Skip to main content
clickable transparency Dartmouth College Library
Home > Collections Program > Collection Development Policies >

English Language and Literature

Collection Area

English Language and Literature

General Purpose

The English Language and Literature collection supports the instructional and research needs of the Dartmouth College undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty. Emphasis in the collection is on language and literature covering the period from 1500 to the present.

Dartmouth College Program

Instruction is offered in all periods of English and American literature. Furthermore, the broad research interests of the faculty are reflected in the scope and depth of the collection to the extent that in many areas our holdings can reasonably be compared to those of larger academic institutions offering graduate programs. A commitment to cross-disciplinary programs at the college, coupled with a new major in Latin American Studies affects the collection in the following areas: Chicano literature, Native American literature, and Women's Studies. The annual summer School for Criticism and Theory also depends in part upon this collection.

General Subject Boundaries

Works of interest to the English Department are found in the following Library of Congress classifications:

PE - English Language
PN - General and Comparative Literature
PR - English Literature
PS - American Literature

Materials acquired before 1964 are in the Dewey Decimal classification 800-829; Some Native American literature materials reside in the PM classification. All of these ranges are housed in the Baker Library.

Since the English Department has a library in Sanborn House, the following types of materials are duplicated there: 1) working editions of major authors, 2) various critical editions of Shakespeare, 3) representative critical and historical works of permanent value to English students, and 4) a limited number of major journals in the field of English. In addition, the Poetry Room of Sanborn House contains works of Twentieth Century English and American poets -- duplicating Baker's holdings, but also providing access to works of new, lesser-known poets not yet included in the permanent collection.

Other existing collection development policy statements at Dartmouth which affect the English collection are: Native American Studies; Literature; Language; Rare Books; Modern British and American Literature (Manuscripts).


Given the research character of the Library, materials in foreign languages are a requisite element of the collection -- mainly holdings in French and German, with scattered acquisitions in other Western European languages where pertinent (e.g., Italian materials relating to Joyce and Pound). Excluded generally are English language works translated into a foreign language.

Geographic Areas

Literature in English is collected for the entire English-speaking world, with emphasis on Great Britain, the United States and Canada. Literary works from other countries of the British Commonwealth are purchased selectively.

Types Of Material Collected

The collection consists of monographic materials (primary and secondary) and strong serial holdings. It is our policy to acquire significant new editions of primary works and revised versions of literary history, criticism and biography. All genres [poetry, short stories, essay collections, fiction, science fiction, etc] are collected. Literary works by established contemporary writers are purchased for the permanent collection. Best-selling novels and short stories, along with mysteries and science fiction are purchased for the browsing collection in the Tower Room, which houses materials of current interest. Primary works of children's literature are excluded.

Format Of Materials Collected

In addition to printed materials, the Library acquires in microform (reels or microfiche) retrospective runs of many journals and other materials.

Significant resources in microform provide access to works in English and American literature which were not acquired in their original form. For English literature, authors listed in the Short Title Catalogues of both Wing and Pollard and Redgrave as well as the Microbook Library of English Literature are available in microform. These collections cover the period from the beginnings to 1784. Similarly for American literature, the Readex Microprint Editions of Early American Imprints (arranged according to the numbers in Charles Evans' American Bibliography) includes pre-1801 imprints. A current subscription to The Eighteenth Century microform collection is filling in additional materials from that time period, and indexing to the set is available via a subscription to RLIN's Eighteenth Century Short Title Catalogue database through the Online System.

Since the spoken word is an important element in the teaching and appreciation of literature, various readings by modern poets and critical lectures by prominent figures are available on phonotape and videorecording.

A growing field is the area of electronic texts. Early additions to Dartmouth's collection are the Shakespeare plays and sonnets and the Oxford English Dictionary, 2ed., both available through the Dartmouth College Library Online System. Magnetic tapes for the Chadwick-Healey English Poetry Full-text Database have been purchased and will be networked to the campus through DCIS. Original works created in hypertext format are located in the Jones Microtext Center, and the program for writing/reading them (Storyspace) is a keyserved application on the campus network. A collaborative working relationship for mounting electronic texts on campus is developing with the Academic Computing Department.

Special Collections and Manuscripts

Of particular research value are the collections of Robert Frost (manuscripts and correspondence and a comprehensive run of editions and ephemera) and Erskine Caldwell's editions and manuscripts. Other noteworthy authors collected for first or special editions are Conrad, London, Melville, Mencken, Henry Miller, and Kenneth Roberts. Of additional interest is the collection of 20th century Native American poetry chapbooks and the valuable Shakespearean materials in the Hickmott Collection.

Other Resources Available

Library users can avail themselves of the resources of Howe (the public) Library, which offers a good selection of light reading deemed outside the collecting scope. This is also a resource for children's literature. Increasingly, access to electronic texts is available through the Internet.

Revision History

November 1994

LC Class



Cynthia F. Pawlek

Current Bibliographer

Laura R. Braunstein

Last Updated: 8/5/16