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Criteria for Selection

Within the financial resources available the Library's aim is to acquire to research level in the major European languages in the subjects in which it specialises; to acquire materials required for teaching; and to provide a selection of other relevant publications.

In theoretical subjects (such as economic theory for example) publications are not usually acquired in languages other than English. In historical and descriptive subjects publications in the language of the geographical area concerned are acquired on the same basis as publications in English (as long as the relevant language is a European one) but not usually in other languages.


Our current collecting is focussed around three broad thematic areas (economics and social policy; politics and international relations; equality rights and citizenship). We are particularly interested in the archives of organisations and individuals who have shaped the development of legislation, policy and services at a national level, or significantly influenced the public agenda in other ways. We assess potential acquisitions against a range of criteria, including the informational and evidential value; relationship with our other holdings; collecting strengths of other institutions; physical condition; and resource requirements for processing, storage and access.

Further details are available in the Archives Collection Development Policy [PDF]


Very little, if anything, is unconditionally excluded from consideration, but a pragmatic rule is to exclude works of fiction, books of readings, rehashed material and elementary textbooks,  and also books which are primarily practitioners' tools (unless in each of these cases they are required for essential course reading).

Pamphlets and ephemera

Source material for research in British politics and social affairs includes pamphlets, leaflets, memoirs and all kinds of ephemeral material which may often not be of academic value in themselves but can be of potential importance to academic research. The Library tries to collect as much of this type of material as possible, some of it decidedly ephemeral, and in the case of some propaganda, likely to cause offence to groups of users. In this respect the Library tries to collect opinion and propaganda from all points of view no matter how extreme.


The scope is theoretically as wide as for books but more limited in practice. This is because of the continuing and escalating costs of serial publications. Current policy is to hold periodic reviews of serial holdings to ensure that the most cost effective collection is being maintained for the research and teaching needs of our users. The Library will give priority to acquiring serials in electronic format according to its stated "e-first" policy.

Official Publications

Policy for official publications recognises that government documents are in themselves a source of primary research material by the very nature of their publishers. They are therefore collected extensively for all countries of the world to the same depth as other source materials, and by subject on the same principles as commercially published books and journals.

Coverage of United Kingdom official publications is a top priority. An exchange agreement with the United States ensures an extensive collection of federal government publications. For other countries we aim at completeness in those central government publications which contain economic or social data or illustrate the processes of government and public administration. State/provincial and local government publications are not collected extensively.

Publications of intergovernmental organisations are collected on the same principles as governmental publications although depository and exchange agreements with the United Nations, European Communities, and the Organization of American States, mean that their publications are often acquired beyond our normal subject coverage.


Copies of LSE PhD theses have been historically collected in print. From 2012 electronic copies are increasingly available through LSE Theses Online

Other formats

No distinction is made regarding format of material. The Library will therefore collect relevant material in  print, microform, and digital format.  NB. Materials may be withdrawn if  superseded by new formats (e.g. CD-Rom by web based services), or because of obsolescent technology (e.g. microcards).


Primary material is acquired in microform where existing strengths in the collection can be supplemented.


A small audio-visual collection is maintained largely of material required for teaching purposes.


New maps are no longer acquired, and atlases only selectively.

Electronic information sources

As regards content, electronic information sources are acquired using the same selection criteria applied to other formats. The Library will give priority to acquiring materials in electronic format where this gives:

  • enhanced service quality for our users in terms of access and use of the material
  • value for money for the School
  • appropriate assurances of long-term access to the content

Access is available to most of these sources via the Library Catalogue on the School network.  Some CD-ROMS are available only from the Library Service Counter.

NB. Electronic sources may be withdrawn from the Library if superseded by access format (e.g. CD-Rom superseded by web based service), other eservices, or because of changes in licence terms.


The Library welcomes gifts of books and other materials which support the teaching and research needs of LSE and which fall within the Library's collection development policy.

Anyone wishing to donate materials to the Library should contact the Collection Development Manager. Wherever possible it is very helpful to supply a list of publications for checking. All donations will be acknowledged.

Material which is deemed suitable will be integrated into the collections according to subject. It is not possible, except in exceptional circumstances, to maintain separate collections.

Material may not be accepted for the following reasons:

  • It duplicates items already in stock unless further copies are needed for the Course Collection
  • It is in poor physical condition (i.e. brittle paper, water damage, writing on pages, torn and/or missing pages)
  • Journals may only be accepted if they are full runs or fill gaps in current holdings.

The wishes of donors concerning unwanted items are ascertained and disposals made in accordance with them.