Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: Manuscript and Archival Collections in Special Collections

Collection Management Issues

A deeper focus needs to occur in utilizing manuscripts and archival collections in research, curriculum, outreach, and exhibits.  Part of the challenge to this end has in been discoverability of the collections.  MSU is proud to have representatives on both the Technical and User Advisory Councils of ArchivesSpace actively working to improve the development of the open source archival content management database. Additionally, the finding aids will need greater integration into our catalog search results with SearchPlus catalog and greater automation for staff efficiency with the Aeon circulation request system.  Collecting efforts of individuals and organizations need to be reevaluated and actively renewed, since many collections haven't been updated in several years. Other collecting activities need to be proactively sought, including acquiring born-digital records and web resources.  Additionally, the preservation and access of our current holdings of media need to be addressed.  There is also a strong need for providing digitized resources from the collection not only for visual appeal, discoverability, but also accessibility of the collections on behalf of distance researchers or people who are not able to access the physical collections.  To this end, Special Collections is open to partnerships with commercial and non-commercial venues for digitizing our collections.  Through greater integration into curriculum, classroom outreach, exhibits, and social media, these rich collections can be utilized even better.

A. Selection and acquisition of materials

Archival collections, due to their complexity and volume, are much more time- and resource-intensive in processing and so should be acquired with deliberation to what holds enduring historical value and will serve our research community now and into the future.  Selection and acquisition of materials should be done in partnership with the Special Collections Archivist and the Head of Special Collections.  Subject selectors are welcomed to seek out potential donations or purchases which support our mission and are discussed on a case-by-case basis.   

B. Cooperative agreements

MSU Special Collections works closely with MSU Archives to find appropriate repositories for collections. Please contact MSU Archives for collections relating to the MSU campus, faculty, and students.  Ideally, collection development and storage considerations for collections would be coordinated between the following units on the MSU campus: Special Collections, Archives, Vincent Voice Library, MSU Museum, and Broad Art Museum.  MSU Special Collections seeks to be an active participant in national collecting alliances such as the Alliance for Local Music Archives (ALMA) and other partnerships affiliated with the Society of American Archivists and the Rare Book and Manuscript Section of the American Library Association.

C. Legal requirements

Materials donated to Special Collections with a tax write-off must be retained for three years before deaccessioning.  Donors of archival collections must make SPC staff aware of potential legal concerns for researcher access to their materials.

D. Web pages

Special Collections, Michigan State University Libraries

Selected Collection Highlights of Special Collections

Michigan State University