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  3. Collection Development Policy (Archives and Special Collections)
Library Services

Archives and Special Collections: Collection Development Policy

Statement of purpose

As custodians of the Archive, Library Services is responsible for maintaining, preserving and making the existing collection accessible to staff, students and external researchers.

City, University of London Library Services Archive and Special Collections is a heritage archive documenting the City communities from 1892-2000 (circa) and supporting research into the history of the University. The custodians maintain and provide access to the existing collections and are not proactively collecting or purchasing materials.

Access and use


Library Services will respond to enquiries and requests regarding the Archive and Special Collections. Loans (for exhibition only) will be considered on a case-by-case basis and require approval from Library Services. The Archive operates as a closed collection. Library Services will retreive items for viewing on receipt of research credentials.

Terms and conditions of use

The material in our collections are supplied in line with our terms and conditions for use (see section 6). Library Services does not warrant the reproduction or sharing of content which infringes upon the rights of third parties. It is the requestor's responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright and other use conditions before making use of the content.

Requests to reproduce archive materials require Library Services to initially carry out diligence searches. We require at least 30 working days' notice (or longer depending on the scale of your project and volume of material requested).

Requestors wishing to view archival material must adhere to our handling guidelines (see section 6) to help preserve the materials for future use.

Collection scope and content

Archival collections

As custodians we seek to process and manege archives in the following fields:

Records of City and predecessors (1892-2000 c.), covering all aspects of the establishment and development of the University including

  • foundation documents and University charter, 1966

Governing Body records including

  • minutes (1892)
  • annual reports (1897-2000)
  • various management schemes (1912-1960s)

General administrative records including

  • prospectuses (1930s-1960s)
  • records of prizes, scholarships, and ceremonial occasions, and in-house publications; financial records (1893-1999)
  • estates and buildings records and plans (1892-2000)
  • academic administrative records including departmental syllabusses (1927-1996)
  • research and publications reports (1952-1992)
  • publications (1970-1997)
  • promotional literature (1960s-1990s)
  • lists of students (1899-1960s)
  • staff records (1895-1926)
  • library records (1940s-1990s)
  • Student Union records and records of other student societies (1906-1999) including
    • student magazines (1912-1999)
    • records of staff associations (1950s-1990s)
  • press cuttings (1909-1999)
  • photographs (1892-1999)
  • audio tape recordings of special lectures (1960s-1980s)

Special collections

ALIBONE, Professor Thomas Edward (1903-2003)

Reprints of papers of Professor T E Allibone, describing his research (1934-1979).

BIRLEY, Sir Robert (1903-1982)

Papers of Robert Birley (1924-1981) relating to his writing and speaking activities in the fields of education, including post-World War Two educational reconstruction in the British Zone of Germany; English universities in South Africa and apartheid; human rights issues. The papers comprise letters, manuscripts, typescripts of speeches and articles, related printes material, press cuttings and reprints of articles.

British Computer Society

Papers of the British Computer Society and its library, comprising correspondence, minutes and reports (1966-1977).

Colleges of Advanced Technology: Committee of Principles

Papers of the Commitee of Principles of the Colleges of Advances Technology (CATs), comprising signed minutes (1957-1965), 1960s; CAT Monitor, Newsletter sent to CAT Principles, 1960s; Charters of new universities. 1966.


Notebooks of Philip de la Hay le Marquand (1923-1924) relating to his work on telegraphy, magnetism and electricity at Northampton Polytechnic Institute.


Laboratory reports of A D Roscoe (1945-1951) with portfolio of drawings, relating to his work conducted in the Department of Electrical Engineering, Northampton Polytechnic, London

Aquisition of archive materials

Acqusition and donations

Donations will be considered and assessed on a case by case basis as to whether they are of importance to the history of City. An accession agreement will be signed at the time of acquisition. Library Services must be satisfied that all donors have full authority to deposit items into the archive.

  • Electronic or digital formats cannot be accepted within the Archive.
  • Library Services has the right to refuse items of a specialist nature requiring skills or equipment beyond Library Services' resources to preserve, exploit or interpret.
  • City's administrative records and records post 2000 are separately maintained by the relevant Offices not Library Services.


Library Services will only accept items into the archives which fit the scope of our collections and will make an assessment based on the following criteria:

  • Archival value - enduring significance based on the administrative, legal, fiscal, evidential, or historical information the records contain.
  • Relevance to the archives' collection areas, which include the academic and cultural history of the University and its historical connections with local communities.
  • Attributes such as physical condition, format, extent, and restrictions may effect preservation and access.


Library Services will appraise potential records for inclusion, to assess their enduring value to the archive collection.

Duplicates of existing records will only be accepted on cases there they are in better condition than the existing copy, or where they have been recognised as having significant value for exhibition and outreach activities.

Records which are identified as not meeting the collection development criteria will not be accepted into the Library Services Archives. Where pragmatic, records may be transferred to the Archives for appraisal, however records not subsequently selected for permanant preservation will be returned to the donor, or disposed of.

Collection reappraisal and deaccessioning

In order to maintain and improve the quality of the collection, materials may be retrospectively appraised and deacessioned due to irrelevance, duplication or irreperable condition. Weeding of collections may be carried out to remove ephemera, duplicates or non-archival materials which are not integral to the collection. These activities will be fully documented and carried out with consultation from the relevant departments and Library Services Leadership Team.

Related documents and webpages

Related documentation can be found on the Library Services website.


Material that comes into an archive as a single acquisition is described as an accession. It may be a gift or a purchase, and ownership or copyright may be legally transferred. A number of accessions may form one single collection with shared provenance, e.g. the records of a business may be transferred to an archive over time.
Materials created and accumulated by individuals, organisations or businesses in the course of their activities and retained for usefulness (research) and as evidence (legal).
Assessing a collection to determine its long-term value. This often happens during accession.
Collection (Archive collection)
Documents or materials of any kind that have accumulated as part of the normal activity of an organisation, business or individual and been kept as a unit in an archival repository. Sometimes the term fonds may be used for a collection of material created by an individual person or organisation where the integrity of the whole is important, as it provides contextual evidence for all of the items. A collection may be a single item (letter, diary, film etc) or it may be made up of many items.
Finding aid
A description of an archival collection, to enable the archive to be discovered or the contents within an archive to be identified.
Scope and content
This summarises the range of the materials being described, allowing you to judge the potential relevance of the archival collection. This should provide a general overview of the subjects covered, and highlight significant individuals, organisations, or events represented in the collecion.
This is the act of identifying and removing unwanted materials from a collection. Often an archivist may decide to remove duplicate or damaged documents from a collection, and they would usually include details of this process in their archival description.

Copyright Librarian, reviewed November 2022