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Romance Languages and Literatures Collection

Larry Busenbark
Romance Languages & Literatures Bibliographer

Collection Overview
The collection seeks to support teaching and research in French, Spanish and Italian languages and literatures by students and faculty in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, and by other university library patrons, including members of the BC community, visiting scholars and the general public.  In addition to the literatures of Italy, Spain and France, the Library aggressively collects major works by the Hispanic authors of the Americas, and the Francophone authors of Europe, Canada, Africa and Asia.  Past and current literary theory and criticism is also actively collected.  Another important area of concentration is cultural studies (including social, political, and linguistic history) of the areas in which these languages are used.

Scholarly works on the Romance Languages (e.g., philology, linguistics) are collected, but language textbooks and language-learning software are not.  Requests for textbooks to be placed on reserve are handled by Course Reserves, and language acquisition materials are available in the BC Language Laboratory.

No limitations of literary genre are imposed.  Conference papers and dissertations are purchased only upon request, when a need is clearly demonstrated.  Visual media (including feature films) are purchased and shelved in O'Neill's Media Center.  Acquisitions in Romance Languages and Literatures are largely monographic, and these are almost exclusively in print format.  Theoretical and critical journals are purchased in print or (increasingly) in electronic format. Most of these are indexed in—and to a large extent made available in full text by—online databases.  The Library currently owns or subscribes to a number of  literature databases that include RLL material.  Additionally, open access resources provide valuable support for researchers. | View selected resources »

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Interdisciplinary Elements of Subject Area
The subject areas of this collection are frequently related to different fields such as history (social history, popular culture), philosophy, fine arts, speech and communication, drama and theater, sociology,  psychology, political science, economics and education.

Formats and Types of Materials
Materials in the Romance Languages and Literatures collection are largely in print format, although periodicals are increasingly purchased in electronic format, and full-text databases are providing access to both primary source and critical materials.  Currently, electronic monographs (e-books) related to RLL study consist almost entirely of reference works (e.g., Cambridge Guides/Companions).  It is anticipated that this trend toward online access will continue and grow, and e-books will eventually become an important element in the collection.

Great emphasis is given to collecting literary works in their original languages.  (English translations of major works may be purchased by the specialist for English and American Literature.)  Critical and theoretical works are collected primarily in French, Spanish, Italian, English, and selectively in other languages. At faculty request, the library is building a collection in Provençal, and Medieval Italian and Spanish works as they are reprinted and made available. 

Geographic Areas

Although Romance culture has by tradition been traced to a European source, the course offerings of the department also take into account the presence of Hispanophone, and Francophone cultures in the Caribbean, South and Central America, Africa and Asia.  Thus, the library's collection is not limited to France, Spain and Italy, but strives to represent Francophone and Hispanophone cultures by inclusion of their major authors.

Time Periods
The primary strength of the course offerings in Romance Literatures is the Early Modern Era (roughly 1500-1800), and this period is the main focus of acquisitions activity for the Library's collection.  Literary works dated from 1800 through the present, and as mentioned above, Medieval works in Provençal, Italian and Spanish are also actively collected.  No chronological limitations are placed on works of literary theory and criticism.

Date of Publication
Current imprints are preferred due to preservation concerns. Modern editions of classics as well as reprints of significant works are also emphasized. When collecting retrospective materials or replacing missing or deteriorated materials, formats with a long expected life, such as reprints on acid-free paper or microforms, are sought.  Increasingly, appropriate retrospective materials are in electronic format.

The quality of the collection is maintained through a continual evaluation of resources in order to identify for withdrawal items that are no longer useful.  Typically, the following categories of materials will be subject to weeding:

  • Obsolete and out of date material.
  • Duplicates (unless in high demand).
  • Badly damaged or worn material.
  • Material available in multiple formats (e.g., print indexes and abstracts that are also available electronically).