Anthropology Collection - Collections

The collection is maintained by the Education & Social Science Library.

The Anthropology Collection supports the present and anticipated teaching and research programs in the field of anthropology and its sub-disciplines. The collection relies on many other libraries for support, especially Biology and Modern Languages and the area studies programs. The collection is comprised of approximately 90,000 volumes. The collection is particularly strong in materials of the Americas.

Version Date: January, 2007


I. Collection Description


The collection supports the present and anticipated teaching and research programs in thefield of anthropology and its subdisciplines (archaeology, social anthropology, biological anthropology, and anthropological linguistics). The Department of Anthropology offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs leading to the B.A., MA., and Ph.D. and is among the largest anthropology faculties in North America. The collection also supports teaching and research in other disciplines with related interests and the area studies programs. Conversely, the collection relies on many other libraries for support, especially Biology, the area studies programs, Modern Languages, and History.

History of Collection:

While teaching and research in anthropology had occurred for many years, it was not until 1960 that a separate department and separate book fund for anthropology were established. From 1960 until 1964, when the collection responsibility was transferred to the reorganized Education and Social Science Library, the fund was administered by the Commerce and Sociology Library. It was not until 1975 that an anthropology specialist was employed to develop the collections. Because of the limited amount of publishing and the pattern of publishing in anthropology, museum and government series, the collection is reasonably strong for those years prior to World War II. During the post war years, the collection did not fare as well. However, with the addition of the Sweitzer Endowment (1980), a concerted effort has been made to build the collection into one of the premier collections in the country.

Estimate of Holdings:

100,000 volumes. Previous estimates of the collection size have been remarkably low because of the mistaken assumption that all, or at least the majority, of materials are classed in Dewey 572 and 913. In fact, it is doubtful if more than 25 percent of the University of Illinois anthropological materials are located in these two call number sequences. The current estimate is based not only on those sequences but also appropriate sequences within history, language, social science, and music among others.

State, Regional and National Importance:

Overall, the collection ranks in the top ten nationally. For material published in the last ten years, the collection ranks among the top five in the country. The collection is particularly strong in materials of the Americas.

Unit Responsible for Collecting:

Education and Social Science Library.

Location of Materials:

Current and frequently used materials, including core journals in Western European languages, are located in the Education and Social Science Library. Older materials and foreign language materials are primarily housed in the Bookstacks, although anthropological materials are found in numerous departmental libraries. An analysis of citations in the ten most cited journals in anthropology conducted in the 1990’s revealed that 15 percent of the items were located in the Education and Social Science Library and 60 percent were located in the main Bookstacks. The remaining 25 percent of the materials were located in 18 other libraries in the system.

Citations of Works Describing the Collection:

Downs, p. 16.

II. General Collection Guidelines


Standard statement. In addition, there is a special effort to acquire Burmese language materials.

Chronological Guidelines:

No restrictions. In fact, chronological interests are broad and inclusive, beginning with the prehistoric period and continuing to the present time.

Geographical Guidelines:

No restrictions. Special emphasis is given at the present time to research on North and South America, Mesoamerica, Russia and Siberia, India, Oceania, East Asia and subSaharan Africa.

Treatment of Subject:

In addition, an effort is made to collect all publications directly associated with anthropology and its related subjects, with a strong emphasis on cultural and social anthropology as well as the theory and philosophy of the social sciences. Of specific interest are indigenous cultures, and ethnographic studies of contemporary social structures and organizations in all areas of the world. Works on archaeology, especially dealing with such topics as field methods, agricultural origins and systems, contract archaeology, and archaeological technology, with special interests in Classical, i.e., Greek and Roman, archaeology is collected by the Classics Library. The English Library and Modern Languages and Linguistics Library, and the area studies programs collect folklore material for their geographical areas of interest, but the study of folklore related to preliterate societies, as well as the methodology of folklore are within the purview of the Anthropology collection.

Because of the cross-relationship between physical anthropology and biology, relevant physical anthropology materials are collected by the Biology Library. Materials that have a cultural or anthropological focus, rather than a biological one, are collected for Anthropology. Likewise, there is overlapping responsibility with Linguistics. Anthropology collects only in the areas of cognitive linguistics and ethnolinguistics with a clear anthropological focus, as well as language as a reflection of culture.

Types of Materials:

Standard statement.

Date of Publication:

Standard statement.

Place of Publication:

No restrictions.

III. Collection Responsibility by Subject Subdivisions with Qualifications, Levels of Collecting Intensity, and Assignments

Below is a table that lists specific subject subdivisions within the collection. Each row in the table lists a specific subject subdivision, followed by three columns noting: Collection Strength, Primary Assignments and Secondary Assignments. The Existing Collecting Strength column notes how well the existing collection covers that topic on a 1 to 5 scale with 5 being very strong. The Primary Assignments column lists departmental libraries that have the greatest collection intensity of subject materials, respectively. In the case of 2 or more libraries listed, the collection intensity is comparable. The Secondary Assignments column list departmental libraries where additional materials may be found.

Anthropology Collection
(History, method, theory)
4 Anthropology
Classical Greece and Rome
4 Classics Architecture / Anthropology
Agricultural origins 4 Agriculture Anthropology
Ethnobotany 4 Biology Anthropology
Lithic analysis 4 Anthropology
Method and theory 4 Anthropology
Prehistory 4 Anthropology
Cognitive anthropology 4 Anthropology Linguistics
Linguistic anthropology 4 Anthropology Linguistics
Forensic anthropology 4 Anthropology
Human evolution 4 Biology Anthropology
Human genetics 3 Biology Anthropology
Method and theory 4 Anthropology
Osteology 3 Biology Anthropology
Primatology 3 Biology Anthropology
Culture change 4 Anthropology
Cultural and human ecology 4 Anthropology
Economic anthropology 4 Anthropology
Education and anthropology 4 Anthropology
Ethography 4 Anthropology
Ethnohistory 4 Anthropology
Ethnology 4 Anthropology
Folklore of preliterate groups 3 Anthropology
Legal anthropology 4 Anthropology
Medical anthropology 4 Anthropology
Method and theory 4 Anthropology
Political anthropology 4 Anthropology
Social structure 4 Anthropology
Symbolic systems 4 Anthropology
Urban anthropology 4 Anthropology


Revision Date: July 2006