Skip to Main Content

Lehigh University Libraries - Library Guides

Student Organization Records Toolkit (SORT) @ Lehigh Archives: Transferring & Donating to Special Collections

This guide is created by Ilhan Citak based on SORT @Pitt by Zach Brodt

Benefits of Donating to the Archives

When records are donated to the University Archives, they are arranged and stored in acid-free folders and boxes and kept in appropriate environmental conditions to ensure the long-term preservation of the documents. Lehigh Archives will preserve these records and make them accessible to future generations. Physical material (papers, photo prints, CDS, USBs, etc.) will be housed in acid-free folders, envelopes and boxes and stored in proper environmental conditions. Digital records will be transferred to and preserved on secure Library servers. Once the records are donated, they become are managed under the policies and procedures of the Lehigh Special Collections and can be viewed by visiting the Special Collections Reading Room. Reproduction services also available upon request. 

Special Collections staff is always ready to provide reference services for student organizations' members after their organization has transferred to the  Archives.

Procedure for Donating Archival Materials

Before making the final decision to donate your records, notify your organization’s membership about your archiving plans and get everyone on board. If needed, we can arrange a visit to the archives and meet with the group to answer questions.

Then if your organization agrees to donate its historical records, contact the University Archivist for instructions and guidance on supplies and delivery method.

In most cases the following steps will facilitate the donation of your group’s records:

1) Pack your records into boxes (information provided by the University Archives). Each box should be numbered and labeled with your organization’s name.

2) Create an inventory of every file in each box. You may use a summary statement, such as “Meeting Minutes,” to describe a group of files or the entire contents of a box.

3) Email a copy of the inventory to the University Archivist and place a printed copy of each box’s inventory inside the box so it can be identified should it be separated from the others.

4) Notify Special Collections when you are ready to transfer the records to arrange delivery. The organization’s president will also be asked to sign an agreement finalizing the donation. This document, called Deed of Gift, will legally transfer the ownership and rights of the records to the University Archives. Every Deed of Gift is different and we will work with your organization to determine what provisions are right for you.

Donating your organization's records should be an on-going tradition in your organization. It is essential to create documentation or assign the duty of maintaining a relationship with the archives to an officer, like a Historian or Secretary. For example, recently, the Historian of the Marching 97 facilitated to transfer of the Marching Band's records and archives successfully. We suggest, the end of each academic year is a great time to review your group's records and determine what might be eligible for inclusion in the archives. 

If you have any questions or concerns, or are just interested in what the University Archives has to offer, please feel free to contact us.

Library Gift Policy

Library Gift and Transfer Policy

The Lehigh University Libraries appreciates inquiries about donations of books or other materials in support of the University's teaching and research. In order to properly assess the materials before adding them to the collection, the Libraries request that donors provide a list that includes the titles, authors, and the condition of the materials. Due to limited shelf space, we cannot accept every item, but donations are an important part of the Libraries’ development.

We will consider donations of materials in the following categories:
• Copies of often-used titles to replace damaged or missing items
• Books covering local and regional topics, particularly about Bethlehem and Lehigh University
• Publications by Lehigh faculty and alumni
• Materials relevant to academic research, teaching, and learning

Special Collections Transfers and Gifts
All donations are reviewed by librarians and require approval before materials are formally accepted. After review the libraries accept donations with the understanding that the materials become the property of Lehigh University. Therefore, Lehigh University reserves the right to determine the retention, location, cataloging treatment, and other considerations related to the use of the material. 

In order to facilitate the processing and housing of materials, we encourage donors to also consider providing monetary gifts that will directly support the Lehigh Libraries so that users will be able to access and use these important collections as quickly as possible, in addition to providing for additional materials. Decisions to accept in-kind donations are informed by the availability of resources to manage said inbound materials. 

We always gladly provide a gift acknowledgement letter to all donors upon request.