Collection Development for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

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Only some aspects of this topic will be covered here. Vernacular literature & art have their own subject guides; the focus is on post-Classical Latin culture, including Christian texts.

US Academic Practice - Monographs are emphasized over articles, and editing of primary sources or collections of articles is not the route to tenure for most scholars. New PhDs are expected to have the dissertation not just done but ready to publish, and articles published by graduate students are useful for job placement. Some institutions expect two published monographs for tenure and promotion. Digital projects too are not always counted toward tenure, but Digital Humanities is emerging as a field of endeavor.

US Publishing Practice - Monographs are favored over collections of specialized essays; & festschriften, essays honoring distinguished scholars, are even less favored. Editions also are not favored. Translations are, but they may not help toward tenure. Some publishers reduce notes to mere bibliographic references, frequently placing them as end notes. Scholars interested in editing texts or pursuing subjects not favored by US presses frequently must publish in Canada or Europe. But some of the best publishers abroad charge high prices for their books.

The move to digital - An increasing number of publishers are providing digital versions of both books and journals, as well as databases. Also, libraries are moving increasingly to e-journals, abandoning print. In addition, older books increasingly appear in Hathi Trust or Google Books, as well as in sites like Gallica and Europeana.

Print Publishing

Specialized publishers

Most are non-US, including:

Boydell and Brewer
Centro Studi Italiani, sull'Alto Medioevo di Spoleto
Italica Press
Leo Olschki
Medioevo Italiano
Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies or PIMS

Some of these may not be covered by smaller approval profiles because of specialization & costs.

Standing orders for major series

Certain series of monographs or editions of primary sources are hard to pick up individually. Libraries might consider placing them on Standing Order with the publisher or a reliable vendor. These series include:

Corpus Christianorum (Brepols) - series for Greek and Latin texts, including ancient and medieval authors (Continuatio Medievalis). The Latin texts also are available online from Brepols.
Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library (Harvard University Press)
I Tatti Renaissance Library (Harvard University Press)
Monumenta Germaniae Historica - also available as dMGH
Studi e testi - Vatican Library - includes editions of Renaissance texts and guides to sources
TEAMS Middle English Texts
Thomas Aquinas, Leonine edition [published in Rome]
Other Voice in Early Modern Europe [University of Toronto Press] - texts by Early Modern women in translation. Successor to the Other Voice series from the University of Chicago Press.

The Medieval Academy of America, the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, the Renaissance Society of America and TEAMS (The Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages) also publish specialized series of texts.

Encyclopedias and handbooks

These are multiple and vary in quality & costs. Among the best of these are:

Dictionary of the Middle Ages and other Scribner Historical Encyclopedias
Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium
Routledge Medieval Encyclopedias [series closed; the volume on medieval warfare was published by Oxford University Press]
Encyclopedia of the Renaissance Praeger

Monographs via Approval Plans

English-language monographs can be covered via Approval profiling with Ingram and YBP. Medieval Studies is treated by vendors as an interdisciplinary category.

Foreign vendors are harder to profile, but note that Harrassowitz & Casalini have profiling mechanisms and online access to titles. Amalivre has a website. It may be hard to distinguish high-value from less desired titles online, so selectors should exercise caution. Do not ignore niche vendors, e.g. Erasmus for the Netherlands.


Note the slowness of most academic reviewing & brevity of Choice reviews. Use reviewing sources like "The Medieval Review [1]" and awareness websites like Feminae [2], which also lists translations and images. Fellow librarians share knowledge readily.

Electronic products

There are Database vendors with specialized medieval or Early Modern interests:


Adam Mathew Digital
Alexander Street Press
Brepols (WESS Sponsor)
ProQuest/Chadwyck-Healey (WESS Sponsor)

Reference tools and bibliography

Brepols (WESS Sponsor) - including The International Medieval Bibliography and Brepols Miscellanea Online

Iter: Gateway to the Renaissance - Iter also hosts additional electronic projects, including the digitized version of Paul Oskar Kristeller's guide to finding Renaissance manuscripts, Iter Italicum.
Oxford Bibliographies Online - Includes bibliographies for Medieval Studies and Renaissance Studies.

There also are individual or small group projects. Some, like Admyte sell a product.
Others are free on the web, like Roman de la Rose and Charette.

Some Society memberships include free or discounted access to Iter, including:

the Medieval Academy of America,
the Renaissance Society of America
and the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference.
The Medieval Academy also can provide discounted access to the International Medieval Bibliography.
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