Primary users of the library are students, faculties, researchers and government officials usually visit the Institute to receive statistical trainings. Initially the collection development took place by receiving the publications complimentarily and in exchange of the house journal of ISI namely Sankhya: the Indian Journal of Statistics. Premier institutions, learned societies, and government departments of national and international level used to share their publications either as a gift or exchange. In its formative stage, the library began to receive about 400 publications annually. However the budget allocation to purchase books and journals started in the fiscal year 1935-36.
Since then, ISI Library has a well-defined collection development policy that uses multi-prolonged strategies to enrich its holdings. It procures a variety of materials on a regular basis comprising books, journals, reports and data-sheets in print and electronic formats. Its collection of institutional reports/ papers is developed primarily through networking at the local, regional, national and international levels. Beside subscribed materials, the library also receives relevant material gifted by individuals and organizations only on the thrust subject areas viz. mathematics, statistics, computer science, economics, physics, biology, geology, operation research and allied disciplines.
Apart from the above, the library holds a few special collections. If the wealth of an academic institute lies beyond the depth of its coffers into the richness of its scholarship, then Professor Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis (founder of the Institute) is a major benefactor to the ISI Library; who donated many books and journals during his lifetime. However, after his death (in 1972), the Library took possession of his remaining personal collection (nearly 4000+) housed as P. C. Mahalanobis Collection, located in the First floor.
Dr W. A. Shewhart offered all of his reading materials as a gift to the ISI Library. The Governing Body of the ISI Council accepted the offer in 1965; which formed a special collection, namely “Shewhart Collection” holding about 3060 materials (including 112 reprints of scientific papers of his own, lecture notes, popular talks, and copies of his books). The collection bears testimony to his diverse intellectual interests, extensive reading habits and monumental contributions to scientific thinking and applications. The collection is housed as special collections, on the third floor of the Library.
Currently the library is holding an authoritative collection of information sources; comprising books, journals, reports, data-sheets, etc. These are as follows.
- Printed Books: 138500+
- Electronic Books: 5000+
- Gift & Exchange: 26000+
- Reports & Records: 37000+
- Current Journal Titles: 2300+
- Bound Volume Journals: 80000+
- General & Fiction Books: 35000+
- Project Collection: 3500+
- Doctoral Thesis: 500+
- Microfilm: 1150+
- Reprints: 31000+
- CD-ROM: 950+