ATG Article of the Week: Gifts Nobody Wants: The State of the Art in Dealing with Unwanted Donations

by | Feb 13, 2014 | 0 comments

Gifts Nobody Wants: The State of the Art in Dealing with Unwanted Donations 

This useful article was published in the Kansas Library Association College and University Libraries Section Proceedings, Vol. 1 [2011], Art. 10.  In it, authors Sheila O‘Hare and Andrew J.M. Smith discuss a practical problem that archivists and acquisitions and collection development librarians deal with continually, “what to do with well-intentioned but inappropriate gifts.”

As the article notes, gifts-in-kind can be a double edged sword.   They offer librarians and archivists an opportunity to enhance collections but can also be a burden when such gifts are inappropriate.  The authors discuss issues like deaccessioning and the sale of gifts, unprocessed and undocumented collections, and donor relations and the increasing pressure to accept gifts-in-kind outside the scope of a library‘s collection.

O’Hare and Smith then take a comprehensive look at “current best practices in dealing with unwanted gifts before they enter the collection and removing unwanted materials from existing collections.”  They also offer numerous “examples of effective collection management policies that cover both acquisition and deacquisition of items …, together with suggestions for creating a cooperative understanding between the library/archive and the development office.”

Any archivist or librarian who has had to deal gifts-in-kind will appreciate this frank and open discussion as well as the practical solutions being offered.  It provides a thorough treatment of a difficult issue along with relevant solutions and an extensive list of useful references.

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