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Donate Materials

Over the years, the holdings of the Denver Public Library Western History and Genealogy Department have grown as the result of generous donations of rare and unique materials. The Library continues to welcome such gifts in order to enhance the research value of its collections. This can be best accomplished by ensuring that materials offered to the Library are a good match with the Library's collecting interests.

These guidelines address some of the questions most frequently asked by potential donors. If you have additional questions please contact the Western History and Genealogy Department at 720-865-1821.

The Scope of the Collection

The Western History and Genealogy Department collects original and secondary materials in the following subject areas: history of the trans-Mississippi West, genealogy, conservation, GLBT and the WW II 10th Mountain Division. The Department is also the repository of the Denver Public Library Archives. Other collections include the Eugene Field Collection, and the Douglas Collection of Fine Printing and Binding.

Primary sources include:
  • The Archives Collection - personal papers, family papers, organizational records and architectural records. Types of material found in an Archival Collection may include:
  • Diaries/Journals/Letters
  • Drafts of creative works
  • Audio/Videotapes
  • Financial Records
  • Legal Records
  • Memoirs/Reminiscences
  • Memoranda
  • Newsletters/Organizational Publications
  • Office Files
  • Oral History Tapes & Transcripts
  • Postcards
  • Reports/Minutes
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sheet Music
  • Sound Recordings
  • Speeches/Lectures
  • Subject Files
  • Professional Papers
  • Electronic Media
  • Pamphlets/Brochures/Flyers
  • Photographs
  • Architectural Records
  • The Map Collection - primarily consists of the twenty-two contiguous states west of the Mississippi River, plus Alaska and Hawaii.
  • The Photography Collection - chiefly original negatives and photo prints of photographers who documented the West.
  • The Art Collection - primarily works of original art and other illustrative materials of historical interest to the Rocky Mountain Region, and secondarily, work by artists who lived in Colorado or who came to Colorado to work. The Department also acquires representative works of contemporary artists.
  • Secondary Sources include books, pamphlets and government publications.

Why Donate?

  • The histories of individuals, families, communities, businesses and organizations are documented by the records they create. These records provide unique and vital information to the community, the state and the nation. Placing the records of an individual or organization in an appropriate repository ensures that:
  • The records will be cared for by professional archivists, librarians and curators whose responsibility is to organize, protect, preserve and provide access to these important documents.
  • The records will become part of the community’s collective memory.
  • The records will be available for research by future generations.
  • The records are made widely available to researchers.


How to Donate

Working with our staff. It is important to consult with the staff at the Western History/Genealogy Department prior to making a donation. The staff will help you choose and prepare items appropriate to our collection. Material not accepted by the Library will be returned to the donor. We may also be able to suggest a more appropriate repository for the material.

Sorting. A collection may be donated in one or several parts. Donors do not need to sort, cull or reorganize papers prior to transferring them to the Library. If they wish to do so, we ask that they first contact our staff. It is helpful to our archivists to receive material in original order in which it was used and/or stored. Furthermore, items that the donor considers unimportant may have significant value in light of the Library’s other holdings.

The Acquisitions Agreement. Once it has been determined that the material is appropriate to the repository, the donor will be asked to sign an Acquisitions Agreement. The Acquisitions Agreement documents the transaction between the donor and the Library. It describes the material being donated, transfers any rights to the Library and lists any restrictions on the material.

It is important to understand that any material donated to the Library legally and physically becomes the permanent property of the Library. Because it is so expensive to store, preserve and provide access to archival material, we can only afford to do so for collections we actually own.

Transfer of ownership. Copyright belongs to the creator of the material or his or her heirs, but can be legally transferred to the Denver Public Library via the Acquisitions Agreement. The transfer of copyright applies only to those materials actually created by the donor. If your gift contains materials created by other parties (such as correspondence received from others), the copyright interests are held by those creators, though you have the right to transfer the physical object to the Library.

Appraisals. We cannot appraise donations for monetary value. If an appraisal is needed for income tax purposes it is the responsibility of the donor to establish the value of the material prior to the actual transfer.

Monetary donations. Preparing the material in our collections for use by researchers is an expensive endeavor, and we are grateful to donors who are able to make a contribution toward the processing, cataloging, and preservation of the collection.

Access to Collections

Access. The Library will arrange, describe, catalog, preserve, and provide access to these materials in accordance with standard archival procedures. The Collection will be open for research in accordance with the regulations and procedures of the Library.

Restrictions. Some Collections contain sensitive material and portions of the Collection may need to be temporarily restricted due to privacy issues. However, it is important to bear in mind that if we cannot allow researchers to use the material, its value is greatly lessened. It is important for the staff and the donor to discuss the advisability and duration of such restrictions prior to the donation.

For further information contact the Western History and Genealogy Department at jkroll@denverlibrary.org, Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library, 14th Avenue Parkway, Denver, CO, 80204-2731. Telephone 720-865-1820.

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Updated: June 25, 2013