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University of Connecticut University Libraries

Collection Development and Access Plan:
Medieval Studies

Prepared by Richard Bleiler, 31 December 2002
DRAFT for review by the Liaison Advisory Team


The purpose of this Collection Development and Access Plan is threefold. First, it is a tool for the Library to become better informed of the information and data needs of the Medieval Studies faculty and students at the University of Connecticut. Next, it will outline how existing local collections, networked electronic services, and document delivery services are being utilized to meet the bibliographic needs of these programs. Last, it is hoped that this plan will provide the Medieval Studies faculty and students, and the library staff a foundation for a dialogue concerning future information needs and areas for cooperation.

For the purposes of this document, the term "medieval studies" should be understood to encompass the period of English and European history lasting from approximately 750 - 1450 CE. English Literature during this time is traditionally separated into Old English (750 - 1150 CE) and Middle English (1150 - 1450 CE), but the Medieval Studies Program at the University of Connecticut is interdisciplinary, studying other cultures and literatures than those of England and the English.

This plan follows the broad guidelines established in Ownership and Access in a Global Information Market: A Framework for the University of Connecticut Libraries, issued by the Chancellor's Library Advisory Committee in March 1999.


  1. Characteristics of the Community
  2. Collections Budget Expenditure Patterns
  3. Current Patterns of Information Service
  4. Emerging Choices

I. Characteristics of the Community

The Medieval Studies Program at the University of Connecticut is an interdisciplinary program utilizing faculty from the Departments of Art and Art History, Modern and Classical Languages (Classical Studies, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, and Spanish), English, History, Music, and Philosophy. These faculty, as well as occasional adjuncts and visiting professors, offer coursework leading to advanced degrees in Medieval Studies.

  1. Degrees and concentrations offered.
    An interdisciplinary M.A. and Ph.D. are offered. Students take courses in three cooperating departments, with a major emphasis in one department or one department area. Undergraduate students at the University of Connecticut can earn Bachelor of Arts degrees from the Departments of Art and Art History, Modern and Classical Languages (Classical Studies, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, and Spanish), English, History, Music, and Philosophy, with a specialization or concentration in Medieval Studies. They are not enrolled in the Medieval Studies Program at the University of Connecticut, but they nevertheless utilize the library resources. Many of the students spend time studying abroad, but instruction is centered at the Storrs campus. Distance education is not yet a significant factor in the activities of the Medieval Studies faculty and students.
  2. Number of faculty and distribution across the system.
    Faculty: 24 (Fall 2002)
    Because the Medieval Studies program is interdisciplinary, its faculty hold primary appointments in other departments.
  3. Numbers of students
    25 graduate students (Fall 2002).
  4. Faculty research areas
    Faculty in the Medieval Studies Program hold primary appointments in other departments according to the following breakdown:
    8 faculty from the Department of Romance and Classical Languages
    5 faculty from the Department of History
    4 faculty from the Department of English
    2 faculty from the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages
    2 faculty from the Department of Art History
    1 faculty from the Department of Philosophy
    1 faculty from the Department of Music
    1 faculty from the Department of Dramatic Arts

II. Collections Budget Expenditure Patterns

Allocated funds for monographs and journals:

Medieval Studies Monographs: $20,000.00, adjusted to $19,000.00. (and other non-serial media)

Serials: $4,500.00 (Data from: staff / data / liaison / Cdev / Allocats / 2002 Allo)

Networked Services: Electronic indexing, abstracting, and full-text services purchased by the Library’s Networked Services budget (not reflected in the above figures) which in some cases significantly support research in the Medieval Studies Program include ABELL, ARTFL Project, MLA Bibliography, GaleNet, Grove Dictionary of Art Online, Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, InfoTrac, Iter, JSTOR, MUSE, Philosopher’s Index, Web of Science, and Women Writers Online.

Electronic indexing, abstracting, and full-text services purchased by Medieval Studies, often in cooperation with other subject areas, include online access to the journal Arthuriana and the databases for Cetedoc, Dictionary of Old English Corpus, International Medieval Bibliography, Middle English Compendium, Opera del Vocabulario Italiano, and Patrologia Latina Database.

III. Current Patterns of Information Service

  1. Characteristics of the Literature

    Medieval Studies researchers require more published primary source materials than almost all other disciplines. Medieval Studies scholars also require a steadily increasing number of scholarly monographs, journals, and electronic resources.

    Although the very notion of "literature" is constantly being re-appraised and re-evaluated, the primary texts of Medieval Studies remain paramount. The traditional concept of the limited canon of literature - a small body of authors and works known and accepted without question or debate as the best, as essential, as a shared resource to which all scholars and critics can make reference and be universally understood - has been redefined and in some areas of study has largely ceased to exist.

    In Medieval Studies, however, there remains the concept of a canon of primary literary texts and authors. There is interest in Christian Latin texts, in medieval religious figures and texts (Aelfric, the Ancrene Riwle, and the writings of Margery Kempe, for example), and in the writings of the Church Fathers (patristics), and all who approach these texts have generally studied and have an understanding of such works as Beowulf, The Wayfarer, The Dream of the Rood, and an appreciation of such authors as Chaucer, Langland, and Malory.

    In Medieval Studies canonistic texts frequently exist in multiple forms, all of which need to be held by the academic library. Piers Plowman, for example, is known to exist in four major, textually distinct versions: the A, B, C, and Z texts. It is by no means unique. Medieval Studies researchers need access to all canonistic texts and their textual variants, and publishers are increasingly aware of this. Variorum editions and editions with elaborate scholarly apparatus are appearing with increasing frequency, as are electronic products (CD ROMS and websites) that present textual variants and hypertext features. The multi-disc Piers Plowman Electronic Archive exemplifies this trend.

    As stated, a canon of medieval primary texts remains, but the scholarly apparatus for approaching and analyzing this canon has changed and continues to change, a trend that is likely to continue. New schools of literary theory have arisen to compete with and occasionally supersede and replace the older schools. The last decade has seen the rise to prominence of such new approaches as Queer Theory, and indeed, the tenets of Queer Theory are being applied to medieval texts, as have the tenets of other schools of literary theory. Because texts can be examined and re-examined almost infinitely, this trend is likely to continue.

    It should also be mentioned that the canonistic texts are no longer being approached in isolation or merely as an exercise to acquire a specialized vocabulary. Medieval Studies researchers now attempt to study a work in situ, and recent research on such a canonistic figure as Geoffrey Chaucer offers insights into medieval law, economics, historiography, psychology, physicality, music, paganism, Islam, and Judaism. Paralleling this, Medieval Studies researchers who wish to eschew humanistic subjects and research such subjects as the medieval social sciences, medicine, and technologies have an increasing number of opportunities for publication.

    Finally, the recognition that a text can be seen a product of its culture has led to the realization that the majority of Medieval Studies researches have traditionally concentrated on Christian texts. This in turn has led to an awareness of and interest in the medieval texts produced by other groups, particularly the Jews and Moslems. Established Medieval Studies journals are increasingly publishing analyses of the texts and the writers originating in non-Christian cultures, and new journals have likewise come into existence to publish these works. Publishers are increasingly issuing works on medieval Islam and medieval Judaism.

    Because Medieval Studies is multidisciplinary and multilingual, the costs of its publications cannot be dealt with in isolation; Medieval Studies publications must be considered as sections of other academic subjects. Nonetheless, since 1997 there have been significant increase in costs in serials in the areas related to Medieval Studies.

  2. Collection Development
    1. Areas of Focus

      To some extent, the areas of focus are determined by the primary appointments of the faculty. Medieval Studies materials are collected in the areas supporting Romance and Classical Languages, History, English, Germanic and Slavic Languages, Art History, Philosophy, Music, and Dramatic Arts.

      Medieval Studies materials are acquired very selectively in the subjects of business and economics, health medicine and health, and medieval sciences and technologies. Every attempt is made to acquire materials requested for purchases in these subjects.

      These focuses may change. If two or three of the Department of English faculty were to retire and be replaced, the new faculty might very well wish to specialize in different areas of Medieval Studies. Similarly, it is not inconceivable that new faculty might be hired with interests in subjects not hitherto supported. The University of Connecticut Libraries will need to consider materials acquisition - specifically books and journals - to support teaching and research in these new areas.

    2. Acquisition Strategies
      1. Monographs

        Peddler (YBP) to supply many new monographs. Because Medieval Studies is multidisciplinary, approval books are received based on the profiles that have been established in other subjects. YBP provides notification slips for items that fall outside these profiles but which may be of interest; titles are selected and ordered from these slips.

        The catalogues of small presses and publishers who do not to discount to YBP or produce fewer than five titles a year are likewise consulted. Specific suggestions from library users, including students and faculty, are always given full consideration.

        Medieval Studies materials tend to have a long shelf-life, but because contemporary publishers are issuing their works in smaller print runs, and because of the changes in academic focus mentioned above, the expenses of supporting collection development have increased.

        Comprehensive collections in Medieval Studies are not feasible, and in areas that are not actively taught, acquisitions are largely limited to historical surveys and to major theoretical works.

        Textbooks, popular reading, guide books, examinations, laboratory manuals, software and hardware manuals are generally not acquired. Dissertations must be specifically requested for purchasing.

        In addition, the sources often relied upon for acquiring supporting monographic materials are:

      2. Kennys Bookshop and Art Galleries (KB) of Ireland for Anglo-Irish publications.
      3. Harrassowitz of Germany for German language publications
      4. Casalini Libri for Italian language publications.
      5. Publishers’ catalogs, notifications, and websites (mostly to identify organizations’ publications such as Brepols, the University of Exeter, and the Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies, all of which publish significant numbers of works devoted to Medieval Studies.
      6. Faculty and graduate student recommendations.
      7. Journals

        New journals in Medieval Studies are generally ordered pursuant to student or faculty request. Although humanities journals tend to be relatively inexpensive when compared with journals in other fields of study, the University of Connecticut Libraries nevertheless require special justification, or evidence of demand from our document delivery statistics, to consider titles from for-profit publishers known for rapidly increasing the subscription costs of their titles. The addition of new journal titles will likely require trade-offs (i.e., cancellations) of currently held titles.

        Some relevant electronic journals come as components of a package; i.e., Speculum comes as a part of the first JSTOR module. The majority of individual electronic journal subscriptions, however, tend to be initiated by recommendation from the bibliographer rather than by requests from students or faculty.

      8. Other Media

        Materials in non-print format - CD-ROMs, videos, DVDs, microformats, etc. - tend to be acquired in a variety of ways.

        CD-ROMs often accompany monographic purchases and are purchased as a matter of course. Some major publications - the aforementioned Piers Plowman Electronic Archive - are published only on CD-ROM. Unless they contain unique data and belong in the Reference Department, most CD-ROMs circulate. Their shelf life is unknown.

        Videos and DVDs are generally ordered pursuant to requests from students or faculty. Their shelf life is unknown, but with the advent and increasing accessibility of DVD technology, video technology may be considered to be increasingly limited.

        Microformat materials tend to be acquired upon recommendation from the bibliographer. Microformat materials are generally ordered when they contain unique material or when paper resources are prohibitively expensive or are somehow unavailable.

  3. Access Development

    In order to assist Medieval Studies researchers to locate the research materials they need, the University of Connecticut Libraries use a combination of local collections, licensed electronic products, subject and program-based web links, current awareness services, and document delivery and interlibrary loan.

    1. Indexes, Abstracts, Library Catalogs and Bibliographic Utilities

      The current compliment of general electronic indexing, abstracting, full-text services, and current awareness services as well as those specific to Medieval Studies (see section Current Library Expenditures, Networked Services) provided by the University of Connecticut Libraries appear sufficient to meet the above stated objective.

      The major indexes, abstracts, and full-text services available to the faculty and students Medieval Studies are, in alphabetical order: ABELL, the ARTFL Project, Cetedoc, the Dictionary of Old English Corpus, GaleNet, the Grove Dictionary of Art Online, the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, the International Medieval Bibliography, Iter, JSTOR, the Middle English Compendium, the Opera del Vocabulario Italiano, the MLA Bibliography, MUSE, the Patrologia Latina Database, the Web of Science, and the Women Writers Online. Some of these have no paper counterparts; others are facsimiles of paper publications. All are electronically accessible and are accessible via hyperlinks from various webpages on the University of Connecticut Libraries’ servers; all are restricted to the University of Connecticut domain (

      Print indexes to a handful of the above products are still being produced but are no longer purchased. They do not appear to be missed.

      Print indexes that have no electronic counterpart are selectively acquired. Chief among these is the annual International Arthurian Society Bulletin/Bibliographique de la Societe Internationale Arthurienne (Ref. Z 8045 I5). This series receives little use, however, and it is hoped that an electronic counterpart will be developed to replace the paper version. (Experiments are being conducted in providing web access to the International Arthurian Society Bulletin, but the results thus far are not promising. (see:

      These resources, taken collectively and used properly, are adequate in providing access to the literature of the discipline. They are also essential for providing access to materials and literatures that cannot be browsed locally but generally can be obtained through document delivery / Interlibrary Loan. It is important that access to them be maintained, for although they overlap at some levels, they nevertheless offer much that is unique.

    2. Electronic Journals, Books and Data

      The University of Connecticut Libraries expect many of its journal subscriptions will be exclusively electronic in the coming years. However, concerns about the permanency and archival access may outweigh the virtues of distributed access. At present the Libraries prefers to rely on electronic provision from only a small number of not-for-profit suppliers, such as JSTOR, which only offers backfiles, or Project Muse, from which the Libraries receive a number of titles that are not duplicated in paper. Despite the planned expansion of both JSTOR and Project Muse, only a small number of Medieval Studies journals are likely to be electronically accessible from these vendors in the near future. It should also be mentioned that although an increasing number of primary texts are electronically accessible, this is not the case with the secondary material, in which the number of electronically accessible journals has remained relatively stable. Providing access to electronic journals is perceived as very important and in the next few years is likely to emerge as one of the highest priorities.

      Although access to electronic journals is very important, there are many concerns about reliable, long-term access to ejournals in Medieval Studies. Many journals are still owned and underwritten by academic departments and special-interest organizations rather than by commercial (professional) publishers. Because these groups are traditionally neither well funded nor heavily capitalized, when economic straits arise, these groups may regard their ejournals as cash cows and raise the costs of subscriptions; or these groups may regard their ejournals as financial drains and refuse to fund them. In order to remain afloat, the ejournal often raises the costs of its subscriptions or changes its focus to reach a wider and less-specialized audience. In both situations, electronic access to the journal is imperiled.

      Directly accessed publisher packages are not relevant for Medieval Studies; none are offered as of this writing. Furthermore, although the Medieval Academy of America, the University of Michigan, and the University of Toronto are all major publishers of journals and materials related Medieval Studies, no single journal publisher dominates the field of Medieval Studies. Thus, any attempt at offering a directly accessed publisher package would have to involve either a consortia of publishers or the establishment of a comprehensive new series of specialized journals whose contents duplicate those being published elsewhere. The former may occur; the latter is likely to be judged as not worth the efforts or costs.

      The Libraries’ electronic journal locator, eCompass, facilitates the identification of specific e-journal titles "owned" by the University of Connecticut Libraries; i.e., accessible via the University internet domain, At the present, no special softwares apart from Adobe Acrobat are needed to access specific e-journal titles.

    3. Other Internet-based resources

      As in other areas of academic study, there are a number of ambitious projects that are attempting to make significant primary sources available via the WWW. The Medieval Studies Library Liaison maintains a web page that organizes and promotes a wide range of electronic resources for Medieval Studies including locally licensed indexing / abstracting services and full-text resources located at /research/bysubject/medistu.htm.

    4. Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan

      The Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan (DD/ILL) services are an integral part of all our collection development and access plans. The data provided by DD/ILL are actively considered in relation to both journal purchase decisions and collection budget planning.

      There were 46,757 DD/ILL requests during the 2001-2002 period. In this period, the Medieval Studies students and faculty used DD/ILL to request 96 journals and 159 monographs. The 251 total requests comprise 0.5% of the total. Furthermore:

    5. 95 of the journal requests came from graduate students.
    6. Only one journal title was requested five times, only two journal titles were requested four times, and most journal titles were requested at most two or three times.
    7. 156 of the monograph requests came from graduate students.

      Several conclusions may be drawn from these data.

    8. Faculty are either satisfied with the book and monograph resources available in The University of Connecticut Libraries or are getting their materials elsewhere. The former conclusion is suspected.
    9. No one journal title is missing from The University of Connecticut Libraries that is necessary to the Medieval Studies students and faculty;
    10. Many of the journal titles indicate international origin and extreme specialization.
    11. The University of Connecticut Libraries’ holdings of Medieval Studies journals appears to be largely satisfactory in providing graduate students with the materials necessary for their researches.
    12. The University of Connecticut Libraries’ holdings of Medieval Studies monographs may not be completely adequate in supporting the research needs of graduate students.

IV. Emerging Choices

Electronic journals
The long-term availability of the key electronic products appears reasonably stable, but the potential exists for some disturbing and disquieting developments.

Access to the International Medieval Bibliography has moved from CD ROM to Web. It is not inconceivable that Brepols, the vendor of the electronic versions of the IMB, will raise the costs of its subscription to the point where usage will be severely curtailed.

Access to a variety of websites listed in the Library Liaison’s webpage for Medieval Studies are free. It is not inconceivable that the owners of the websites begin to charge for access to their data. This too will have the ultimate effect of curtailing the efforts of Medieval Studies researchers.

The University of Connecticut Libraries pay to access a significant number of networked electronic resources: ABELL, ARTFL Project, Arthuriana, Cetedoc, Dictionary of Old English Corpus, GaleNet, Grove Dictionary of Art Online, Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, InfoTrac, International Medieval Bibliography, Iter, JSTOR, Middle English Compendium, MLA Bibliography, MUSE, Opera del Vocabulario Italiano, Patrologia Latina Database, Philosopher’s Index, Web of Science, and Women Writers Online. It is not inconceivable that the costs of accessing these resources will increase even as the libraries’ budget to access them remains flat or is not increased proportionately. Thus, unless special funds can be located, the University of Connecticut Libraries liaison will have to make some very difficult decisions regarding cancellations.

An added expenditure will certainly come with the advent of increases in the number of journals that are available through JSTOR and MUSE. The University of Connecticut Libraries have a firm commitment to these resources, but the ancillary expenses - the costs of such products and services as Serials Solutions and LinkFinder Plus, for example, to say nothing of routine access fees - may curtail research in Medieval Studies.

As in other areas of academic study, concern about permanency and archival access may outweigh the virtues of distributed access. The value of reliable long-term access to journal literature remains great.

Non-print media
Researchers in Medieval Studies have increasing access to non-print media and are increasingly able to rely on audio, video, and e-texts in order to initiate and further their researches. Use of such non-print reference sources as the Dictionary of Old English Corpus, the Middle English Compendium, and electronic versions of print journals as JSTOR and MUSE, are common and unexceptional. Electronic editions of monographs are routinely published through such sources as as well as through individual publishers (i.e., the already mentioned Piers Plowman Electronic Archive). It is likely that the paper version of International Medieval Bibliography will cease to be published, and it will be accessible only through electronic means. However, we will need to closely monitor expenditures in this area so not to seriously encroach on the monograph budgets.

Directly accessed publisher packages of primary texts have not yet proven useful for Medieval Studies. Nevertheless, although no publisher packages of primary texts are offered as of this writing, it is anticipated that this situation will change. It is but a matter of time before well-capitalized or innovative publishers notice the relative success of such CD ROM produces as the Piers Plowman Electronic Archive, recognize that a market exists (or can be generated) for the primary texts, which are all public domain, and begins to offer access to them via the web.

Although non-print media are being increasingly developed and used, there has been no abandoning of the traditional paper resources, nor has there been anything approaching a wholesale abandonment of the traditional indexes used for learning of their availability and for accessing their contents. The indexes and reference tools listed in the body of this document remain essential for research in Medieval Studies.

The future of collecting to support Medieval Studies in a changing information economy

Both continuing inflation in the unit cost of print and electronic publications, and expanding demand for new products and services are anticipated. The University of Connecticut Libraries does not expect the University to solve this problem by increasing the Libraries' share of University resources. However, the Library will lobby for a continuation of the current level of support and an annual base budget increase of 5%. It is recognized that measures of user behavior - circulation by classification and patron affiliation; database use; and ILL/document delivery activity - will play a role in budget decision-making.

The significant evolution in collection development and access patterns requires enhanced communication between library staff and the faculty and students they serve. Ongoing dialogue will help ensure that the best choices are being made and that users are knowledgeable about emerging kinds of library resources in terms of access and intelligent use and the risks involved in some of these choices. The Library Liaison Program will continue to be the primary vehicle for this kind of contact.

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