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Collection Development Policy


Rebecca Starkey
June 2009

Overview of the Collection


Education materials have been collected by the Library since the founding of the University, initially to support the Department of Pedagogy (established in 1895) and later the College and School of Education (founded in 1901).  For much of the 20th Century, education materials were housed in a separate Education Library, located in Judd Hall with the Department of Education.  In 1970, the departmental library was closed and the education collections were moved into the Joseph Regenstein Library, where they remain today.

Broad subject areas emphasized or de-emphasized

Current collecting attempts a broad coverage of education research, with emphasis on the areas of urban education, school reform, educational psychology, literacy, reading theory and practice, and the history of education.  Special attention is given to works related to key educational theorists such as John Dewey, Friedrich Froebel, Maria Montessori, and Paulo Freire. Institutional histories are also a core collection, particularly works focusing on colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe.  Extra emphasis is given to obtaining materials relating to the history of the University of Chicago.

Description of academic program

In the early 20th century, the University of Chicago played a key role in the development of the field of education.  With the founding of the Laboratory School, and the leadership of faculty such as John Dewey and Charles Judd, the University became a center of education research and practice. 

But starting in the 1970s, the focus of the University’s education program moved away from teacher training towards theory.  Education research was increasingly conducted by faculty in other departments in the Social Sciences Division, along with the Harris School of Public Policy Research and the School of Social Services Administration.  Additionally, interdisciplinary research groups, such as the Center for Urban School Improvement (1988) and the Consortium of Chicago School Research (1990) were established to study education reform in the Chicago Public Schools.  By the mid-1990s, the University decided to close the Department of Education in order to take an interdisciplinary approach to education research.  In June 2001, the Department was formally closed. 

Since the closing of the Department, many changes have occurred in the study of education at Chicago.  In 2005, the Committee on Education was established as an interdisciplinary research group.  The Committee is comprised of ten faculty and two ExOfficiomembers from various departments throughout the University, primarily in the Social Sciences Division.  The Committee sponsors a pre-doctoral research program in education research, but is not degree-granting.

The University’s teacher training program was reinstated with the creation of the Urban Teacher Education Program (UTEP) in 2003. UTEP is a 2 ½ year Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program focused on providing certification and teaching experience in urban public schools.  The program provides a mix of academic and clinical experience, with a year of coursework followed by extensive internship program, including a semester-long placement at one of the four University-run charter schools in Chicago. 

In 2008, the University consolidated its education efforts into the Urban Education Institute. The Institute includes the Committee on Education, the Consortium on Chicago School Research, the Urban Teacher Education Program, along with the University of Chicago Charter Schools.  


The Library’s education collections support the research and teaching needs of the University, for students at the undergraduate to Ph.D. levels, and faculty.  The majority of our users are researchers in the Urban Education Institute.  However, due to the interdisciplinary nature of education research, students and faculty in the Social Sciences Division, the Law School, the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, and the School of Social Services Administration are active users of our collections.  Researcher at NORC and the Chapin Hall Center for Children also use our education materials. 

Collecting Guidelines

Levels of Selection: Comprehensive, research, instructional support, basic information; for a description of these levels, see the general policy statement.

·         Education, General (Library of Congress class L7-991):  Collected at the research level in Western languages. 

·         History of Education (LA): Collected at the research level in Western languages. 

·         Theory and Practice of Education (LB): Education theory is collected at the research level in Western languages.  Books on the practice of education are collected more selectively, with a focus on higher education and school administration.  Materials for teachers or other practitioners are collected for the K-12 Curriculum Materials Collection.

·         Special Aspects of Education (LC): Collected at the research level in Western languages.  Materials on moral and religious education are purchased by the Bibliographer for Religion.

·         Individual Institutions (LD-LF): Institutional histories and studies are collected at the research level in Western languages, with a strong focus on the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. 

·         College and school magazines and newspapers (LH): Collected at the basic information level in Western languages.  We collect few student publications, unless they are produced at the University of Chicago. Most of these are housed in the Special Collections Research Center.

·         Student Fraternities and Societies (LJ): Collected at basic information level in Western languages, with a focus on organizations affiliated with the University of Chicago.

·         Textbooks (LT): With rare exceptions, college textbooks are not collected under education funds.  K-12 textbooks are purchased for the K-12 Curriculum Materials Collection

Other items relating to education in other call number ranges are collected at the research level for Western languages as appropriate for the needs of our community.   

Type of Materials Included & Excluded

The collection includes a wide variety of materials, including monographs, scholarly journals, newsletters, conference publications, and reference works such as bibliographies, indexes, and directories. 

Government documents also provide a rich source for education research.  The Library serves as a government documents depository for the United States, Canada, and the European Union.  We also broadly collect publications from nongovernmental organizations such as UNESCO and the World Bank.  

The Library’s education collections exclude college textbooks, course catalogs, dissertations, or collections of previously published works.  K-12 textbooks, teachers’ manuals, curricula, and instructional films are purchased under funds for the K-12 Curriculum Materials Collection

Physical Formats Included & Excluded

All formats are collected, but with a growing emphasis on online resources.  The vast majority of our monographs are received only in print.  However, due to publishing trends, budgetary concerns, and user demand, the Library is increasingly moving to online subscriptions for our education periodicals.  In addition, most government documents and NGO publications are now only available online.  As more and more key education resources are no longer available in print, the Library must find ways to continue to provide access to these resources in the future.

The Library education collections include a substantial number of multimedia materials.  While records, videocassettes and floppy discs are no longer added to our collection, DVDs remain in high demand, and many of our monographs continue to come with supplementary material on CD-ROM. But as these formats face eventual obsolescence, it is likely that our future media collections will also be online.

The Library’s Educational Research Information Center (ERIC) microfiche remains a core resource.  However, a decrease in government funding and various administrative changes to the ERIC project since 2000 have impacted indexing and slowed the growth of this collection.  All new ERIC documents are now produced electronically, and a current a retrospective microfiche scanning project is providing online access to a substantial part of the historic collection.  But as 45% of the digitized documents cannot be released due to copyright or permissions concerns, it is unlikely that this collection will be completely available online anytime in the near future.

Publication Dates Collected

Priority is given to the purchase of newly published materials in the field of education.  However, older items are purchased as needed to support specific the research and teaching needs of our community.


Items are purchased primarily in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.  Non-English language material produced in areas outside of Western Europe and Latin America are purchased by our Area Studies bibliographers.

Geographical range

The collection primarily focuses on the U.S., Canada, Latin America, and Western Europe, with an increasing emphasis on English-language materials focusing on Asia (especially China) based on user needs.

Chronological span

Items collected cover the post-Classical period.   

Areas of Distinction

The University of Chicago Library is a key source for materials relating to the history of the University and its role in the development of the field of education in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Library is also particularly strong in its coverage of public education in Chicago.  Reading theory and practice is another area where our collections are extensive.

Related University of Chicago Collections

The Social Services Administration Library collects education materials of interest to their primary user groups.  Materials in SSA focus on social programs relating to education, such as child welfare, urban school policy, student counseling, and preschool programs such as Head Start. The D’Angelo Law Library collects items relating to education and the law, including subjects such as school integration, textbook censorship, student rights, and government oversight of public schools. The Special Collections Research Center’s collections contain many items of interest to scholars researching the history of the University and its key role in the development education research and teaching.


Cooperative Arrangements and Related Collections

There are no formal cooperative collection development agreements with local institutions for education materials.  The Library depends on the Center for Research Libraries for retrospective college course catalogs, foreign dissertations, and historical textbooks.  Researchers interested in education in Africa are often referred to Northwestern University’s Herskovits Library of African Studies.