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Anyone who wishes for a detailed insight into acquisition policies is advised to consult the Library's extremely detailed Collection development policy. What follows is a summary of that document, in as far as it pertains to Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan materials.

Libro de tapas de Luis Seoane. Buenos Aires: Botella al Mar, 1954. Waddleton.a.19.7.

Regional studies


Material is acquired extensively in English and Spanish, with selective purchasing of scholarly works in French, German and Italian. Local history is collected extensively for the mediæval and Civil War periods, and for all periods with reference to Catalonia and Valencia, almost all in English, Spanish or Catalan. Areas of particular importance include mediæval Spain (especially editions of original sources), the Spanish Civil War (including urban histories and personal narratives), Franco's Spain and the transition to democracy. Colonial history is collected for Latin America and the Philippines, but not for the colonies in Africa.


Material is acquired extensively in English and Portuguese, but on a very small scale in other languages. Areas of special importance include the 'period of discoveries' (1380-1580), Portuguese colonies, and Portuguese relations with England. Local history is not covered systematically.


Material is collected in Spanish and English. There is special interest in the Aztecs, the period of Spanish conquest, the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) and contemporary Mexico. Local history is collected to provincial and diocesan level. Other subjects covered include agrarian and peasant conditions, religious history, recent economic history (including inflation and debt crisis) and the cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Central America

This has not been a priority area in the past, but there is increasing interest, particularly in publications from Costa Rica and Guatemala.

West Indies

Attention is concentrated on the Commonwealth countries (in English) and on Cuba (in English and Spanish). Other countries are covered only by major scholarly works.

South America

The collection is particularly strong on Simón Bolívar and the wars of independence across South America. Acquisitions are otherwise concentrated on the continent as a whole, and on Argentina, Brazil and Guyana. Other countries are covered only by major scholarly works, usually in English and Spanish, or (for Surinam) in Dutch.

Material is acquired extensively on Argentina in English and Spanish, especially on Peronism, agrarian questions, economic history, new social and religious movements, the Falkland Islands (including Argentine writings, personal narratives and official documents), and the Menem government. Local history is collected to the provincial and diocesan level.

Material on Brazil is acquired in English, Spanish and Portuguese, especially on the Portuguese colonial period, 19th century debate over slavery, the Vargas and Collor periods, agrarian and economic issues, ecclesiastical history and new social and religious movements. Local history is collected to provincial and diocesan level and on the cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Literature and culture

Texts and critical materials are collected in depth for all periods of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American literature. The Catalan intake is less detailed, but is still significant.

One of the most difficult areas of acquisition policy is the formation of a collection of contemporary writers, before history and generations of critics have had the opportunity fully to evaluate their work. For some time, the Library's Western European specialists have been working in close consultation with teaching staff, research students, and in some cases with library suppliers from the relevant countries to draw up lists of literary authors, contemporary philosophers, cultural historians and those active in the visual arts.

Areas where the acquisition of material is particularly strong include: Iberian literature and culture from the medieval period, the Golden Age, and modern times; modern Latin American literature and culture; nineteenth- and twentieth-century Portuguese, Brazilian and Lusophone African literature; and gender and sexuality in Hispanic literature and culture.

The collection contains a comprehensive selection of works by major Hispanic writers, with a special emphasis on authors currently taught or researched at the University of Cambridge. Representative names include: Leopoldo Alas Clarín, Bernardo Atxaga, Calderón de la Barca, Roberto Bolaño, Jorge Luis Borges, Alejo Carpentier, Miguel de Cervantes, Julio Cortázar, Carlos Fuentes, Juan Goytisolo, Juan Marsé, Carmen Martín Gaite, Cristina Peri Rossi, Ricardo Piglia, Juan Rulfo, Francisco de Quevedo, Miguel de Unamuno and Lope de Vega.

In the area of visual culture the emphasis is being placed on photography, art and film. The Library is actively collecting on Spanish and Latin American cinema (with an emphasis on cinema directors Amenábar, Buñuel, Berlanga, Bigas Luna and Almodóvar), Argentine, Colombian and Mexican cinema; television in Spain; or classical and modern art from Iberia and Latin America.


Two subject areas in which Spanish and Portuguese are singled out for particular mention are colonies and colonialism (in the light of the Library's acquisition of the Royal Commonwealth Society Library) and the Roman Catholic Church and the Inquisition (a particular strength of the Acton Library). Other subject emphases include women's studies, agricultural economies and rural sociology (particularly for Mexico and Brazil), inflation (for Argentina, Mexico and Brazil), liberation theology, missions and history of science.