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Giving to the Amherst College Library

Monetary Donations
The library relies heavily on the generosity of donors, and it boasts a strong record of giving from benefactors, including friends and alumni of Amherst College.  We are always eager to talk with potential donors about programs and priorities worthy of their support. Endowed funds and other one-time gifts support acquisitions, personnel, digitization operations, research, equipment, and a wide variety of services to students, faculty, and scholars around the world. Many donors choose to join the Friends of the Amherst College Library, whose annual dues contribute significantly to the library’s work.  Information about the Friends, including a form to donate online, are available here. We welcome and gratefully acknowledge all monetary contributions, and encourage those interested to contact Bryn Geffert, the Librarian of the College, at 413-542-2212 or bgeffert@amherst.edu.   

Donation of Materials
We receive far more offers for material gifts than we can possibly accept, and we thus evaluate all offers carefully before expressing interest.  Please contact Bryn Geffert or Mike Kelly, Head of Archives and Special Collections (mkelly@amherst.edu; 413-542-5307) if you are interested in making a donation. If you are interested in making a gift to the general collection, please contact Susan Sheridan, Head of Technical Services (smsheridan@amherst.edu).

The following policies govern our evaluations and outline procedures for dealing with those offers we ultimately accept.

Initial Offer
All initial offers must include a typed list of the material the donor wishes to donate. We cannot consider either individual items or collections until we review a list.  

The list should include the following information:

  • For books: author, title, publisher, date of publication, and description of any unique features.
  • Manuscripts and personal papers: author, provenance, type, and scope.
  • Videos and images: information about formats, creators, and copyright status.

After reviewing the list, the library may ask for additional information before making a final decision to accept or decline. 

Accepted Offers

A Deed of Gift ( Library Deed of Gift form June 2013 ) must accompany each accepted gift of materials.

Transportation

Library staff will work with the donor to arrange transportation.

Valuations

U.S. law prohibits the library and Amherst College from assessing the value of gifts and from providing advice about taxes.  Donors who require such advice should speak with their own tax accountants or attorneys. Those who require a valuation for their gift should employ an independent assessor. A list of credentialed assessors may be found at www.abaa.org. Appraisals must be conducted before materials are physically delivered to the College.

Materials for the General Collection
Due to space constraints, a disinclination to duplicate, and a strong preference for materials that directly support the College’s curricular and research interests, the library accepts few gifts for the general collection. We will consider lists of items provided the items are in good physical condition and either fill gaps in the collection or deepen our holdings in significant ways. Librarians, sometimes consulting with Amherst faculty, will make such determinations. To inquire about making a gift to the general collection, please contact Susan Sheridan, Head of Technical Services, at 413-542-2850 or by email at smsheridan@amherst.edu.

Materials for Special Collections and Archives
The staff in Archives & Special Collections works closely with donors to identify materials that have long-term research value, are worthy of preservation, and fall within the scope of our Collection Development Policy. The types of materials listed below are of particular interest; this list is suggestive rather than definitive.

Books, Periodicals, and Ephemera

First editions, limited and special editions, and printed books of historic interest in excellent condition are of interest to the department.

We occasionally consider books that meet none of these criteria if such books are central to the curriculum and difficult to obtain through other means.

General interest magazines, reprints, multi-volume sets of collected works, and materials in poor physical condition are not appropriate.

We selectively collect posters, broadsides, and other printed ephemera.

 Personal and Family Papers:

Letters, diaries, speeches/lectures, albums/scrapbooks, memoirs/reminiscences, photographs, professional files, genealogical information, films, videotapes and audiotapes. We review such offers rigorously for their relevance to the collection’s focus.

Organizational Records:

Articles of incorporation/constitution/bylaws, correspondence, planning documents, architectural records, legal documents, diaries, minutes of meetings, reports, memoranda, newsletters and other publications, directories, financial documents, press releases, membership records, and research and subject files.

Because the research value of papers and records may be diminished if items are removed or rearranged, we ask donors to contact the staff of Archives & Special Collections before discarding or rearranging materials.

Legal transfer of any such materials to Amherst College is complete when the donor reviews and signs a formal gift agreement. Except in extremely rare circumstances, we can only accept collections that we own outright; we discourage and usually decline donations on deposit or loan. Copyright generally belongs to the creator of the material; since our mission is to share material as widely as possible, we ask donors to transfer to Amherst College any copyright they possess in the material.

We will consider restricting access to parts of a collection only for reasonable and limited periods of time, and only if such restrictions are necessary to protect the privacy of persons still alive.

To discuss donating a collection of personal papers or organizational records to Archives & Special Collections, please contact Mike Kelly, Head of Archives and Special Collections, at 413-542-5307 or by email at mkelly@amherst.edu.