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Collection Development Policy

Social Service Administration

Social Services/Social Work
Eileen Libby

June 30, 2009



The Social Service Administration Library was established at the University of Chicago in 1965 when the School of Social Service Administration moved into a new building designed by Mies van der Rohe at 969 East 60th Street. Prior to that time, The School was located in Cobb Hall at 58th and Ellis. Although the School had a "Research Room" in Cobb with a small collection of journals, copies of SSA dissertations, and other printed material, SSA's primary library resources were located in Harper, the main library building on campus. Other revelant materials were in departmental libraries in Billings (medicine), Judd (education), Swift (religion and philosophy), Culver (biology), and Eckhart (mathematics). Selection for the social work/social service collections was the responsibility of the Social Science Bibliographer and selectors in the other departmental libraries.

In the early 1960's the University decided to remodel Cobb Hall for use by the College and to construct a new building for SSA on the south side of the Midway, where the Law School had moved in 1960. There had been, since the late 1950's, on-going discussion between the Library and SSA administrators on the adequacy of library service for the School. With plans for the new building, SSA administrators and a faculty planning committee entered into negotiations with the Library to secure a departmental library within the new building. The Library agreed and in January, 1964, the Associate Director of the Library wrote a memo to the Associate Dean of the School setting forth a pro file of the departmental library as envisioned by the library administration.

The SSA will have three primary purposes: to support the current teaching program of the School; to serve as a laboratory collection and information center supporting the non-research activities of the School's faculty and sta ff; and to collect, organize, and service the signi cant pamphlet and near-print material in the social service field ... The book collection will be limited in size, will largely exclude retrospective and research materials, and its cataloged collections, with few if any exceptions, will duplicate materials held elsewhere in the University Library.

Over the decades since its creation, the SSA Library has evolved. Now with responsibility for selection in the hands of its librarian, the largely non-duplicate collection reflects the varied research interests of the School's faculty, sta ff, students, and the field of social work/social service. It does, however, continue to support the teaching program of the School through a course reserve operation and it has an extensive vertical fi le collection.

Description of Academic Programs

The School of Social Service Administration awards both the M.A. and the PhD degrees. Unlike many social work programs at the masters' level that emphasize applied knowledge, SSA's curriculum has always stressed theoretical foundations and research in both classroom and field experience as the basis for the professional degree. SSA aims to provide its masters' students with the clinical, analytical, and organizational skills for e ffective practice with individuals, families, groups, and   communities as well as the research capabilities to continuously update their knowledge. Following the core courses, MA students concentrated either in clinical practice with possible specializations in areas such as family and child welfare; health; mental health; community; older adults; and/or schools; or in social administration with specialties in social policy analysis; management; and community organization, planning, and development. The overall goal of the program is to produce graduates who are agents of personal and social change, and advocates for amelioration of human problems and distress in society.

In the PhD program, the School's goal is to expand and deepen students mastery of theory and research methods in social work, social services, and social welfare as well as in their chosen area of specialization. Doctoral students are permitted broad flexibility to pursue their own interests in research projects and dissertation topics which they select in consultation with their faculty advisors.


The social service collection supports the instructional and research needs of SSA students at both the master's and doctoral level as well as faculty research. Direct curriculum support is provided through the operation of a reserve system for SSA courses and the acquisition of titles not already in the collection, needed for classroom instruction. Scholarly investigation and inquiry by SSA students, staff , faculty and alumni, as well as by other users from the University of Chicago (e.g. Medical Center, College, Public Policy, Social Science Division, Human Development, Law, Business, NORC, Chapin Hall, etc.) is supported. Duplication of material in other university libraries is consciously added only when a demonstrated need arises; for peripheral material, users are referred to resources elsewhere in the library system. Since the SSA Library lacks the physical space to keep all revelant material within its walls, we, with broad exceptions such as publications of the School and classical works, may transfer older, less-used material to block locations. As a result of these transfers and the diverse locations of the pre-1965 social service/social work material, the SSA community uses resources located throughout the library system.

Collection Guidelines

Levels of Selection:  The terms used to describe library collecting activities are comprehensive, research, instructional support and basic
information. (For a description of these levels, see the general policy statement.)

Generally, collecting for social services/social work is supported at the research and instructional levels, not mutually exclusive terms. It is impossible to de ne collecting activities for social service/social work by referring to just a few categories of the Library of Congress classi cation system. The interests range over many of the classes, as the following list indicates.

LC Class and Subject

  • BF | Psychology: Psychological research methodology; consciousness; aggression; stress; empathy; shame; prejudice; grief; bereavement; death; interpersonal relations; behavior change; self-psychology; theories of personality; human development over the life span; child and adolescent psychology; dreams; hypnosis; psychoanalysis.

  • BR | Religion: Churches and social problems; churches as a social service agent; pastoral psychology and counseling; social policy and social teaching of churches.

  • E | American History: US social and economic conditions and policies; minority groups; multiculturalism; pluralism.

  • F | US Local History: Social, community problems and activities - especially in US states and cities.

  • GE | Environmental Science: Environmental justice

  • GV | Recreation: Recreation for groups (e.g. youth, disadvantaged, senior citizens, etc)

  • H | Social Sciences: Social theory, research and methodology; social and policy sciences; evaluation of social action/service programs.

  • HA | Statistics: Methodology; statistics related to social service and social policy.

  • HB | Economic Theory: Welfare economics; income distribution.

  • HC | Economic History and Conditions: Economic conditions in the US; comparison with other countries; income distribution; income maintenance programs; the poor; poverty; government assistance programs.

  • HD | Industries, Land Use, Labor: Organization and management theory and behavior (especially in relation to human service systems); management of nonprofi t organizations; urban land planning; neighborhood investment; migrant labor; social aspects of work; discrimination in employment; minimum and living wages; unemployment; working poor; youth training and employment; working women; child labor; parental leave; social security; medicare and medicaid programs; employee assistance programs; housing policy and conditions; public housing.

  • HE | Transportation: Transportation as a social policy issue.

  • HF | Commerce: Nonpro fit and human service organizations.

  • HG | Finance: Management and nancial control in nonpro fit and human service organizations.

  • HJ | Public Finance: US public budgeting and fiscal policy for social programs.

  • HM | Sociology: Social research, methodology and statistical methods; social groups; community groups and organizations; deviant behavior; social indicators; US social policy.

  • HN | Social History, Conditions: Community development; social history, policy, research, intervention, change and movements; cross-cultural studies.

  • HQ | Social Groups, Family, Marriage: Sexual behavior, attitudes, customs, and orientations; couples, marriage and sex counseling; sexual abuse of children and youth; prostitution; bisexual, lesbian, gay, transgender, and queer studies; intergenerational relations; family studies; training, identity, and relations of social groups; single parents; dysfunctional and violent families; family planning; child care; children's rights; unmarried fathers and mothers; middle aged and aged development and social conditions; social reformers.

  • HT | Communities, Classes, Races: Urban sociology, policy, planning and renewal; community development; regional planning; social classes; social history; race conflict; prejudice and discrimination.

  • HV | Social Pathology, Social and Public Welfare, Criminology: Social work as a profession; social work education and philosophy; social work evaluation, administration and research; charity and philanthropy; social case and group work; rural and urban social work; public welfare and social welfare policy in US and other major countries; US immigrant policy and services; medical, psychiatric, and clinical social work; food relief programs; child welfare, adoption, foster, day, and residential care; care and treatment of handicapped children; services for problem, homeless and runaway youth; independent living programs for youth; social services for groups (e.g. women, men, gays, lesbian, bisexuals, transgendered, elderly, blind, deaf, developmentally disabled, physically handicapped, minorities, immigrants, poor, homeless, etc.) Programs for the prevention, treatment, and rehabilition of substance abuse; evaluation of such programs; criminal justice research and administration; behavior of o enders; criminal psychology; services for victims of crime; gangs; juvenile delinquency; suicide; reformation of criminals; sexual crimes; domestic and family violence; community crime control; community and alternative treatment programs; prison reform; prisoners' families.

  • J | Political Science: Public administration; legislative process; municipal, state and federal government operations; US public policy; social justice; emigration and immigration.  

  • K | Law: Social services and social work practice as related to the law.

  • L | Education: School psychology; child development; behavioral assessment and counseling; school social work; school mental health; early childhood education; school problems (e.g. bullying, violence, etc.); relation of community and school; after-school programs; dropouts; education of special classes of students (e.g. minorities, exceptional, disadvantaged, conduct disordered, learning disabled, etc.); social work education.

  • NA | Architecture: City and town planning

  • QA | Mathematics: Statistical methods in social science and social service research.

  • R | Medicine: Medical ethics; health behavior and psychology; palliative, hospice and terminal care.

  • RA | Public Aspects of Medicine: Health care planning, delivery, reform and economics; medical care for groups (e.g poor, elderly, children, immigrants, etc.); medicare and medicaid; long-term care; medical sociology; community health planning; AIDS/HIV programs.

  • RC | Practice of Medicine -- Internal Medicine: Social and psychological aspect of chronic disease; psychiatry; psychopathology; psychiatric hospitals; half-way houses; diagnosis and treatment programs; after care programs; eff ect of mental illness on families; grief counseling; religion and psychotherapy; individual, group and family psychotherapy; hypnotism; treatment of speci c mental illnesses (e.g. psychoses, neuroses, eating disorders, character and behavior disorders, substance abuse, etc.)

  • RG | Gynecology and Obstetrics: Pregnancy and birth; abortion; maternal care.

  • RJ | Pediatrics: Health care; screening, diagnosis and treatment programs; child development; early intervention program for autism, mental disorders, etc. child psychiatry.

  • RM | Pharmacology: Psychopharmacology

Types of Material Excluded

Unrevised dissertations, textbooks, anthologies of previously published material and editions of titles with little revision are usually excluded from purchase. Unless popular treatments of social work topics are of signi cance to a psychotherapist using bibliotherapy with an adult or child client, they are also excluded. SSA does not purchase psychological tests; we rely on the Test Collection in Regenstein for such material.

Physical Format

The existing SSA collection includes:

  • Paper format- monographs, serials, journals, newsletters, and vertical fi le materials
  • Micro format - microfi lm and microfi che
  • Media format - cd-roms, video tapes, cds, and dvds.
  • Electronic format - monographs, databases, journals, serials and reference titles

At least for the near future, we expect most social service monographs will continue to be purchased in paper. Since researchers, both student and faculty, have found the increasing availability of serials, journals, and reference works in electronic format easier and more convenient to use, we expect electronic acquisitions to increase.

Publication Dates

The summary focus in collecting for social services/social work is on currently published material. Older, retrospective titles may be purchased, or if received as gifts, added to replace missing or damaged copies; unique titles are added either to the SSA library or to block locations in other libraries in order to continue building areas of strength and interest.

Language/Geographic Range

Selection for social work/social services is almost exclusively in English. There is a predominance of US imprints in the collection. Although greater selectivity is exercised in acquiring material from other parts of the English-speaking world (e.g. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Ireland, etc) when reviewing material on social work methods; a broader, more inclusive policy is implemented when examining material on international and comparative social service and social welfare programs.

Related University of Chicago Collections

Collaboration with other University of Chicago bibliographers is considered very important to staff in the SSA library. The SSA Library adds a section on signi cant titles added to other University of Chicago Libraries to its "Recent Acquisition List" which is distributed to all SSA students, faculty, staff and others to alert them to the wide range of resources available for their use. Depending on their speci fic and diverse interests, the SSA community has used materials in Regenstein stacks and reading rooms, Special Collections Research Center, Crerar, Law, and Eckhart.

Cooperative Arrangements and Related Collections

Besides SSA there are currently seven other social social work programs at universities and colleges in the Chicago area:  University of Illinois at Chicago; Loyola University; Dominican University; Chicago State University; Governors State University; Aurora University; and DePaul University. Only Loyola University and University of Illinois at Chicago also award the PhD. degree. None of these programs are as old and/or as distinguished as the one at the University of Chicago nor do they have as comprehensive a social work/social service library collection. Although Northwestern University does not have a social work/social service program, it has strong collections in the areas of public and social policy.