Clare College Cambridge

Collection Policy


The collection policy is to provide guidelines for the maintenance and development of the Library's collections by indicating priorities and establishing acquisition and de-selection criteria. It is intended as a guide to working practices for the Library staff, and to provide information about the principles on which future development should be founded.


Mission statement


The primary function of the Forbes Mellon Library and the Law Reading Rooms is to support the information needs of Clare undergraduates in all subjects, particularly in Part I of the Tripos.  More specialist material required by Part II and III students and by graduates will be acquired if it is likely to be well used across the board.   




The annual budget for books and periodicals is agreed by the beginning of the financial year. No formal apportioning of funds between the subjects is made, but the Librarian monitors spending to ensure that the budget is spread between subjects as fairly as possible.


Methods of selection of stock for acquisition


Booklists.  Departmental and Faculty booklists are checked against the catalogue on receipt; almost all titles lacking are ordered.  Multiple copies are ordered for titles likely to be in high demand.  


Recommendations Directors of Studies are invited to make recommendations for purchase. Students are also encouraged to suggest new titles by completing a book recommendation form.


Standing orders.  These are placed for certain series where every volume, or almost every volume, would be useful.


New editions.  Updated works are purchased when there has been a substantial revision or when the previous edition has been heavily used.


Periodicals The Library subscribes to very few periodicals with almost all subscriptions being for Law. A small number of popular magazine titles are purchased for general interest.


Reference books.  Dictionaries, style guides, grammars, atlases, encyclopaedias etc. are updated when necessary.


Additional works.  Remaining titles such as those advertised in publishers' catalogues, works by well-known Cambridge authors, works about the city and the university and books for the Guest Room shelves are bought at the Librarian's discretion as funds permit.  


Light Fiction Collection The Library Common Room collection is updated by the addition of donated books.


Non-book material DVDs, CDs and audio books are purchased by the Library as funds permit. Many electronic datasets and journals are available free-of-charge via the University Library.  Subscriptions to online resources such as the Cambridge e-books project are made if the cost can be justified.


Worn and missing books.  These are replaced as necessary.   Books borrowed and then deemed lost by students are replaced and the cost, plus an administration fee of £5, is added to the student’s account at the end of term.


Purchases are made at the discretion of Library staff.  The advice of the relevant Director of Studies is sought for requests for expensive or specialist texts.


Methods of evaluation and disposal of stock


When a new edition is added the previous one is usually retained and any earlier editions are disposed of; the exceptions to this are Law books and reference books where superseded editions are generally discarded when updated.  Books which are no longer relevant to the Tripos, or which have not been borrowed for several years, are also considered for disposal. Items in poor physical condition are removed and a decision made on replacement or disposal. Directors of Studies are periodically invited to review the provision in their subject area to assess the relevance, usefulness and currency of the Library's holdings. Library staff can provide lists extracted from the catalogue ordered by criteria such as usage or dates of publication to assist in de-selection.




The Library is pleased to receive gifts of books or pamphlets written or edited by current and past Fellows of the College. However, offers of other books or collections of books are usually only accepted if they are relevant to the Tripos. It is helpful if those wishing to donate books to the Library contact the Librarian in the first instance with a list of the items on offer for consideration.


All donations have bookplates inserted to identify their source, and are then incorporated within the existing stock as time and space permit. Unsolicited donations that are not required will be offered to other Cambridge libraries if appropriate or will be sold or otherwise disposed of.


Details about the Clare College Family Book Fund with information about how to make a financial donation can be found at our alumni site.

 Endorsed by the College Council 19th November 2012

This policy is subject to review after five years.


If you have an enquiry about the Collection Policy please contact Catherine Reid,

Forbes Mellon Librarian,