Linguistics: Linguistic Collection Policy

Guide to KU Library resources for general linguistics and Slavic linguistics topics including database information, linguistics keywords used in the Catalog, and other information

Linguistics Collection Parameters



Principal Selector: Geoff Husic
Principal Location: Watson Library
Updated Nov. 02, 2009




"Linguistics is devoted to the scientific study of language, a fundamental human cognitive ability. Linguistics examine the universal characteristics of language and the way in which they differ. In addition to studying the structure of language, they analyze the physical and psychological bases of human language as well as the social and historical aspects of language use." (University of Kansas. 1992-92 Undergraduate Catalog)


The subject area is the study of language as described above. In addition to works on language in general, the collection must also provide material on those languages, past and present, which are not studied and provided for in other library collection policies.


The primary purpose of the collection is to support teaching and research in the Department of Linguistics and related disciplines. The Department offers an undergraduate degree in Linguistics, and graduate programs leading to the Master's degree and the Doctorate in both general and applied linguistics. There is no clear line of demarcation between the interests of the Linguistics Department and the linguistic interests of a particular department of language and literature. In addition, the collection makes available books and journals on linguistics to the whole university community, to the residents of Kansas and, through Interlibrary Services, to a wide community.


Historically, the collection is strongest in general linguistics. Recently efforts have been made to bring the applied linguistics collections, especially sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics, up to that standard. While the collection is generally comprehensive, the Libraries' greatest strengths are in areas handled by other collection policies, especially of the area studies programs, such as the Library Slavic Dept., Library East Asian Dept., and the Library Dept. for Spain, Latin America, and Portugal. The Linguistics fund however has tried where possible to fill in needs for important languages, taught at KU, that are not associated with an Area Studies Center, or fund. This has, until recently, been the case for, e.g. Arabic language materials.

Materials for the Native American Languages have generally been purchased on this fund, as most of the research in this field has been carried out by Linguistics faculty.

The collection of materials in African languages has been frequently accomplished through cooperation between the Linguistics Bibliographer and the African Studies Librarian. With the renewal of the Title VI Grant for African Studies at KU in 2007, we will be attempting to strengthen linguistic materials for Africa cooperatively. In 2009 monies were made available for a Middle Eastern fund. The Linguistics and African studies bibliographer will also be collaborating to purchase appropriate language-related materials in this field.


List of Main Library of Congress Call Number Ranges for the Linguistics Collection


P1-85                      General
P87-96                    Communication. Mass media
P94.7                      Interpersonal communication
P95-95.6                 Oral communication. Speech
P98-98.5                 Computational linguistics;
                               Natural language processing
P99-99.4                 Semiotics
P99.5-99.6              Nonverbal communication

P101-410                Language. Linguistic theory;
                               Comparative grammar
P118-118.7             Language acquisition
P121-149                Science of language
P201-299                Comparative grammar
P215-240                Phonetics and Phonology
P241-290                Morphology
P291-298                Syntax
P299                       Other
P301-301.5              Style. Composition. Rhetoric
P302-302.87            Discourse analysis
P304-305                 Vocabulary
P306-310                 Translating and interpreting
P321-324.5              Etymology
P325-325.5              Semantics
P326-326.5              Lexicology
P327-327.5              Lexicography
P331-365.5              Comparative lexicography
P367                        Dialectology
P368                        Standard language
P375-381                 Linguistic geography

P501-675                 Indo-European philology

P901-1091               Extinct ancient   and medieval languages

PM                          Native American Languages




Primary material is collected in all languages, but predominately in English. The Libraries' aim is to have a least a dictionary, a grammar, and illustrative texts for all known languages that have been written down. Secondary material is collected in English and other European languages, and in lesser-known languages when it is not available in the more widely-known ones.


Chronological Guidelines


There are no chronological exclusions. Materials describing and exemplifying the various periods of development of languages, both living and extinct, are collected (but see above, under language). While there is emphasis on the scientific study of language which began in the nineteenth century, there is also a concern for grammars, dictionaries and other descriptive works from earlier periods.


Geographical Guidelines


Studies and examples of languages from all parts of the world are collected. Due to priorities in the Linguistics Department there is an emphasis on those languages which have few written records or lack standardization (e.g. pidgins and creoles) or which are the concern of the anthropologists (e.g. the Native American languages).


Format of Materials


Monographs and periodicals form the bulk of the collection. Publications of learned societies and of government agencies are acquired. Working papers of university departments and other organization are important. Theses and dissertations are now often available electronically through subscription databases such as Proquest, and therefore will no longer be routinely purchased, but exceptions will be made if it is deemed to be a worthy permanent addition to the collection. Microforms are acquired when the material is not conveniently available in any other form; reprints in book form are preferred.


Collection Priorities


The purpose of the Linguistics fund is to collect materials to support the research of the Linguistics Dept. This fund is relatively modest, and therefore it cannot generally purchase materials related to language specific research that is more appropriately handled by another fund, e.g. English linguistic studies, Slavic, Classical languages, French, Spanish, or East Asian linguistic materials.


Areas in which we are at present strong need to be maintained, and areas in which we are at present weaker need to be strengthened. We continue to collect actively in philosophy of language, phonetics, phonology, syntax, semantics, historical and comparative linguistics, language learning and teaching, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics. However, due to trends in the Linguists Dept., some more traditional areas, e.g. historical linguists are being give somewhat less priority than the more current topics, e.g. psycholinguistics or discourse analysis.



Selection Process


A certain amount of material comes through the North American and British Approval order (at the time of writing this includes some English language materials actually published in the Netherlands). There are no other approval orders embracing linguistics. Most  non-periodical materials purchased on the Linguistics fund are collected on a title  by title basis. The bibliographer also strongly encourages specific purchase recommendations from faculty and students.