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Our collections

The Library provides a collection of over 10,000 books to support taught courses, as well as housing the College Archives and Ohtake Collection.


The College Library offers focused provision for the subjects in which the College admits undergraduates and taught MPhil students. Our physical collections include core textbooks, general reference material, selected periodicals and past exam papers.

We update our book stock regularly to make sure students have access to the very latest editions. If you would like to ask us to buy a book for your course, please complete the request form here.

Wellbeing, academic skills and career support

In addition to reading list materials, we have collections of books on wellbeing, life skills, academic skills and transferable skills to support your development beyond the curriculum. These can be found in the Ground Floor Reading Room, on the shelves closest to the entrance. You can browse the collections online.

Recreational reading

We have an informal collection of fiction books which you can take away and read at your leisure. (These are not on iDiscover and you don’t need to check them out on the self-issue machine.)

Electronic resources

We provide access to thousands of ebooks, ejournals and online databases. These are all accessible via our online catalogue, iDiscover. A list of the collections and databases can be found on LibGuides, as well as help with accessing ebooks.

Search our collections

Search and browse all the physical and online collections at Hughes Hall Library (as well as those at faculty libraries, other college libraries and Cambridge University Library) in one place – our online catalogue, iDiscover.

Information about borrowing books can be found on our Using the Library page.

Non-book resources

We also have the following non-book resources available for use in the Library:

  • fully articulated skeletons and a collection of bones and anatomical models for use by our Medical and Natural Sciences students.
  • selection of Shakespeare DVDs
  • phone chargers and plug adaptors
  • assistive study equipment

Please contact the Library Team if you wish to borrow these.

Special collections

The Library is also home to the Ohtake Collection and the College Archives.

Donations of books

We are always pleased to hear from individuals who are considering donating books or other materials to the College Library. Due to space constraints and the staff time needed to process donations, careful consideration must be given to every prospective gift of materials. Therefore, for practical reasons, only those items which meet the selection criteria outlined below will be accepted.

How to offer a donation of books or other items

Potential donors should contact the College’s Library Services Manager in the first instance. Depending on the nature, condition and size of the potential donation, the matter may also be referred to the Senior Tutor.

If possible, potential donors are asked to supply, in advance, a list of those items which they wish to donate. The Library Team, in consultation with the Senior Tutor and appropriate members of the Fellowship, will then select suitable titles from the list of items on offer.

How we select material to add to our collections

Generally, the Library will only consider adding donated materials which meet these criteria:

  • They relate to subjects currently being studied within College by undergraduates and taught postgraduates, or relate to academic skills, transferable skills or wellbeing
  • They are published academic works
  • They are a very recent edition

The Library does not generally accept:

  • Back issues of journals
  • Duplicate copies of textbooks (unless they are current recommended reading)
  • Materials on deposit or loan
  • Unpublished dissertations or theses
  • Items in poor physical condition and/or requiring extensive conservation treatment
  • Items that breach UK Copyright Legislation
  • Any other materials that fall outside our Collection Development Policy

Works of recreational reading (contemporary fiction and recreational non-fiction) may be accepted as space allows.

Potential donors of items relating to the history of Hughes Hall, its properties and its alumni should contact our Honorary Archivist at archives@hughes.cam.ac.uk.

How we acknowledge donations

We insert a bookplate inside the front of donated items to acknowledge the donation. We may also add a donor note to the item’s entry in our online library catalogue, iDiscover.

Retention of donated material

Books received by donation will integrated into the Library’s collections at the discretion of the Library Team.

Whilst every effort will be made at the point of donation to accept only those books deemed relevant to our collections, the Library reserves the right to dispose of unwanted material by whatever methods the Library Services Manager deems most appropriate. Typically this will involve offering them to other Cambridge libraries or passing them to a third-party bookseller to be sold for the benefit of Library funds.

All donated materials become the property of the Library. As a part of the College Library’s collection they may be removed and disposed of at any time in the future according to the Library’s current retention and disposal policy.