This policy supports the Library Services Strategic Plan. Our collections contribute to us achieving our mission ‘To inspire Imperial’s communities of learners and researchers by connecting them to information and expertise’. They are one of the user focused services that we provide and directly support Strategic Priorities 1, 2 and 4.

As the needs of our users change, we continually review and evolve our collections to meet their changing demands. Likewise, as the scholarly communications landscape changes, the way we build and manage our collections is also changing. Therefore, we will review this policy annually to ensure that it reflects most appropriate methods for managing our collections.

Throughout the policy refer to our evaluation criteria, which inform our purchasing and subscription decisions for paid for content and our inclusion of open access resources in our collections. 

Collections policy

Key principles

  1. Our collections and information resources support the research, teaching and learning needs of College communities and provide the evidence base for clinical practice, research, education and management decisions of staff in our partner NHS Trusts.

  2. We regularly review these in line with our evaluation criteria to ensure they reflect College and our partner NHS Trusts’ changing needs.

  3. Selection, retention and withdrawal decisions are made by library staff in consultation with academic departments and NHS representatives where necessary.

  4. We welcome suggestions for new information resources from current students, staff members (including NHS staff) and alumni. All suggestions will be considered in line with our evaluation criteria.

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

  6. We are committed to supporting open access publishing initiatives wherever possible. This includes pledging funds towards making resources open access and incorporating open access material into our collections where appropriate.

  7. We make format choices with the aim of providing maximum availability and accessibility to the full range of our users.

Evaluation criteria

Our evaluation criteria inform our purchasing and subscription decisions for paid for content and our inclusion of open access resources in our collections.  If resources no longer meet these criteria, we may choose to withdraw them from our collections.

  • Relevance and value to our communities
  • Value for money (for paid resources)
  • Accessibility
  • Access to multiple concurrent users rather than single users wherever possible
  • Integration with College authentication systems
  • Favourable licence terms including:
    • walk-in access
    • alumni access
    • post cancellation access

Books and e-books)


Our book collections primarily support the teaching, learning and research needs of our communities.

We will also buy books of general interest for the Arts, Humanities and General Interest – Haldane Collection providing support for Imperial Horizons and recreational reading.

We will normally purchase the most recent edition, unless there is a clear reason why a previous edition is required for teaching or research.

Withdrawal of books

We will withdraw:

  • superseded editions of books, keeping the latest and previous editions regardless of format
  • infrequently used books
  • books in poor physical condition, replacing where appropriate
  • books which no longer support the College's research and teaching
  • resources which no longer meet our evaluation criteria

We have an agreement to send withdrawn books to, however we will occasionally consider applications for donations to charity.

Withdrawal of print journals

We will make withdrawal decisions based on the availability of titles elsewhere e.g. via UKRR (United Kingdom Research Reserve) or as sustainable e-journal backfiles.

Withdrawn print journals will be offered to UKRR.


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.

Material on reading lists must be identified as either core, supplementary or background reading.

  • 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, according to the number of students registered on the module.

We try to obtain core reading material on reading lists in an electronic form wherever possible to ensure ease of access.

Usually only one copy will be purchased of items designated as supplementary reading.

Library Services will usually not purchase copies of items designated as background reading, but we will facilitate access to background reading material wherever possible.

We are responsive to high demand and will purchase further copies of print books if necessary.

Online resources

Online resources include resources such as e-journals, databases, streaming services and e-book collections whether paid for or open access.

  • Selection and cancellation decisions are made by your librarian, in accordance with evaluation criteria.
  • Access to online resources is provided subject to licensing terms and conditions.
  • 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.
  • Departments wishing to fund a particular resource should contact their librarian who can help to organise the licensing, invoicing and access arrangements.
  • We will offer remote access to online resources for College alumni, where this offers value for money and where licences allow.
  • Where we offer full online access to a journal title, we will not normally keep print copies.

Purchasing subscriptions and inclusion decisions for online resources:

  • Suggestions for purchasing or subscribing to paid for online resources are taken by the relevant Subject Librarian to the Content Operations Group. Over a certain monetary value, a recommendation to invest in the resource is escalated to the Content Strategy Group.
  • Suggestions for including open access online resources in our collections is taken by the relevant Subject Librarian. If the resource is cross disciplinary in nature the Subject Librarian will take the recommendation to the Content Operations Group for a final decision.
  • If there are significant questions or concerns about the validity of the publisher or the platform, the relevant Subject Librarian will consult with the OA Team.

Theses and dissertations

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

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

Students must deposit a digital copy of their thesis in Spiral, the College’s Institutional Repository.

Though submission is now digital, we maintain a print reference collection of our older research theses.

Online access to digital theses is provided through Spiral. Where theses are held in the Library in print, and are not currently digitised, requests for a digital copy can be made via the Document Delivery Service.

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

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

DSc theses

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

DIC theses

We no longer accept DIC theses.

Business School Intercalated and Joint Honours projects

The Business School provides Intercalated and Joint Honours projects on CD-ROM each year and they are added to the 24 hour loan collection. We keep 5 years only and dispose of the oldest as the new discs arrive.


Offers of donations should be made by email to, including a list of items (please include the author, title and publication date of the resource as a minimum, and any other details you have available). We will not accept donations left at any of our libraries without prior consent to their acceptance. We will accept material that meets our evaluation 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
  • We cannot guarantee that the Library will keep donated items, we pass on unwanted donated items to

Other information resources


We add maps to the collection where they support current research and teaching needs, or for inclusion in the Arts, Humanities and General Interest – Haldane Collection, providing support for Imperial Horizons and recreational reading.

Audio-visual material

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

The Central Library acquires DVDs of general interest. We will usually not purchase music CDs.

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

Other materials

We will consider purchase requests for other materials. All purchase decisions are at the discretion of the relevant Subject Librarian

Special collections

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