Special Collections Collection Development Policy


The Special Collections Department of Allegheny College Pelletier Library creates access to and provides assistance in using materials of significant historical and/or research value for faculty and students of Allegheny College and for scholars of other institutions.

We are primarily interested in collecting materials that enhance the existing collections.  Over time, we may have opportunities to re-evaluate collections and build new ones.  Because initiating a new collection creates a commitment to both build and care for it, decisions to add a collection will be made by the Library Director in consultation with the Special Collections Librarian and with the College administration.

Considerations for Selection Decisions (in existing collections)

The various collections within Special Collections have been created through gifts and donations to Allegheny College; we expect this to continue to be the primary source of additional materials.  The Special Collections Librarian will review and recommend items for addition to the collections, and for occasional transfers of items from the general collection. Stringent criteria will be used to assess the acceptance of new gifts because of limitations on space, staffing and preservation resources.

The following criteria, together or separately, will be considered in deciding whether to add to the Special Collections

  • if they add value or complement existing collections
  • if they have potential long-term research use for the College
  • if the volume and condition can be maintained in Special Collections
  • if they are rare
  • if they are free of access restrictions and become property of Allegheny College

Artifacts will be accepted and added in extraordinary circumstances and when the item enhances or complements an established collection.

Considerations for De-Accession Decisions

The removal of any item from Special Collections is a serious matter.  An item will be considered for de-accession when a collection is surveyed and that item qualifies as stated below.  The many gifts in Special Collections were given to the College for the specific purpose of making them available to our scholars and enhancing the College’s scholarly materials.  To preserve this intent of the donors, any income from the sale of an item from the existing Collections shall be put into a fund that will be used to enhance the existing Special Collections; the collections will not be considered a source of general income for the College.  The Special Collections Librarian will review and recommend materials for de-selection, with input from the Library Director.  .

The following criteria, together or separately, may contribute to removal of an item from Special Collections:

  • lack of significance to the history of Allegheny College
  • lack of relevance or usefulness to any existing, cohesive collection
  • more appropriately shelved in Archives or the General Collection
  • extremely poor physical condition

Before any Special Collections item is removed completely from the Library, the Library Director will contact the Development Office to discover the source of the item and any wishes that the donor may have had with respect to its handling. The Director will also consult with faculty in any related fields to determine if the item is of value to the curriculum.  If these sources indicate that the removal can proceed, the Library Director will present a brief written proposal to the Provost of the College describing the item(s) to be removed, how the above criteria apply, and how a fair price for the item(s) will be determined. Once the Provost of the College has granted approval for sale of the item(s), the Library Director may proceed with removal and, if possible, sale. Final approval for sale of items valued at more than $25,000 must be given by the College President.

Subjects for Collecting

(a draft list based on current collection strengths)

Artist Books
Chautauqua (Redpath societies)
Civil War histories
History of the Sciences
History of the Book (incunabula)
Local history, Meadville or Crawford County
Local oil / railroad histories
Materials relating to Ida M. Tarbell

Types of Materials that will be considered:

Artists Books
Books published by Allegheny alumni
Books with unique physical characteristics:  binding, paper, year of publication, signed
Diaries, journals, letters
Historical Works
Personal papers
Works that complete a series

Drafted:  2006 August 30
Approved:   March 16, 2007
Revision: July 2019