Gerald T. Burke, Subject Librarian
I. General Purpose
The University Libraries' fiction collection is developed primarily to support the undergraduate and graduate programs that involve literary study of English language texts. The term "fiction" is used in its most generic sense to include novels, novellas, short stories, and other creative text-based literature that may elude clear classification. "Fiction" includes, for the purposes of this collection, popular fiction and classical literature as well. For example, the novels of Anne Tyler and Virginia Woolf are both considered fiction although the former is generally considered popular and the latter, classic. Some collections differentiate between these two groups; this collection does not make that distinction. The key element that determines inclusion in the collection is its relevance to the literary curricula of the University. The collection is not designed as a leisure-reading collection and is therefore not made accessible with leisure-reading in mind; such use of the collection is completely acceptable--and indeed expected--but leisure-reading needs do not inform the building of this collection in any significant way. Because the collection is designed for academic use, materials are classified within the usual Library of Congress classification scheme; that is, grouped by author with other material by and about that author. Fiction is not shelved separately as many public libraries do; a separate fiction section would inhibit academic use of the material. The Department of English is the primary department whose needs are addressed by this collection. Its curricula in its graduate and undergraduate programs emphasize the ability to read critically and to acquire a sense of how literature relates to the society that produces it. Other departments that have an interest in English language fiction, such as Women's Studies, Africana Studies, and Latin American and Caribbean Studies, benefit from this collection and inform how it is shaped.
Languages: The primary language of the collection is English. There is effort made to collect bilingual editions of materials written by authors from various ethnic groups within the United States. Although the vast majority of material is composed originally in English, there are also efforts to include some fiction translated into English from its original language. Translated material is primarily the responsibility of the subject librarian for the original language; any purchase of translated fiction by the Fiction Subject Librarian is done in cooperation with the Foreign Language Subject Librarian. For example, some material translated from Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other Asian languages is collected in consultation with the East Asian Studies Subject Librarian. There is no attempt made to purchase translations into other languages of works by English and American authors.
The geographic emphasis centers on literature of the United States and the United Kingdom. However, major Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand novelists are included to some degree. There is significant interest in English language or bilingual fiction from Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean and by transnational authors--that is, authors whose nationality crosses conventional boundaries; because of this academic interest, fiction of this type is purchased. There are also attempts made to purchase fiction in English written by the indigenous people of many areas of the world including, for example, Inuit writers of the Arctic region and Pacific Islanders.
Works by ethnic and racial groups within the United States are collected extensively, especially works by African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans. Fiction by U.S. authors of Eastern European, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and East Indian descent is collected as well.
Fiction by women is collected extensively.
Fiction that represents various religious perspectives is collected as well. This includes but is not limited to, material concerning Jewish, Islamic, and Christian traditions among others.
Various specialized genres of fiction are represented in the collection; these include but are not limited to Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery Novels, Historical Fiction, Detective or Spy Novels, and Romance. However, the degree to which material of this type is collected is strictly dictated by how this material supports the academic curricula.
III. Description of Materials Collected
Fiction generally is in monographic format, but may include electronic media. They are generally novels, novellas, and collections of short fiction. However, creative writing that does not fit neatly into these categories may be included.
Critically acclaimed first novels are collected as funds permit. The novels of established writers are collected exhaustively.
Novels, novellas, and short story anthologies that have won literary awards or have received some other scholarly attention are collected. These include but are not limited to winners of the following awards: the Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Booker Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, the Nobel Prize for Literature, the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, the Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award, the Lambda Literary Award, the Nebula Award, and the Whitbread Book of the Year Award.
Thematic anthologies of short fiction are collected extensively, as well as collections of short stories by a single author.
IV. Subject and Collection Levels [Collection Level Descriptions]
If the material is related to women in literature and Twentieth-Century American and British literature, it is collected at the Research Level; otherwise it is collected at the Advanced Study or Instructional Support Level 3c.
V. Other Significant Collections and Resource Sharing
Many local public libraries have extensive fiction holdings; users who wish to attain fiction material that the University Libraries do not have are encouraged to utilize their community library.
VI. Internal Notes
Fiction is purchased from discretionary funds on a title-by-title basis, and from the approval plan from Blackwell North America (BNA). Also, a small amount of fiction is currently provided by our Small Press Distributors approval plan.