Collection Selector

Mary Foppiani


Astronomy Library, Science and Engineering Library

General Purpose of the Collection

The undergraduate and graduate programs offered by the Physics Department of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GRS) cover the varied aspects of both experimental and theoretical physics. To support these programs of study, the library’s collections attempt to cover subjects up to the research level, including all major source materials, reference works, monographs, and journals. Beyond this level, materials on optics, quantum physics, condensed-matter theory, and high-energy physics are acquired to support current scholarship and ongoing investigations. Acquisitions in the areas of atomic and nuclear physics are made on a selective and representative basis only. Additionally, materials on theoretical and experimental approaches to the field, on statistical physics, on molecular biophysics, and on the philosophical foundations and history of physics are selectively acquired to provide representative coverage of interdisciplinary and methodological concerns in the field.

The Department of Physics offers programs of study leading to BA, MA, and PhD degrees. As well, the Department of Physics at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Departments of Physiology and Biophysics of the Boston University School of Medicine offer a joint PhD program in cellular biophysics.

Steadily growing for the past 15 years, the Physics Department supports numerous areas of research for the 39 faculty, 30 visiting researchers and fellows, and 110 graduate students: surface physics, polymers, high-energy and medium-energy particle physics, laser theory, solid-state physics, superconductivity, computational physics, statistical mechanics, field theory and relativity, statistical physics, molecular and experimental biophysics, magnetism, low-temperature physics, theoretical particle physics and cosmology, biophysics, surface physics, nano-optics and nanoscale science, astrophysics, neutrinos, and condensed-matter physics. Research productivity is high: Boston University ranks among the top 10 private universities for number of refereed papers, number of citations per year, and number of citations per paper in the area of physics.

In addition to direct support for the Physics Department, the Physics collection also supports the work being done in related Research Centers. Faculty, staff, and students from the Center for Polymer Studies, the Photonics Center, the Center for Computational Science, the Center for Nanoscience and Nanobiotechnology, the Center for Space Physics, the Institute for Astrophysical Research, and the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies are regular users of physics materials.

Scope of Coverage

Languages collected (primary and selective) or excluded
English language works are primarily collected. Works written in languages other than English are acquired very selectively.
Geographical areas covered by the collections in terms of intellectual content, publication sources, or both, and specific areas excluded, as appropriate
There are no geographical limitations in the selection of physics materials. However, emphasis is placed on works published in North America.
Chronological periods covered by the collection in terms of intellectual content, movements or schools, and specific periods excluded, as appropriate
Works on the history and philosophy of modern physics are represented in the collection since theoretical physicists often refer to older material.
Chronological periods collected in terms of publication dates, and specific periods excluded, as appropriate
Although there are no specific chronological limits, recent materials are generally selected.

General Subject Boundaries and Library Locations

The subject scope of this collection is primarily determined by the Library of Congress call number range QC. Most items are housed in the Science and Engineering Library. Some older physics materials can be found in Mugar Memorial Library or in the library’s off-site storage facility.

  • QC 1-999 : Physics
  • Z 7141-7145 : Physics Bibliography
  • Z 8001-8999 : Personal Bibliography

Collected Very Selectively:

  • R 895-920 : Medical Physics, Medical Radiology, Nuclear Medicine
  • RM 845-862 : Medical Radiology

Interdisciplinary in nature, the Physics collection may support related work in other departments. Therefore, consultation with other selectors occurs in the following disciplines:

Related subjects and Interdisciplinary Relationships

The Astronomy Selector collects works on astrophysics, cosmology, and space plasmas.
Works on biophysics are generally acquired by the Biology Selector.
Materials on spectroscopy and polymers are collected by the Chemistry Selector.
Earth Science
The Physics Selector may collect works on geophysics and geomagnetism.
Both the Physics and Engineering Selectors acquire works on lasers, optics, photonics, acoustics, electromagnetic theory, classical and statistical mechanics, and thermodynamics.
Health Science
The Physics Selector may collect works very selectively in medical physics, medical radiology and nuclear medicine.
Materials on mathematical and computational physics may be collected by either the Physics or Mathematics Selector.

Types of Materials

Monographs, periodicals, and reference materials including indexes and abstracts, dictionaries, encyclopedias, directories, bibliographies, and handbooks.
Collected Selectively
Electronic resources, textbooks, popular works; and proceedings from conferences, symposia, and workshops.
Not Collected
Patents, newsletters, preprints, and government documents.