Collection Development Policy

I. Mission

The mission of the Center for Archival Collections (CAC) is to acquire, preserve, and provide access to the historical records of Bowling Green State University (BGSU) as well as rare and primary resource materials that support BGSU's teaching, learning, research, and service objectives.

              Acquire. The CAC acquires materials within a defined subject scope that includes the history of BGSU, the Northwest Ohio region, the U. S. Great Lakes region and connecting waterways, student affairs and higher education professional organizations, and select topics within the history of literature, printing, and the materiality and construction of the book.

Within its collecting scope, the CAC acquires materials across a range of material types in physical and digital formats, including, but not limited to, unpublished documents and manuscripts, photographs, rare books, publications, newspapers, ephemera, and audio and video recordings.

All acquisitions are made at the discretion of the CAC.

             Preserve. The CAC is committed to ensuring the long-term preservation of its physical and digital collections so that they may continue to be accessible for future generations.  Physical collection materials are housed in alkaline-buffered archival boxes, folders, and protective enclosures, and necessary conservation procedures are also routinely applied to damaged, fragile, or vulnerable items.  Digital collection materials are stored on secure servers that are administered according to standard University practices involving data backup and migration.

             Provide Access. The CAC is committed to providing access to its collections for the benefit of BGSU’s undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and administrators, in addition to visiting scholars and the general public.  Descriptions of collections, devised according to standards established by the American Library Association and the Society of American Archivists, are available for viewing via the CAC website and the University Libraries’ online public access catalog, and collections are available for use at the CAC on the fifth floor of Wm. T. Jerome Library, where select materials are also regularly exhibited for display.  To the fullest extent possible, the CAC also makes digital surrogates of collection materials available via its website for direct online access.

The CAC is also committed to engaging current and future users and promoting its collections through extensive outreach activities.  Such activities include regular tours, classroom instruction sessions, and collaborations with faculty and students that incorporate CAC materials into undergraduate and graduate curricula. The CAC also seeks collaborations with the surrounding Northwest Ohio community, historical societies and museums, and genealogy groups and organizations.

II. Primary Functions

The CAC accomplishes its mission through the following primary functions:

  1. Acquire, organize, describe, preserve, and make accessible primary source materials within the CAC's collecting scope.
  2. Provide proper housing and secure environments for the retention and preservation of the CAC's collection materials.
  3. Administer BGSU's records management program to ensure the systematic retention and preservation of University records.
  4. Serve research and scholarship by actively promoting, making accessible and encouraging the use of collection materials by the BGSU community, visiting scholars, and the general public.
  5. Serve as an educational resource to help stimulate and encourage teaching and learning with primary sources across all grade levels, and provide instruction regarding the educational value of primary sources.
  6. Publicize and circulate research and information regarding the history of BGSU, Northwest Ohio, the Great Lakes, student affairs and higher education, and select topics within the history of literature, printing and the materiality and construction of the book.

III. Collection Development

Fundamentally, the CAC seeks to acquire primary source materials that fall within its topical collecting scope, are deemed to be of enduring historical value, and support the teaching, learning, research, and service goals of BGSU.

More specifically, the CAC’s collection development activities are conducted across five divisions, including University Archives, Northwest Ohio Collections, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, National Student Affairs Archives, and Rare Books and Special Collections.  These divisions and their corresponding collecting priorities are further explained below.

1.    University Archives

The CAC is the home of the University Archives, the final repository for the historical records of BGSU. The primary purpose of the University Archives is to preserve and provide open access to University records that document the history of BGSU from its founding in 1910 to the present day.  These records include those dealing with administrative, business, academic, and athletic matters; faculty and student organizations; university publications, including the BG News and the Key Yearbook; and photographs. The University Archives prefers to collect records in their native format, whether it be analog or digital, although reformatting may occur for preservation purposes at the discretion of the Head Librarian/University Archivist.

Full University Archives Collection Development Policy

2.    Northwest Ohio Collections

The CAC’s Northwest Ohio Collections contain primary source materials created by individuals, organizations, and businesses that document the social, cultural, economic, industrial, political, and military history of Northwest Ohio from 1820 to the present day.  Acquisitions within this division include but are not limited to organizational records, personal and family papers, photographs, newspapers, published materials, and audio and video media.  Historical subject strengths have included the history of politics and government, organized labor and labor activism, religion and religious organizations, the American Civil War, and women and women’s organizations.

Acquisitions for the CAC’s Northwest Ohio Collections are focused specifically on materials relating to the nineteen counties that make up the region recognized as Northwest Ohio, including Allen, Crawford, Defiance, Erie, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Huron, Lucas, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Sandusky, Seneca, Van Wert, Williams, Wood, and Wyandot counties.

3.    Historical Collections of the Great Lakes

The main purpose of the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes (HCGL) is to collect, preserve, and make available historical materials documenting the U. S. Great Lakes region and connecting waterways. The collection focuses on 1812 to the present with the bulk of the collection documenting the years from 1860 to the present. The HCGL seeks materials related to commercial shipping, shipbuilding, navigation, maritime law, commercial fishing, shipwrecks, yachting, labor history, popular literature, freshwater ecology, maritime culture, and history of the Great Lakes ports. Types of materials collected include manuscripts, newspaper clippings, photographs, maps, vessel data sheets, maritime architectural drawings, and published materials.

4.    National Student Affairs Archives

The National Student Affairs Archive (NSAA) is dedicated to records of student affairs and higher education professional organizations.  The CAC established the NSAA in 1982 in recognition of BGSU’s strong historical contributions to research, education, and professional training in the fields of student affairs and higher education administration, and since that time the NSAA has developed into a major repository for the historical records of national, regional, and state (Ohio/Michigan) student affairs and higher education professional organizations.  Additional materials include the private collections of individuals who have been active in the field, and relevant books and pamphlets.  While NSAA acquisition decisions are not based on a specific time period, current materials in this division date from 1903 to the present day.

5.    Rare Books & Special Collections

The Rare Books and Special Collections collects, preserves, and makes accessible to researchers primary, rare, or unique materials that support the research and curriculum needs of the BGSU community and scholars.  Current collection focuses include American poetry from the mid-20th century to the present day, publications produced by the Beat Generation, notable graduates of the BGSU Creative Writing Program, and poetry by Northwestern Ohio authors. With the addition of The David D. and Patricia A. Anderson Center for Midwestern Literature Collection, a jointly held collection between the Browne Popular Culture Library and the Rare Books and Special Collections division, Midwestern authors from the late 19th century through present day are collected. Contemporary artists’ books are acquired to expand the current artists’ books collection. Primary and secondary resources supporting the history of print and the materiality and construction of the book in the Western world provide crucial support for inquiry into the collection; emphasis on acquisition of these materials is placed on exceptional pieces including notable examples of book binding, book production, or book decoration from the 19th century to present day.  Finally, to grow the William F. Nolan/Ray Bradbury Collection, literary manuscripts related to Ray Bradbury and first or notable editions of his works are collected.

The collection has been historically strong in early imprints, small and private press books, and first editions of notable literature from the 18th-20th centuries. These strengths are still maintained and supported for teaching and research, but acquisition is now focused in different directions

IV. Material Types and Formats

Within its collecting scope, the CAC seeks to acquire a wide range of material types, including unpublished documents and manuscripts, photographs, rare books, publications, newspapers, ephemera, and audio and video recordings.  Collected materials can be in either physical or digital formats.

Although the content of an item is the most significant factor in determining whether or not the CAC chooses to acquire it, the specific condition or format of the item also plays a role during the appraisal process.  For instance, materials such as scrapbooks will be evaluated for condition or content before being added to the collection.  Additionally, barring certain exceptions, the CAC generally does not accept materials in computer-mediated formats that are obsolete, present significant migration issues, or are contained on media that can only be viewed or played using equipment that the CAC does not have.  Examples of media for which the CAC does not have appropriate viewing or playback equipment include 8-inch floppy disks, 5 1/4-inch floppy disks, and nitrate film.

Ideally, digital objects should exist in open-source, non-proprietary, technology-neutral file formats, such as PDF for text-based files, TIFF for digital images, MP3 for audio files, and MPEG4 for video files.  The CAC may decide to accession other digital file formats, even if they are not ideal, at its discretion.

Finally, in order to protect and facilitate the long-term preservation of its extant holdings, the CAC does not accept items containing mildew or mold.

V. Acquisition of Historical Materials

The Head Librarian/University Archivist, in collaboration with CAC staff, has the primary responsibility for CAC collection development.  CAC materials are normally acquired in the following manner:

1.    Custodial Transfer of University Records - Custodial transfer is the primary means by which most university records are acquired by the CAC. Custodial transfer applies only to public records in which legal custody has transferred from one office to another. Only records identified as historical on a department's record retention schedule and/or on the BGSU general record retention schedule, or otherwise deemed historical by the Head Librarian/University Archivist or Records Manager/Assistant University Archivist, are eligible for custodial transfer to and permanent preservation in the University Archives. Offices are to follow instructions on departmental retention schedules and/or the general retention schedule, which are available on the CAC website. The Records Manager/Assistant University Archivist must be contacted by an office prior to the transfer of records. Records or other items transferred to the University Archives that are appraised as non-historical will be disposed of in accordance with retention schedules, or will be transferred back to the office of origin.

2.    Donation - Should you have knowledge of or wish to donate material that fits within the CAC’s collecting scope, please contact the Head Librarian/University Archivist, first by telephone, mail, or email. It is policy to encourage donation of materials which are in keeping with the scope of the CAC’s collections. Gifts of materials with mixed historical values may be accepted if the Head Librarian/University Archivist has the right to discard or otherwise remove unwanted items. The Head Librarian/University Archivist reserves the right to decline donations which are in poor condition or carry stringent donor restrictions.  All donations must be represented on an Instrument of Gift form that includes a description of the materials; name, address, and signature of donor; date of donation; description of any restrictions attached with the donation; and signature of a CAC staff member and the Head Librarian/University Archivist accepting the donation.

Reformatting – Materials can also be acquired through the process of reformatting.  In cases where original records cannot be donated, the CAC Preservation Lab can digitize and/or microfilm the records and accession the reformatted surrogates.  Examples of records the CAC has acquired through reformatting include newspapers, local government records, scrapbooks, and records of universities, historical societies and museums, and churches.

VI. Access to Collections

With very few exceptions, the CAC will provide complete and universal access to all its collections.  Material identified as closed to public access, as stipulated in the donor agreement, will be noted as such. Similarly, exceptions will be made for official University records closed to public access as stipulated by law, University policy, or the appropriate records retention and disposition schedule.

VII. Cooperative Agreements and Understandings

The CAC works cooperatively with private and public organizations engaged in the identification, acquisition, and preservation of historical primary sources. The CAC will refer donors or potential donors with collections that do not fit within the guidelines of this collection policy to a more appropriate repository. Exceptions will be made for collections of significant historical value that cannot be accepted or maintained adequately by a more appropriate repository.

VIII. Deaccessioning

In collaboration with CAC staff, the Head Librarian/University Archivist will periodically review university and non-university acquisitions to determine whether or not they should remain within the collections. If the CAC determines that a particular collection warrants deaccessioning, every effort will be made to transfer custody and ownership to another repository or the donor prior to deaccessioning a collection.


This policy last updated May 9, 2016