Acquisitions and donations

Acquisition policy

General scope

Nuffield College Library is a social science research library specialising in politics, economics, and sociology. While the Library serves primarily the needs of members of the College, it is also open to academics and graduate students of the University, many of whom also have some borrowing privileges. The Library also houses various special collections and some archives which are of interest to scholars in the wider academic community.

Main areas of colle​ctions 

  • The principal emphasis is on material relating to Britain, the countries of Western Europe, and the North American continent.
  • Academic publications central to the principal subject areas of the College
  • Major journals in the main fields of College academic interest, as agreed with and reviewed by Subject Groups regularly. E-journal coverage is provided by the Bodleian libraries as part of University-wide provision, with some financial contributions from College libraries
  • Official publications in areas of college interest from British government departments, European and International Organisations (eg EU, UN, OECD, ILO)
  • Major international statistical series
  • Bibliographical and reference material where not freely available on the internet
  • A varied range of 'public affairs' material, e.g. on British elections, political parties, Trades Unions and material issued by pressure groups.
  • New major works that relate to our special collections and archives.
  • Books relating to the College Art Collection, the Oxford Collection and items considered to be of more general cultural and political interest to members of Nuffield.

Main exclusions

  • Text books up to and including undergraduate level, unless they are particularly required for Nuffield members preparing teaching material
  • Books which are marginal to current research interests in the College either by virtue of the topic itself or on account of geographical limitations
  • Books in languages other than English, unless in one of the main fields of research covered by the College
  • Very expensive books of more marginal interest that are available elsewhere within Oxford
  • We do not generally buy books about anthropology, criminology, law, psychology or education except where they are of direct importance to politics and government, sociology, or economics.

Geographical spread

As wide as necessary, judged according to the degree of relevance to the research interests of members of the College, and the extent to which it is of value for comparative study.​


The library currently buys books in hard copy. E-journals and e-book subscriptions and packages are acquired centrally by the Bodleian Libraries, subject to current copyright restrictions, and made available for all members of Oxford University. We will not at present buy single-use copies of digital texts for use on e-book readers.


This policy will be reviewed annually by Library Committee. Subject Groups should keep under regular review the areas within their broad fields of study when advising on purchases, and should inform the Librarian of any changes.

​Donations policy

The library is happy to accept donations of books. These will be processed in the following way:

  • Items not already in stock and which are in accordance with our acquisitions policy will be added to stock.
  • Items written by or about members or former members of Nuffield College, and of which we already have a copy in the main stacks, will be added to the ‘Association’ collection (generally no more than two copies in total will be held.)
  • Donors will be recorded as follows on the first page: ‘The gift of John Smith, month, year.’ The name of the donor is also recorded in a field of the online catalogue record.
  • Items already in stock, or not in accordance with our acquisitions policy, will be listed and offered free of charge as follows via regular lists notified on Nuffield College Library web pages:
    • To College libraries in Oxford and other relevant libraries within the Bodleian Libraries.
    • To Nuffield students and Research Fellows in exchange for a donation to Oxfam.
    • If feasible, and falling within their collecting policy, to overseas book collection charities.

If any items still remain, they will be offered for sale to second-hand booksellers periodically. 

Runs of periodicals are not accepted as donations, unless they specifically fill in gaps in existing College collections.

We will attempt to add donated items to library stock as soon as possible, but we are regrettably unable to offer a firm timescale by which donations will be dealt with, as donations processing will be fitted around our regular work.

Potential donors are warmly invited to discuss donations with the Librarian.