The mission of Special Collections is to select and acquire primary research materials and ancillary documentation that support the academic community's teaching, research activities, and service programs; to arrange and describe the holdings; to provide physical access to the holdings and reference service for patrons; and to work towards preservation of the items. A joint purpose of Special Collections and the Mountain Heritage Center is the preservation of the regional heritage of western North Carolina and the Southern Appalachian area. Special Collections and the Mountain Heritage Center work cooperatively and are non-competitive in their missions. Special Collections acquires materials such as manuscripts, photographs, and rare books that document the history of the region. The Mountain Heritage Center collects artifacts, primarily three-dimensional, for the same purpose.
I. Principles of collection development. Special Collections seeks to develop its collection guided by a strategy informed by the following principles:
1. Support. Special Collections materials support the research goals of students, faculty, staff, and the wider community. Collection decisions should include a consideration of the historical, evidentiary, and documentary value of materials and how that material could benefit researchers and patrons.
2. Access. Special Collections collects materials to be used. Materials should be available and accessible to researchers regardless of background or capability. Collection decisions should include a consideration of Special Collections ability to make the material available and accessible to the widest possible audience.
3. Stewardship. The careful stewardship of collected materials is a significant responsibility of Special Collections. Collection decisions should take into account the capacity of Special Collections to collect and steward materials indefinitely.
4. Preservation. Continued access to and stewardship of collections depends on the ability of Special Collections to preserve the materials. Special Collections will make a reasonable effort to preserve materials for future use and consider preservation requirements when making collecting decisions.
5. Inclusion. A variety of voices, with an aim towards inclusivity and representation, makes a stronger network of collections for our researchers. Special Collections is committed to actively increasing the variety of voices within the collection.
II. Areas of collecting interest. Based upon the identified curricular, research, and administrative needs of the university, Special Collections primarily collects in the following areas:
1. Southern Appalachia. The natural and cultural history of the Southern Appalachia region, particularly western North Carolina.
2. Cherokee Indian history and culture. Particular attention is given to documenting the history of the Cherokee Nation east of the Mississippi River and to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
3. Regional authors. Works and papers of regional authors, defined as authors who by birth, residency, or the content of their writings, are associated with the Southern Appalachian region.
4. Western Carolina University. Materials documenting the history of the university.
III. Donations with restrictions. Special Collections does not accept materials that are closed to the public in perpetuity. Prior to the donation all restricted materials must be designated with an opening date. No book collection will be acquired as a gift with the stipulation that it remain intact. No collection will be acquired as a gift with the stipulation that it be placed on public display, or that it be digitized in its entirety for online publication.
IV. Loans. Special Collections does not accept manuscript collections on indefinite loan. No manuscript collection will be acquired on loan unless it requires little or no processing time, has no restrictions placed upon its access or use, and has clearly defined guidelines on its future return to the owner or designated heir. No book collection will be acquired on loan.
V. Multiple copies. Special Collections does not endeavor to duplicate the library's general or reference holdings on regional history, Cherokee history, or other subject areas within its collecting interest. Duplicate copies of monographs are acquired only for preservation purposes or where they support reference assistance or aid in research use of the manuscript collections and other unit holdings. Special Collections does not retain duplicate copies of manuscript materials and retains the right to dispose of unneeded materials.
VI. Reformatting and replacement. Materials that have become brittle or fragile may be reformatted into another medium to help with preservation. Materials that are damaged or lost, and for which a replacement copy exists, will be replaced if appropriate.
VII. ii. Limitations.
1. Location. The unit does not accept donations with conditions as to their disposition or location.
2. Artifacts. Artifacts are not acquired. Offers of artifacts are referred to the Mountain Heritage Center. For collections that have both manuscripts and artifacts, a joint donation may be arranged with both Special Collections and the Mountain Heritage Center based upon each unit's policies. Paintings, with their unique preservation and storage requirements, fall under the category of artifact and are not accepted.
3. Oral history. All oral history interviews and support documentation, both audio and video as well as transcripts, must have release forms signed by the interviewees indicating their informed consent and indicating that the interview will be placed in Special Collections and will be open to the public. Individuals or organizations contemplating an oral history project with the desire of placing materials in Special Collections should first consult with Special Collections staff.
4. Offers outside the primary collecting interest. The unit does not actively collect books, manuscripts, photographs, or other items that do not support the areas of interest specified above. Where conditions warrant, a donation may be accepted based upon the age, intrinsic value, uniqueness, and research value of the materials.
5. Donations based on faculty expertise. The unit does not collect in areas of faculty expertise unless there is a long-term commitment from the appropriate college to have faculty with expertise in the area.
6. Photocopies. Special Collections encourages the donation of original materials rather than photocopies or other reproductions. Photocopies and reproductions are considered on a case-by-case basis. In instances where photocopies or reproductions are accepted, the donation requires the same documentation as with a collection of original materials.
7. Formats. Special Collections encourages donation of materials within the areas of collecting interest regardless of format. Some formats, notably older electronic records and older audio and video media, may have special requirements for their ongoing preservation and use. Decisions about acquiring these materials will take into consideration unit resource constraints.
VIII. Reappraisal. Items may be considered for deaccessioning when they are no longer relevant to the University's activities and programs as defined in the subject statements, when they are redundant in the collection, or when their physical condition makes them unusable.
IX. Appraisals for tax purposes. Donors are responsible for appraising gifts. Special Collections staff cannot assist donors with tax advice on a donation or provide an appraisal.