Q. Can I donate books to the library?


Since its foundation, the library collection of King’s College London has greatly benefited from generous gifts and donations of printed, manuscript, and other material. Such gifts and donations are immensely valuable in enabling us to support the teaching and research mission of the University and in enhancing the research value of our collections.

As of summer 2018, King’s College London Libraries & Collections is embarking on a major collection management project.

We are assessing our collections, where they are housed and how best to provide access to them.

For this reason, with the exception of Archives and Special Collections, we are currently unable to accept substantial gifts and donations (ie over 100 items) outside our areas of collection strength until the end of 2020.

These areas are:

  • Hellenic Studies (post-classical Greek-speaking world)
  • Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
  • Military history and defence studies
  • International relations and international law
  • History of medicine, dentistry and psychiatry

This does not affect potential donations to Archives or Special Collections – please refer any relevant queries by email to archives@kcl.ac.uk or specialcollections@kcl.ac.uk

Unsolicited donations received by mail or via the library enquiry desks may be placed on the free books trolley at the discretion of library staff.

A large proportion of gifts and donated material is on open access shelving, principally at the Maughan Library on Chancery Lane. Although integrated into the main collection, much of it can be easily identified on the Library catalogue by searching for the name of the donor.

Examples of selected gifts

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Historical Collection

The library collection of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) was transferred to King’s on permanent loan in 2007, comprising over 60,000 volumes of books, pamphlets, reports, typescripts and manuscripts. Of these, around 50,000 are of historical significance and are housed in the Foyle Special Collections library. Further information about the FCO Historical Collection is available here.

The remaining 10,000 items are largely monographs published since World War Two and are currently being added to the main Maughan collection as open access material. The postwar era was a period of great global change, particularly regarding international relations, the gradual decline of the colonial paradigm and the rise of national independence and autonomy movements around the developing world. The postwar FCO collection reflects this immense shift, covering topics such as the Cold War in Europe and the USA, the foundation of the state of Israel, and the rise of the Asian economies. As Empire became Commonwealth, the FCO continued to acquire relevant material up to the beginning of the 21st century, and which is now being made available to King’s students and researchers. Approximately 2,500 items have been catalogued already, including monographs on colonial and postcolonial Africa, contemporary China and the former Eastern Bloc countries.

The Canning House Collection

Described by historian Hugh Thomas as 'one of the jewels of Latin American Studies in the United Kingdom', the library collection of Canning House was transferred to King’s College London Libraries & Colelctions in 2012. With around 54,000 titles, it is the second largest institutional gift collection at King’s, after the library collection of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) which it complements in terms of subject scope and depth.

Canning House maintained its library for over 60 years from its foundation (as the Hispanic and Luso Brazilian Councils) in 1943, and the resulting collection is one of the most important in the UK for Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies. The breadth of subject coverage is extensive: from the physical sciences to law and geography, from folklore and anthropology to the social sciences, from contemporary art to sport and pastimes, the Canning House collection touches on almost every aspect of the civilisation and culture of all of the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries of the world.

It is particularly strong in the areas of history, international relations and, especially, literature. Many of its holdings are hard to find in other UK library collections, some are unique in this country. Around 1,000 titles so far have been designated as material to be kept in the Foyle Special Collections Library at King’s, including extensive holdings of the work of the writers RB Cunninghame Graham and WH Hudson.

Over 15,000 titles have been catalogued and added to the already extensive Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American collections at King’s, held in the Maughan Library. Work is proceeding on cataloguing the remaining titles, with new items reaching the shelves every month. Titles from the Canning House collection have been borrowed over 2,000 times.

For a list of Canning House Collection items added to the Library catalogue, please see the link to holdings here.

The Gunton Collection

Professor Colin Gunton was a leading British theologian and Professor of Christian Doctrine at King’s from 1984. After his death, around 2,000 of his books were donated to King’s and housed at the Maughan Library. The collection reflects Professor Gunton’s research interests in the doctrines of creation and the trinity, as well as his active involvement in the United Reformed Church. Added to the catalogue in 2010-11, it provides an additional resource for students of theology, Biblical studies and Church history.

The Lynn Collection

Professor Martin Lynn was a scholar of British and Nigerian history,  teaching at Queen's University in Belfast. The Lynn collection was catalogued in 2011 and comprises 800 monographs, largely concerning colonial and postcolonial African history, and British imperial history in general. Combined with the FCO collection’s holdings in these areas, King’s subject coverage is now comprehensive and wide-ranging, with many additional copies of well-used texts added to open access shelves.

The Mignucci Collection

This collection of around 7,000 items was given to King's in the bequest of the late Mario Mignucci, formerly Professor of the University of Padua and Research Fellow in Philosophy at King's. Work began on cataloguing the collection, which consists of monographs and journals in philosophy, logic and classics, in November 2008 and was completed 18 months later.

The Mignucci collection is particularly strong in early Greek thought, symbolic and mathematical logic, and modern European philosophy, with publications from throughout the last century largely in English, Italian, French and German. It has proved popular with library users, with many items requested by readers soon after being added to the catalogue. Its addition greatly enhances the already comprehensive holdings in these subjects at King's, with several items unique to UK institutions.

The Sion Collection

Sion College, founded in 1630, is a body of central London clergy which supports the Anglican ministry within the capital by promoting learning and fellowship among the clergy of London. Its members are able to access the part of the Sion College library collection held at King’s.

King’s took the post-1850 half of the Sion College collection in 1996, with the pre-1850 material going to Lambeth Palace Library. The material transferred to King’s is estimated at 65,000 volumes, about 35,000 items of which had been catalogued and processed by the early 2000s. Almost all the theological material has now been catalogued and added to the store in the Maughan Library. Approximately 18,000 volumes are awaiting cataloguing, and cover history, literature (English, Classical and European), travel, economics, archaeology, art and architecture.

  • Last Updated Jun 03, 2020
  • Views 91
  • Answered By Pete Garner

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