Acquisitions and donations

Acquisition policy

Nuffield Library’s collections are extensive and the result of decades of curation and acquisition since the College’s foundation. The research interests of College members past and present have guided the development of the collections and are reflected in the collection’s strengths as a historiographic record of trends in social science thought and research since its foundation.

Subject coverage and priorities for acquisition 

The Library’s overall collection development objective is to collect, record and make available published material in the social sciences to support the research needs of College members, present and future, as well as the courses studied and taught by College members. A listing of topics and areas which are prioritised for acquisition may be found in our full Collection Development Policy.

The areas listed should not be viewed as exhaustive, and the Library will purchase material on any topic related to the social sciences, broadly construed, in order to maintain a wide-ranging collection in anticipation of future research trends, or where the research or teaching needs of College members justify it. College members are welcome to suggest books for purchase via our online form.

In the light of the Library’s role as a guardian of the College’s research, the Library will also endeavour to maintain a comprehensive collection of academic publications by College members and alumni.


Nuffield Library is pleased to accept donations of books which support the study and research needs of College members. As well as collection fit, the prime consideration for accepting or rejecting a donation will be whether the Library already holds a copy of the item. Potential donors are asked to discuss donations with the Director of Library Services before sending material to the Library. The Library is unable to accept:

  • Unsorted boxes of books
  • Anything in poor physical condition which puts existing collections at risk
  • Anything over 10 years old unless it is considered to be of particular interest or value
  • Runs of periodicals

Offers of archive collections are assessed in the light of space constraints and the archive’s acquisitions policy. The Library will only accept material from donors with a substantial connection to the College (eg former or current Wardens or Fellows) or where the material adds to an existing archive collection.

Intellectual Freedom and Censorship

In keeping with the Library’s role as a key support service within the academic life of the College, the management and development of the Library collections is at all times governed by a commitment to intellectual and academic freedom. The Library does not exclude materials because of the ideas or opinions expressed within them, nor does the presence of any particular material within the Library’s collection imply its endorsement of the ideas or opinions that material may contain. The Library’s approach and activities are governed by and subject to relevant policies of the College, as agreed by its Governing Body.

Diversity and Inclusion

Nuffield Library recognises that library collections built over time reflect the interests, views and also the blind spots of previous generations. Material held in the Library’s collection may not be in accordance with changing views; in line with the statement on censorship, the presence of material which may now be considered offensive does not imply the Library’s endorsement of those views.

Nuffield’s collection, with its preponderance of mid-20th century publications and a strong history of traditional approaches to scholarship, has not heretofore paid significant attention to ensuring representation of marginalised groups in the subject matter and authors covered. The Library will address this by embedding the consideration of diversity within all decisions on collection development, and will proactively work to enhance holdings of material on underrepresented groups.