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Kenyon College


Collection Development Policy: Sociology

Social Sciences and Data Librarian

Nathan Wolfe's picture
Nathan Wolfe
Library Mod A
Rm 02
Reference Desk Hours: Friday 1p - 3p
(740) 427-5707

Sociology Collection Development Policy


Collection development in Sociology should support:

  1. The educational needs of students in Sociology courses, from introductory and elective courses through the Senior Exercise, as well as independent study (formal and informal).
  2. The pedagogical needs of the Sociology faculty, as a base for discussions of the literature.
  3. The research and scholarship needs of the Sociology faculty in the context of an undergraduate institution. Specifically, collect appropriate materials for keeping up-to-date with the current work in their fields; materials to help write grants to support academic work; and materials that will assist in the research and publication process. These research needs are addressed as resources allow.
  4. Serve the needs of the College community as a resource for people with general interest in sociology topics.


Sociology involves the systematic examination of human social activity, from everyday face-to-face encounters to the movements of civilizations throughout history. Unlike disciplines that focus on a single aspect of society, sociology stresses the complex relationships governing all dimensions of social life, including the economy, state, family, religion, science, social inequality, culture and consciousness. Its inquiry is guided by several theoretical traditions and grounded in the empirical observation of social reality.

Collection development in Sociology, then, has tremendous breadth, stretching from philosophy and social theory to specific current events. Particular areas of current interest include:

  • Critical Social Theory
  • Comparative and Historical Sociology
  • The Family
  • Globalization, Social Change, and Social Movements
  • Issues of Race, Gender, and Political Economy in American society (together and separately)
  • Legal Structures
  • Organizational Sociology & Sociology of Corporate Life
  • Rural Sociology
  • Sociology of Health and Health Care

The Sociology department is closely integrated with the Rural Life Center, and its collection should reflect this. There is also significant overlap with the interests of the interdisciplinary programs in American Studies, African and African American Studies, Environmental Studies, Law and Society, and Women’s and Gender Studies, all of which also have independent collection budgets.


The Sociology monograph collection should concentrate on scholarly works, but serious books for a general audience may be appropriate, particularly on current social issues. Scholarly journals in sociology are a vital means of communication in the discipline. There is increasing interest in video for use in the classroom, particularly in documentaries and news analysis. Kenyon's collection of central Ohio newspapers is a significant resource for rural sociology and should be maintained (and expanded if possible). Study of social policy often relies on access to U.S. government documents. Some faculty have interest in electronic access to large data sets.


All formats are relevant. Electronic journals offer many benefits and are preferable for some titles, but some major publications should also be maintained in print. Historical materials such as local newspapers may be best preserved (or only available) on microfilm.


Most material should be in English to facilitate use by the majority of students. Works by major social theorists may also be collected in their original language, especially in German or French. Spanish language materials on globalization topics may also be appropriate.


The U.S. is the general geographic area of interest. There is significant interest in rural areas and specifically in Ohio. The curriculum is also beginning to adopt a more global perspective and to focus on other parts of the world. Sociology of health and health care is taught in a global framework; Canada and Western Europe are of particular interest. Social change and social movements is also taught in a global framework.


Emphasis is clearly on the institutions and values of modernity: Western society from the 17th century to the present.


Many Sociology courses examine our society at Kenyon and in Gambier; the Greenslade Special Collections and Archives is one of the best existing resources for research in these courses. Special Collections also collects all faculty monograph publications, as part of the Kenyon Authors collection, and all Honors Theses written by seniors at Kenyon.


Kenyon's connection to the CONSORT and OhioLINK groups is a vital resource in a discipline as broad as Sociology, and students and faculty should be educated about using them effectively. Research on local history may be well served by the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County and the Knox County Historical Society.


Sociology requires high quality classroom resources for multimedia presentations. Ideally, as many classrooms as possible should have projection or large-screen capabilities for an instructor’s computer, a visitor’s laptop, and VHS and DVD. The sociology department currently has two classrooms located in Ralston House. Each room has a computer, VHS/DVD player, a laptop cable, and ability to project displays onto a large screen.

Related to this, faculty and students need access to scanners, video cameras, and digital image and video production software.

Statistical analysis is a significant component of much sociological analysis. Students and faculty need access to SPSS for this purpose. Looking to the long term, it would be desirable to both increase the number of licenses available for lab use of SPSS and begin subscriptions to more of the modules available for SPSS related to data analysis and presentation.

Qualitative analysis is an area of growing interest, and the department is interested in software packages such as QSR NVivo both for faculty and student use.


Created May 2004 by Joseph Murphy, Librarian and Technology Consultant, in consultation with the Sociology faculty.

Updated March 2007, by Jennifer Johnson, Assistant Professor of Sociology, and Julia Glynn, Librarian and Technology Consultant, Liaison to the Sociology Department.


Relevant LC classes include the Hs, particularly HM-HV (social science), B (philosophy), E (American history), and RA (medicine).

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Tel: (740) 427-5186