Library Services


Donations Policy

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UCL Library Services is grateful to those who have made donations and who offer unsolicited material to the Library. Many of the items accepted, ranging from individual works presented by the author to substantial collections, would not otherwise be obtained by the Library and these make an important contribution to teaching, learning and research activities at UCL.

Conditions of acceptance

Space constraints and the amount of staffing resource required to record and process donations mean that the Library must be selective in what can be accepted. Once a collection of donated material has been received into the Library, the Library reserves the right to deal with it as it sees appropriate.

Potential donors should be aware that Library Services:

  • can only consider material for inclusion if it falls within the scope of Library Services' Collection Management Policy
  • can only consider material without restrictions on subsequent location, timescale for processing or disposal
  • does not normally accept material in poor physical condition
  • may be unable to accept substantial donations where funding cannot be identified in advance to pay for delivery to the Library and for subsequent cataloguing and processing
  • normally cannot accept duplicate items unless they constitute material identifiably in regular heavy demand, such as that on student reading lists; duplicates discovered after acceptance of collections may be compared with copies already in stock, and only the item in best condition retained
  • normally cannot accept back runs of periodicals that duplicate existing holdings or that are very incomplete
  • reserves the right to dispose of material, either at the time of receipt or subsequently
  • cannot guarantee to house donated items together
  • cannot guarantee to house donated items in a particular collection.

In addition, it may be necessary to decline donations of current periodical subscriptions paid for at the individual subscriber rate, where it is stated that issues are for personal use only and/or where electronic access may only be available to the individual subscriber.


Offers of material to be added to Library stock will be considered by the appropriate Subject or Site Librarian, who may need to consult with the Team Leader or Group Manager over more substantial donations.

Potential donors are advised not to bring materials into the libraries unless acceptance has been agreed.

It is very helpful if a donor can provide a list of the material, so that it may be checked against the Library catalogue before acceptance, or if the Subject or Site Librarian can visit the collection, so that a professional decision may be reached regarding its relevance and value. If Library Services is unable to accept a donation more appropriate libraries may be suggested.


Small numbers of items will be added to stock, catalogued and processed in the same way as purchased items. They can be fast-tracked through the system only if they are currently in demand. Items not in demand and more substantial collections may have to be stored offsite for an indefinite period, until staff are available to deal with them.


Bookplates giving brief details of the donor may be inserted at the discretion of Library Services, e.g. where the materials constitute a substantial donation of exceptional academic relevance.


  • Special conditions apply to sites and collections with national collecting responsibilities. Potential donors should contact the relevant Subject or Site Librarian for guidance.
  • Factors, such as special preservation and storage requirements, may have to be taken into consideration in the case of older/more fragile material.
  • Library Services cannot advise on the value of donations, or of materials that might be candidates for donation.