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Faculty of Divinity


Collection Development Policy



1.1 The purpose of this Collection Policy Document is to provide a set of guidelines to help in the maintenance and development of the Divinity Faculty Library's collection.

1.2 The policy outlined is an expression of the aspirations for the Library, the fulfilment of which may be influenced by the availability of resources.

1.3 The policy document is not intended as a set of rules, but to complement the knowledge, intuition and expertise of the Librarian and those who make recommendations to her.

Purpose of the library

1.4 The main purpose of the Divinity Faculty Library is to support the teaching and research needs of the members of the Divinity Faculty, both teaching officers and students.

1.5 The Library aims to serve both current needs and anticipate future ones, in particular new courses.

The Collection

Subject areas

2.1 Historically the Library's collection was based around the doctrine, practice and history of Christianity, with special attention to the Bible and biblical studies. Since 1970, the subject range of the Library has been enlarged, with the development of the Theological and Religious Studies Tripos. In terms of current purchasing practice, the core subject fields are:

A. The doctrines, ethical systems and practices of major world religions, in particular: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.
B. The scriptures of major world religions, and commentaries and language studies associated with those texts.
C. The history of religions, and major figures within them, and relevant studies of the societies in which they evolved. 
D. Philosophy, sociology and psychology of religion.
E. Specialist subjects (which may vary from year to year, depending on courses being offered). At the current time these include: holocaust studies, science and religion.


2.2 The Library's purchases are predominantly monographs in English.

2.3 The Library will also buy monographs in non-English languages, in particular in two categories: religious texts in their original languages, Greek and Latin being the most prominent in the current collection; and some studies in French and German. Monographs in other modern languages would not usually be collected. The main exception is in the specific field of Bibles, where the Library has historically collected copies in as wide a range of languages as possible.

Periodicals, magazines and newspapers

2.4 The Library subscribes to periodicals relevant to the subject interests of the Faculty, with particular emphasis on those of use to undergraduates. Some older runs of periodicals are kept, including those which are part of the Lightfoot Bequest. The Library does not subscribe to magazines and newspapers.


2.5 The Library maintains a collection of pamphlets relating to the same subjects as the monograph collection. The Library does not usually keep off-prints.

Multiple copies

2.6 The Library stocks multiple copies of books which are in demand for undergraduate courses.

Photographs and sound recordings

2.7 The Library has not in the past bought sets of photographs or slides: there are however a few groups of slides which have been donated. The Library does not usually buy sound recordings. The Library may buy such material for teaching needs in future, if funding permits.


2.8 The Library includes the library of Bishop J.B. Lightfoot, from a bequest of 1889, and most of the books in the pre-1800 collection are part of this bequest. The Feltoe Bequest of liturgical material, on permanent loan from Clare College, is also held by the Library.

Rare Books

2.9 The Library does not collect rare or antiquarian books, but it does maintain an historic collection, the origin of most of which is the Lightfoot Bequest.


2.10 The Library does not maintain a manuscripts collection. Faculty archive material, no longer required at the Faculty itself, is deposited in the Cambridge collection at the University Library.

Relationship to other libraries

2.11 There are connections with the collections of the University Library and other Faculty Libraries within the university. The Librarian, with advice from members of the Faculty, regularly supplies recommendations to the accessions department of the University Library. There is some overlap (to varying degrees) with the libraries of the following faculties: History, Classics, Oriental Studies, Philosophy, Modern and Medieval Languages, English, Social and Political Sciences, Music, Art and Architecture. The Librarian will seek to liaise where possible with the librarians of these faculties to avoid unnecessary duplication of specialized material.


3.1 The Librarian has the purchasing authority for all material for the Library. She is responsible for maintaining a balance between the competing needs and subject areas, given the finite nature of financial resources. She is answerable in the first instance to the Learning Resources Committee of the Faculty, and beyond that to the Faculty Board.

3.2 The Librarian may order books from publishers' lists and also from second-hand dealers where appropriate. She will use regular suppliers wherever possible in order to make full use of discount offers.

3.3 The emphasis in obtaining books will be on flexibility and speed in responding to reader requests. The Librarian will seek to maintain as simple and fast a system as possible for supplying the Library, particularly for books on recommended reading lists.

3.4 Purchases are also made in response to reading list requirements and specific requests from Library users. Forms are provided in the Library for submitting suggestions, and also recommendations can be made to the Librarian via e-mail or personal communication.

3.5 Occasionally suggestions may be refused if the book requested does not fall within the main parameters of purchasing or if it is too expensive. If appropriate, the Librarian may then pass on the suggestion to the University Library.

Standing Orders

3.6 Historically, the Library has maintained some standing orders to a few publications.

Donations and transfers

3.7 Donations are accepted provided they fall within the general parameters of the collection and at the Librarian's discretion. A condition of 'perpetual retention' may not be imposed by any donor. Transfers from other libraries are accepted on the same basis.


3.8 The Library will replace books which have become damaged by heavy usage, particularly undergraduate texts. Replacements are also bought for books which have been missing for some time, after all avenues for their recovery have been explored.

Reader Requirements

Reference Works

4.1 The Library maintains a collection of reference works for the benefit of all its readers. This includes atlases, dictionaries, encyclopedias, grammars, and concordances relevant to the subject areas listed above.

Books for taught courses

4.2 The needs of undergraduates are a major responsibility of the Library, as the majority of these students are not able to borrow from the University Library. Undergraduate priorities are set texts for Tripos papers and books on recommended reading lists for each paper. The Library aims to be comprehensive in its coverage of these needs and, where appropriate, purchases multiple copies.

4.3 The undergraduate reading lists are reviewed each summer, and sometimes new papers are introduced. Responding to these changes is the priority of the acquisitions policy at the beginning of each new spending round.

4.4 The Library aims similarly to provide set texts and recommended books for taught postgraduate courses.

Books for research

4.5 The needs of members of the Faculty and research students for texts and studies are satisfied within the resources available. Priority is given to primary texts, which will be used by a variety of readers over a period of years. These may be in languages other than English.

4.6 A variety of secondary literature for research purposes is purchased each year. Priority is given to:

    • books specifically requested;
    • books likely to be used by more than one reader;
    • books which are definitive in their field and are likely to be consulted for many years;
    • books in English.

Attention will be given to whether a monograph is available elsewhere in the University if a request is made for a particularly obscure or esoteric study of narrow specialist interest.


5.1 The Librarian may, from time to time, review the contents of a particular section of the Library. After consultation with members of the Faculty in whose subject area the section falls, items may be selected for disposal and withdrawn.

5.2 Books recommended for disposal will be offered to the University Library in accordance with University rules (Ordinances, p 581).


6.1 Books in heavy demand, which have become distressed, may be sent for rebinding. The priority will be books which are out-of-print and those difficult to replace.

6.2 When resources are available, older items may be sent for specialist restoration.

6.3 The Library staff may use their own training for limited restoration of some books.

Electronic Resources

7.1 The Library will encourage readers to use any relevant material networked by the University Library, and to explore the resources of the internet.

7.2 The use of internet resources and networked datasets may well, in the long-term, diminish the need to buy expensive paper works of reference, and periodicals.

7.3 The Library may purchase CDs, where these are not (or are unlikely to be) networked, within the resources available.


8.1 This document will be periodically reviewed and if necessary revised, at the discretion of the Librarian and the Learning Resources Committee.

May 2000 (minor revision, November 2001)