Collection Policy for Special Collections & Archives

The Rutgers University Libraries special collections and archives include rare, unique, and specialized materials in a wide range of fields and formats that support the research and informational needs of Rutgers University and the people of New Jersey, as well as those of the broader communities of international scholars and researchers.

The Libraries have twelve special and/or archival collections located in seven different libraries across the library system: Art Library; East Asian Library (Archibald S. Alexander Library); History of Medicine in New Jersey (George F. Smith Library); Institute of Jazz Studies (John Cotton Dana Library); Paul Robeson Library; Performing Arts Library (Mabel Smith Douglass Library); Special Collections and Archives: Archives, Camoes, Maps, Newark Collection, Special Collections Room (John Cotton Dana Library); and Special Collections and University Archives (Archibald S. Alexander Library).

Our overall collection policy is contoured by the university vision, as expressed in its strategic plan, to become one of the foremost research and teaching universities in the nation, and shaped to the goals and aspirations of the Rutgers University Libraries. The responsibility for acquiring materials rests with the curators, special collections librarians, and archivists charged with the stewardship of discrete subject collections within the Libraries. University Archives comprehensively collects records that document the history of Rutgers University, its programs, services, and members of its community, and is the final repository of University Records.


Collecting interests and activities have evolved in response to the mission and evolving research programs at the university, the changing informational needs of the people and institutions of New Jersey, and the availability of scholarly materials. Collecting priorities also reflect the traditional strengths of Rutgers special collections, most notably their exhaustive collections of historical and primary source material about New Jersey and the treasures of the world's foremost jazz collection. Acquisitions are made in all formats, digital and analog, through purchase, transfer, and donation.


The holdings of special collections and archives in the Rutgers University Libraries represent an ongoing conversation among librarians, teaching faculty, administrators, students and various private benefactors within the context of a public university. Special collections and archives at Rutgers welcome donations, providing they meet established collecting criteria that are grounded in a critical analysis of the needs of the university, its various stakeholders, and the Libraries traditional collecting strengths. In accordance with the Libraries policy expressed in the document, "Guidelines for the Acquisition of Gift Collections," the following policies to govern the process of accepting gifts have been adopted.

All donations are reviewed and must be approved by the unit director and the vice president for information services and university librarian. Gifts will be accepted and added to the collections when they are within the collecting scope of the particular collection, have long-term cultural value, or have research significance to the university or to the people of New Jersey. We will not accept gifts if they pose major preservation hazards (e.g., mold, insect infestation, dampness); come with special conditions and constraints that cannot be honored; or require extensive processing or conservation treatment. Wherever possible, in the interest of researchers, special collections and archives will make a collegial effort to direct prospective donors toward a more appropriate institution for materials that do not meet its criteria.

Donations are formalized by a deed of gift signed by the vice president for information services and university librarian and the donor. Donors making a gift work with special collections and archives librarians and archivists and other pertinent Libraries personnel to ensure that rights and responsibilities are properly understood.


Special collections and archives within the Rutgers University Libraries regard deaccessioning as an important element of strategic planning, collection building, and public service. Materials are gathered with the full expectation they will remain in its care in perpetuity. Nonetheless, from time to time it becomes necessary to engage in modest acts of deaccessioning when materials are judged to be out of the collecting scope, when they duplicate items in the collection, or when their physical condition has significantly decayed-with the exception of university records. These are governed by approved records schedules developed by the Records Management Program and University Archives, in conjunction with the creating offices. Deaccessioned materials may be sold, traded, donated, transferred to the general collections or destroyed, as determined by their condition and the circumstances of their removal.