Special Collections

DIVISION: Library and Instructional Support
UNIT: Olson Library
DATE: December 10, 2008
PURPOSE: To articulate criteria for selecting materials to be added to the Special Collections location of Olson Library
APPLICABILITY: Librarians are guided by this statement in selecting new material and transferring materials from other collections.


  1. Purpose

    The primary purpose of special collections is to provide a more secure environment for printed published materials of lasting value to the University.  It is to provide materials in support of undergraduate students in courses at the baccalaureate level offered by the university, support undergraduate and graduate students whose field of study requires or encourages the use of rare or unique materials, and to provide support for instruction and faculty research.
    1. Description of Special Collections

      Special Collections is a part of Olson Library, with several locations and unique collections within Special Collections.  These include the Tyler Collections, the Thesis Collection, the faculty publications collection, general collection, oversize general collection, and rare books.

      Tyler Collection:  This is a separate, static, and unique collection of nineteenth-century American literature donated to Northern Michigan University in 1904 by Moses Coit Tyler. 

      NMU Special Collections:  NMU-Press published monographs, NMU thesis and file papers, and NMU faculty publications. (Note:  Forest Roberts Theatre competition manuscripts and NMU serial publications are collected by the Central Upper Peninsula and University Archives)

      General collection of special collections: Rare books are not generally collected by Olson Library. However, if identified within another collection or accepted as a gift according to current collection-development policies, the item(s) may be added to special collections in order to provide proper security and environment.  [Note:  The Central Upper Peninsula and University Archives collects books of local history or local literary interest published in or about the Upper Peninsula.  Signed editions are preferred.  An additional copy may be added to the Olson Library circulating collection.]
      • Thesis & File Paper Collection:  NMU theses in print or fiche.  Electronic versions of theses are available through the library's ProQuest subscription.  The fiche serves as the master copy for the electronic thesis.  For print thesis (prior to 2007), an additional copy is located in the Olson Library stacks whenever possible. File papers are received when the department or faculty member determines to donate them.  They are added to special collections as a NMU produced item.
      • Faculty publications:  While Olson Library does not actively acquire all faculty publications, when they are acquired the first copy is added to special collections.  An additional copy may be placed in the stacks.  Preference is given to signed copies to be added to the special collections location.  This collection is limited to published works but can be in any medium.  Journal articles, if donated, will be cataloged as appropriate (monographic, in-analytic, metadata, etc.) based on the format of the item.  Unpublished works or manuscripts of published works will be transferred to the Archives as part of the University Archives collection.
    2. Interdisciplinary Relationships

      Special Collections does not limit material based on content.  All disciplines may have materials located in Special Collections.
    3. Special Considerations
  2. Types of Material and Means of Access

    All materials in Special Collections must be used within the Archives Reading Room and patrons must adhere to the guidelines for using archival materials when accessing these materials.
  3. Scope of Coverage
    1. Languages

      The majority of Special Collections will be in English, however, other languages are permitted if the material adheres to the collection policy.
    2. Geographical Focus (subject content or publication source).

      Emphasis is placed on materials with a Northern Michigan University imprint, Upper Peninsula imprint or focus, or materials of regional interest with a strong Upper Peninsula coverage.
    3. Time Periods (subject content)

      Not restricted.
    4. Chronological Focus (date of publication)

      This is determined by the subcollection that the material is being added to.  Thesis will be current productions, faculty publications have no limit on date produced.  Rare materials are considered to be those materials printed in Michigan prior to 1850 or in the United States prior to 1801.  
  4. Deaccessioning

    In order to maintain and improve the quality of the collection, materials may be deaccessioned due to irrelevance, lack of space duplication, irreparable condition, or removal to more secure or environmentally appropriate location. Deaccessioned material will be offered to a more appropriate institution based on an analysis of that institution’s collection policy.  The Liaison and Collection Development Librarian will make the decision to deaccession an item only after a careful reappraisal of an individual title.  
  5. Liaison Librarian for Special Collections

    Collection Management Librarian:  Emera Bridger Wilson
  6. Representatives Related to Library Affairs

    Collection Management Librarian:  Emera Bridger Wilson
    University Archivist:  Marcus Robyns
    Liaison to the History Department:  Catherine Oliver

    REFERENCES: General Collection Development Policy for Olson Library
    CONTACT: Emera Bridger Wilson, Collection Management Librarian, (906) 227-1205, or ebridger@nmu.edu
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