Cambridge University Library

Library Collections

The Library is one of six legal deposit libraries in the UK and Ireland. The Library's collections are housed in the University Library and its four Dependent Libraries and comprise over 7 million volumes in total.

For detailed information about the collections held in the library, please view the Library's Collection Development Policy (Under Review).

The Library, by virtue of the legal deposit privilege, acquires almost every book published in the UK or Ireland, irrespective of academic level or intended readership, including children's books, school textbooks, novels, books primarily devoted to pictorial illustrations and books on sport, recreation and other leisure-oriented subjects. For any additional items, purchase decisions are made in the light of the fact that the Library contains this diverse range of material and purchases are concentrated on academic material. The Library acquires original academic works on appropriate subjects and in appropriate languages but does not acquire, except in special circumstances, books at a 'sub-academic' level. Books aimed at college students or undergraduates, including basic textbooks, are not purchased unless the legal deposit collections have failed to satisfy a perceived need. It is occasionally difficult to assess whether a book is a textbook or a work of greater originality. Most purchase decisions are not made on the basis of detailed knowledge of the individual book but on a knowledge of the publisher or author, or on other relevant clues to its quality, level or depth of coverage.

In addition to the general collection and material acquired through legal deposit, the Library holds a number of specialist collections (listed left).