Last month an envelope arrived at the Western History/Genealogy Department (WH/G) that contained a very nice brochure from the La Junta Mennonite Sanitorium and a handwritten note reading, “For Your Collection.” While this type of anonymous gift is fairly unusual for us, it does present a nice opportunity to talk about the ins and outs of donating materials to WH/G.
Making a Donation
If you walked through the Western History Department’s vast storage areas, you might get the idea that we accept every donation we’re offered, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Our collection scope (which is outlined here) limits the range of items we accept to, “Materials that support research west of the Mississippi River, including Alaska and Hawaii.” We also accept items that can be included in our Genealogy Collection.
Our current collection needs include:
- Artifacts (Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library only)
- Audio Recordings/ Video Recordings
- Book Galleys
- Diaries, Minutes, Proceedings
- Financial Documents
- Legislative Documents
Some items we won’t accept include:
- Items we already have in the collection.
- Records that contain sensitive personal information such as Social Security numbers, phone numbers, etc…
- Moldy items.
- Newspapers and newspaper clippings (even if it’s a JFK assassination paper).
- National publications, including National Geographic.
(For more information on what specific types of materials we do not accept, check out our Information for Donors document.)
Make it Easy
There are a few things that potential donors can do that will really speed up the donation process and get their materials in the collection as quickly as possible.
For starters, donors can send us an inventory of the items they’d like to donate. This allows us to see exactly what we’re getting and allows the donor to funnel items we don’t accept to the appropriate place.
We also ask that potential donors set up an appointment and please do not bring donations directly to our Reference Desk.
What Happens Next?
Donors who bring items to the WH/G are asked to fill out a Deed of Gift form.
This form simply acknowledges that we’ve accepted custody of the items on a temporary basis. It does not mean we’ll necessarily be keeping them on a permanent basis.
If we decide to accept the donation, we’ll ask that donors sign a Gift Acknowledgement form that transfers legal ownership of the items, including copyright, to the Library.
It’s important that donors understand that DPL is not able to provide storage for collections that we don’t own and/or can’t share with the public.
Once a Gift Acknowledgement is signed, the donated items move on to our archivists and catalogers who work to make the items as accessible as possible to the general public. This can be a very time-consuming process, so most donated items won’t appear in our catalog right away.
If you have any questions about the donation process, please give us a call at 720-865-1821 and we’ll connect you to one of our collection specialists.