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Collection Area

Geography (Human & Physical)

General Purpose

Geography materials are intended to meet the research and teaching needs of faculty and students. Geography, as it was thought of years ago, primarily dealt with exploration and travel. Works like these are still collected, but they do not form a large part, or even necessarily any part, of the diverse interests of all contemporary geographers. Geographers continue to be interested in place and locality, but contemporary geographical study relates to and uses all areas of the social sciences and sciences. The acquisitions program seeks to provide resources for these needs. At the same time both the more general needs of the College community which do include resources such as travel guides, gazetteers, and the like, as well as the need for materials supplementing work in other disciplines must be met.

The libraries still collect Exploration and Travel resources, but they now account for a small part of the Geography collection.

As the interdisciplinary nature of Geography continues to manifest itself, the library not only collects those resources which explicitly call themselves "geographic," but from all the other disciplines as well. Geographers study Sociology, Oceanography, Demography, Geomorphology, Migration, Cartography as well as other subdisciplines. The Geography Bibliographers work with other subject specialists to ensure users have resources with which to teach and do research.


Dartmouth College has the only Geography Department among the Ivy League schools. Students can earn a Bachelor's Degree but the department does not have a graduate program at this time.

Some of the faculty work as adjuncts in other departments which do have graduate degree programs. The College also offers the Masters of Liberal Arts degree, which allows students to tailor their coursework to any discipline. Students would be able to write their theses with any member of the Geography Department faculty.

Dartmouth College Program

The Department of Geography offers not only a major in the discipline but also a modified major which the interdisciplinary nature of geography easily allows. It has an honors program in which, at the present time, 33% of the students do thesis work. Assistance is given to students who plan to go on to graduate work. The faculty is involved actively in research which brings in a significant amount of grant money. Work in the department offers courses in both human and physical geography including urban, political, population, and economic geography. There is great interest among the human geographers in the domestic economy from the point of view of immigration and internal migration. Much work is environmentally related: for example, in regard to energy resources and water resources management

Regional studies includes courses on Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, Russia and the former Soviet Union. The Geography Department also offers a Foreign Study program in the Czech Republic in Prague.

Courses of a technical nature include those in cartography, remote sensing, and geographical information systems (GIS). The Rauh Laboratory provides facilities for student and faculty work in these areas. Advanced courses deal with such varying topics as industrial location analysis, labor migration, tree-ring analysis, and fluvial geomorphology.

General Subject Boundaries

The Library of Congress classification G represents the category of material specifically assigned to geography. It includes such topics as geographic names, gazetteers, travel, and exploration, The old "G" class which includes many books representative of the way geography was thought of years ago contains many volumes of description, travel, and exploration. If reclassed into the Library of Congress system, many would now fall into the D, E, and F classifications. Journals both popular and professional can be found in the present G classification. The group G-575 to G - 890 is assigned to the Stefansson Collection in Special Collections for pre-1925 Arctic and pre-1940 Antarctic materials. Sheet maps, globes, and the majority of atlas are located in the Map Room. (See the policy statement for the Maps and Atlases Collection.) Library of Congress GA (mathematical geography and cartography) locates in Baker while GB (physical geography) is partially Baker and partially Kresge (i.e., GB 400 (geomorphology) to the end of the GB range is assigned to Kresge). GC (oceanography, hydrology) is also assigned to Kresge. GF (human geography or ecology and anthropogeography) is Baker's category.

The size of the G--geography category is not large compared to some other disciplines. This reflects the fact that so much of a geographer's research is interdisciplinary, using materials that are economic, historical, agricultural, scientific, and environmental in nature, and draws on resources not only in Baker but also in Kresge, Dana, and the Feldberg Library. The research interests of the faculty indicate this: biogeography, dendrochronology, ecology, geomorphology, regional development, industrial location, population geography/demography, migration and immigration, spatial studies, political geography, historical and cultural geography, and the history and philosophy of geography, remote sensing, urban geography, and area studies (Europe, Latin America, Central America and the former Soviet Union).

Reference works, bibliographies, and indexes are collected generously, many locating in the Reference Room in either a G or Z number, while others are in the stacks. Similar pertinent aids might be used on site, in the other libraries or via online searches from any computer. See also policy statements for related areas such as anthropology, architecture (urban architecture, particularly NA9000-9425 ), biology (biogeography is covered in QH, for example), economics, earth sciences, climatology, environmental studies, and sociology (especially HT which includes regional planning and the social and economic aspects of city planning and urban renewal).


Materials are collected primarily in English, though suitable materials in the other languages would be acquired, if appropriate.

Geographic Areas

In addition to the United States and Canada generally, the library also collects materials pertaining to Europe, Latin America, the former Soviet Republics, South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In particular, the library collects extensively for New Hampshire, Vermont, New England and all of the areas covered under the Foreign Studies programs.

Types Of Material Collected

Serials, monographs, indices, abstracts and documents form the largest part of the collection. However, as the faculty incorporates more media into their instruction, the library will collect relevant media of all types. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) warrant the library not only collect software (GIS and various tools), but also instructional manuals.

Format Of Materials Collected

Prior to the mid-1990s, the library did not acquire software as individual departments bought their own. Now the library partners with academic departments to provide site license access for all of our users.

As access to census data and TIGER files has changed and developed, the library now actively collects electronic versions of the current and previous censuses (where available). These electronic data sources are housed in the Evans Map Room.

Special Collections and Manuscripts

The Stefansson Collection on Polar Regions in Special Collections provides primary resources for Antarctic and polar study, and supplements materials in the library system and at the U.S. Cold Region Research Laboratory. These resources are of value not only for faculty-student work but also to the Institute of Arctic Studies.

Generally, the library will collect resources about the Polar Regions to augment the collections and collecting done for the Stefansson Collection and Rauner Library.

Other Resources Available

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has had a large impact on collecting for Geography. Please see the separate policy for Geographic Information Systems.

Revision History

February 1993, Virginia L.Close

March 2006, Lucinda M.Hall, Jane Quigley

LC Class

G, GA, GB, GC, GE, GF and other call number ranges as appropriate.

Related Policies

Earth Sciences, Environmental Studies, Geographic Information Systems/Science (GIS), Government Documents - U.S., History, Maps and Atlas Collections


Lucinda M. Hall, Jane Quigley

Current Bibliographer

Jane Quigley, Lucinda M. Hall

Last Updated: 8/5/16