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Special Collections: Acquisitions


Stockton University Library Archives and Special Collections collects materials in the following areas:

  • Stockton publications and unpublished documents.
  • Authors affiliated with Stockton.
  • History, politics, economics, environment, culture and folklore of Atlantic City and County, southern New Jersey and Delaware River Valley region.
  • Literature (local, regional and American authors).
  • Pinelands materials.

The Special Collections also has works of great value, precarious condition, historical importance and research value that have been transferred from the General Collection.


Donations are the primary mode of acquisition for materials in the Archives and Special Collections. The Library encourages unrestricted gifts, but may accept collections with user restrictions upon the donor's request.

When materials are not available through donation, acquisitions are made through purchases of books chosen from select booksellers affiliated with the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA) or other approved sources. Purchases are funded through the operations budget or the library's Foundation account.

Acquisition of books for Special Collections will be considered on a case-by-case basis within the context of the title's value to our collections and relative to available funds. Emphasis will be on items that support current pedagogical needs rather than arbitrarily collecting to a depth in a given area. Items purchased should be in fine to excellent condition and in most instances first editions will be purchased.

Guidelines for the Selection and Transfer of Materials from the General Collection to Special Collections

Many libraries actively collect rare books and other documents, but most libraries acquire holdings that over time attain historical, cultural or monetary value that warrant special treatment. Works in any format will be considered for transfer: books, ephemera, folios, manuscripts, pamphlets, periodicals and audio/video recordings, if these items are within the scope of Special Collections.

It is important to preserve the information and research value of holdings in the General Collection, and by transferring materials based on the following criteria, characteristics and circumstances, the Library can better serve patron needs by making these items available in Special Collections. These general criteria include: age, author affiliation, condition, content, edition, intrinsic importance and rarity. These are flexible guidelines and special circumstances may apply.

Regarding the review of materials for transfer into Special Collections, it is important to have communication between the Library staff members who are involved with different avenues of the circulating collection and acquisition of gift books. Transfer procedures include: the identification of materials that meet selection criteria, changes in cataloging and the physical relocation to Special Collections. The selection of material may be identified during the routine handling and review for the following library functions: acquisitions, gifts and exchanges, cataloging, preservation, binding, duplication, circulation, inventorying, shelf reading, interlibrary loan, retrospective conversion and weeding.

The review of materials to be transferred into Special Collections will include the Library Director, Associate Director for Technical Services, the Cataloging Librarian and the Archives Supervisor.

These items will not circulate or be available through Interlibrary Loan.

Criteria for Selection

Age and Imprint: The age of a book has little to do with its research value. Items printed before 1850 should be reviewed for transfer, (pre-wood pulp paper), if within the scope of Special Collections. However, all works printed before 1800, regardless of content, physical condition or other characteristics, should be considered for transfer into Special Collections.

Author Association: If the anthor is affiliated with Stockton or Atlantic County, or is of significant note, the work should be transferred. Autographed or first editions should also be transferred.

Condition and Physical Characteristics: If the work is damaged or in such fragile condition that it cannot circulate without further deterioration, it serves little purpose in the General Collection. There are two solutions for these items: weed from the General Collection and replace with a newer edition or repair and transfer the work to Special Collections. Books published between 1850 and 1950 were printed on wood pulp paper, which is highly acidic and will become brittle unless properly treated. If the paper is brittle, the Library will determine if the work should be transferred to Special Collections or be withdrawn from the Library. Physical size is also an important consideration. It is generally believed that miniature books (measuring 12 centimeters or less) are not designed for circulating collections. Ornately designed works are also more susceptible to damage and should be considered on a case-by-case basis for transfer.

Content and Subject: If the content of a work is indicative of current holdings in Special Collections, it should be transferred.
Importance: Many works have either intellectual value or artifactual value or both. If specific titles are being requested due to continual research value, the rarity of that particular edition or if the work is a significant contribution to a specific field of interest, the work should be transferred to protect the item.

Market Value: Items deemed valuable or irreplaceable may be transferred to Special Collections on a case-by-case basis. Donors are required by the IRS to obtain their own evaluations. As an interested party, the Library is not allowed to provide appraisals or inventories. The Library will refer donors to qualified appraisers. The Library will acknowledge all gifts by letter.

Rarity: The traditional definition of a rare book is any book with enhanced value and if the demand for the book exceeds the supply, usually due to its importance, scarcity, age, condition, physical characteristics or association. A book without importance or demand has little intrinsic or research value no matter how many copies survive. However, demand can change as research interests evolve. We need to ascertain how many other Libraries have this specific edition by searching in OCLC (World Cat). The Library will also determine if the work was a limited edition printing. If thls work is deemed valuable, one question we consider is, "can the work be replaced in the General Collection by a new or more recent edition?"