Giving to the Libraries

Physical Materials

The Colby College Library's collections are historically rich, providing students and faculty with access to both the most current information sources and formats, as well as to retrospective print collections. These form a foundation for in-depth study in the humanities, sciences and social sciences. While the primary goal of the collection is to support an undergraduate liberal arts curriculum, we also recognize the importance of faculty research needs and the College’s overall role with our collaborative collection building partners in Maine and New England.

In addition to the general circulating collections of Miller Library, Art and Music Library (Bixler Art and Music Center), and the Science Library (F. W. Olin Science Center), Archives and Special Collections contain rich historical and literary collections as well.

The Archives houses the official records of the College as well as other College-related materials worthy of preservation due to their enduring legal or historical value. This collection has been built entirely by deposit or donation.

Special Collections houses manuscripts and rare, valuable and limited edition books. The collections include first editions, manuscripts and letters of Maine and New England authors including Edwin Arlington Robinson, Sarah Orne Jewett, Kenneth Roberts and Celia Thaxter. Other notable holdings are: extensive published and unpublished materials of American and British writers such as Henry James, Mark Twain, and Vernon Lee; the highly-regarded Thomas Hardy Collection of books and correspondence; the Harold Pestana (Geology Department emeritus) World War I Collection; and, the Bern Porter ('32) Collection of Contemporary Letters featuring post-World War II avant-garde poetry, drama and criticism. The Healy Irish Literature Collection features works by William Butler Yeats, Lady Gregory, Sean O'Casey, George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Eavan Boland, and Seamus Heaney, and also contains extensive published and unpublished materials for the Irish-American writer James Brendan Connolly. Resources for developing the collections are quite limited and, thus, gifts constitute an important source of new accessions.


Due to the high costs of managing the gift process, space constraints in all three libraries, and in Archives and Special Collections, the Library only accepts gifts of materials which are highly relevant to the institution's needs. All potential gifts will be evaluated in terms of the collection development goals of the Library.  These include:

  • Supporting the current and evolving curriculum
  • Supporting the basic research needs of faculty and students
  • Maintaining older collections of depth
  • Maintaining the historical record of the College
  • Supporting the collection strengths of Special Collections


The Director of the Colby College Libraries is responsible for following the overall Colby College Policy on Gifts of Tangible Property and Gifts-in-Kind. All offers of donations to the Library are referred to the Director of the Colby College Libraries or his designee. In the case of gifts destined for the general collections, the primary contact is the Collection Development Coordinator. For gifts in art and music the primary contact is the Art and Music Librarian. For gifts in science the primary contact is the Science Librarian. The Special Collections Librarian is primary contact for gifts to the Archives and Special Collections. Persons considering making gifts of books and other materials to the library are strongly encouraged to contact the appropriate person below. This will help the Libraries to determine the appropriateness of the gift and will expedite the process.
Lareese Hall, Director of the Colby Libraries         

Ana Noriega, Assistant Director for Collection Management
Patricia Burdick, Assistant Director for Special Collections
Delivery of materials should be discussed in advance due to possible space constraints.  Boxes should be marked “LIBRARY GIFT” and need to include a note with the number of items enclosed, the name and address of the person, estate, organization, company, or other agency donating the material
The donor will provide a description of any gift before it can be considered. If a collection is offered, either in whole or in part, a full description, including an itemized list is necessary. In the absence of such documentation, the Library may, if the value of the gift to the library warrants it, require an on-site evaluation of the collection by library staff before a determination to accept can be made.
The Director of the Colby College Libraries will acknowledge all donations. Colby’s College Relations department is copied on all gift letters.

The Library cannot provide monetary appraisal of collections for tax purposes. The Library may provide the names of regional dealers and appraisers in Maine if the giver of the gift wishes to have the gift appraised for income tax purposes. The College Relations department can provide guidelines on tax deductions.

Donors who deliver gifts without prior contact with Library staff will receive a copy of the Library's Gift Acceptance Form as a receipt and interim record of the transfer of ownership.

The Library will not accept gifts on which a donor places restrictions that will negatively affect the use of the materials. The Library will not accept gifts with a restriction that the collections be kept together, housed in a special facility, or need special handling.  If, on subsequent evaluation, subject specialists determine material to be inappropriate, it will not be added to the collections, but will be disposed of as described in section IV below.

All gifts are to be evaluated in light of the following criteria

  • ability to add depth or breadth to the existing collections
  • support of overall collection development priorities
  • relevance of content
  • physical condition
  • physical formats that are collected and supported by the libraries
  • uniqueness to network holdings of consortial member libraries (Maine InfoNet and NExpress)

In general, the Library will not accept gifts when their physical condition does not allow normal library shelving and use.  In some rare cases the Library may accept books of sufficiently important content or provenance even if they require professional treatment to protect and preserve them. In these cases, the donor may be asked to provide the resources for this treatment.  In general, the Library will not accept non-book formats that are obsolete, superseded or cannot be easily used and supported.

Subject specialist librarians, charged with management of specific subject collections, may evaluate gifts accepted for the general collections. They will make the final decision on adding unique or additional copies to the collections.

The Special Collections Librarian will evaluate all potential donations offered to Special Collections. Donations will be evaluated for their uniqueness, rarity, provenance and relevance to the Special Collections holdings.  The Special Collections Librarian will evaluate all potential donations of Colbiana material offered to Special Collections. Donations will be evaluated for their uniqueness, rarity, provenance and relevance to the Colbiana Collections holdings.  When specialized knowledge is required to evaluate a gift, library staff may consult with members of the faculty or others with appropriate expertise.

Colby works closely with its collecting partners (Bates and Bowdoin) in the collection of large runs of historical periodicals or large sets. Gifts of these types of materials will be evaluated in collaboration with our partners.


With the exception of some archival materials, gift books added to the collection will have a digital book plate linked from the cataloging record in the library catalog. On rare occasions, if the gift warrants it, a physical bookplate indicating the donor's name will be considered.  With the exception of some archival materials, all gifts added to the collection will be cataloged and listed in the Library's online public catalog.  Since all gift materials that are added to the general collections are shelved in the appropriate subject classification, the Library cannot maintain separate named collections.

Gifts that are not added to the collection may be disposed of in one of the following ways:

  • If it has been arranged in advance, they may be returned to the donor.
  • If of artifactual value, they may be sold to a specialty book dealer, and the proceeds used to support future acquisitions.
  • All other unaccessioned gifts will be sold, at nominal prices to local book dealers and the proceeds used to support future acquisitions.
  • In cases where our collection partners or colleague institutions have collecting goals which the gift more appropriately supports, these institutions may be offered the gift.
  • Donors who offer items or collections that the Colby Libraries cannot accept may be referred to other libraries.
Colby College on Twitter Colby College on Facebook Colby College on YouTube Colby College on Vimeo Colby College RSS Feed Search Previous Next