Western Libraries Special Collections Policy

Western Libraries Special Collections Policy

I.        Mission and Overview of Special Collections

A. Mission Statement:  Western Washington University Libraries Special Collections collects, organizes, describes, preserves, and maintains unique intellectual and cultural heritage materials and promotes the use of these resources by the University community, scholars, and the public.  Its goal is to advance scholarship and further the educational, research, and service missions of the university.

B. Organization and History:  A department within the Heritage Resources unit of the Western Libraries, Special Collections is administratively under the Dean of Libraries. The Head of Special Collections directs the department. Support staff includes the Librarian for Digital Initiatives, the Special Collections Manager, and student employees.

In its current form, Special Collections was created as one component of a re-organization in the late 1990s of library collections and services. It succeeded a unit that, since the mid-1970s, had consisted of a campus history collection, rare book collection, modest faculty publications collection, the archival collection of WWU masters and honors theses, and the library’s large collections of microforms and “non-books” (recordings, videos, kits, etc.).

In 1999, the unit was relocated to the main floor of Wilson Library (now numbered Wilson 279) without the microforms and non-book collections. At that time, Special Collections included the Campus History Collection, Rare Book Collection, faculty publications collection, the archival theses collections, and the photograph collection.

Starting in 1999, Special Collections added a number of collecting areas including The Western Collection (formerly the faculty publications collection), Northwest Collection, Mathes Reading Figurines Collection, Fly Fishing Collections (including the Paul and Mary Ann Ford Fly Fishing Collection), Campus History Oral History Program, Campus School Collection, the Helene Whitson Collection of unique-format children’s literature, and the Children’s Collection.

In early 2010, Special Collections moved to renovated, environmentally appropriate space on the 6th floor of Wilson Library.

II.         Types of Programs Supported by Special Collections

A.     Research: Resources collected and maintained by Special Collections further the research of WWU students, faculty, visiting scholars, and the public in the following specific areas: WWU institutional history; Northwest Washington regional and local history; history and culture of the Russian Far East, China, and Mongolia; and the development and environmental aspects of the sport of fly fishing.

 B.       Preservation and Security: Crucial to the ongoing operation of Special Collections is the physical protection and preservation of research materials.  The holdings maintenance program for Special Collections includes the re-housing of realia, manuscripts, personal papers, and other fragile print materials, encapsulation of images, and digitization.  Materials held in Special Collections are non-circulating and their use in the department’s research area is supervised.

 C.      Outreach and Access:  The collections provide the foundation for outreach activities by which Special Collections furthers the awareness, development and use of its materials.  This outreach program includes the Special Collections website, presentations to classes, tours, collaborations with other WWU units and external agencies, and printed brochures.  Special Collections also presents exhibits and displays of resources from its collections, both in the department and in the library. Outreach aimed specifically at the scholarly community includes the creation of finding aids for archival collection and the submission of bibliographical information about the collections to OCLC, the worldwide cataloging database.

 D.     Curriculum Support: The collections support both undergraduate and graduate curricula and programs at Western Washington University.  The collections program also provides support for University policy makers and program administrators. 


III.        Use of Special Collections

A.     Access to Resources: The policy of Special Collections is to make its resources available to researchers on equal terms, subject to the appropriate care and handling of materials by the researchers.  Persons wishing to use materials must register and present proper identification.

B.      Clientele: Regular clientele include scholars, faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, WWU administrators and staff, donors, alumni, and members of the larger community.

C.      Services and Restrictions: Special Collections provides personal assistance to visitors to the department, and assistance via telephone and email. Photocopying and digitization of some materials may be restricted. Photocopying of photographs is not permitted. Use of images housed in Special Collections is governed by the Western Washington University Libraries Special Collections License for Use of Reproductions and the University Interdepartmental Agreement governing Permission for Use of Reproductions. Copying and use fees may be charged.

IV.        Collection Development

A.     Responsibility: The Head of Special Collections is responsible for the supervision and coordination of collection development activities.

B.      Collecting Methods: Special Collections acquires materials through gift, transfer, and purchase.  There is currently no budget allocation specifically for the purchase of Special Collections resources; since 1999, purchases have been possible using the library’s contingency funds, WWU Foundation funds, and one-time allocations provided by the library administration.

C.      Forms of Material Collected:  Special Collections accepts resources in all formats including: manuscripts, personal papers, audio/visual, printed materials, rare books, and selected memorabilia including artifacts and other items of realia. 

D.     Deed of Gift: Where applicable, including collections of personal papers, creative works, recorded personal histories, and other materials with attached rights, Special Collections requires a legal transfer of title, completion of a Deed of Gift, or other official acknowledgment.

E.      Transfer of Materials to/from Other Repositories: Special Collections accepts materials from other WWU repositories under the terms of the Transfer of Custody Agreement. As appropriate, and, when relevant , in accordance with Deed of Gift provisions, Special Collections may also transfer materials to other WWU repositories or offer materials to external repositories.

F.       Optional Acquisitions: Acquisitions that do not fall within existing collecting areas are sometimes made in anticipation of new academic programs or in consideration of other aspects of value to Special Collections, the Libraries, and the University.

G.     Exclusions:  Special Collections will not generally accept or purchase the following:  materials that reflect the political, cultural or social history of another region or state; partial manuscripts and archival collections in cases where major portions of a collection have already been deposited in another repository; research or personal papers collections consisting solely or primarily of photocopies; artwork, objects, realia, or resources requiring extensive preservation, costly repair, or having unique storage and maintenance requirements unless they are highly significant to an existing collection or to the department’s mission.  Restrictions regarding access to and use of collections are accepted only when mutually agreeable to the donor and the department.

H.     De-accessioning Policy: Materials that do not reflect Special Collections’ collecting areas, duplicate existing holdings, relate to subjects that are no longer a priority, or are judged not to be of enduring value may be de-accessioned. Special Collections reserves the right to dispose of any materials within its collections, subject to the terms of the Deed of Gift if applicable. De-accessioned materials may be offered to the donor or donor's heirs, transferred to other departments of the library or the University, offered more to appropriate institutions, or disposed of in accordance current WWU Libraries policies.

V.         Cooperative Agreements

            Special Collections recognizes that other institutions collect in the same or overlapping areas and may seek similar unique resources for their own collections.  Special Collections also recognizes that other institutions may have prior claim on such materials or be a more appropriate repository to house them.  In cases where legitimate collecting interests of Special Collections and another repository directly conflict, Special Collections will use the best interest of the scholarly community as a criterion in pursuing a collection. In cases of material that may also be of interest to the University Archives and/or the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Special Collections consults with those archives to reach agreement about appropriate placement.

VI.        Resource Sharing and Exhibits              

Special Collections shares resources with other institutions when such sharing is beneficial to researchers and when the terms and circumstances are favorable to Special Collections.  Resources shared may include duplicate and extraneous materials from collections (if acceptable under the terms of the donor agreement); printed and digital copies of materials from collections; hard‑copy finding aids; electronic versions of finding aids, collections, and items; exhibit items; professional consultation; and facilities. 

Special Collections reserves the right to include unrestricted materials in exhibitions, in accordance with standard archival principles and practices. Loans of artifacts from the collections are permitted only to legitimate educational institutions. These institutions must meet various requirements as set forth by Special Collections to assure the well-being of the materials.

VII. Review and Revision

            This policy is designed to meet the goals of Western Washington University, the Western Washington University Libraries, and Western Washington University Libraries Special Collections. The policy will be regularly reviewed and adjusted in order to continue to meet these goals. Such review will take place at least every five years. Special Collections reserves the right to change the preceding policies as necessary.


Appendix: Collecting Areas

Primary Collecting Areas

Campus History Collection

Definition: Materials in all formats documenting all aspects of Western's history.  Includes thhe Campus History Photography Collection and the Oral History Program.

Existing Collection Strengths: Unique collection of institutional history, images, and personal recollections.

Current Collecting Emphases:  Continue arrangements with departments and other units to receive copies of published materials; solicit materials, in particular images, as opportunities arise. 

Collection Development Support:  No budget specific to collection.  Acquisition primarily by donation.

Rare Book Collection

Definition:  Books considered rare or in need of special care due to age and/or condition.

Existing Collection Strengths:  Western U.S. history; limited edition 20th century Canadian poetry; Russian, Mongolian, and East Asian languages materials in history, science, and literature; Ellesmere Chaucer facsimile (unsewn sheets ed.).

Current Collecting Emphases:  No plan at present.

Collection Development Support:  No budget specific to collection.  Acquisition primarily by donation or transfer as appropriate from the Libraries' other collections.

Northwest Collection

Definition:  Resources in all formats concerning the history, politics, and culture of the Pacific Northwest and Northwest Washington State in particular.

Existing Collection Strengths: Bellingham and Whatcom County history.

Current Collecting Emphases:  Local history and regionial history (NW Washington and state), especially works by local authors or organizations; works about local cultural and educational institutions; fiction set in Bellingham and/or the Bellingham area.

Collection Devlopment Support:  No budget specific to collection.

The Western Collection

Definition:  Scholarly and creative works created by members of the Western community past and present including faculty, administrators, staff, and alumni.

Existing Collection Strengths:  Unique collection.

Current Collecting Emphases:  Continue solicitation of donations.

Collection Development Support:  No budget specific to collection.  Acquisition primarily by donation.

Fly Fishing Collection

Definition:  Resources in all formats concerning all aspects of fly fishing, with a particular emphasis on fine printed American books, historical literature, fly fishing in the Pacific Northwest, and personal recollections of significant Northwest fly fishers.  Includes the Paul and Mary Ann Ford Fly Fishing Collection.

Existing Collection Strengths:  Fine-printed American works on American fly fishing; first or early edition British works by pre-eminent authors; historical and modern materials related to techniques, equipment, methods; flies tied by renowned tyers; oral histories of well-known fly fishers of the region; fly fishing-themed mystery fiction; Steve Raymond manuscripts.

Current Collecting Emphases:  Continuing to seek donations of books in areas of strength; adding to collection of oral histories.

Collection Development Support:  No budget specific to collection.  Acquisition primarily by donation.  Ongoing and planned gifts from Paul and Mary Ann Ford.

Secondary Collecting Areas

Campus School Collection

Definition:  Printed and visual materials and realia related to the Campus School at Western (1899-1967)