Special Collections and University Archives collection policy

Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) stewards unique, rare, and historically significant resources in a variety of formats primarily documenting the northwestern Great Basin and the University of Nevada, Reno. We build and maintain collections that support research, teaching, and learning for the campus community and the public at large.

This policy describes the scope of collection development and acquisition activities for SCUA.

Material formats

We accept historically significant materials in both analog and digital forms. Original formats are strongly preferred. However, we only accept materials that we can responsibly manage. Formats that are too expensive or difficult to care for may disqualify materials from acquisition by the Department.

Geographical scope

Our collections primarily document the northwestern Great Basin and the University of Nevada, Reno. This area encompasses the Reno/Sparks area and other communities in Northern Nevada (north of Tonopah), the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, and the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Acquisition areas

We seek materials in a variety of formats that provide significant documentary evidence of the following areas:

  • Regional environment and public lands
  • Industry, particularly mining and railroads
  • Nevada literature
  • People and places of Northern Nevada
  • Politicians and Political Activity in Nevada
  • The University of Nevada, Reno
  • Regional tourism and recreation

Book Arts Collection

In addition to books and publications in our general acquisition areas, we also collect artist’s books for our Book Arts Collection.

The artist’s books portion of the collection reflects the following:

  • Bindings: An array of traditional and non-traditional binding mechanisms
  • Design: An array of shapes, forms, and structures
  • Letterpress: Examples of fine letter press
  • Local/Regional Artists: Artists from Nevada or the Great Basin
  • Topic: Works on the Great Basin, Nevada, Sierra Nevada, mining and related industries, environment and landscape, personal identity, Nevada languages
  • Typography: An array of unique fonts and/or alphabets

Additional guidance on University of Nevada, Reno materials

We are the designated home for some official University records. Please refer to the University Records Retention Schedule for guidance on when a record should be transferred to Special Collections and University Archives.

University Records Retention Schedule

We also will consider the personal papers of faculty and materials in a variety of formats that document the student experience. Student government records are accounted for under the University Records Retention Schedule.

Donating materials or transferring University records

If you have historical materials you would like to donate or transfer to us, please contact us.

Contact Form

Material we do not typically acquire

  • Materials outside of our geographic scope
  • Materials that do not provide significant documentation of our acquisition areas
  • Materials that we already have
  • Materials in certain formats
    • Artifacts, collectibles, three-dimensional objects, clothing, art
    • Specimens (biologic, geologic, etc.)
    • Most newspapers
    • Artemisia yearbooks
    • Physical University of Nevada, Reno General Catalogs
  • Materials that more appropriately belong in other repositories
    • Materials on Basque people (contact the Jon Bilbao Basque Library)
    • Official government records (held by State Archives, the National Archives, Tribe, or other governmental entity)
    • Materials that duplicate or are part of a collection already stewarded by another repository
    • Materials that are being actively collected by other repositories
    • Cultural materials on Indigenous people or other communities (contact the Tribe or community of origin)
  • Materials that we can’t afford to maintain, properly care for, or preserve
  • Materials which have restrictions which prevent or hamper use by the general public
  • Materials offered for purchase
  • Materials which have no identification or basic description
  • Materials which cannot legally or ethically be transferred or donated to us, such as legal or investigative materials, student work or transcripts, materials of an intimate or private nature created or kept without consent, or other kinds of materials with similar issues
  • Materials which primarily consist of clippings or copies of copyrighted materials
  • University materials that must be retained by the originating office or for which inclusion in the archives would violate the records retention schedule or state or federal law and policy

Costs of stewardship

Archival collections are acquired and maintained in accordance with professional standards for preservation and access. SCUA relies on the OCLC Total Cost of Stewardship Model to evaluate costs that will accrue for each acquisition. These costs include things like staff time to prepare materials for use, staff time to help researchers use the materials, staff time to preserve materials, staff time to perform administrative duties related to owning materials, archival supplies, shipping or other acquisition costs, physical storage and operational costs, digital storage costs, software needed to manage the collections and make them discoverable, preservation treatments, environmental monitoring, and digitization or reproduction of items for broader access or use in exhibits.

Costs of maintenance are borne by the University and are offset with the generous support of private donors.

Support our mission Learn more about the OCLC Total Cost of Stewardship Model

Last revised: March 25, 2022