Supporting the Library

Donating books and items

Donating books and items

Guiding principles

The following guidance is based on the principles outlined in the Library’s Collections Development Policy.

The primary function of the Library is to support the scholarly needs of the junior members of St John’s College.

Donations of books, manuscripts, archival materials, photographs, biographical materials, audio-visual and other items are, in principle, welcomed and accepted as additions to the Library’s collections. In the ancient traditions of generosity towards one’s College, contributions by or from members of the College are especially welcome, particularly where they add to the Library’s well-established collections of works by or about Johnians.

How to offer a donation

Members of the College (or others acting on their behalf) who wish to donate part or all of the member’s own library (or a similar collection belonging to someone else) are encouraged to contact the Library in advance, preferably supplying a list of items proposed for donation. It is Library policy that if possible the books and other materials should be selected for usefulness prior to their arrival in College. If this is not possible, the Library may agree with the donor or his/her family only to accept part of a proposed donation as a memorial to the Johnian (the books to be labelled as such) and may suggest alternative destinations for the rest of a collection.

Considerations affecting acceptance

For reasons of space, the Library's normal policy is to hold only one copy of any title.

Books received in poor physical condition, as determined by the Librarian, are normally discarded unless there is some compelling reason for their retention.                                                                                         

Donations are normally accepted only if they are made without conditions as to their binding, cataloguing, and shelving, but in exceptional cases the Librarian has discretion to accept gifts with conditions attached if the wider interests of collection development are served by so doing.

Unsolicited donations, especially those bearing no direct relation to the College, its members or its existing collections, may be offered to other parties or otherwise disposed of.

It is not Library policy to accept collections or individual items on temporary deposit or loan, except in cases where such provision significantly facilitates the work of members of the College and does not impose an undue burden on Library staff.

All donated materials become the property of the Library on receipt, and once added to the collections are subject to the conditions for retention and disposal outlined in the Library’s Collection Development Policy and in the College’s Standing Orders (C.5.2).

How we acknowledge donations

Every accepted donation will be acknowledged in writing by the Librarian or by a member of the Library staff, and will be reported to the Library and Records Committee. Names of donors may also be included:

  1. on bookplates inserted into donated volumes,

  2. on public catalogue records (in the cases of bequests and/or items classified as special collections), and

  3. in lists of donors printed in College publications such as The Eagle and the Library’s Annual Report.

The Library will respect any written request for full or partial anonymity received from a donor.

Other gifts

Other gifts

The Library is always delighted to hear from individuals interested in supporting innovative projects to enhance our facilities, services and collections. Please feel free to contact the Library ( to discuss possibilities.

If you are specifically interested in supporting the acquisition of new books for undergraduates, please click here to read about our Sponsor a Shelf scheme.


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