Access to the College Green area of campus will be restricted until further notice. Current students, faculty, and staff with a valid Penn card may enter and exit Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center through the Rosengarten Undergraduate Study Center on the ground floor, and may enter and exit the Fisher Fine Arts Library through the 34th Street entrance to Meyerson Hall. See our Service Alerts for details.

Accordion List

The social work collection supports the degree programs of the University's School of Social Policy and Practice and the research activities of the School's faculty. Currently the major emphasis in the curriculum is applied research related to the profession of social work and the broad field of social welfare in both a historical and contemporary frame. Within this context the analysis of social policy and social issues and the investigation and evaluation of a wide range of intervention programs and practices are major concerns. Faculty research focuses on these areas as well.

The School offers the following graduate degrees: Master of Social Work (MSW), Master of Science in Social Policy (MSSP), Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership (MSNPL), Doctorate in Social Welfare (DSW), and Doctorate in Clinical Social Work (CSWE). Students in all programs combine field work in their area of specialization with academic course work. In addition, the School offers over 25 joint degree programs with other departments and schools within the University (e.g. MSW/MS in Criminology, MSSP/JD, and NPL/Master of Environmental Studies) and with other institutions in the area.

In addition, the School partners with other schools within Penn and with local institutions to provide over 20 certificate programs in areas ranging from data analytics to Jewish communal service to global human rights.

There are several research centers at the school, including:

  • Center for Carceral Communities
  • Center for Guaranteed Income Research
  • Center for High Impact Philanthropy
  • Center for Social Impact Strategy
  • Center for Social Mobility and Prosperity
  • Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice and Research
  • Ortner Center on Violence and Abuse

The University's physical psychology collection is housed primarily in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. A substantial portion of the historical collection is housed in LIBRA, including complete and near-complete runs of now-fully online journals. Social work and social policy materials are heavily collected in digital format. Other material also regularly used includes psychology, (BF), sociology (HM-HX), and some public aspects of medicine (RA). Brief therapy is collected under social work, rather than psychology.

The collection is historically strong in American social issues, social policy, and social welfare history, and continues to be so. Nonprofit management is a growing area of the collection and intersects heavily with business-related disciplines. 

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the SP2 programs, students draw upon the resources of the Penn Libraries system as a whole, such as the other social science disciplines in Van Pelt. They draw upon material on health-related issues in Holman Biotech Commons and in anthropology at the Museum Library. Material in health care economics, workplace issues, and management of nonprofits is in the Lippincott Library.

The publications of governmental and intergovernmental organizations which contain primary data and policy information are also very important. The University of Pennsylvania is a partial depository for U.S. government documents which includes important technical reports and federally-sponsored surveys from agencies such as the National Institutes of Health.

The journal collection is strong and includes the core journals as well as most of the other journals included in the two primary databases for the field, Sociological Abstracts (with Social Services Abstracts included as a subfile) and Social Work Abstracts. For consultation of online directories of nonprofit organizations, the Libraries subscribes to GuideStar Pro, Foundation Directory, and Foundation Maps, as well as the demographic and policy data visualization tool PolicyMap. In the closely related field of psychology, a number of databases come from the American Psychological Association: APA PsycInfo (bibliographic index), APA PsycTests (tests and measures index), APA PsycBooks (ebook fulltext), APA PsycArticles (fulltext journal articles), and APA PsycTherapy (streaming video of clinical and counseling content) are among those included. Of equal importance are databases in medicine, such as access to MEDLINE via PubMed+ and Ovid, which we provide. Other interdisciplinary and related databases include PAIS Index, Policy File, ERIC, Education Source, CINAHL, and other interdisciplinary databases related to business, technology, education, policy, and medicine.

1. Chronological

Chronological emphasis is on current material.

2. Formats

Monographs and serials in hardcopy, microform, and digital formats are all included. Textbooks are an important source in social work because this is where new research and theories are often reported. Directories of social service agencies, public and private, are heavily used. Electronic bibliographic databases and electronic resource sites, e.g. The Encyclopedia of Social Work, are essential.

3. Geographical

Not applicable

4. Language

Although there are no limitations as to which languages the Penn Libraries collects, English language publications dominate the field and represent the largest portion of the collection. Materials in other languages are obtained selectively with particular attention to major historical and theoretical works, areas where Penn has historical strengths or research is ongoing.

5. Subjects

Subjects covered within the Social Work collection generally, but not exclusively, fall under the LC call number ranges below:

  • HN 1-995, Social History and Conditions
  • HV 1-9960, Social Pathology; Social and Public Welfare. Excludes Criminology, Drug Abuse, and Criminal Justice Administration, which are topics covered separately by the Criminology collection development policy.
  • K 797 and KF 738-740, Charitable Trusts