Cambridge University Library

Recommendations and new accessions

Legal Deposit

See the Legal Deposit web pages.


The Collection Development and Description Division is responsible for the largest proportion of the Library’s purchases. English Collection Development is responsible for the purchase of English language material published outside the United Kingdom. European Collections and Cataloguing purchases material in all other European languages. The area of responsibility for both departments covers individual monographs and series published after 1900, official publications, and publications on microform.

The responsibility for acquisition of other, more specialist material, is divided between the following departments:

Serials: Periodicals Department
Electronic resources: Electronic Services and Systems
Books published before 1900: Rare Books Department
Maps and atlases: Map Department
Scores: Music Department
Manuscripts: Manuscripts Department
Books in Chinese: Far Eastern Department (Chinese)
Books in Japanese: Far Eastern Department (Japanese)
Books in other non-European languages: Near Eastern & South Asian, Tibetan and Southeast Asian Department

The Division acquires about 35,000 books every year, excluding periodicals, of which about 90% are the result of selection by members of staff of the University Library or come as part of standing orders. 10% of works purchased arise from recommendations made by readers, including faculties and departments of the University.

All purchasing is carried out within the guidelines laid down within the Collection Development Policy which offers detailed information on the Library’s collecting policy by subject, language and physical format.


Readers are encouraged to recommend works for purchase: the preferred means is via the on-line recommendation form. There are also printed recommendation forms available in various locations throughout the Library. It is not always necessary, however, to fill in a form. Divisional staff are happy to accept marked up publishers’ catalogues, booksellers’ lists or prospectuses, or the details of a book simply contained in a letter or note.

Readers are not normally informed that the works they have recommended have been approved, and they may assume that their recommendations have been ordered unless they are notified to the contrary. In fact, relatively few recommendations are rejected, largely on grounds of expense or unsuitability.

Most works recommended by readers are acquired within a few weeks. The Division normally orders from suppliers in the country of publication, as this has been found to be more reliable, as well as offering financial advantages. It does mean, however, that it may take longer to acquire a book than the recommender expects. In addition, because of the amount of material being received, it is inevitable that there is some delay between receipt of parcels and the processing of the books.

If readers wish to enquire about the progress of a recommendation, they should normally first ask the staff in the Main Reading Room, or contact the appropriate language specialist, as shown below:

Mr David Lowe
Tel.: (3)33094
Mrs Vanessa Lacey
Tel.: (7)64197
Dr Gotthelf Wiedermann
Tel.: (3)33102
Ms Sonia Morcillo-Garcia
Tel.: (3)33092
Mr David Lowe
Tel.: (3)33094
Mr David Lowe
Tel.: (3)33094
Mr Christian Staufenbiel
Tel.: (3)33094
Slavonic and Modern Greek
Ms Mel Bach
Tel.: (3)33081
Mrs Bettina Rex
Tel.: (3)33094
Ms Sonia Morcillo-Garcia
Tel.: (3)33092

Readers are also encouraged to talk to the language specialists in person. Dr Wiedermann is located on the ground floor of South Wing and the other language specialists are on the first floor of South Wing. Both departments are open for enquiries from 09.30 to 12.45 and from 14.00 to 17.20, Monday to Friday.

Replacements for lost or missing items

The Library will:

  • Consider for replacement all items reported lost by readers as that information is received
  • Consider for replacement other items officially noted as “missing” two years after that status was assigned  (and apply the same two year window to long overdue items that haven’t formally been recorded as “missing”)
  • Acquire replacements *selectively*, in accordance with the Collection Development Policy
  • Consider all reader requests to replace lost or missing items as they arise, regardless of the above


Readers who wish to donate works to the University Library may address them to Materials Processing or send them to the departments responsible for special collections, as shown above, where appropriate. Materials Processing also welcomes personal callers. Materials Processing is on the ground floor of South Wing and is open for enquiries from 09.30 to 12.45 and from 14.00 to 17.20, Monday to Friday.

The Library has a large collection of printed material relating to the University, the Colleges and associated societies and organisations. It contains much of an ephemeral nature – newsletters, programme cards, agendas, annual reports, menus, etc. – which the Library cannot easily acquire without the help of officers and other members of such organisations. Offers of printed materials of this kind should be made to Materials Processing, whose staff will be happy to advise on such material. The Manuscripts Department will similarly be glad to receive offers of societies’ minute books or other manuscript records for preservation in the Library.

All donations are formally acknowledged. The University Library reserves the right and discretion to accept or discard donations which either duplicate existing holdings or fall outside its Collection Development Policy. In view of the large number of donations received, rejected donations are not returned to their donors, although efforts will be made where possible to find a more suitable library within the University where such donations can be accommodated.