The bulk of the university's sociology collection is housed in the Van Pelt Library. Shelf-list counts (as of November 1991) estimate approximately 60,000 titles in the Library of Congress HM-HX classifications, including periodicals. This does not include the older material classified under Dewey decimal. The strengths of the Van Pelt collection are method and theory, differentiation and stratification, social control and deviance, urbanization/urban studies, medical sociology (in conjunction with the Biomedical Library), sociology of organizations (in conjunction with the Lippincott Library), demography, and socialization and the life course. Areally, North America and South Asia are probably the best represented. Although the largest portion of the sociology collection is in English, the major European and some other languages are represented as well.
The publications of government and intergovernmental organizations which contain primary data and policy information are among the primary resources for a number of subfields in sociology. The University of Pennsylvania is a partial depository for U.S. government documents (43 percent) and for nearly all English language publications from the United Nations and the European Community. A selection of Pennsylvania state documents is also retained. These materials are housed in the Van Pelt, Lippincott or Biddle libraries, depending on the subject matter. A complete set of the Census of the United States exists in Van Pelt. A complete (or near complete) set of the Census of India also exists, along with the Imperial and district gazetteers (on microform). A scattering of other Third World census material is available. Van Pelt has a blanket order for all UNESCO English language books and pamphlets and for English or French periodicals.
In addition, the Van Pelt Library has a number of microform sets covering such diverse topics as the antebellum plantation records of the American south, British birth control ephemera from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Herstory series, U.S. and foreign underground newspapers from the 1960s and 1970s, and Africana studies materials (including parts of the NAACP papers). The work of the Philadelphia Social History Project is archived in the library as well.
Fulltext electronic news resources are an important source of information for sociological research. The Penn Library Web offers networked online access to local, regional, and international newspapers and magazines through Dow Jones Interactive, Ethnic NewsWatch, Contemporary Women's Issues and GenderWatch, LEXIS/NEXIS Academic Universe, and World News Connection. The Penn Library subscribes to Project JSTOR and other scholarly e-journal projects. The eHRAF Collection of Ethnography and its microfiche predecessor Human Relations Area File provide unparalleled access to fulltext scholarly works on ethnics groups within the U.S. and worldwide.
Since the late 1980s, the Penn Library's collection of digital quantitative data resources has been growing. Initial accessions were U.S. Census Bureau decennial census data sets and other CD-ROM-format titles distributed through the federal depository library program. Through the Penn Library Web, Van Pelt Reference has disseminated a variety of numeric information concerning Philadelphia as data extracts and profiles. The Library is currently planning to develop a more complete numeric data service in the near future. The Philadelphia Census Project heralds a likely model for such service, being a web-based GIS/analysis/extraction project collaboratively developed by the Penn Library, the Cartographic Modeling Laboratory of the Graduate School of Fine Arts, and the School of Arts and Sciences.
Bibliographic access to the collection is provided through Franklin, the Penn Library's online catalog. The Van Pelt Library Card Catalog is still needed for locating some pre-1968 materials.
Journal literature bibliography for sociology is provided primarily through the licensed online networked databases Sociological Abstracts and International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, supplemented by Ageline, BioethicsLine, CAB Abstracts, Chicano Database, Congressional Universe, ERIC (Van Pelt Microtext holds the complete ERIC microfiche collection), FRANCIS, ISI Citation Indexes, PAIS International, ProQuest Digital Dissertations, Social Work Abstracts, and Statistical Universe. Relevant free online bibliographic databases linked through the Penn Library Web include Monthly Catalog of US Government Documents, NCJRS Abstracts Database, and Population Index. A major index for urban studies research is Index to Current Urban Documents, held at Van Pelt Reference.
In addition to its links to licensed and free databases, the Penn Library Web provides pages with links to sociology-related web sites relevant to Penn's curricular and research interests and to relevant e-journal pages and subscribed e-journal project sites.