Because of the importance of philosophy to the University's curriculum through much of its history, the Library has a historically strong collection. The core collection in Van Pelt is substantially complemented by those of the hard and life sciences (philosophy of science, bioethics, philosophy of mind), literature (continental philosophy), Biddle law library (philosophy of law), Lippincott Library (business ethics) and Area Studies (Asian Philosophy). The Library aims to acquire all standard critical editions and important current works in both the historical and systematic areas of philosophy.
The Library has strong historical and current collections in traditional fields such as Epistemology, Ethics, History of Philosophy, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Mind and Political Philosophy. In addition, emerging fields such as Applied Philosophy as it relates to ethics, public policy and science are also collected at a high level. Substantial investments in print and online monographs and journals are supplemented by resources such as video as pedagogical and research interests warrant.
The Special Collections Department includes approximately 600 Aristotle and pseudo-Aristotelian texts and commentaries written before 1750, both published and manuscript. The Lea Library is strong in late medieval and Renaissance philosophy. The Yarnall Collection is strong in medieval philosophy and theology. The Schrecker Collection, acquired in 1963, contains 5000 volumes on the history of modern philosophy from Descartes to Hegel, with special emphasis on Leibniz.