The Spanish program, now part of the University's Department of Spanish and Portuguese, is one of the oldest and most highly respected in the country. The program has a standing faculty of seven and enrolls approximately 15 candidates in the doctoral program. In the very recent past, there were as many as 10 students admitted to the program each year, but due to the pandemic and employment realities, admissions are likely to be reduced to between three and five. The program typically awards 10 undergraduate majors and 50 minors every year, while over 1,600 students take Spanish courses. Spanish also employs about 20 lecturers and visiting faculty. The program's reputation was built on excellence in Peninsular literature — historically, Latin America was less prominent — and particularly on the literature of the Middle Ages and the Golden Age. Today, all areas and time periods are covered in the curriculum. The concept of literature has been broadened, too, to include significant interest in history, film, women's studies, and cultural studies.

The university has offered introductory instruction in the Portuguese language fairly consistently over time, but instruction and research at higher levels have been intermittent. There is some scholarly interest in other languages and literatures, such as Catalan, Galician, and Valencian, though little formal instruction. Basque is of linguistic interest.

There is graduate and faculty focus on Iberian history, primarily in the early modern and modern period, while medieval history continues to be important. 

The collections in the language and literature of Spain are very strong, appropriate for graduate work and most faculty research. The library's collections cover all periods, although both the program and the library collections were built on the literature of the Middle Ages and the Golden Age. The library has not sought to collect comprehensively, but it has collected at a high research level in nearly all areas, including the latest works of contemporary writers, a category largely ignored through most of the 20th century. Related fields, such as women's studies, cultural studies, and history, are collected more vigorously given the broadening range of interests among literary scholars.

The proportion of Portuguese, Galician, and Catalan titles is small. For Portuguese, the current approach is to acquire a small number of works from all periods. For literature, then, only works by the most prominent writers and classics are acquired and not even these comprehensively. The Library regularly acquires an even smaller sample of works in Catalan, and occasionally in Galician and Basque.  

Special Collections include the Hugo A. Rennert Collection, the basis for an exceptional overall collection in the Golden Age. The Rennert, much of which came from the Salva library Rennert purchased as a student in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, covers a large number of writers and various literary forms from the 16th and 17th centuries. Rennert collected the non-dramatic works of Lope de Vega, mostly first editions, plus a nearly complete set of the 25 volumes of Lope's plays printed between 1604 and 1647. The Lope holdings are unparalleled in this country. Also notable is the collection of 17th-century sueltas, and there are many early editions of the lyric poets and pastoral novels. 

Collections in the history of Spain were relatively strong in the early 20th century, but the importance of the literature program and medieval studies and the library's traditional strengths in late medieval and early modern material ensured that works on medieval, Hapsburg, and Bourbon Spain were selected consistently. The Henry Charles Lea Library, a part of Special Collections, is a significant repository of historical materials, with its primary and secondary sources relating to the history of the Spanish and Roman Inquisition and, more generally, of medieval and Renaissance Europe. Today, the Library collects history more intensively and more widely, including Portugal as well as Spain. 

1. Chronological 

All periods.

2. Formats 

Books, serials, and videos account for most of the material acquired. Streaming video is acquired when possible for instructional purposes. Most books come in paper format, and paper is preferred for literary works. The library acquires works of history and criticism in electronic format, when available and depending, to some extent, on cost. Microform is acquired when necessary. Dissertations (whether from Europe, Latin America, the U.S., or elsewhere) are not normally acquired. The library provides links to sites devoted to Spanish and Portuguese literature, film, and culture, which are included in the Hispanic Studies and Luso-Brazilian Studies guides. Data sets such as textual corpora may be acquired as the need and availability warrants.

3. Geographical 

Primarily Spain, Portugal, and the Americas, though the library acquires imprints from other countries of western Europe.

4. Language 

Principally Spanish, Portuguese and English, but also Catalan, Basque, Galician, French, and Italian, and, more selectively, German.

5. Publication dates 

Emphasis on current materials, with selective retrospective purchasing as required.

6. Open Access 

Products that lead to open access publications and resources receive priority. Proprietary resources in which we would not normally invest receive greater consideration if they support a competitive market with varied publishing models.

The library organizes and maintains collections of subject-based Internet links useful to students and scholars. Sites devoted to the languages, literatures and history of the Iberian peninsula are included in the Hispanic Studies page. 

Puvill Libros provides current imprints in Spanish on Spanish language and literature through an approval plan, though other Spanish dealers also supply the library through their catalogs. The Library also places book orders with the Italy-based vendor Casalini for Spanish, Portuguese, and other Iberian material. Casalini provides a small Portuguese approval plan that covers important new scholarly and literary titles, with particular attention to the Portuguese empire and its activities in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. The major U.S. approval vendor also covers Iberian history and literature.

The library collects heavily in all periods of Spanish literature from the medieval to the 21st century, and from Europe, the Americas, and other parts of the Spanish-speaking world. The library collects Portuguese literature selectively, but treats Portuguese history at the same level as Spanish. Film is heavily collected and, to some extent, retrospectively.

Children's literature, the sciences, translations from other languages.