Special Collections Policies

Acceptance of gifts

The primary responsibility of the Music and Performing Arts Library Special Collections (MPALSC) is to serve the research and performance needs of the University's faculty and students. To this end, the MPALSC seeks to collect in subject areas receiving substantial and sustained attention within the School of Music, those representing ongoing departmental research interests, those that build on existing collection strengths, or those areas that are the focus of state and regional musical heritage. The MPALSC accepts gifts of single items or collections that will support these areas of musical scholarship and interest, was well as other topic areas as determined by the unit head and those who advise the department in matters related to acquisitions and collection development.

Materials donated to the MPALSC will be evaluated for enduring value by the Coordinator of Special and Gift Collections for the Music and Performing Arts Library.  Normally, only those items that support the objectives listed earlier in this document will be added to the Library’s holdings.  The MPALSC may dispose of any materials found within such gift collections that are of insufficient enduring value or that do not further the educational mission of the University of Illinois.

Where possible, it is preferable that gift collections be accompanied by a monetary donation sufficient for processing, conservation, arrangement, and description of the collection in accordance with accepted archival and preservation practice.  It is also preferable that donors of accepted gift collections place no restrictions on access.

Notwithstanding the tremendous pride that the School of Music takes in the achievements of its alumni, considerations of limited space, personnel, and financial resources dictate that the MPALSC accept or decline donations from University of Illinois graduates based on their potential to support the institution’s research, teaching, and performance missions.  Each collection will be evaluated on the basis of its merits in this context.  


Appropriate MPALSC staff will evaluate each gift and make recommendations for conservation and preservation of materials that are to be added to the collections.  Every effort will be made to ensure that housing, conservation treatment, and long term storage of the materials will be consistent with accepted industry standards.  The MPALSC may choose to reformat (e.g. digitize) materials that are considered to be in danger due to material degradation or format obsolescence. 


Researchers or performers who wish to use special collections materials should make an appointment with the Librarian for Special and Gift Collections for the Music and Performing Arts Library for use, preferably between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Because there is no secure research area within the Music and Performing Arts Library access to materials at this site may be limited.  As a general rule a limit of three archival folders (or the equivalent) from the Special Collections Unit may be charged out to the researcher at one time.  Researchers needing access to Special Collections materials in greater volume or over a sustained period of time should arrange for their research to be conducted at the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music so that adequate space and supervision can be provided.  For more information, or to arrange access to materials, contact the Archivist for Fine Arts at the Sousa Archives.

Access to archival or special collections materials that have not been processed will not normally be granted except under direct supervision by the Coordinator of Special and Gift Collections for the Music and Performing Arts Library, the Archivist for Music and Fine-Arts, or other designated library personnel.