Special Collections Development

Collection Development Policy Statement


To collect, organize, preserve and offer access to research materials documenting the history, cultural heritage or other special aspects of North Adams.

Responsibility for the Collections

Responsibility for management of the library’s Special Collections within the framework of this policy is delegated to the Library Director and/or Reference Librarian.

Scope and Nature of the Collections

The Special Collections of the North Adams Public Library contain items in a variety of media formats, which are of particular interest to the City of North Adams and its residents past, present and future. The historical collections include, but are not limited to, books, newspapers, periodicals, pamphlets, maps, manuscripts, photographs, portraits, prints, microfilm, microfiche, electronic recordings, broadsides, artifacts of various types, and architectural and engineering plans. Other special collections may be defined by the trustees at the recommendation of the Library Director and/or Reference Librarian.

The primary focus of the collections is the creation and preservation of a permanent record of important events, groups and personalities of the City of North Adams and its surrounding communities, which may be recorded in materials of a local or regional focus.

Primary Areas of Collecting

An active effort is made to add to the recognized strengths of the library’s special collections. The Reference Librarian solicits appropriate gifts, searches the library’s reference and circulating collections for transfers, consults with dealers, and examines publishers’ catalogs and review media for the purchase or acquisition of appropriate materials, such as:

  • Materials that record the history, development, and the current state of affairs of the City of North Adams and its surrounding communities. Images of both local sites and individuals are an important part of this collection.
  • Materials that record the history and ancestry of North Adams families.
  • Materials that contribute to a better understanding of the area’s geography, demographics, culture and architecture.

In the future it may be appropriate to add other categories to this list, either because qualified individuals identify other existing strengths through fresh examination of the collections, or because the addition of materials creates new strengths.

The special collections of the North Adams Public Library are part of the community’s heritage, and are not to be viewed as capital for reinvestment.

Limitations on the addition of materials

Gifts to the library are evaluated under the same conditions as purchased materials. The Library Director and Reference Librarian may decline to accept materials for inclusion in Special Collections any gift of material that seems inappropriate to the collections or that would be more appropriate in another repository. In such cases, the prospective donor will be informed of the purpose and scope of NAPL Special Collections and, if possible, put in touch with a more appropriate repository.

Reasons for not accepting gifts may include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following:

  • Outside the library’s scope.
  • Deteriorated or lacking in physical integrity
  • Cannot be preserved or the library does not have the means to provide preservation / conservation or housing.
  • Inauthentic
  • Duplicate
  • Of doubtful future use to the library
  • Outdated media format

Condition frequently will be a determining factor, as will limited shelving and storage space and limited staff support for processing a sizeable addition to the collections. In such cases, the donor may be asked to support appropriate funding to professionally process and house the donation.

Donors must be informed that library staff cannot provide an appraisal of monetary value of donated materials. Valuation is the responsibility of the donor. However, the library will provide a letter acknowledging the gift and describing the donation.

Donors will be asked to provide written documentation giving the Board of Trustees the right to dispose of the gift as they see fit. At times gifts accepted by the North Adams Public Library may be divided, with portions added to the library’s collections and other portions traded or sold.

Donors also will be asked, when appropriate, to sign a Deed of Gift form transferring not only the physical ownership of the materials to the library, but the intellectual rights as well. While the North Adams Public Library discourages the placement of restrictions on any donations, if there are any they will be noted on this form.

Withdrawing Items from Special Collections

Special Collections will be continuously evaluated to ensure that they continue to fulfill their missions. Primary criteria for withdrawal will be continued application to the scope and nature of the collections. The Reference Librarian may withdraw items of low value. Items of moderate value may be withdrawn by joint decision of the Reference Librarian and the Library Director. Items of major value may be withdrawn only after consultation with the appropriate overseeing board. Withdrawn items may be donated to other, more appropriate repositories, sold, auctioned or otherwise disposed of.

Condition also will be considered as a cause for withdrawal from the collection: If the Reference Librarian and/or Library Director judge items as too fragile or deteriorated to use, they may be withdrawn and, when possible, replaced with duplicate, reformatted or reprinted copies. The librarian may choose to retain or eliminate multiple copies of the same item. The librarian will attempt to isolate and then replace items that show signs of incurable deterioration that could spread to other areas of the collections.

Access to the Collections

The volumes, artifacts, documents and/or the subject areas they represent have permanent value to the community and are made available to the general pubic on a limited basis for serious research on local, genealogical and/or historical issues. Photocopying, scanning or other forms of replication may be done only with the permission of the Reference Librarian, and if permitted will be performed by staff. Guidelines and procedures for using the collections, including permission forms and fee schedules for use for programming or publications, are available from the Reference Librarian.

Items in the Special Collections do not circulate without special permission from the overseeing librarian. However, duplicate copies of published works may be placed in the circulating or reference collections, depending on the material and the needs of library users. Items in the circulating or reference collections are subject to the policies governing those collections but are free of the restrictions placed on Special Collections materials. When materials exist in digital or computer accessible formats, these formats will be used (over printed materials) to preserve the integrity of the collection.