Collection Selector

photo of Mary Foppiani

Mary Foppiani

Librarian for Astronomy, Biology, and Physics

Astronomy Library, Science and Engineering Library

General Purpose of the Collection

Resources in the biological sciences are selected to meet the information needs of study, teaching, and research on the University’s Charles River Campus. The students and faculty affiliated with the Biology Department make up the primary constituency for these collections, but there is a large body of interdisciplinary users. The application to biology of the analytical methodologies and techniques of other disciplines has generated users at the graduate and research level from multiple programs, particularly in biotechnology areas. Additional users at the undergraduate and even secondary level represent smaller scale campus programs or required coursework. These include the Metropolitan College BS in Biology and Biomedical Laboratory and Clinical Sciences, prerequisite courses for several programs (premed, biomedical engineering, health science, and the other natural sciences), science requirements for non-science majors, a two year program in the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in the College of General Studies, and science classes at the Boston University Academy.

Biology at Boston University is a broadly-based department that is part of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GRS). Faculty expertise in this department addresses biological problems at all organizational levels (molecular, organismal, and population). Drawing on this depth, the Biology Department is able to offer a rich selection of instructional programs.

Five distinct areas of study provide a broad focus for resource selection: 1) Cell & Molecular Biology;  2) Neurobiology;  3) Ecology, Behavior & Evolution; 4) Marine Biology; and 5) Quantitative Biology. Degree programs in these areas, leading to the BA, MA and PhD, guide the level of collecting. In addition, a BA in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) can be pursued further to include the dual BA/MA in Biotechnology. The Biology Department is an active member of the interdepartmental graduate program in Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry (MCBB) which offers both the MA and PhD degrees and the programs in Neuroscience and Bioinformatics which both offer PhD degrees.

Most prevalent among the interdisciplinary users of the biology collections are the students and faculty affiliated with the departments of Biomedical Engineering (ENG), Chemistry (CAS/GRS), Cognitive and Neural Systems (CAS/GRS), Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SAR), and Psychology (CAS/GRS). Relying to varying degrees on these resources are affiliates of the interdisciplinary graduate program in the BioMolecular Engineering Research Center (ENG), the Center for Adaptive Systems (CAS/GRS), the Center for Biodynamics (CAS/ENG), the Center for Ecology and Conservation Biology (GRS), the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies (CAS/GRS), the Center for Polymer Studies (GRS), the Center for Advanced Genomic Technology (ENG), and the NeuroMuscular Research Center (Office of the President).

Scope of Coverage

Languages collected (primary and selective) or excluded
English is the primary language of the collection, but works dealing with unique and significant topics in other languages are very selectively acquired.
Geographical areas covered by the collections in terms of intellectual content, publication sources, or both, and specific areas excluded, as appropriate
Coverage of local and regional flora and fauna is of particular importance. In natural history and in botany and zoology, particularly at the population level, the emphasis is on works dealing with North America. Other geographical areas are represented when a topic has broad appeal or when the area itself has special ecological significance. Collection of works dealing with topics at the molecular and cellular levels is international in scope and not limited by geographic area.
Chronological periods covered by the collection in terms of intellectual content, movements or schools, and specific periods excluded, as appropriate
A record of biology since the beginning of the twentieth century, including its phenomenal growth and evolution into a precise experimental science during the last sixty years, is reflected in research as reported in the journal literature. Full runs of many core journals have been maintained. For research in fast moving areas of the field, such as molecular biology, biochemistry, and neurobiology, the current journal literature provides the only valid source of information. In the more traditional descriptive areas of biology, such as natural history, botany, zoology, and systematics, new studies complement rather than replace earlier work. All chronological periods are represented in the collection for these areas.
Chronological periods collected in terms of publication dates, and specific periods excluded, as appropriate
Emphasis is on the latest available information as it appears in current journals and monographs. Older material is selectively acquired in response to special requests or to replace or add an important earlier title.

General Subject Boundaries and Library Locations

The primary subject areas of the collection correspond to the following Library of Congress call number ranges:

  • QH 1-278 : Natural History, Conservation
  • QH 301-425 : General Biology
  • QH 426-531 : Genetics, Reproduction
  • QH 540-705 : Ecology, Cytology
  • QK 1-989 : Botany
  • QL 1-791 : Zoology, Animal Behavior
  • QL 799-991 : Morphology, Anatomy, Embryology
  • QM 1-695 : Human Anatomy
  • QP 1-981 : Physiology
  • QR 1-500 : Microbiology, Immunology, Virology
  • S 1-954 : Agriculture, Soils, Fertilizers
  • SB 1-668 : Plant Culture
  • SD : Forestry
  • SF : Animal Culture
  • SH : Aquaculture
  • Z 5320 : Biology Bibliography
  • Z 5351 : Botany Bibliography
  • Z 6662 : Anatomy and Physiology Bibliography
  • Z 6704 : Microscopy Bibliography
  • Z 6828 : Nature Bibliography
  • Z 7991 : Zoology Bibliography

All current journals, monographs, and reference resources are housed in the Science and Engineering Library if they are not available online. Older volumes of some journal titles are housed in off-site storage with approximately 24-hour retrieval available. A small collection of older monographs is housed in Mugar Memorial Library.

Related subjects and Interdisciplinary Relationships

African Studies
Works dealing with the flora and fauna on the African continent are generally referred to the African Studies Selector.
Biological anthropology and evolutionary studies dealing with humans and primates are collected by the Anthropology Selector, while works on the evolution of microbes, plants, and all animals, at the molecular as well as the organismic level, are collected by the Biology Selector.
Works in biochemistry, the study of the chemical processes within living matter, are collected by both the Biology and Chemistry Selectors, according to their LC classification. Works in endocrinology are of particular interest to Biology.
Earth Sciences
Paleontological studies, collected by the Earth Sciences Selector, dealing with the evolution and the origin of life are of interest to some Biology faculty. Biogeology is also an area of overlap.
The teaching of science at elementary and secondary levels is the purview of the Education Selector, while instruction in biology at the college level is of interest to the Biology Selector.
Works dealing with the application of engineering techniques to biological systems are the focus of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and are selected by both the Biology and Engineering Selectors.
General Sciences
Works dealing with the environment in general, with environmental policy, and with the management of environmental issues are collected by the General Sciences Selector. Works about the use of technology in the detection and management of environmental problems are collected primarily by the Selector in Engineering. Studies focusing on the natural environment and ecological systems are collected by the Selector in Biology.
The distribution of plant and animal populations is a common interest. Works with a focus on the plant-animal interactions and on populations in an ecological context are of particular interest to the Biology Selector.
Health Sciences
Nutritional biochemistry, microbiology, and physiology are areas in which interests overlap. Clinical studies with human subjects are the focus in the health sciences, while studies considered basic research, usually with non-human subjects, are collected for Biology.
Some relationship between Mathematics and Biology exists in the areas of biostatistics, mathematical biology, neuroscience, and neural networks.
Biophysical studies, in which the laws and methods of physics are applied to biological phenomena, as in neurobiology, sensory physiology, and molecular biophysics for example, are collected primarily by the Selector in Biology.

Types of Materials

Journals, annual reviews, and professional society publications in both print and electronic formats with the primary emphasis on electronic; books; reference works, including journal indexes (particularly in electronic format), encyclopedias, dictionaries, data handbooks, taxonomic and methodological manuals, protocols, anatomical and histological atlases.
Collected Selectively
Conference publications, technical reports, textbooks when best available treatment of topic, popular treatments of complex science topics for non-scientists, and occasional second copies of heavily used titles.
Not Collected
Theses and dissertations and popular works.

Other On-Campus or Local Resources

The Boston University Medical Center’s Alumni Medical Library is an important journal resource and frequent supplier of timely article photocopies. The science collections in the member libraries of the Boston Library Consortium, particularly those at M.I.T., Northeastern University, Brandeis University, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and the Marine Biological Laboratory/Woods Hole Institute, are other local resources of significance.