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Collection Development Policy: Acquisition of Materials

Primary Responsibility

The University Archivist/Special Collections Librarian has the primary responsibility for the collection development of the Archives & Special Collections.


The University Archivist/Special Collections Librarian encourages the involvement of YSU administration, Maag Library staff, History Department faculty, the Youngstown State University Foundation, the Youngstown State University Alumni Association, YSU community, regional community, and Archives & Special Collections patrons in collection development efforts.


Archives and Special Collections materials are normally acquired in the following manner:

  • Donation - Donation of materials is both an active process of soliciting for particular materials and a passive process of accepting materials that are brought into the Archives. The Archives both encourages donation of materials to the Archives and actively solicits for particular materials. It is the Archives' policy to encourage donation of materials that are in keeping with the subject scope of the Archives/Special Collections collection. The Archivist/Special Collection Librarian may accept gifts of materials with mixed historical value if he/she has the right to discard or otherwise remove unwanted items.

    All donations must be represented on a Legal Donor Form (See Appendix 2), which includes a description of the materials; name, address and signature of donor; date of donation; description of any restriction son the use of the donation; and signature of the Archivist/Special Collections Librarian.

    Donations that carry stringent donor restrictions may not be accepted. The Archivist/Special Collections Librarian will determine that the donor has, in fact, the right to make the donation, and that the donation is not encumbered by ethical and legal problems such as authenticity.

  • Transfer of custody - Custodial transfer is the means by which the Department of Archives & Special Collections acquires most university records. Custodial transfer applies only to public records in which legal custody has transferred from one office to another.
  • Purchase - Purchase of manuscript and archival materials is normally discouraged. If a significant collection becomes available only through purchase, such an acquisition must be considered on its own merits. It is important to note that purchase of such materials tends to discourage donations by other potential donors. If more than one institution is involved in bidding for materials, the needs of the patrons may be subverted. For these reasons, purchase of materials is generally limited to commercially published materials only.
  • Deposit - Materials on deposit in the Department of Archives & Special Collections must be covered in a contractual agreement between the University or Archives and the depositing agency. Collections may be deposited in the Department if a contractual deposit agreement has been established and approved by the Archivist/Special Collections Librarian and the Executive Director of Maag Library. Any such collections must be useful to the university and region within the Department of Archives & Special Collections collection scope.


Appraisal is the basis for selecting records and papers that are to be retained in the Department of Archives & Special Collections. Archival Appraisal has been defined as the process of evaluating actual or potential acquisitions to determine if they have sufficient long-term research value to warrant the expense of processing and preserving the collection by the archival repository. Careful appraisal of potential collections is of primary importance in eliminating unwanted materials and unnecessary growth. Before materials are accepted into the Department of Archives & Special Collections, the University Archivist/Special Collections Librarian will conduct a careful appraisal of the materials as a group. Preliminary and subsequent weeding of a record or manuscript group occurs as the materials are being processed. Processing involves further appraisal/weeding, arrangement, description, storage and conservation.

Restrictions on Archival Records

Records that may violate the right to privacy of students or personnel as delineated in the Freedom of Information Act, Ohio Freedom of Information Act, the Federal Records Retention Act, and the Ohio Records Retention Act will not be accepted by the Department of Archives & Special Collections.

Ownership of Archival Records

YSU shall hold title to its non-current records of historical value. These records will be acquired through custodial transfer from various offices either by way of approved records retention schedules or ad hoc transfer of records to the Department of Archives & Special Collections. Papers of individual family and alumni will be acquired through legal donation. The Department of Archives & Special Collections reserves the right to dispose of materials that do not fit within the mission and goals of the Department of Archives & Special Collections.