Manuscript Selection Policy

The selection policy should be applied, in the context of the Manuscript collecting policies: Manuscripts, Dartmouth College Associates. The selection policy is intended to support, but not to replace, the professional judgment of staff when making decisions on the selection of manuscripts (personal papers or the records of non-Dartmouth organizations) for permanent preservation in the Rauner Special Collection Library. The policy’s aim is to create a consistent, structured approach to collecting.

The policy is intended to assure that only those materials most worthy of collecting are retained and preserved in the context of quality, space, fiscal and human resources available for long term preservation and use. The policy is intended to be applied both for the appraisal of new accessions as well to existing holdings.

The following criteria should be applied at the collection and series level. The criteria listed below should be applied in the order listed those coming first being consider more significant than those presented later.

A. Content Analysis: Quality of information within the papers/series.

1. Accessibility and Use.

  1. Does past use of similar materials suggest these materials will be used in the future?
  2. What connections are there to teaching, curriculum and the history of the institution?
  3. Is there donor or legally imposed restrictions on the use of the materials that significantly deter from its potential use?
  4. Can the library preserve and use the materials in their original format? If not, does an alternative format affect the value of the materials and the information it contains?

2. Significance of Subject.

In general, how well do the materials document the life and activities of the individual(s) or the organization represented in the collection?

  1. Do the materials contain information about significant periods in the development, life/lives and career(s) of the individuals or organization represented in the papers?
  2. Are the interests, values, and experiences of the individuals or organization documented in the materials?
  3. Do the materials contain significant information by or about individuals or an organization of local, national, or international importance?
  4. Are significant local, national or international events, trends, and topics described?
  5. Do the materials contain documentation about family or individuals that would be useful to genealogical researchers?

3. Relation to Current Holdings

How do the materials complement or add important information to the library’s holdings.

  1. Do the materials contain significant information about other people, events, trends, and topics related to the other collections in the library?
  2. Do the materials provide important information, insight, or perspectives not documented by other collections currently maintained by the archives?

4. Quality of Documentation.

  1. How closely related is the creator of the materials to the subjects documented?
  2. Are the materials primarily made up of original source materials, transcriptions or secondary sources?
  3. How complete are the materials?
    1. Do they cover the entire of life of the creator or other individual(s) represented?
    2. Are there significant gaps in the time period covered?
    3. Do the gaps limit or impair the completeness of the documentation?

B. Object Analysis.

1. Intrinsic Value

  1. Do the materials contain documents that have intrinsic value such as a particularly significant or revered document?
  2. Do the materials contain documents that have intrinsic value because the importance of the author or an original signature.
2. Physical Condition
  1. Are there physical forms or designs within the materials that are unique, special, or important?
  2. Is the medium upon which significant information recorded difficult to access or preserve?
    1. Will conservation measures be necessary?
    2. Is the value, accessibility, or reliability of the record’s content affected by its condition?

3. Cost Benefit Analysis.

  1. Does the value of the material, especially compared with current holdings, warrant the time, cost, and space that will be required to maintain them?
  2. Does the value of the material justify the application of needed conservation measures?
  3. Can the archives adequately store and access the materials?
  4. Does accessing the information in the materials require the acquisition of special equipment?

C. Creation

Written by Peter Carini and Jay Satterfield, July 2007