(written 1991, revised August 2003)
The principal users of Cornell University’s anthropological collections are the faculty and students of the Anthropology Department. However, since the focus of the discipline is nothing less than the study of humankind, anthropological literature is potentially boundless in its scope and in its readership. Cornell’s Department, which offers M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, includes scholars working in archaeology, physical anthropology, anthropolinguistics, and cultural anthropology. Research interests cover many world regions and a diversity of subjects: from food to philosophy, shamanism to legal elites, and dance to financial markets. The anthropological collections also support the work of students and scholars from across campus, for example in the disciplines of history and art history and the Archaeology and American Indian Programs.
Because of anthropology’s traditionally broad scope and with the emergence of interdisciplinary research as the preferred methodology of the social sciences, materials of interest to anthropologists are spread across a variety of disciplines and housed across the university. The area curators and bibliographers, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, agriculture and life sciences (especially biological anthropology), and the Music librarian (ethnomusicology and dance) cooperate with the anthropology selector. And fine arts, engineering (paleontology) and law (especially indigenous rights and recently Asian law) libraries also add to the Library’s store of anthropological materials.
Collection Conspectus: Key to Codes & Abbreviations
Ethnographic materials only
North American Indians (E)
Human Ecology (GF)
Manners and Customs (GT)
Includes dwellings and costume
Anthropology potentially covers all world regions. However, the responsibilities of other library selectors, cited in the “Coordination” section, above, allow the Anthropology selector to focus on the United States, Canada, and Western Europe. With the absence of a selector for Oceania at Cornell, the Anthropology selector has principal responsibility for building collections concerning that region, and similar circumstances apply to the Romany people.
Anthropological collections have a set of particular characteristics. Because of the centrality of fieldwork to the discipline, anthropology collections hold report literature published by university departments, research bureaus, scholarly societies, etc., which lie outside the mainstream of scholarly monographs and journals. The importance of accumulated knowledge to the field makes historical collections and retrospective materials of importance. The language of publication is irrelevant to anthropological collections. Although English predominates as the medium of study and instruction, research materials may appear in any world language. Audiovisual materials (currently videos, but increasingly compact disks) are collected extensively for use in instruction. To date (2003), electronic materials in anthropology focus on information access, i.e., indexes and abstracts.