Classics

Overview

Yale University Library holds one of the oldest and most comprehensive collections in North America, reflecting the historic and continued importance of the study of Greco-Roman antiquity at Yale. The majority of this collection is located in the Sterling Memorial Library and the Classics Library in Phelps Gate. In general, new acquisitions of critical texts, commentaries, and reference works are located at the Classics Library, which is non-circulating, while other acquisitions are shelved at the Sterling Memorial Library.  The Classics Librarian is responsible for collection development for both locations, as well as for the selection of online resources. Some older and duplicate or supplanted materials are located in the Library Shelving Facility. Materials on classical art and archaeology may be located at the Haas Family Arts Library.

Departments/disciplines/programs/subject areas supported

Yale’s classics collections support the current and anticipated research and teaching needs of the Department of Classics and the joint programs in Ancient Philosophy and Classical Art/Archaeology and the Yale Initiative for the Study of the Ancient World (YISAP). These needs are broad, encompassing all the subfields of classics and the study of its reception and requiring materials in all major Western European languages, as well as in Greek and Latin. Interest in Greco-Roman antiquity is widespread at Yale, and the classics collections are also heavily used by students and faculty in the departments of Comparative Literature, History, History of Art, Linguistics, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Near Eastern Languages and Literature;  the Archaeological Studies, Hellenic Studies, Judaic Studies, Medieval Studies, and Renaissance Studies Programs; the Divinity School, the Whitney Humanities Center, and the Yale Museums, as well as visiting researchers. In addition, the library’s classics collections provide essential support to the research of many scholars making use of the Beinecke Library’s holdings. 

Formats collected

Both print and online materials are collected, the latter being the preferred format for serials and bibliographic resources. Audio-visual and microfilm materials, as well as digital media on DVD or CD-ROM, are only purchased upon request or when included with the purchase of material in another format.

Languages collected

Primary material in ancient Greek and Latin and secondary scholarship in English, German, Italian, French, and Spanish are collected extensively. Limited acquisitions are made in other European languages. 

Chronological and geographical focus

Most acquisitions are current publications from North America and Western Europe.  Relevant publications from other regions are acquired in consultation with International Collections librarians. Some retrospective acquisitions are made in response to requests or developing areas of faculty interest.

The collection encompasses publications on the history and culture of the Greek and Roman world from the Bronze Age (c. 1600 B.C) to the end of the reign of Justinian (565 C.E.). Works concerned with the reception of Greece and Rome during later historical periods and in other geographical areas are also collected, as are works in Latin from later periods.

Collaborations within Yale

The Classics collection is developed and managed in regular collaboration with selectors at the Haas Family Arts Library, the Yale Divinity Library, and in Humanities and International Collections at Sterling Memorial Library. Collections supporting the study of Classical Art and Archaeology are built cooperatively with Art and Architecture subject specialists at Haas.  Vendor relations, approval plans, and major purchases are closely coordinated with the Humanities Collections and Research Education Department at SML. The Classics Librarian works with selectors in International Collections and Research Support to obtain relevant publications from outside North America and Western Europe.  In addition, the Classics Librarian cooperates with selectors from Humanities Collections and Research Education and the Haas Arts Library to make the most effective use of restricted funds.

External collaborations

Informal communication with selectors at Princeton, the University of Chicago, and other Borrow Direct Libraries. The holdings of those libraries are taken into account when making selection decisions. 

Subject Librarians: