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English Portal


Building the Collection

Starting Point for English Research

Burns Library

Manuscript pages of Frankau's novel Shaken in the Wind, Pamela Frankau Papers, MS1995-06, Box 2, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Manuscript pages of Pamela Frankau's novel Shaken in the Wind, Pamela Frankau Papers, MS1995-06, Box 2, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

BC's Burns Library has a great amount of material relating to diverse aspects of English literature and language. To learn more about its collections or if you'd like to talk to a Burns staff member about special collections and/or archival materials to support your research, then please contact the staff at 617-552-4861 or submit a question.

Visit the Boston College University Libraries Hours Page to view the Burns Library's hours.

The Burns Library's entrance is on the side of the Bapst building facing Boston College's main gate on Commonwealth Avenue. Look at this Boston College Chestnut Hill campus map for more detailed information.

Collection Emphases

The primary purpose of the collection is to support the teaching and research needs of the faculty and students in the English Department.
The predominant emphasis of the collection is on the literature in English of the U.S. and Great Britain. However, there is substantial collecting in literature in the English language of other nations. To support the study of literature, primary focus is on acquiring appropriate editions of the actual literary works of major and selected minor authors. Collecting stress is also placed on critical studies and on materials pertaining to such areas as contemporary and past literary theories, cultural studies and literature, religion and literature, race and literature, music and literature, psychoanalysis and literature, feminism and literature, gender theory and literature, bibliography, comparative literature, the history of the English language, creative writing, the cinema and literature, folktales, methods of research, the history of ideas and literature, the pedagogy of literature, rhetoric, composition theory and the teaching of writing, etc.

The English Department has connections with a number of other disciplines including American studies, black studies, theatre, Irish studies, women's studies, medieval studies, education, linguistics, and others. Much of the material purchased from English funds support the literary elements in these disciplines.

Acquisition of E-Books

BC Libraries provide access to hundreds of thousands of books in electronic format, most of which are older works accessible through such databases as Early English Books Online, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, HathiTrust and others. For the discipline of English the Library also purchases in electronic format a growing number of more recently published books. Most of these purchases are reference works and edited books/essay collections. Users generally do not read such works from cover to cover. With respect to reference works users are usually looking for specific information that is rarely more than several pages in length and is easily read online. Edited books/essay collections are quite analogous to e-journals and most patrons are content to read individual chapters and essays online or to read them after having printed them out. The Library, however, is continuing to purchase the majority of English monographs in print; this is still the preferred format. E-monographs are certainly acquired when the benefits of the electronic are greater than the print format or when there is added value in the e-book for the user. Users can always request that a monograph be purchased in e-format.

Acquisition Highlights

  • Hathi Trust
    A digital repository for the nation's great research libraries, HathiTrust brings together the digitized book and serial collections of partner institutions. Over 2.7 million fully searchable volumes in this repository are in the public domain.
  • Nineteenth Century Collections Online  
    Includes monographs, newspapers, pamphlets, manuscripts, ephemera, maps, statistics, and more from the "long nineteenth century".


More on Collections

For information about how the library collections at Boston College are being developed, go to the Collections page.

Help Us Build the Collections

Please feel free to recommend items for the library collections by e-mailing the subject librarian for English: Stephen Sturgeon.