Cambridgeshire Libraries Stock Policy

Library stock is both our greatest resource and what we spend the most money on. This stock policy sets out how we manage our stock to best meet the needs of the people of Cambridgeshire. We update it every year.

This webpage shows a shorter version of the stock policy. The full document is available to download as a PDF.

Local Policies and Strategies

The Cambridgeshire County Council's Business Plan is renewed every year. We want the people of Cambridgeshire to live in strong and inclusive communities. To achieve this, the following four objectives have been set:

  • A good quality of life for everyone
  • Thriving places for people to live
  • The best start for Cambridgeshire’s children
  • Zero carbon emissions for Cambridgeshire by 2050

The Cambridgeshire County Council website provides more information about the current business plan.

Stock Management Policy Statement

Stock management is the buying and delivering of all library material to the community. The policy aims to provide a clear and consistent approach in all libraries.

When we are selecting stock, we aim to create libraries that are current and interesting. We want to celebrate books and the written word in a variety of media and formats.

Our customers are the heart of all we do, and stock must be appropriate to the community the library serves.

There are different types of stock purchased for Cambridgeshire Libraries:

  • Fiction books (paperback and hardback)
  • Non-fiction books (paperback and hardback)
  • Large Print & Audiobooks on CD
  • Reference material & Newspapers
  • Digital Resources

Books and information are available for free. Audio stock has a hire charge applied to help pay for it. We track where in the county it is most used, to determine where to send more stock.

Selection Principles

In the spirit of free and informed discussion, library stock presents a wide array of views. This includes religious and political views and topics on which society is divided. We will be sensitive to material that may cause offence. Yet, stock decisions will be made with the assumption adults can critically evaluate the opinions expressed in an item of stock. Censorship will only be used when required by the law.

We endeavour to stock a wide selection of newly published material. As well keeping items with a long-proven popularity or interest available.

Requested items and suggestions for stock are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Physical quality and value for money are considered at all stages of selection.

Selection Criteria and Methods

We use various methods to select stock for the libraries. We are currently using Supplier selection more widely than ever before. This is where we provide a series of parameters to our preferred stock supplier and they use this guidance in selecting stock for us. They review and select forthcoming titles for distribution across the county. These selections can then be reviewed and amended. The parameters will be reviewed on a yearly basis, based on the agreed stock spending plan.

Factors in selection include:

  • Popularity of author, subject or genre
  • Authority and reputation of the author / publisher in the field
  • Underrepresented subject area in current stocks
  • Item fills known stock gap, including new / emerging subjects or topics
  • Item provides value for money
  • Item is part of a proven series
  • Attractive +/or serviceable production
  • Likely and potential use of item
  • Item is new edition, especially in a subject area of rapid change
  • Item presents positive images of stereotyped groups
  • Item reflects social and cultural diversity
  • Language
  • Availability

Factors in rejection may include:

  • Content of the item is of poor quality
  • Content or information is out-of-date
  • Content is prejudicial
  • Poor physical quality, e.g. type, binding
  • Over-represented or a well-covered subject area

Stock is a county wide resource and is not the property of an individual library. Customers can borrow an item from one library and return it to another.

There is a small charge for reserving a book to cover the cost of transporting it to the specified library. This opens access to the entire catalogue for customers across the county. So, you are always able to request the title you want, even if it's not in your local library. So, our catalogue must reflect the wide range of stock available, so it can be of the best use to our community.

Please find full instructions on how to place a reservation, request, inter library loan, and purchase suggestion on our catalogue.

We accept donated materials, but they are subject to the same selection criteria applied to purchased stock. This means we reserve the right to decide the best location for donated stock and dispose of or sell items not required or suitable to add to stock.

We also reserve the right to not accept items that are not required or considered suitable for addition to stock.

Find more information about donating books on our catalogue.

Many traditional reference works are now available online. Instructions and information for all the different resources are linked below.

eBooks and eAudiobooks

eBooks are electronic books supplied by OverDrive and BorrowBox.

eAudiobooks are electronic audiobooks supplied by OverDrive, BorrowBox, and uLibrary.

Publishers have different agreements with different suppliers. Some titles, authors, and publishers are exclusive to one supplier. So, we have multiple suppliers to provide a wider range of eBooks and eAudiobooks.

You can use the library catalogue to search for and borrow all the eBooks and eAudiobooks in one place. If they are not available, you can reserve them by logging in to the individual supplier’s apps or websites.

Find out more.

eMagazines on OverDrive

OverDrive supplies magazines which you can borrow for up to 21 days. These are all simultaneous use, so they can be borrowed by any number of people at the same time. You can borrow them from the Cambridgeshire library catalogue, the OverDrive website, or the Libby app.


PressReader allows you to read the latest and past issues of thousands of newspapers and magazines. Sign in with your library card number to get free access.

Online Databases

Free access to online resources including online dictionaries, encyclopaedias, biographies and newspaper archives. Some of them you can only log in to from a library computer, but some you can use from home if you sign in with your library card number and PIN. There is a list of resources available on our catalogue.

The Business and IP Centre Cambridgeshire has specific databases to support entrepreneurs, inventors and small businesses.

Find our full list of databases online.

We welcome stock suggestions from staff and customers for items that are not in stock. These are subject to the normal stock selection criteria. Please use the Suggest a Purchase form. We receive too many to respond to each customer who submits a purchase suggestion. We order new books suggested by customers a couple of times a month. Titles will appear on the catalogue within 6 weeks if they are being purchased. So, please check back on the catalogue to see whether the book has been added to stock or ask a member of staff to do it for you.