Collection Development Policy

Acquisitions Policy

The College Library aims to acquire the most significant books and e-resources needed by undergraduates for the principal papers of the different Tripos subjects, according to the advice given by the Directors of Studies in each subject.

We will also sometimes acquire books with a more specialist readership, or books mainly of value to graduate students, in consultation with Directors of Studies. At present we continue to subscribe to certain key periodicals within the limitations of space and budget.

These books and journals form our core holdings.  In addition, however, we maintain a limited collection of more general materials which enhance the Library as a wider source of reference and which are of general value to all College members.


Donations are considered on their individual merit.  We are glad to accept donations of books that will add significantly to our holdings in Tripos subjects, subject to limitations of space.  The advice of Fellows of the College is normally sought on the usefulness of potential acquisitions within their respective fields of expertise.

We are also glad to accept donations of books written by alumni.  Because of limitations on space in the Library, such books that do not relate directly to the undergraduate curriculum may be located elsewhere in the College and hence may not be readily accessible.

Specialist Collections

Collections offered to the Library are considered on their merits, and are normally acquired on the understanding that unwanted material can be discarded or sold.  Occasionally, the specialist nature of a collection is such that acquiring it enhances the Library’s collections significantly. For instance, a bequest in 2013 by the late Dr Tom Rosenthal of books collected during his career as a publisher and art historian led to the establishment of the College’s new Rosenthal Art Library.  We cannot normally justify the acceptance of collections which duplicate our holdings to any great extent, or which would entail substantial costs by way of repair or conservation or binding (unless the special value of the volumes would justify such expenditure).   It is our normal practice to retain the discretion to dispose of books when consideration of space and usage recommend that course (except where the value of an important collection would be adversely affected by its dispersal). We would dispose of such books either by passing them on to more specialist libraries within the University, or by selling them and using the proceeds to buy new books in the same subject area for the benefit of our students.