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Special Collections & Archives: Donations



Special Collections & Archives (SCA) is a department within the John Grant Crabbe Library that supports the research needs and enhanced knowledge of our community through the preservation and accessibility of selected historical resources. SCA consists of four primary units: Manuscript Collections, Special Collections, University Records, and the William H. Berge Oral History Center. For more information, review our collecting areas.


SCA is dedicated to collecting, preserving and sharing historical resources related to Kentucky history and culture, and over the years has built collections of Kentucky-related manuscripts, books, films, photographs, maps, sound recordings and other formats in a number of specialized areas. These areas have been chosen with faculty and other specialists and in response to various opportunities to obtain primary research materials. However, the collection is ever-evolving and materials may be acquired in anticipation of new research interests. In addition to scholarly research value, staff may also take into account an item’s exhibit and/or outreach potential.

Collection Policy

Current Collecting Priority

SCA is actively collecting materials that document how COVID-19 has impacted you. For details, see Share How COVID-19 Impacts You.

Types of Materials We Collect

For Individuals and Families (paper, audio-visual, and/or digital):

  • Correspondence, personal and/or professional
  • Articles written or edited
  • Journals/Diaries
  • Photographs (identified, unframed)
  • Creative work/manuscripts
  • Legislative/Campaign files
  • Community involvement and advisory board activity
  • Speeches


For Businesses and Organizations (paper, audio-visual, and/or digital):

  • Correspondence
  • Photographs (identified, unframed)
  • Meeting minutes
  • Reports
  • Annual budget/financial information
  • Brochures, fliers, programs
  • Bylaws, organizational charts (governance documents)
  • Publications

Types of Materials We Don't Collect

And here’s a list of the types of archival materials we do not collect:

  • Duplicates copies of items already in the collection
  • Photocopies of materials in other collections
  • Blank forms and stationary
  • Direct mail or mass mailings
  • National or widely available publications
  • Awards, plaques, trophies
  • Autographs
  • Books from non-Kentucky authors or about non-Kentucky topics

How to Donate

Tell Us About Your Donation - Please email or call Manuscripts Librarian, Jackie Couture (, 859-622-1782) to arrange a time to discuss your donation. If you live outside driving distance, please email a description and photographs of the materials.

Transfer - Once materials are accepted, we will arrange a time to transfer the materials to the library either by staff pickup, donor drop off, mail, or electronic transfer.

Donor Gift Agreement - During the transfer process, donors fill out a Donor Gift Agreement. This form transfers ownership of materials to Special Collections & Archives. The donor has the option to indicate if he/she would like items not retained by the library to be returned or if the library has the right to dispose of the material as it sees fit.

Appraisals or Storage - Library staff will not appraise collections, but we can provide you with contact information for individuals who can, for a fee, appraise your donation for tax purposes. We do not accept collections for the purposes of temporary or long-term storage. All collections must be formally donated to the library via a signed Donor Gift Agreement.

Accession Record - Once the materials are received, an accession record, including an overview of the collection is created.

Processing and Scanning - When we process a collection, we arrange and describe the collection with searchable, online finding aid as the end result. We also scan selected material for a fee. Click here for more information about scanning fees.

How We Preserve Your Collection

Safe Environment

Collections are actively maintained in an independent temperature and humidity controlled environment with fire detection and suppression systems alongside a water detection system.



Collections are non-circulating and are preserved in closed stacks with limited access and an electronic security system throughout the department. Digital collection master files are maintained on a secure network with access copies for everyday use.



Preservation needs vary greatly based on the type of media and level of degradation. For example, film that suffers from Vinegar Syndrome is digitized and frozen to slow the degradation process. Paper-based documents are kept in acid-free folders and boxes, with some requiring mylar encasing. Photographs and film are sleeved and placed in acid-free folders and boxes, as well as digitized. Integrity checks are performed periodically on digital items to identify potentially compromised data. Additionally, consultants may be sought for expertise in specialized areas.