Gifts to the Library - General Information

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University Library Gifts Policy

The below policy is intended to address donations of print, non-print, and related gifts of both general and special nature. It does not address the specialized requirements of manuscripts and archives. The University Archivist and other specialists must be consulted when dealing with manuscript and University collections.

The University of Illinois Library actively seeks gifts-in-kind to help provide additional materials that might not otherwise be available to users. Gifts to the Library benefit students and researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as well as thousands of researchers and citizens throughout Illinois, the nation, and the world. Responsible stewardship of gifts of material to the Library collection is as important to the general vitality of our Library as are the purchases we make. In addition, the Library is able to develop important friendships with donors, who often continue to find ways to enhance our Library and its collections and services.

Disposition of Gift Materials

Regardless of the size of the gift, it is the responsibility of the librarian working with a donor to advise him or her that any material not added to the collection may be sold to dealers, shared with other state university libraries, or otherwise disposed of. Selectors should not agree to return donations that are not selected by the Library, nor should they agree to add items to the collection without consultation with the subject librarian. The University Archives is the exception to this rule, where donors are routinely asked to indicate whether items should be disposed of or returned.

Acknowledgment of Gifts

Donors are to be sent written acknowledgments in a timely fashion, unless they specifically request that no acknowledgment be made. Donors frequently use acknowledgments for tax purposes – this expectation along with the development of good donor relations requires that acknowledgments be made as soon as possible after a gift is received. For smaller gifts, the subject librarian or receiving unit may use the Gifts Acknowledgment Letter webform to provide written documentation for the donor as well as the Library. The subject librarian may also choose to write an acknowledgment letter containing the same kind of information that is found on the form, including a listing or count of the donation, the date the items were received, information about the possible disposition of the material, and income tax issues. Acknowledgments should include a description of the material that has been donated, including quantity. The Office of Library Advancement must be notified of all gifts accepted, and given a copy of any acknowledgment letters, as well as details of any agreements made with the donors. It is not necessary to provide the Office of Collections and Technical Services with a copy of acknowledgments, as this Office works closely with the Office of Library Advancement on gifts. The AUL for Collections and Technical Services and/or the Collection Management Services unit will notify the Office of Library Advancement of materials accepted through their office.

Deeds of Gift

The Deed of Gift is a document that conveys the gift material to the Library without any encumbrances, including copyright or ownership issues. It spells out any terms or conditions of the gift and provides a clear title to the material. If a gift is potentially valued at $5,000 or more, a Deed of Gift is required. The Office of Library Advancement can prepare these Deeds of Gift.

The unit accepting a gift that requires a Deed must notify the Office of Library Advancement of the gift at the time the gift is accepted. The Office of Library Advancement is responsible for issuing the Deed of Gift, in consultation with the University Librarian, the AUL for Collections and Technical Services, and the Library faculty member in charge of the unit where the collection be will located. The Office of Library Advancement keeps the master files on these gifts.

We cannot provide any specific endorsements for appraisers, but one can search for an appraiser using the Appraisers Association website.

Accepting Significant Collections

Significant collections are identified as ones that have at least one of the following physical characteristics:

  • are physically voluminous (over 100 items)
  • have potentially significant financial value (over $1,000 for a single item or over $5,000 for the collection as a whole)
  • are rare items
  • are in need of individualized physical processing or specialized conservation work.

The Library has the obligation to our donors and to our collections to house, process, and preserve these materials in an appropriate manner. The Library also has the obligation to ensure that the collection fits the intellectual, curricular, and scholarly foci of the University.

Whenever a significant collection is being considered for acquisition by the Library, it must be reviewed by the AUL for Collections and Technical Services and the Head, Collection Management Services, in consultation, as necessary, with the following units: Preservation Services, Library Advancement, University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and subject specialists as indicated by the contents of the gift. They are responsible for assessing the handling and impact of the gift as it relates to the following areas:

  • does the gift fit our collections intellectually?
  • does the Library have the space to house the gift, from initial storage to final processing?
  • does the Library have the staff and ancillary resources to process the gift in a timely fashion?
  • does the gift require conservation, reformatting, or other significant preservation treatment?
  • has the appropriate Deed of Gift and preliminary development work been arranged with the Office of Library Advancement, including discussions on possible funding for processing and conservation?

Memorandum of Understanding

Prior to acceptance of a large, significant, gift a Memorandum of Understanding must be drawn up and signed by the librarian conducting the receipt of the gift, the AUL for Collections and Technical Services, the Head, Collections Management Services, and any other necessary departments. The purpose of this is to provide documentation, including background information and the significance behind the gift. In addition, it details the process agreed upon by all parties in regards to how this gift will be handled, searched, stored, and a time line in which to accomplish this.

Preservation and Conservation Concerns for Gift Collections

Generally, the Library will not accept or accession any item that is infected with mold or an active pest infestation of any nature. Individual items and collections that exhibit any signs of mold and/or pest infestation (holes or chewed material, eggs and egg casings, live or dead insects, insect frass, mammals and their droppings, etc…) shall be evaluated by the Head of Preservation Services.

For Individual Items and Gifts – Please refer to the following website for a copy of  Preservation Services’  Preservation Processing Policy for Gifts and Newly Acquired Older Materials.

For Large Collections – Preservation Services’  Preservation Processing Policy for Gifts and Newly Acquired Older Materials applies. For collections that exhibit significant damage or infestation that are crucial to the library’s mission, the Library will consider approaching the donor for supplemental funds to assist in treating and processing the collection. If no supplemental funds are available, the AUL for Collections and Technical Services and the Head, Collection Management Services will re-evaluate their recommendation for accepting the gift.

For Rare and Valuable Items –  Preservation Services’  Preservation Processing Policy for Gifts and Newly Acquired Older Materials applies. For collections that exhibit significant damage or infestation that are crucial to the library’s mission, the Library will consider approaching the donor for supplemental funds to assist in treating and processing the collection. If no supplemental funds are available, the AUL for Collections and Technical Services and the Head, Collection Management Services will re-evaluate accepting the gift.

Approved September 2001
Revised August 2016