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Department of Communication

D. LaFond, Subject Librarian

I. General Purpose

Communication is a study of the discipline which creates, generates, and transfers a message. It involves all aspects of human interaction, but especially in the interpersonal, intercultural, political and organizational contexts. The general purpose of the University Libraries' collection is intended to support curriculum and research needs for the Department of Communication.

The department offers a B.A. in rhetoric, a B.A. in communication, and an M.A. in communication. The Ph.D. is offered jointly with the Sociology Department. Communication is a primary field within the Doctor of Arts in the Humanities program. The emphasis for undergraduate and graduate studies is on theory and research in the fields of public, political, interpersonal/intercultural and organizational communication. Both levels, undergraduate and graduate, focus upon the social scientific, primarily qualitative, study of communication through analysis of communication systems, processes and effects.

The Department of Communication provides opportunities for advanced study in both theoretical and applied communication. The Department emphasizes the analysis and design of messages and symbol systems and the consequences of particular message strategies in face-to-face interaction, mediated interaction, organizations, and political life. Areas of study include interpersonal and intercultural communication, organizational communication, political communication, and health communication. The Department also focuses on information technology within the aforementioned contexts. The Department also participates in the M.S. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and Master of Arts in Communication Dual Degree. The 33-credit MA program is designed to meet the educational needs of two sets of students: those who wish to advance to a Ph.D. program and those who intend to apply the MA degree in non-academic or two-year college settings. Students with applied career interests are encouraged to use theories and research learned in the classroom within practical settings. Students may fulfill the requirements for the Masters degree either by completing an internship practicum or by working closely with a faculty member in conducting research for a thesis. Students work closely with faculty members in four communication subfields:

  • •Interpersonal and Intercutural Communication Involves the process and effects of communication in personal relationships, groups and organizations, and addresses the influence of different cultural and social backgrounds, including health care contexts.
  • •Organizational Communication Considers the role of messages in achieving coordination and cooperation within organizations and their social and economic environments, through both personal channels and new technologies.
  • •Political Communication Involves methods of stating and defending policy, assessing and responding to public opinion, and exchanging information and decision-making between political figures and their publics. The uses of new technologies in political contexts are featured.
  • •Health Communication Focuses on three levels of health communication: interpersonal (doctor-patient communication); organizational (how health care organizations shape messages); and mass media health campaigns. Of particular interest are ways that health communication shapes, and is shaped by, people's health, and institutional aspects of health care.
  • II. Subject and Language Modifiers

    Language: English is the major language of the collection.

    Geographical Areas: The collection of material for the disciplines of rhetoric and of communication (verbal and nonverbal) is not restricted by any geographical boundaries or any nationalities.

    Chronological Periods: Main concentrations include: rhetoric, argument, persuasion, discourse and communication of the twentieth century.

    III. Description of Materials Collected

    Types of Materials Collected: The collection consists primarily of monographs and serials. It also includes publications relevant to this field of study: government documents, proceedings and papers from national and international congresses and conferences, newsletters and publications of selected organizations and societies, politically relevant videocassettes of broadcasts. Material is collected in both printed format and on microform. Reference material includes indexes (paper), electronic indexes and abstracts, and bibliographies. Dissertations and handbooks are acquired upon request from faculty.

    Periodicals: It is important to emphasize that the field of communication is extremely dynamic and subject to continuous updates and evaluations resulting from the character of human behavior and human interaction. The bulk of the collection acquisitions must, therefore, focus on up-to-date material, i.e. upon periodicals, as the expression of the most current form of publication.

    Types of Materials Excluded: No support is given to textbooks in general communication, although textbooks for technical aspects of telecommunication may be purchased selectively and upon requests from faculty.

    Interdisciplinary Factors: The field of rhetoric and communication comprises other contributing disciplines: psychology, anthropology, business, marketing, management, political science, information science, sociology, and philosophy of language (linguistics). Every effort is made to work cooperatively with subject librarians in those respective disciplines.

    IV. Subject and Collection Levels [Collection Level Descriptions]

    These levels are clearly defined by the RLG Conspectus. Excluding foreign language definitions the ascribed levels reflect current acquisition decisions at SUNY-Albany.

    Rhetoric Instructional Support Level
    Communication Instructional Support Level
    Theory and criticism Instructional Support Level
    Empirical studies Instructional Support Level
    Political Communication Instructional Support Level, Advanced
    Social Psychology Research Level
    Verbal and nonverbal Instructional Support Level
    Telecommunications Minimal Level

    V. Other Significant Collections and Resource Sharing

    The Interactive Media Center houses interactive media of interest to communication students. No other libraries in the area support the Communication program.

    VI. Internal Notes

    The approval plan offers very sparse coverage for communication. Cross-disciplinary titles pertinent to communication have been significantly increased since the 90's. There is some overlap in the purchasing of CSPAN tapes with the Department of Political Science. Some cooperation is recommended with the subject librarian of that area. The library had received a donation of $10,000 for Communication studies materials. Purchases were made in consultation with Communication faculty.

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