Special Collections Collection Development Policy

University Libraries, Unt Policy And Procedure Memorandum.


This policy describes the methods of acquisition and selection criteria for collections in the Special Collections department.


The Special Collections department acquires and preserves rare and unique materials to support scholarship, teaching and learning.


Special Collections’ primary audience is students and faculty of UNT. Due to uniqueness of the materials in our collections, we also strive to meet the needs of a wider constituency by providing access to collections on-site as well as through digital platforms.

Collection Policy

Special Collections collects and preserves rare and unique materials including rare books, oral histories, university archives, archives and manuscripts, photography, visual materials, art and artifacts. Collections are preserved for use by students and faculty of the University of North Texas and by the scholarly community at large.

At the discretion of the department head, Associate Dean for Special Libraries or Dean of Libraries, the Special Collections department may collect materials, in any format, that support our mission. Acquisitions are made through active collection development initiatives as described below, through donations, and occasionally through purchases. Donations to Special Collections are considered on a case-by-case basis. Donations must be accepted by the department, and all donors must complete a Gift Agreement Form.

University Archive

The University Archive contains documents, photos, artifacts and audio/visual recordings related to the history of UNT. Materials in this archive are composed of both official university records and donations from students, faculty and alumni. The major series in the University Archive are:

  • Official Records: university publications (including Campus Chat and NT Daily), student publications and Presidents’ papers
  • UNT Theses and Dissertations produced prior to 1999
  • the University Photography Collection
  • Faculty papers
  • Alumni collections

Rare and Distinctive Books

The category of rare and distinctive books is categorized by two levels of collecting interest. Primary areas of interest include examples of printed matter and printing technologies from the period 1451-1840 (spanning the earliest printed materials in the Western world through the era of the hand press); artists’ books; miniature books (defined as books 3” or less in spine height), Texana and Texas publishers (including Texas city and county histories), Victorian literature and periodicals, fashion and costume history, and acquisitions in support of faculty and teaching at UNT.

Requests for purchases to support teaching will be given first consideration over requests which will typically only support faculty research interests, although both categories of requests are regularly considered.

Secondary collecting interests include: facsimiles, children’s books, children’s games and folklore, books and ephemera related to World’s Fairs, pop-up books, modern first editions and Southern women writers.

Special Collections may also accept materials from the UNT Libraries’ general collection in cases where an item is valued at over $300 or in cases where the fragility of an item warrants additional protection.

Photography and Visual Materials Collections

The Photography and Visual Materials Collection documents the history of photography and other visual media through the works of both traditional and vernacular artists. The collection includes fine art photography, studio and commercial work, specimens of early photography and other types of visual art such as paintings, posters, illustrations, sculpture and folk art.

Primary collecting interests are samples of early photography (cased photography, carte de visite and cabinet cards), historical photographs of Texas, collections of notable regional photographers, posters and broadsides, and examples of illustration techniques and processes.

Archives and Manuscripts

Special Collections seeks to collect other primary sources of enduring value that broadly represent a diverse and inclusive history of people in Texas and beyond. Collections may include a variety of formats of primarily unpublished materials including, but not limited to: correspondence, personal papers, literary manuscripts, business records, diaries, “grey literature,” still and moving images, electronic records, digital photography and artifacts.

Primary collecting interests include Latina/o history, LGBTQ history, and other collections of high evidential, information and intrinsic value that document significant people or events at a national, regional or statewide level. Particular attention is given to collections in this area created by people or organizations which serve people who are currently underrepresented in archival collections, such as women, people of color, people with disabilities, immigrant communities, and non-English speaking populations.

Secondary collecting interest includes military history, business history, and collections that document significant people or events at a primarily local level.

Electronic Records and Web Archives

Special Collections accepts collections which may be partially or wholly comprised of electronic records, including documents, photographs, moving images, audio recordings, and other types of records. Electronic records are appraised and processed by archivists according to the same procedures as physical materials. Special Collections utilizes the UNT Digital Library and The Portal to Texas History for long-term digital preservation and access to electronic records.

Special Collections actively pursues web archives both as independent collections as well as supplements to existing collections. Web archive collections include domain-specific web crawls which are curated based upon existing collection development interests of the department. Whenever possible web archive initiatives will target the most ephemeral types of web-based information including social media, forums, blogs and micro-blogs.

Oral History

The Special Collections department serves as the repository for recordings and transcripts produced through the UNT Oral History Program. Oral histories produced outside of the UNT Oral History Program may be considered for inclusion in Special Collections, however, we require any incoming oral history donation to include proper documentation of permissions from both interviewer and interviewee. We may require the donor of an oral history to produce a transcript or pay the cost of transcription before an oral history is accepted.

What We Do Not Collect

There are exceptions to every rule; however, in general these are items that fall outside of our collection scope or that we are otherwise not interested in receiving:

  • single issue, limited run, or commemorative newspapers
  • cookbooks
  • yearbooks (from UNT or other schools, colleges, or universities)
  • student coursework or transcripts
  • trophies or plaques
  • photocopies of original materials
  • materials requiring extensive conservation


  • Approved: 07/23/20

License Information

This Policy: "Special Collections Collection Development Policy" by UNT Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.