Library policies

Our collections date from the age of the pre-cinema magic lanterns to today’s global entertainment industry, and they include some true one-offs that don’t exist anywhere else.

Our focus is on British film and television, but we have material in over fifteen languages. Our collections include books, journals, annuals, press cuttings, festival catalogues and theses. Researchers, students and film fans of all ages access our resources daily.

Acquisitions policy

  • The BFI Reuben Library collects books, pamphlets, journals and other printed materials, as well as published resources in microform and electronic media.
  • We want the collections to contain the broadest range of information, research and study material for all aspects of the moving image (film, television, video, video games, interactive multimedia, virtual reality, digital) reflecting the cultural, industrial and social impact and influence of the field.
  • The collection has an international scope, but with a particular focus on the moving image in the UK.
  • We choose pieces on the quality of writing, language and level of treatment, and other criteria including currency, accuracy, authority and overlap with other resources in the collections.
  • We also consider whether pieces are useful for enquiry work and provide filmographic detail, because the collections drive everything we do at the library and lots of the BFI’s activity too.
  • We collect every individual BFI publication.
  • We generally keep only one copy of any item.
  • We collect some materials on wider and related subjects (such as radio, mass media and communications, popular culture, advertising, lifestyle magazines) if they’re relevant to our main subject areas.
  • We’ll make an exception to any of these criteria if an item has some unique information (e.g., it’s the only journal from a particular country).

What we don’t collect:

  • Materials in non-Roman alphabets unless it comes with a good translation.
  • Novels, including novelisations.
  • Technical manuals or journals.
  • Children’s books and magazines.
  • TV tie-ins, unless there’s substantial information about an episode, programme or personality, or the visual content has some unique or distinctive information about programming.
  • Fan literature, except as indicative examples.
  • Newspaper and magazine cuttings. We do hold a large collection spanning the years 1934 to the end of 2010 which are all available digitally in the Edwin Fox Foundation Reading Room.
  • Cinema programmes, except as indicative examples.

Donation policy

We welcome donations of material that fit within the scope of our collection priorities. Please check our Library catalogue to find out whether your donation is suitable.

All offers of donations are assessed by our collection librarians. If a donation is accepted, the items are integrated into the Library’s collection and their details added to our catalogue.

If you have materials that you think would be suitable and benefit our collections, please contact us with full details of the items you wish to donate. We are unable to return unsolicited items or items sent for assessment.

Preserving the collections

Why do we need to preserve our collections?

The BFI Reuben Library is a major national research collection. Some of the items we hold are irreplaceable, but we face the same problems as other archives and libraries:

  • We generally have only one copy of our materials, and replacements are sometimes impossible to find.
  • Parts of the collection suffer from brittle paper and have weak bindings.
  • We want everyone to be able to access the collections in the future which means preserving them today.
  • We have limited funds which need to be shared between acquisition and conservation.

How do we try to preserve our collections?

Our collections could be threatened by major events such as floods and fires, but there are other, more gradual things that can damage items. So we always try to:

  • Survey our collections frequently.
  • Devote part of our budget to preservation and conservation.
  • Develop a disaster plan.
  • Store items in the best environment.
  • Set out guidance on good practice.
  • Take care when displaying items from our collection.

How can you help us preserve our collections?

We also need your help preserving the collections:

  • Handle documents carefully and respectfully.
  • Follow the advice of our library staff.
  • Always report damage or other issues to a member of staff.
  • Report vandalism when you see it.

Find out more about our Collection enquiries policy and Donations policy.

  • Collection enquiries policy

    The BFI Reuben Library is committed to assisting visitors and researchers by responding to their enquiries promptly and courteously.

Read more

  • Donations policy

    We welcome donations of material that fit within the scope of our collection priorities.

Read more

Read more

Back to the top

See something different

Subscribe now for exclusive offers and the best of cinema.