The Library's Collection policy supports our strategic priorities as laid out in the Library Services Strategy 2014 -19

Collections policy

Key principles

We will endeavour to ensure that:

Our collections and information resources support the evolving research, teaching and learning needs of College and the clinical practice needs of our users in the associated NHS Trusts.

We regularly review the collections and information resources to ensure they reflect College's changing needs, continue to represent value for money, remain relevant, offer the best possible user experience and comply with current legal standards.

We work collaboratively with academic departments in the selection and de-selection of information resources.

We welcome suggestions for new information resources. 

Where an item is not available in print or electronically in our collections we will, where possible, supply it via the Document Delivery.

We are fully committed to open access publishing

We will participate in consortia purchasing agreements with other agencies and universities as appropriate.

Selection criteria

Selection criteria differ from one format to another, as well as one subject to another, but our general principles are:

Value for money.

Accessibility standards.

Post-termination perpetual access.

Uniqueness and relevance to a subject and/or inter-disciplinary areas of interest.

Reputation of an author, publisher and/or vendor.

Availability of concurrent usage.

Language, with a preference for English language.

Data and text mining for non-commercial use.

Walk-in user access.

Remote online access for Alumni.

Access and identity management.

Counter-compliance and usage data. 

Inter-library lending.

Licence terms and conditions comply with College policies and UK Law.

Effective 24/7 technical support.


Books (including e-books)

We are committed to the acquisition of books that supports the research, teaching and learning needs of the College and the clinical practice needs of staff in the associated NHS Trusts. We may also buy books of general interest for the Arts and Humanities Collection (Haldane).

We will normally purchase the most recent edition.

Books on reading lists

Academic departments are responsible for providing Library Services with details of recommended readings for new and existing courses, allowing sufficient time for us to order and process recommendations

Based on the reading lists received, we will ensure that there are sufficient books available for the number of students requiring access to them

  • Core reading – essential to the course, all students will need to use this text
  • Supplementary reading – supplementary texts, students are encouraged to use these texts
  • Background reading – additional texts which are suggested for background subject area reading

Library Services will buy multiple copies of an item designated as Core reading. Usually only one copy will be purchased of items designated as supplementary reading. Library Services will enable access to background and supplementary reading list items.


We will evaluate damaged and lost items, replacing those which are in high demand or required for the study and/or research of a particular subject. Items will not normally be repaired.

Online resources

Online resources include e-journals, databases, streaming services, etc. 

Our online resources primarily support the research, teaching and learning needs of College and the clinical practice needs of staff in the associated NHS Trusts.

Where there is no restriction on concurrent usage, our online resources should be available to all authorised users.

We will seek full-text, where this is affordable and available.

As far as possible, our online resources should not be dependent on plug-ins, or additional hardware or software.

Selection and cancellation decisions are made by your librarian.

Where there is a choice of provider or platform, we will select the most suitable based on user experience, cost and inter-operability with other services.

Any College departments wishing to fund a particular resource should contact their librarian to organise the licensing, invoicing and access arrangements.

We will offer remote access to online resources for College alumni, where this is available and affordable.

Where we offer full online access to a journal title, we will not normally keep print copies.

Access to online resources is provided subject to licensing terms and conditions.

Theses and dissertations

This policy covers Imperial College London research and taught course theses and dissertations.    

Theses for research degrees (PhD, MPhil, MD and MS)

Students must deposit a digital copy of their thesis in Spiral.

We will maintain a print reference collection of our past research theses.

Online access will be provided through Spiral. Where theses are not digitised, requests for an online copy can be made via the Document Delivery Service.

Dissertations and projects as part of taught courses (MSc, MBA)

Academic departments maydeposit a digital copy of their students’ dissertations in Spiral.

We will retain existing print copies of dissertations for 5 years. Before disposal we will offer them to academic departments.    

DSc theses

We will add a digital copy of the DSc thesis to Spiral.

DIC theses

We do not accept DIC theses.

Other information resources


We add maps in digital and print formats to the collection where they support current research and teaching needs, or where they meet the selection criteria for the Arts, Humanities and General Interest – Haldane Collection.

Audio-visual material

We acquire material in CD, DVD or digital format where required for coursework.

The Central Library acquires classical CDs/DVDs and film and television DVDs of general interest.

We provide access to a number of online audio and video collections.

Music scores

The Central Library maintains a representative collection of music scores of many major composers. It aims to support learning and teaching. The collection is reviewed regularly to ensure that it meets the College’s evolving requirements for relevant information resources.

Special collections

We have a number of special collections of historical interest. We do not normally add to these collections.


All offers of donations are reviewed by library staff prior to acceptance. Donors should email a list of items to We may accept material that meets our selection criteria:

  • Material on offer must be in good physical condition
  • We cannot accept obsolete textbooks or material in obsolete or inaccessible format

We will not normally bookplate donations.

We will not normally pay for transportation.

Where donations are accepted we reserve the right to later donate them  to other libraries, or to sell or discard items.