Library Policies

Materials Gift Policy

The University Libraries welcomes and appreciates receiving gifts of materials or monetary funds. (See Monetary Gift Procedure appended to this general policy) Rare books, scholarly works, or works on out-of-the way or little known topics are often a good fit for the library. New books and replacements for items missing from our shelves are also welcomed. Donated items will be added to the collection when they are consistent with the teaching and research needs of the University, as reflected in the Library Collection Development Policy and the policies of designated special collections. All gifts to the Libraries are made with the understanding that The University Libraries receives and accepts them on behalf of the Friends of the University Library or as the Friends of Association of the History of American Psychology (AHAP) and reserves the right to determine disposition of such gifts.

The gift process consists of five distinct stages: initial acceptance, acknowledgement, selection by subject bibliographers, storage, and processing by the Acquisitions and Cataloging departments or disposal.

The Libraries’ Collection Management Department accepts gifts and has subject bibliographers review them for possible addition to the collections. Gifts to be added to the collections are sent to the Acquisitions Department just as purchases are. The collection may be referred to other libraries. Processing of the gift back file occurs when time permits in the technical services departments.

I. Acceptance of Gifts

The Collection Management Department receives and screens calls determining the appropriateness of the proposed gift. When it seems advisable, the appropriate subject bibliographer or collection specialist can decide whether to make a personal visit to the donor to review the gift material. These gifts will always be delegated to subject bibliographers or collection specialists for final decision. In general, we do not transport gift materials to the library due to staffing limitations and ownership of a vehicle for such purposes. Once gifts enter the processing workflow, the library can no longer accommodate an appraisal. Arrangements for appraisals for tax deductions need to be made by the donor prior to delivery of the materials to the library. The library does not do appraisals and does not make lists of materials received for the donor.

Gift Valuation

Appraisals of a gift to the Libraries for tax deduction purposes are the responsibility of the donor. The Libraries, as a donee, is disqualified from appraising donations. If a gift is valued at greater than $5,000 and the donor wishes to deduct the gift for tax purposes, the donor must have the collection appraised by a certified appraiser, fill out IRS Form 8283, and send a copy to The University of Akron Libraries, Head of Collection Management, 315 Buchtel Common, Akron, Ohio 44325-1707.

Taking a Tax Deduction

If a donor mentions verification for a tax deduction, library staff should direct the donor to his or her tax advisor. Donors with substantial gifts should be referred to the Collection Management Department to make sure that all necessary documentation and forms are handled properly.

Form 8283

The IRS requires that gifts in excess of $500 be documented by a Form 8283. This form has a place for an independent appraiser to determine the value of the gift and for the University (through the Collection Management Department) to indicate receipt of the gift. In signing the form, the University agrees to notify the IRS if the gift is disposed of for a value less than the appraisal within two years of the donation.

All gifts should receive an acknowledgment from the Libraries which describes the gift and indicates if the donor received any tangible goods or services for the gift.

Donation Materials That Should Be Discouraged

Prospective donors should be discouraged by all who work in the library from giving the following types of gift material to the Libraries because most likely they will not be selected for addition to the collections.

  • Most textbooks except in those areas where the titles represent the main body of knowledge, where they are the best available source of information, or if the textbook is authored by a faculty member from The University of Akron.
  • Most periodicals, particularly short or broken runs, except to replace missing or defaced issues.
  • Older editions of titles already owned by the Libraries, unless the earlier edition contains significantly different information.
  • Marked-up or dilapidated, decrepit, or decaying copies.
  • Consumable materials, including workbooks, laboratory manuals, and standardized tests that generally fall into the category of instructional supplies.
  • Materials on hobbies and crafts.
  • Outdated titles containing erroneous or misleading information, particularly in the science, social science, and business disciplines.
  • Paperback novels or popular magazines.
  • Foreign language titles, except in those languages taught at the University.
  • Most ephemera.
  • Most complimentary desk copies or publishers’ samples.
  • Off air reproduction or pirated version of music or video.


Rare books and other special collection material represent a special circumstance. If materials involve local history or if they are for example heavily annotated by the donor -- with the donor being of significant interest to the area and the Archives -- the potential donor should be referred to the University Archives or to AHAP. Otherwise, all rare books and other special collection materials should be referred to the Associate Dean of Libraries to handle legal arrangements (if any) and for consultation with the appropriate subject librarian.

Gifts with Restrictions

The Libraries reserve the right to refuse any gifts on which the donor has placed restrictions, such as requiring that a collection of books be kept apart from the remainder of the library collection and housed in a special area or part of the stacks out of their normal classification sequence. Of course, collections of rare books, autographed first editions and other similar items are a different matter -- the donor should be referred to the appropriate bibliographer or collection specialist and the Head of Collection Management. The Associate Dean of Libraries, The Dean, or his designee is the final authority on whether to accept a gift with restrictions.

Use of Deed of Gift Form

If a gift is of substantial monetary value, the Libraries may request that the donor execute a Deed of Gift Form which is a legally recognized document effectively transferring title of the item(s) in question from the donor to the Libraries.

Selection of Gift Material

Material given as gifts to the Libraries will be reviewed for possible selection for the collections by the appropriate subject bibliographer(s). The criteria for selection shall be the same as for materials that are to be purchased and based largely on the relationship of the gift material to the University’s instruction, research, and service programs. Donors should be aware that instances of adding volumes that duplicate existing collection holdings occur only when the apparent usage warrants the action.

Processing of Gifts on a Time-Available Basis

Because of pressures on the Libraries staffing, most gifts must be temporarily stored until the Acquisitions and Cataloging Departments can process them. Therefore, the Libraries should make no commitments as to the amount of time taken to process gifts, unless directed by the Dean of Libraries, the Associate Dean, or his designee.

Disposal of Unneeded Gift Material

The Libraries reserve the right to dispose of gift material that is found to be inappropriate for the collections or not needed in accordance with existing disposal process.

II. Acknowledging Gifts

Once accepted, the Associate Dean’s Office or designated collection specialist is responsible for acknowledging, in writing, every gift in a timely fashion. In line with IRS regulations, the acknowledgement will indicate whether the donor received any tangible goods and services for the gift from the Libraries. The requirement to acknowledge all gifts does not apply when gifts arrive without information on who donated the material (such as materials left at circulation desks) or materials distributed by organizations or publishers (unless acknowledgment is requested). Gift materials accepted by persons other than Collection Management Department staff will be transferred to the Acquisitions Department for processing.

The Acquisitions Department will provide a number and type of format report for gifts and notify the Associate Dean’s Office so the gifts can be acknowledged.

The Associate Dean’s Office or designated collection specialist will provide the University’s Development Office with a copy of all non-monetary gift acknowledgments annually at a time determined in cooperation with the Development Office. If there is an appraisal associated with the gift or if the donor wants to determine the value of the gift that information will be added to the acknowledgment copy and be sent in a timely manner.

III. Selection of Gifts by Subject Bibliographers

The Acquisitions Department, will organize gift materials so that individual subject bibliographers may review the materials for possible addition to the collection. The criteria for selection of gifts are provided below. Selection decisions are recorded on a Gift Slip/Selection Form accompanying each item being reviewed. A Rush, Notify, or Priority slip should accompany materials that need to be cataloged in a timely fashion. Items with Rush or Notify slips will be sent to the Circulation Department in either Bierce Library or the Science Library for notification of the requestor. Items with Priority slips will be sent to the shelf in the appropriate library.

Gifts should be evaluated on the same bases as purchased materials. Free materials may not affect the collection development budget but still require the cost of cataloging, processing, and housing the materials. Therefore, gifts must meet the collection development profile of the library, as determined by the subject bibliographer. Factors to be used in evaluating gifts include the following:

  1. Subject Content: The most important selection guideline is how an item’s subject matter fits existing subject collection policies or, in their absence, the University Libraries’ instruction, research, and service programs. There are disciplines where the University Libraries’ holdings are intentionally minimal and require little augmentation from gifts. There are others where the University Libraries try to provide strong collections, and gifts are important to expanding and improving those collections.
  2. Age of Publication: Our collection development policies reflect the fact that disciplines differ in the need for dated or historic materials. Selection of older or dated items should be driven by the date limits, if any, noted in that subject’s collection development policy. Selection of older or dated items should balance the need for this material with its potential problems: minimal use, poor physical condition, and provision of inaccurate information.
  3. Physical Condition:Gift items that require repair, rebinding, or restoring should not be selected unless they are of exceptional interest or funds accompany the gift for necessary restoration. Particular care should be exercised in the case of the following situations:
    1. Brittle Paper: The University Libraries should not normally add items with brittle paper, that is paper that is discolored or disintegrating with simple normal use. Nothing can be done to make such items usable except replacement by another copy in paper or microform.
    2. Deteriorated, Decrepit, Decayed Bindings: Items with badly torn spines, separated textbooks, or disintegrating covering must be reviewed critically. Before such deteriorated volumes can be put on the shelves, most of these items need to be rebound or repaired; such expense may not be justified if the potential for use is small.
    3. Heavily Marked Items: Volumes with extensive pen, pencil, marker, or highlighter marks in the text or margins should not normally be added to the University Libraries’ collections since such condition tends to encourage additional marking by other library users. Such markings also impede the user’s ability to read and utilize the text.
    4. Special Guidelines for Serials: As a general rule, serial volumes should not be selected for addition to the University Libraries’ collections unless they fill gaps in existing titles, add an extensive and complete short run of two years or more of a significant title not already in the collections, or add holdings of a title that is likely to be ordered shortly thereafter. Isolated volumes or issues require creation of serial holdings records that often give library patrons false impressions about library holdings.

Occasionally, subject bibliographers will receive single issues of periodicals that for lack of more definitive information have a gift slip included. These should first be checked to make sure that they are not issues that should be checked in that have slipped through the mail processing. The remnant should be considered sample issues, unless successive issues are received, and thus should not be selected as gifts. Even when we have received less than two years of a title without paying for them, the subject bibliographer should evaluate the title’s value in light of the collection development policy.

  1. Gifts Not Wanted
    1. Gifts not selected by the subject bibliographers for inclusion in the collection may nonetheless be suitable for consideration by the University Archives or the Archives of the History of American Psychology. Bibliographers should indicate on the attached gift slip is they believe the item is potentially of interest for those archival collections. Acquisitions will notify the archives of these titles.
    2. Gifts not selected by either the subject bibliographers or the two Archives may nonetheless be of interest to other libraries in Ohio with specialized and known subject interests. Bibliographers may attempt to identify and flag such unwanted gifts and notify other libraries via listservs, email, or other mechanisms. If accepted, the receiving library must pay all shipping and related costs.

IV. Storage of the Unprocessed Gifts

The Acquisitions Department is responsible for managing the unprocessed gift backlog. Once searched online by Acquisitions, the gifts will be displayed in the Acquisitions Department for selection. Selected gifts on the designated shelving will be taken to the Cataloging Department. Those that are not designated as priority will be shelved in the cataloging gift backlog.

V. Processing and Cataloging Gifts

The Acquisitions Department is responsible for processing gifts based on the preferences indicated by bibliographers on the Gift Selection forms.

Acquisitions Processing

When time is available, newly received gifts will be checked in The UA Libraries Catalog to determine if the Libraries already own the item or if it is on order. Gifts will remain on display in Acquisitions for two weeks for the bibliographers to review. Items marked for addition to the Libraries’ collection will have a brief record created for them in The UA Libraries Catalog by Acquisitions before they are sent to Cataloging. If an item has not been marked for addition to the Libraries’ collection, it is discarded or referred to other libraries.

Cataloging of Gifts

Gifts with Rush and/or Notify slips are cataloged with the highest priority. Gifts with Priority slips are cataloged with a priority similar to newly purchased items. Other gift volumes go into a backlog from which items are cataloged upon patron request or on a time available basis.