Policy UL-SP03 Special Collections and Commonwealth Campus Libraries

Main Policy Content

  • Purpose
  • Criteria
  • Collection Scope


To state the University Libraries' position on special collections housed at Commonwealth Campus Libraries.


  1. Most special collections belong at University Park, as UP has been the home for this type of primary research material since 1904 and it is where qualified staff and facilities are in place.
  2. For special collections to be located at a campus library, the following considerations should pertain:
    1. Appropriate HVAC conditions and facilities exist.
    2. Sufficient qualified staff to process collections and to provide in depth collection management, preservation, and research services.
    3. Special Collections’ holdings at the campus libraries may fall in one of five categories listed under collection scope (see #4 below): (1) campus history, (2) local community history, (3) special regional interest, (4) donor-mandated, and/or (5) curriculum-specific.
  3. Cataloging and Metadata Services will catalog the collections. They will be accessible via the Libraries’ online catalog and discoverable at the network level.
  4. Funds normally will be managed by the Dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications in consultation with campus librarians and the campus administration, as appropriate.
  5. Selection, organization, and management of campus special collections should be done in consultation with the Head of Special Collections at University Park and the Head of Digitization and Preservation.


There are five types of special collections that Commonwealth Campus Libraries may maintain:

  1. Campus history – Records that relate to the history of the campus or that are created by the administrative and academic offices therein. Commonwealth Campus Libraries should comply with University Policy AD35: University Archives and Records Management and all relevant retention schedules. Commonwealth Campus Libraries can maintain a basic historical overview collection for reference and instructional purposes as well as local public relations. Permanent collections may be transferred to the University Archives at University Park for long-term retention. Commonwealth Campus Libraries can also send duplicate copies of all campus publications, press releases, photographs, audio-visual materials, and administrative records to the University Archives.
  2. Local community history – Records that relate to the history of the geographic region surrounding the campus. The bulk of these collections will be focused on their use for reference and instruction on campus but may also serve to support local community historical research. Commonwealth Campus Libraries should not replicate materials held by viable local historical societies but, when appropriate, may support complementary collections, especially where the history of the campus intersects.
  3. Special regional interest – Records that relate directly to a predecessor institution or family, are identified either by the locale or the region, and/or represent the individual site history. These collections are maintained for their relationship to the campus and are prized for their unique application to that specific location.
  4. Donor-mandated – Records that are placed at the campus library due to a specific requirement within a donor’s Deed of Gift. These types of donations and collections should be minimal at best and reflect the University’s overall mission of teaching, research, service, and outreach.
  5. Curriculum-specific – Material that is selected specifically to augment graduate programs at the campus and is germane to the local curriculum.

Commonwealth Campus Libraries do NOT have to maintain any or all of the above. It is entirely the joint prerogative of the campus Chancellor in consultation with the Dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications. Decisions to create or maintain any of the collections described above should be entered into judiciously with consideration of the staffing, facilities, and descriptive requirements of special collections at any location.

Effective Date: June 9, 2008
Date Approved: June 9, 2008 (Dean's Library Council)

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • June 9, 2008 – Revised to outline types of special collections
  • July 11, 2006 – Revised to reflect campus reorganization
  • June 5, 2000 – New policy

Last Review Date:  November 2009