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Special Collections: Special Collections Policy

History of Education Sources

Special Collections Policy



This statement on the Newsam Library’s Special Collections aims to explain the basis on which material is acquired and managed. It ensures material is accepted according to a recognised strategy and serves as a reference document to guide curatorial decisions.

Its purpose is to provide information and guidance to library staff, academic staff, students, library users and the wider scholarly and professional communities as to the principles governing the development and management of the Newsam Library’s Special Collections.

The Newsam Library holds a large number of special collections which by virtue of the uniqueness or rarity of the items contained within them, their physical form, content, depth of subject coverage or other special significance, are distinguished from the general stock of the Library and receive special treatment in terms of housing, management, cataloguing, consultation, preservation and conservation. By their nature they also form part of the local, national, and international documentary heritage.


The Special Collections are managed by the Special Collections Librarian and are listed on this guide. The Special Collections Librarian recognises the responsibility to preserve the special collections holdings in perpetuity to support the teaching, learning and research at the IOE, and for the use of future generations. The main role of the Special Collections Librarian is to enable physical and intellectual access to these collections while at the same time ensuring their long-term preservation.

Acquisitions Policy

Items for Special Collections are acquired by gift, bequest, or purchase, whether from private individuals, or organisations. In general, items or collections are not accepted under the following circumstances:

  • they do not fit the strengths or profile of existing collections
  • they are offered on loan or deposit

Unless there is a pressing reason, new acquisitions will generally not be considered on either of these terms unless appropriate resources to maintain and support the collection are also offered.

An item or collection of items is normally designated as, added to or acquired by Special Collections if it fulfils the above and the first and one or more of the following criteria:

  • it complements, enriches or builds on the subject strengths of existing special collections
  • it has been identified as supporting the IOE’s teaching and research needs
  • it is of intrinsic local (IOE), national or international heritage significance especially in the field of education
  • it is a rare printed work or contains rare printed works
  • it enhances the reputation of or is of special local or historical significance to the IOE
  • its physical format, fragility, vulnerability, sensitive nature or other characteristic requires special storage, access, handling and management conditions.
  • they are of significant provenance
  • they are of special bibliographic significance (e.g. first edition, out of print, limited or special edition, privately published or small press items)
  • they are of significant cultural or historical significance (e.g. association items, inscribed items, items of known scarcity value)

It is in general not the policy of the Special Collections Section to acquire second identical copies of items already held in its collections. The exception to this rule is in the case of items with a significant provenance or association.

Later or earlier editions of a published work already held may be acquired, particularly where the edition in question differs substantively in content from that already held, where it fills a gap in otherwise comprehensive holdings or where it is of particular bibliographic, literary or historical significance.

Guidelines for Gifts, Donations and Bequests

The Newsam Library wishes to encourage gifts of special collections material, provided that is falls within the scope of this Collection Development Policy. Financial donations to support the purchase, storage, cataloguing or conservation of the collections are also warmly welcomed.

The Newsam Library is pleased to accept gifts of material on the understanding that:

  • All gifts of material become the property of the IOE
  • Ownership of legal title may need to be established first
  • Copyright and data protection issues are standard
  • For printed material, the Newsam Library reserves the right to dispose of items that are in poor physical condition, duplicate existing stock, fall outside the scope of the Collection Development Policy or otherwise superfluous to requirements
  • The Library will catalogue gifted material for its online catalogue, as resources permit
  • Gifted printed materials may be added to existing collections if deemed this is most appropriate for access

For all gifts of a significant size potential donors are asked to consult the Head of the Newsam Library & Archives in advance, so that the receipt, storage, cataloguing and conservation implications of the donation can be discussed in detail. Gifts of significant size may be defined as those gifts whose review, cataloguing, processing, storage and conservation cannot be covered by existing Library resources.