NARRATIVE COLLECTION POLICY STATEMENT
PHYSICAL SCIENCES LIBRARY
1.0 Programmatic information:
Astronomy is the oldest of the physical sciences; its origins date back many thousands of years. It has constantly evolved to provide a more complete picture of the universe. Today the field of astronomy involves the application of the latest theoretical and experimental tools from all scientific disciplines. At Cornell, astronomy and space sciences constitute a field of graduate study and is guided by faculty members drawn from various departments, including astronomy, physics, applied physics, geological sciences, theoretical and applied mechanics, and electrical engineering. The field usually has about thirty graduate students, a comparable number of research associates and visiting scientists, and twenty-eight faculty members.
The Astronomy department has faculty and graduate students on the Ithaca campus, at Arecibo Observatory near Arecibo, Puerto Rico and at the Palomar Observatory on Mount Palomar in California.
1.1 Information gathering behaviors:
In a study of methods by which scientists learned of work crucial to their own that was published in 1959, the top two categories mentioned were “casual conversation” (22.6%) and journals that they read regularly 22%. (Glass). Only 5.2% said that they found information by using an abstracting service.
More recent work shows marked changes. 88% of the physics and astronomy faculty surveyed at the University of Oklahoma in 1998 had used Science Citation Index at least once in the past six months (Brown). In fact, Brown states: “The data presented suggest that a primary goal of science libraries should be to obtain access to as many appropriate electronic bibliographic finding aids and databases as possible.”
We are fortunate to have electronic services like arXiv and NASA Astrophysical Data Service (ADS). The Historical Literature Project is an especially useful ADS service. Brown found that 81% of the physics and astronomy faculty surveyed obtained articles by making a photocopy from the library’s journal. 44% made use of free electronic versions.
ADS is the primary resource for astronomers. The ability to link directly from ADS to the full text article (for those journals to which Cornell has a subscription) is a great convenience for them. A recent review of ADS states that “When compared to ISI’s Journal Citation Reports, the ADS has a comprehensive coverage of the core journals of astrophysics and astronomy.” (Woodall) Given the importance of ADS, we will make every effort to support the journals indexed by the service. Other services utilized by astronomers are ISI Web of Science, INSPEC and SciFinder Scholar.
When asked what tools they used to support research activities, physics and astronomy faculty responded: 53% use monographs, 33% use textbooks, and 47% use conference proceedings. 87% reported using journals and 67% reported using preprints. (Brown)
ADS offers a mixture of historical and new scanned books. A list of available books, journals, conference proceedings, and data is available on the web site.
2.0 Collection description and guidelines:
2.1 Subject definition:
Astronomy is the science dealing with the origin, evolution, composition, distance, and motion of all bodies and scattered matter in the universe.
The most ancient of the sciences, it has existed since the dawn of recorded civilization. Much of the earliest knowledge of celestial bodies is often credited to the Babylonians. The ancient Greeks introduced influential cosmological ideas, including theories about the Earth in relation to the rest of the universe. Ptolemy’s model of an Earth-centered universe (2nd century AD) influenced astronomical thought for over 1,300 years. In the 16th century, Nicolaus Copernicus assigned the central position to the Sun, ushering in the age of modern astronomy. The 17th century saw several momentous developments: Johannes Kepler’s discovery of the principles of planetary motion, Galileo's application of the telescope to astronomical observation, and Isaac Newton’s formulation of the laws of motion and gravitation. In the 19th century, spectroscopy and photography made it possible to study the physical properties of planets, stars, and nebulae, leading to the development of astrophysics. In 1927 Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe, hitherto thought static, was expanding. In 1937 the first radio telescope was built. The first artificial satellite, Sputnik was launched in 1957, inaugurating the age of space exploration spacecraft that could escape Earth's gravitational pull and return data about the solar system were launched beginning in 1959. Astronomy is also defined as the observational and theoretical study of celestial bodies, of the intervening regions of space, and of the universe as a whole. Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences and has developed in step with advances in instrumentation and other technology and with advances in physics, chemistry and mathematics. The main branches are astrometry, celestial mechanics, astrophysics and astrobiology. Astrophysics is the study of the properties, constitution and evolution of celestial bodies and the intervening regions of space. It is concerned in particular with the production and expenditure of energy in systems such as the stars and galaxies and in the universe as a whole, and with how this affects the evolution of such systems. Astrophysics developed in the 19th century and is closed related to particle physics, plasma physics, thermodynamics, spectroscopy, solid-state physics and relativity. Cosmology, radio astronomy, x-ray, gamma-ray, infrared, and ultraviolet astronomy are usually considered subsections of astrophysics. Exobiology (or bioastronomy or astrobiology) is the study of life in the universe. More precisely, it is the study of the origins, evolution and distribution of life in the universe and of the structures and processes associated with life itself.
2.2 Subject scope:
Graduate study and research are focused on several broad areas, including theoretical astrophysics, radio and radar astronomy, infrared and optical astronomy, and planetary sciences. For more detailed information, see Addendum I.
Following is the scheme of the Library of Congress classifications in astronomy, with an indication of Cornell's existing collection strength (ECS) and current collecting intensity (CCI), as well as language(s) collected.
General astronomy (incl. serials, reference works, ephemerides, textbooks, history, instruments)**History of astronomy is collected in Olin Library
Practical astronomy (incl. measurement, time, longitude & latitude)
Geodesy (incl. geodetic surveying)**Engineering Library collects in this area
Theoretical astronomy and celestial mechanics ( incl. lunar & planetary theory, planetary motion)
Astrophysics (incl. radio & nuclear astrophysics, astronomical spectroscopy, chaos)
Non-optical methods of astronomy (incl. infrared, gamma ray, x-ray, ultraviolet, radio and radar astronomy)
Descriptive astronomy (incl. solar system, planets, stars, galaxies)
Cosmology ** Olin Library shares primary collection responsibilities in this area PSL collects technical works, not philosophical or religious materials
2.3 Specialized information needs and types of material:
Scholarly journals in all facets of astronomy and applied physics are the most heavily used part of our collection. Monographs in all areas of astronomy are selectively collected. Textbooks are purchased to support curriculum. Popular materials are purchased sparingly in very specific areas needed to support curriculum and for our light reading area.
Proceedings of conferences, workshops, and schools are prolific in this area. As of 1994 these materials are collected selectively based on use, organization, and subject matter. It is helpful that some conference proceedings are available through ADS.
Digital resources (for example WWW sites), will be selected using the standard criteria.
Electronic versions of print resources are selected on a case-by-case basis depending on cost, usability, and value added features.
Electronic back files of journals that we already own in paper will be considered as funding allows.
2.5 Chronological guidelines:
Primarily current materials.
2.6 Geographical guidelines:
Worldwide with a focus on North American and European research.
Primary collection is English. Foreign languages are selectively collected, mainly German, French and Russian.
2.9 Cooperative arrangements and related collections:
Cooperative collection development must occur with the Engineering Library, especially in the areas of space and atmospheric physics, space plasmas, geodesy and planetary geology, and with Olin Library in the areas of the history of astronomy and cosmology. Responsibility for exobiology is shared with Mann and Olin Libraries.
The Spacecraft Planetary Imaging Facility (in the Space Sciences Building) houses more than 100,000 images taken by NASA planetary and lunar spacecraft, as well as related cartographic and support data. The facility is used by researchers in the fields of planetary geology, geophysics, and geomorphology, as well as by researchers in atmospheric studies. The SPIF library has its own computer system, which permits rapid searches through the vast set of data available for study. A videodisk system is integrated with the computer to allow rapid viewing of images selected by the user.
3.0 Scholarly Communications
We will support the move toward open access by adding to our collection the titles of open access journals, as appropriate.
We will encourage our patrons to form communities and use alternatives for traditional publishing like Dspace.
Brown, Cecelia M. 1999 "Information Seeking Behavior of Scientists in the
Electronic Information Age: Astronomers, Chemists, Mathematicians, and
Physicists." Journal of the American Society for Information Science 50(10):929-943
Glass, Bentley and Sharon H. Norwood. 1959 "How Scientists Actually Learn of
Work Important to Them." Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information. http://books.nap.edu/html/sci_inf_1959/
Woodall, Leith B. 2004 “Dabatbase Reviews and Reports: The NASA
Astrophysics Data System”. Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship no39
(Winter 2004) p. 1
Addendum I –Faculty and Graduate Research Areas
Research and Study Opportunities
The faculty are particularly interested in directing graduate research in the following subjects:
Infrared and Optical Astronomy
Kuiper Airborne and Palomar Observatories, IRAS, and SIRTF: great observing facilities and past and future space missions are tools for Cornell infrared astronomers, who have been at the forefornt of state-of-the-art instrument and detector design for several decades.
Research Staff: Herter, Houck, Stacey, Charmandaris, Lloyd
From the Apollo era of the first manned missions to the Moon to the latest missions to the outer planets and asteroids, planetary astronomers at Cornell have had a leading role in conceiving, planning, and participating in most of these missions destined to explore the solar system.
Research Staff: Conrath, Bell, III, Burns, Gierasch, Nicholson, Squyres, Veverka, Harrington, Thomas, Banfield, Sullivan, Helfenstein, Margot
Radio and Radar Astronomy
The great radio-radar telescope in Arecibo, designed by Cornell engineers and operated by Cornell, is at the focal point of the research activities of Cornell radio and radar astronomers, who have had a significant share of the important discoveries made by the instrument.
Research Staff: Campbell, Cordes, Giovanelli, Goldsmith, Haynes, Terzian, Brown, Salter
Theoretical astronomy at Cornell has a long-standing tradition rooted in pioneering research in theoretical physics. New frontiers have been opened by sophisticated numerical methods and graphics simulation made possible by the use of powerful computers, most notably those of the Cornell National Supercomputer Facility.
Research Staff: Chernoff, Flanagan, Lai, Lovelace, Salpeter, Teukolsky, Wasserman, Romanova, York, Jr.
For more details for The Department of Astronomy faculty research projects, see:
Addendum II –Courses of Study Fall 2004