’s mission embraces elements of the liberal arts and of citizenship and social science education.  A major strength of SJSU's student body is its diversity.  Students vary in their economic status, ethnic background, age, experience, and educational objectives.  The Department's courses and programs respond to this diversity, offering knowledge and skills essential to citizenship as well as pre-professional education in preparation for a variety of careers or for graduate school.  As a part of a public institution of higher education, faculty recognize their obligation to the community as advisors, consultants and participants.  They encourage students to become involved in public service as volunteers and interns. Scholarship informs both teaching and public service and is an essential element of the mission.  Through research, faculty endeavor to advance knowledge in the discipline of political science and to disseminate that knowledge to colleagues, students, and community. 

Faculty advisors assist students in designing a B.A. in Political Science to meet their individual interests, needs and goals.  The B.A. in Political Science provides students with an understanding of politics and the political process, and prepares them for their lifelong responsibilities as citizens, as well as furthering their skills in critical analysis and communication.  The major in political science may lead to a wide variety of careers, including education, law, business and public service.  Courses cover the full spectrum of political science, from U.S. government, politics and public law to comparative politics, international relations and political thought.  The Department also offers a graduate program in public administration to prepare students for administrative and professional careers in public service.  At the graduate level, students may concentrate on a specialized aspect of public administration.  Examples of specialization include local government, public finance, public personnel, and policy analysis.

Existing Resources

The University Library serves as the University's main resource for this subject.  Current journals, scholarly monographs, trade publications, and electronic resources are the most significant materials for supporting the curriculum.  Political science students and faculty utilize electronic sources heavily. Current United States, California, and local government publications also provide important support for political science programs. 


Considerable overlap exists among political science and many of the social science disciplines, such as history, sociology, geography, psychology, philosophy, environmental studies, business, multicultural studies, women's studies, economics, and law.  Support for the Public Administration program in political science is provided through the business management collection in addition to materials purchased from political science.  Collections in political theory support both the political science and philosophy programs.  Philosophy tends to emphasize contemporary political theory while political science stresses historical political thought and theorists.  Responsibility for acquisition of titles in these areas of overlap is decided in consultation with librarians responsible for collection development in the fields noted above.

Materials Collected

Languages – The vast majority of materials collected in political science are in the English language except in cases where the original language (especially the classics) is desirable.

Geographical Areas – Purchases will emphasize California and the United States, though an attempt is made to acquire representative materials dealing with any geographical area where important political events are occurring.  The library liaison should also take into account the ethnically diverse nature of the South Bay area’s population and purchase materials concerning the countries of origin of those recent immigrants, particularly China, Vietnam, and other Asian countries as well as Mexico, South and Central America, Russia, and the former provinces of the USSR. 

Chronological Periods – The focus is generally on the present, specifically the post-World War II era.  However, items dealing with the development of political science as a discipline are considered for purchase regardless of chronological period.

Current / Retrospective Materials – Generally, purchases are limited to current materials, though an effort is made to acquire important older works such as the classics of political thought.

Other factors – Since many political science majors are interested in pursuing legal careers, selected law materials are acquired to support related curriculum offerings.

Collection Strengths

The collection is noted for its strength in United States politics, especially California and local politics.  An example of this is the Legislators’ Archive centered on the voluminous papers of longtime Congressman Don Edwards.  Electronic access to scholarly political science literature should be enhanced as rapidly as the budget allows.

Evaluation of Collection

A.    Academic Senate Policy

According to Academic Senate Library Policy S15-10, periodic evaluations of the print collection are required, with the primary goals of improving the effectiveness of browsing and providing space for new acquisitions.  The objectives include relocating materials, and weeding duplicate materials and materials that support discontinued programs or are no longer relevant for current programs.

B.    Past, Present and Future Evaluation Plans

The library acquires print and electronic books to support the Political Science department's undergraduate program and the graduate program in Public Administration.  Using the GOBI book selection plan and other information sources, the liaison will continue to order books in accordance with the guidelines listed in Section IV of this document.  Circulation statistics will be used to compare university and public book usage and loss rates of SJSU materials.

Databases and Indexes:
The library subscribes to EBSCO's Political Science Complete database.  While it is the library's only database dedicated specifically to political science, key journals and other sources useful to students and faculty in the department can be located in several other databases, including but not limited to: Nexis Uni, Westlaw, JSTOR, Social Sciences Full Text, Academic Search Complete, America: History and Life, CQ Researcher, and Opposing Viewpoints in Context.  Graduate students in the Public Administration program also use several business databases that index public administration journals, such as ABI/INFORM Global, Business Source Complete, and Business Full Text.

The library acquires academic journals, magazines, newspapers and other periodicals to support the curriculum of the Political Science department.  While the library acquires books in a mixture of print and electronic formats, the vast majority of the library's recent periodicals are only available online.  Due to the increased quality of full-page image databases of retrospective periodicals from past decades (most notably JSTOR), in some cases the library may decide to deselect print copies of periodicals duplicated in the library's full-page image databases.

The library uses the "Find It @ SJSU" link resolver system to provide students and faculty with links to full text when available.  Articles from journals not available through the SJSU library can be requested through Interlibrary Loan.

Archiving and Long-Term Storage:
One caveat about electronic-only access is the uncertainty of archiving.  The vagaries of the marketplace and private industry mean that we have no assurance that the database providers we currently do business with will still exist years or even months from now.  Unlike the traditional system of individual libraries’ actual ownership of paper copies, therefore, electronic-only access gives us no assurance that we will continue to maintain access in the years to come. 

Video Recordings:
In recent years the library has moved towards streaming services to provide students and faculty with videos that support the curriculum.  DVDs may still be purchased in rare cases if the video is not available in a streaming format.  DVDs, and in some cases even VHS videotapes purchased by the library over the last few decades are shelved in the Instructional Resource Center, though most of these items no longer have corresponding catalog records.

Future Needs:
Full-text electronic access to current journals, newspapers, and law materials is essential to support the curriculum.  The most significant consideration during this period will be ensuring sufficient funding to provide remote full text access to current journals, newspapers, and law materials.