Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: Rare Books

Collection Management Issues

A. Selection and acquisition of materials

Selection of books for the Rare Book Collection depends very much on current availability—which can change quickly—and the qualities of the particular copy (or copies) available. Edition, condition, binding, provenance, annotations, and many other characteristics all come into play. If the book in question is being considered for purchase (as opposed to donation), price is obviously a significant factor.

In the study of rare books, especially when introducing them to classes, there can be real benefits in having multiple copies of the same book—even of the same edition. Copy-specific features can render different copies of the same book uniquely valuable. This should be considered when deciding whether or not to acquire or to deaccession a duplicate copy of a particular book.

Just as careful acquisition is one facet of responsible collection development, so is the deaccessioning of material determined to be out of scope. In making these decisions, we must remember that two of the primary instructional purviews of the Rare Book Collection are book history and the book arts—and all books have a role to play in both of these contexts. Deaccessioning should be pursued sensitively and sensibly, and only when a reasonable price can be realized or a more appropriate institutional home found. Income earned from the sale of rare books should directly benefit the Rare Book Collection.

B. Cooperative agreements

No formal cooperative agreements exist. In the past, purchases have been made jointly with interested institutions, but this occurs rarely and is handled on a case-by-case basis.

C. Legal requirements

Books donated to the Rare Book Collection must be retained for three years before deaccessioning.

D. Web pages

Special Collections, Michigan State University Libraries

Selected Collection Highlights